Read and Run a 5K, Marathon, and Beyond

Read running books, get inspired, run, and be transformed.

Miriam Diaz-Gilbert
5 min readNov 17, 2019
Photo by Mārtiņš Zemlickis on Unsplash

I Can Do It!

Want to run your first 5K, 10K, half-marathon, marathon, or ultramarathon? Need some inspiration? Need some motivation?

I started running 5K road races in 1989. I subscribed to Runner’s World. I learned about running, training, nutrition, and hydration.

I read about elite runners. I read inspiring stories by ordinary runners.

The first running related book I purchased was Strides, a memoir by Benjamin Cheever.

I was introduced to Dean Karnazes and Pam Reed on 60 Minutes on CBS. Leslie Stahl interviewed Dean and Pam about — The Toughest Race — the Badwater 135 mile ultra in Death Valley.

They shared their diet, nutrition, and why they run such grueling distances.

I had never heard of ultrarunning and these two world-class elite ultramarathoners.

I was totally engrossed and mesmerized. I did not want the interview to end.

These two people run distances from 100 miles and beyond! How is that possible?

I was intrigued by their training, physical and mental strength, and endurance, and the toll ultramarathons take on the mind and body in all kinds of terrain and climate.

While watching the interview, I was simultaneously having a little talk with myself. Hmm…running an ultramarathon sounds very tempting. I concluded,

“I can do it! I can run an ultra!”

After all, I was a veteran of 9 marathons, over 6 half-marathons, and a bunch of 5Ks and 10Ks.

As soon as the interview with Dean and Pam was over, I got off the sofa, made myself comfortable on the computer desk chair, and googled ‘ultramarathons.’ And voila!

Up came the JFK 50 miler. Not long after, I registered for my first ultramarathon.

The next week I bought Dean’s Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner. I devoured it. I then bought Pam’s The Extra Mile. Devoured it, too.

Along the way I was transformed from a 5K runner in 1989 to a 50-mile ultrarunner in 2005, and beyond.

Inspirational Running Books

Thinking about making the move and taking it to the next level?

Read books about running. They will motivate you. They will inspire you. They will prepare you. They will help you train.

Some of my running books.

My collection of running books has energized me and continues to inspire me to keep running!

When I started running ultras, I would take Ultramarathon Man, the book not Dean, with me to each race.

I would also take The Extra Mile, along with Scott Jurek’s Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness.

On the drive to the race site, I would read over quotes I had underlined in their books that inspired me.

“Why run 10 miles when you can run 100? Moderation bores me.” ~ Dean Karnazes

Photo by Fitsum Admasu on Unsplash

“In my mind, I’m not really running 100 miles. I’m running 1 mile one hundred times.”~ Pam Reed

“Life, much like an ultramarathon, keeps you pushing forward. Overcoming the challenge of arduous and grueling ultras helps us to cope with the difficulties of life.” ~ Scott Jurek

The writers of my collection of running books are great running mentors. Their inspiring books have helped to transform me as a runner.

Turn the Page, Read, Run, and be Transformed

So what’s stopping you? Grab a running book or two or three.

If you’re not a fan of reading, you can listen to running books on Audible and Kindle.

If you are just starting off as a runner or want to increase distance and challenge yourself, a must-have running book is Bart Yasso’s Race Everything: How to Conquer Any Race at Any Distance in Any Environment and Have Fun Doing It.

The book is a mix of race anecdotes, runner-friendly and uncomplicated training schedules, tips for all race distances, the Yasso 800s workout, and much more.

Another must-have book is Running for the Average Joe by Bill Watts. Running for the Average Joe is well-researched and comprehensive. Each chapter is a walking encyclopedia chock full of everything you need to know about running.

Add Chicken Soup for the Soul — Running for Good to your reading list. The book is co-authored by Dean Karnazes.

It contains 101 running stories that will inspire and move you and make you laugh and cry. My story, Running in Sickness and in Health, is included.

You’ll be inspired by motivational quotes, learn about nutrition, strength training, setting goals, training plans, and a lot more in all kinds of running books.

Read and be inspired to run your first 5K and 10K, first-half marathon, marathon, first 50-mile ultra, and beyond.

Reading about running shorter distances and longer and more grueling ultra distances has guided my running legs and feet, and mental strength to progress from the marathon to the 50 miler, to the 100K, to the 100 miler, and to the 24-hour ultra event.

Crossing the finish line at the 2016 Anchor Down 24 Hour Ultra. Photo by Jon Gilbert

Reading books by runners and ultrarunners has helped to shape my ultrarunning life.

Let your new running journey begin with the turn of a page.

Learn from and be inspired by the masters. They will help you to cross the finish line.

So, lace up your shoes and spring into action. Put one foot in front of the other no matter the distance. Be transformed.

Never stop reading, running, and tackling a new running challenge! You can do it!

Read Next:

Miriam Diaz-Gilbert (aka Miriam Gilbert) has been running over 30 years. I recently logged 112 miles at the multi-day ultra — A Race for the Ages. I am training for my 27th ultramarathon — the 2019 Across the Years 48-hour ultra. I also write reviews of running books and memoirs by marathoners, ultrarunners, and endurance athletes.



Miriam Diaz-Gilbert

My debut memoir Come What May, I Want to Run: A Memoir of the Saving Grace of Ultrarunning in Overwhelming Times is published. Website: