The following five health- and mindfulness-related books for runners come with my personal recommendation not because they’re new, popular or heavily promoted, but because I can honestly feel really good about recommending them to you. Why? I have a personal connection to (almost) every single one of the authors and their subject matter.
I’m passionate about runners’ health and well being because as I’ve experienced first hand, being fit doesn’t necessarily mean you’re healthy. I’ve come to believe that true health requires a holistic approach to self care, both physically, mentally and spiritually. The following books are ones that were either gifted to me, sent by the author, or I bought immediately after learning about them. And I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
Please note that “Order Here” links below are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. I recommend these books because they are helpful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something through these links. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.
The Women’s Guide to Health: Run Walk Run, Eat Right and Feel Better
By: Dr. Carmen Mohan and Jeff Galloway
I met Dr. Carmen Mohan at the 2016 Iceland Trail Running + Wellness Retreat, where she shared an idea for a book that would help the women she encountered in her Atlanta, Georgia-based medical practice who were suffering from chronic illness and weight gain. A year and a half later, and her dream is realized in this book, written in collaboration with fellow physician, Dr. Ruth Parker, M.D. and Olympian Jeff Galloway, pioneer of the run-walk method.
You know that running is good for your health, and yet being a runner doesn’t make you immune to some of the most common health conditions women face today, including heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, healthy bones and joints, and stress-related chronic illness. Dr. Carmen presents a way to eat well and exercise (called the HER Prescriptions Program) to overcome these health challenges, using Galloway’s well-known and proven run-walk method. Even if you’re a seasoned runner, you’ll find invaluable information about healthy eating to fuel an active lifestyle, manage weight and support overall good health.
Mindful Running: How meditative running can improve performance and make you a happier more fulfilled person
By: Mackenzie Havey
I first met Mackenzie Havey, a sports psychologist, marathoner, Ironman triathlete and USA Track and Field certified coach, while I was an editor at Trail Runner magazine, a magazine to which she’d regular contribute articles about mind-body health and endurance sports. So it was a joy to reconnect with her years later around our shared interest in mindful running. As it happens, we both recognized the parallels between the health benefits of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), a secular style of meditation, and running, and how these two practices are complimentary and extremely beneficial.
Her book all about mindful running, is an inspiring and comprehensive introduction to how to apply mental fitness training to your running routine. Sure, being mindful can boost running performance, but it also boost happiness on and off the trail by developing self-awareness and concentration. You’ll find compelling stories and insights from a wide variety of experienced athletes and mindfulness experts who, in their own way, shed light on what it really means to run mindfully.
Peak Performance: Elevate your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success
By: Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness
So many of us fall into the trap of thinking that the more we push ourselves, the more we achieve, in running and in life. The evidence of this mindset is everywhere: between the rates of injury and burnout among runners to the rising levels of stress-related illness across America. It’s for these reasons that distance-running coach Steve Magness and health and outdoor writer Brad Stulberg teamed up to offer a better way to achieve our peak performance, one based on the new science of success. This growing body of science helps us recognize that a lot of what we do to be more productive, more successful or get an “edge” on the competition is counter-productive.
Their solution? End the burnout and effects of stress while achieving more. Magness and Stulberg present a set of principles for sustainable—ethical, legal, and healthy—success including meditating, resting, prioritizing and minimizing distractions, seeking out “just manageable” challenges, and working in discrete, comprehensible blocks. The accessible science and easy-to-grasp instructions on healthy ways of developing a sense of purpose are encouraging and inspiring, and readers looking to realize their potential without harming themselves would do well to take this advice.
The Trail Runner’s Companion: A Step-by-Step Guide to Trail Running and Racing, from 5ks to Ultras
By: Sarah Lavender Smith
Author and running coach Sarah Lavender Smith and I have known each other for years, as we both travel in the running and media circles for many years. She is a columnist for Trail Runner magazine, where I spent several years as managing editor. I mention it only because only is Sarah an accomplished ultrarunner and coach, but a very talented and entertaining writer as well.
Her first book, The Trail Runner’s Companion, provides an inspirational, practical, and goal-oriented guide to runners looking to venture off trail and/or train for a trail race. This book isn’t just for ultrarunners or “serious” runners; those of you who run for fun and adventure will gain a lot from Sarah’s practical advice and breadth of experience.She covers things like basic trail running technique and gear, how to tackle numerous challenges during a trail run and, if you aspire to longer, develop the physical and mental tenacity to complete an ultra-distance trail race. Sarah interviewed many pro runners to build on her expertise to deliver a very detailed guide to all you need to call yourself a trail runner.
The Aware Athlete: How the Wild Origins of our Human Nature and the New Science of Neuroplasticity are Redefining Fitness
By: Scott Forrester
One of the most basic descriptions of mindfulness is that it is the practice of exercising the “muscle” of attention. Being aware of the thoughts and beliefs that influence your perception at any given moment is simultaneously empowering and freeing. You can free yourself of self-defeating thoughts and notice your present moment experiences more fully and with less judgement. I’ve long recommended that runners begin exercising their muscle of attention by focusing on how they move through the running gait cycle. Not only can this practice help you improve your running form, posture and efficiency, but cultivate the mental acuity for living a mindful life. Scott Forrester’s new book, The Aware Athlete, provides a blueprint for cultivating this type of movement awareness. And it’s not just for athletes, but anyone committed to running through any age and life stage.
When Forrester, a trail runner, personal trainer and certified Feldenkrais Practitioner, broke his ankle almost 20 years ago, doctors said he shouldn’t continue running. Nevertheless, Forrester developed a more mindful running style that didn’t aggravate his degenerative condition. Now his 60’s Forrester continues running and sharing his techniques with clients and readers.
“This book is for everyone interested in improving performance in sports or life, learning about and enjoying a new pursuit, moving with less joint pain and experiencing longevity in doing the activities in life they love whether they are young or old. (…) I hope to encourage you to listen to your body and bring to light the awesome potential you have for living the life you want. Self-awareness and potential are cornerstones of the book,” Forrester states in the book’s introduction.
Interested in finding more recommendations for books about health, running and mindfulness?
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