I used to resist the idea of listening to audiobooks while running, even though running friends had encouraged to give it a try. “But doesn’t listening to a book instead of reading it feel like cheating?” I’d say.
But I finally gave it a shot and became hooked. Using the Hoopla app on my iPhone, I download free audiobooks, anything from juicy novels to biographies to parenting advice books. While this reward may not work for everyone, I find myself craving the next chapter and looking forward to my runs more than ever before. I actually start thinking of my long runs in terms of how many chapters I’ll be able to get through in my book.
In the past, I always had trouble finding the time to read, but now I find myself averaging a book every 10 ten days or so. Seeing how quickly I got through my first book helped me immediately let go of my hang-up about “cheating” by listening. Here I was actually finishing a book in a week, rather than picking it up intermittently over the course of a couple of months.
I keep a list of books I’ve read so far this year, and I add a new one each time I finish it. Watching that list grow over the year makes me feel accomplished for not only finishing the books, but also for running all the miles while listening to them. Not only has listening to audiobooks helped me beat boredom while running, but it’s also improved my motivation to run. When I’m in the middle of a good audiobook, I find myself really looking forward to my next run. My rule is that I can only listen to the book when I’m running, so that keeps me from blowing off a workout.
Here are some of my and other runners’ audiobook recommendations. Some are all about running but others aren’t, which may be a good thing when you’re looking for a distraction during a long run.
Originally self-published in 1978, this novel by John Parker, Jr. focuses on a competitive runner at the fictional Southeastern University whose lifelong dream is to run a four-minute mile. The book details the numerous hardships the main character encounters during his quest. Whatever your running experience or goals may be, you’ll be amazed by this inside glimpse into the intense lives of elite distance runners, and get inspired by one runner’s incredible desire and drive to reach his goal.
Best-selling author Laura Hillenbrand tells the incredible story of Louie Zamperini, a 1930s Olympic track star whose courage and will to live was brutally tested when he become a prisoner of war during World War II. The dramatic, riveting narrative and the truly unbelievable story of hope, perseverance, and heroism will make you want to keep listening (and running).
As a writer and a runner, this book from bestselling author Haruki Murakami is one of my favorites, but even non-runners and non-writers will be inspired and entertained by the author’s humorous, relatable and insightful writing. Equal parts training log, travelogue, and reminiscence, this revealing memoir covers Murakami’s four-month preparation for the New York City Marathon and perfectly captures runners’ mindset and motivations.
This best-seller by acclaimed journalist and accomplished climber Jon Krakauer gives a dramatic, personal account of the deadliest season in the history of Mount Everest. A story of triumph and loss, it will keep you captivated and leave you wanting more when you finish.
Part memoir, part training manual, and part nutrition guide, this book by ultramarathoner Scott Jurek, is inspirational and educational from start to finish. In Eat & Run, Jurek gives incredible insight into the life of an ultramarathoner, as well as informative training tips for all runners, no matter what your running level or goals may be.
If you’ve already read Once a Runner, you may enjoy that novel’s prequel, the story of a world-class athlete coming of age in the 1950s and ’60s on Florida’s Gold Coast. Racing the Rain explores a small town’s secrets while vividly capturing the physical endurance, determination, and mindset required of a champion.
Writer Chris Lear follows the University of Colorado cross-country team through an unforgettable NCAA season. Allowed unparalleled access to team practices, private moments, and the mind of Mark Wetmore–one of the country’s most renowned and controversial coaches–he provides a riveting look inside the triumphs and heartaches of a perennial national contender and the men who will stop at nothing to achieve excellence. A celebration of and tribute to the sport of running, this book is also an inspiration to anyone who has ever had the desire and courage to pursue a dream against all odds.
Also see: Parenting Audiobooks