Trail Running and Ultrarunning Books to Jumpstart the New Year

Here are a few books that will inspire you to start off your 2022 training year right.

By on December 27, 2021 | Comments

Here we are, at the end of all things … well, the end of 2021, anyway. What a year! We got back to racing, navigated another year of the COVID-19 pandemic, watched trail running and ultrarunning records drop, and heard stories from inspiring runners from around the world.

Now it’s time to rest, spend time with our families and friends, and curl up with a good book. What better time to inspire you to seize the day — and the trails — than with these books about running? Tales of injury and rehabilitation, illustrated pages of outdoor fun, lists for the short attention span, and manuals of training plans — we’ve got a few book suggestions for everyone, all of which were published in 2021.

Out and Back: A Runner’s Story of Survival Against All Odds

Hillary Allen - Out and Back bookIf you are even tangentially involved in the trail and ultra worlds, odds are you’ve heard Hillary Allen’s story. For those who haven’t, a quick recap. Back in 2017, Allen was rated as a top female skyrunner in the world, tackling courses like Broken Arrow, The Rut, Ultra Pirineu, and Tromsø Skyrace. It was at the latter that she fell over 150 feet down a rocky cliff and nearly died. Years later, Allen has healed and come back with a vengeance to trail running, recently winning the incredibly difficult 2021 Madeira Island Ultra-Trail.

Allen’s book, Out and Back: A Runner’s Story of Survival Against All Odds, chronicles not only her physical recovery, but also her mental journey. Allen is incredibly candid throughout the text, and while not everyone has sustained such injuries, everyone has challenges they’ve faced, and this book is great for anyone facing big issues in their own lives.

Get Out and Back: A Runner's Story of Survival Against All Odds

Trail Running Illustrated: The Art of Running Free

Trail Running Illustrated - Doug Mayer and Brian MetzlerPicture books aren’t just for kids, as proven in this new illustrated manual by Doug Mayer and Brian Metzler. For being a simply — but beautifully — illustrated book, it is quite lengthy at over 270 pages! Those pages are put to good use, though, covering pretty much everything you’d want to know about trail running: how to fuel, finding a shoe that fits well, fine-tuning your stride for particular terrain, what gear you’ll need, how to avoid and treat injury, and more.

Illustrated by Marion Schreiber, the book uses smart icons throughout the text to notate an opinion, scientific fact, a lesson learned, and more. Trail Running Illustrated: The Art of Running Free is a great resource for both someone just starting out in the sport and tested veterans of the trails who want something a bit more visual to describe their exploits to friends and family.

Get Trail Running Illustrated: The Art of Running Free

1,001 Running Tips: The Essential Runners’ Guide

1001 Running Tips - Robbie BrittonRobbie Britton has been running for a long time, and not just on the trails. In 1,001 Running Tips: The Essential Runners’ Guide, Britton passes along his decades of knowledge to newbies and veterans alike. Divided by topic and set up in listicle form, the book covers everything a runner would want to know: tips on training, racing, the environment, travel, technique, the body, and miscellaneous “stuff.”

This book isn’t for someone who wants an epic recovery story or tales from the tops of peaks, but it is an excellent resource to check if you have pretty much any question about running in general. Britton has a very accessible writing style, breaking down concepts about technology, physiology, and more into small and digestible tidbits that everyone can understand.

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Running Your First Ultra: Customizable Training Plans for Your First 50k to 100-Mile Race

Running your first ultra - customizable training plans - Krissy MoehlIn this second-edition book, which is available for preorder now, long-time ultrarunner — and newly minted van-lifer — Krissy Moehl guides prospective ultrarunners to their first ultra. Moehl has over 20 years of experience in the trail and ultra realms, winning some of the biggest races at a time when the sports’ starting lines were still male-dominant.

Highly respected by her peers and aspiring runners alike, Moehl has years of experience not only as a runner, but also as a coach. This book is great for someone who wants to be guided step by step through the process to complete their first ultra.

Running Your First Ultra: Customizable Training Plans for Your First 50k to 100-Mile Race has a number of different plans, all periodized and customizable for each runner’s level of experience and training load, leaving room for lifestyle adjustments and other changes.

With daily motivations and a training log space, this updated book by Moehl will remain a timeless resource for people who don’t necessarily have the means to hire a coach, but would like a little more guidance going into their first ultra.

Get Running Your First Ultra: Customizable Training Plans for Your First 50k to 100-Mile Race

Training Essentials for Ultrarunning

Training Essentials for Ultrarunning - jason koopThis is a book for data geeks, science obsessives, and people who love to dig into the theories of training for ultrarunning. Coach Jason Koop has long been known for his scientific approach to training and coaching, talking through topics like heart rate variability, overtraining markers, physical therapy, biomechanics, and more. In the second edition of Training Essentials for Ultrarunning, Koop, along with Corrine Malcolm and Jim Rutberg, dig deep into the science of training in this extremely detailed book.

If you’re not used to reading scientific articles, don’t be intimidated. The book includes a multitude of illustrations, charts, and graphs to make everything a bit more digestible. Another nice thing about this book is that it’s super accessible: it is available in hardcover, softcover, on Kindle, and even as an audiobook. You can also download all the graphics included in the book for free to reference them without searching for that one illustration throughout the book.

Get Training Essentials for Ultrarunning

Call for Comments

  • Do you have any other running book recommendations for ones that have come out in 2021?
  • What other running resources out there might you recommend?
Alex Potter
Alex Potter is a contributor and former editor at iRunFar. Following a nearly decade-long hiatus from running after college, she has found a new love in trail running. As a photojournalist, Alex has reported throughout the Middle East and East Africa for publications like 'National Geographic,' 'The New York Times,' and 'The Washington Post.'