It’s November, and your Facebook timeline is swimming in photos of your friends in sweat bands and running shorts, grinning from ear to ear in front of the finish line of some marathon or other. And while you struggle not to judge yourself as you try to figure out if that stain on your couch is drool or pizza grease, you might be thinking maybe it’s time you try this whole marathon training thing.
Well, whether you’re a seasoned marathon runner or a veteran Netflix marathoner, anyone marathon hopeful is bound to need a little motivation (or at least entertainment) to make it through several hours of straight running. Music is all fine and dandy, but one can only listen to upbeat electronica for so long before your brain scrambles a bit. A good audiobook, however — now that will keep you running.
Maybe you need a breathless, fast-paced story to keep your adrenaline pumping (like zombies; zombies are good for that). Or, maybe, you just need a good, long story that can keep you dying to know what happens next for a solid three or four hours rather than focusing on the growing ache in your calves. These are a few audiobooks that’ll be just perfect for your marathon training.
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
Haruiki Murakami's book more than just a book about running. A log of marathon training cum poetic love letter to running, it’s sort of like having a running buddy — a really eloquent running buddy who’s probably better at training for a marathon than you. Like a real running buddy, it’ll make the whole run a lot more bearable. Besides, at four-plus hours, you can probably time your marathon run by it.
The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
There’s totally a thing between survival literature and working out, right? What makes you want to stay in tip-top shape more than the thought of the whole world going to pot and you having to defend yourself against crazies, criminals, and creatures with nothing but your bare hands? Butler’s take on the end of civilization is a creepy one, full of plenty of scenarios in which a pair of strong running legs would be a major boon. Plus, it’s so immersive that you’ll have a harder time stopping running than starting.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Never fear, nerds, you can still get a bit of your video game fix while you run. If you’re an '80s baby, you’re especially in for treat. You’ll have so much fun noting all the '80s references that you’ll probably barely notice you’re running at all. And yet another perk — infamous nerd Will Wheaton narrates!
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
If you’re the type who likes a scenic view with your run, or the type who tends to take to the trail when you need a break from the craziness of life, you’ll find a kindred spirit in Strayed’s 22-year-old self, who walks the Pacific Crest Trail to cope with some of the hardships life’s thrown her way. It’s a fun read that’ll make you appreciate every breath of fresh air and the crunch of all that nature-y stuff under your feet as you run.
The Passage Trilogy by Justin Cronin
The zombie-vampire apocalypse scenario — that oughta be enough to get your blood pumping, or at least convince you that being able to run non-stop for four hours would be a useful skill in the zombie apocalypse. This one is especially good (or potentially really awful if you scare easy) if you tend to run at night when the scary, fast, brutal zombie-vampire creature of The Passage world come out. Plus, between the first two books, you get something like 62 hours of scary zombie-vampires.
All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness
Historian witches and scientist vampires are on the run from scary magical forces in the All Souls Trilogy. Harkness does magic in a totally unique way. This isn’t your typical tale of witches and vampires, and you’ll be so riveted that you’ll probably find yourself actually eager to get your daily training in just so you have an excuse to get back to the story.
Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John J. Ratey & Eric Hagerman
Sometimes the simple facts can be more motivating than anything. Exciting fiction might keep you riveted for a few hours, but knowing the science behind exercise and all the amazing things it does for your body and brain —that can keep you motivated and on track for the grueling months to come.