From the Color Run to the Disney Princess Half Marathon, you'll find tons of great opportunities to hit the pavement if you're a runner. And whether you’re just starting out, or you're a seasoned expert, or you fall somewhere in between, you may need something to motivate your workout, like these audiobooks for running. If you haven't tried one out yet, hear me out.
You could grab your iPod and rock out to some upbeat music (The Lizzie McGuire Movie soundtrack? Yes please), but once you’ve listened to the same playlist a hundred times, it can lose its pump-up powers. Plus, it’s super-hard to listen to that music and not be able to sing along because you’re out of breath and thinking about your couch and Netflix. Er, I mean, focusing on your breathing and stride.
So, why not shake it up and listen to some audiobooks instead? First of all, you’ll feel like an accomplished multitasker, because you’re reading AND working out at the same time. Second, you can push yourself to reach goals you never thought you’d reach by running for just one more chapter. And lastly, you can get so lost in a book that you don’t even realize how many miles you’ve run, and suddenly you’re a running superstar. From shorter books to listen to on leisurely jogs, to lengthy volumes for hardcore marathon runners, there are so many options to make your runs a little more literary.
For Short Jogs
The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
Listening Length: 1 hour and 41 minutes
Clocking in at under two hours, this audiobook is perfect for a jog. Plus, since it's a play, the audiobook is dramatized — meaning different actors read each part. Wilde's classic tale is hilarious and will keep you laughing through the pain, I mean, fun, of a routine jog.
A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare
Listening Length: 2 hours and 7 minutes
Whether you're out for a leisurely run in a beautiful park, or on a treadmill inside a gym, Shakespeare's humor-packed play A Midsummer Night's Dream is perfect for making the time fly. It's witty, summery, and once again dramatized, and will make you feel as if you're running through the fairy-filled forest of Athens.
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
Listening Length: 4 hours and 12 minutes
On the other hand, if you need something with a little more intensity to motivate your jog, Henry James's thriller The Turn of the Screw is a short (and scary) option. A young governess watches over two creepy children in this gothic ghost story, which is sure to keep your heart rate up if it's not already elevated from your jog.
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
Listening Length: 4 hours and 37 minutes
Then again, maybe humor is the best approach. Mindy Kaling's hilarious autobiography is even better in audiobook form, because Mindy herself reads the work. Her work ethic will inspire you to push yourself in your run, and you might get an extra ab workout from laughing, because she's that hilarious and awesome.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Listening Length: 5 hours and 51 minutes
"Don't panic." Is that a quote from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, or my inner monologue each time I run? Um, both. Englishman Arthur Dent ends up in space after Earth's destruction, and his adventures are the perfect escape during a run.
For 10k Training
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Listening Length: 6 hours and 6 minutes
Protagonist Christopher Boone, a 15-year-old with Asperger's Syndrome, investigates the death of a neighbor's dog in this beautifully crafted story. Christopher's world is so encapsulating that your workout will fly by as you listen, making it a perfect pick to get you through a 10k.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Steven Chbosky
Listening Length: 6 hours and 23 minutes
In this coming-of-age story, 15-year-old Charlie navigates high school, family life, and the beginning and ending of friendships. This book is funny and touching, heartbreaking and hopeful, and you'll be so swept up in Charlie's life that you'll suddenly look down and realize you've run more than six miles.
Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding
Listening Length: 8 hours and 27 minutes
As someone who's constantly making to-do lists after feeling inspired by health blogs and pictures of fresh avocados, I can relate to Bridget Jones. Her constant desire to improve herself and reinvent her life are the perfect motivation for a workout, because in the end Bridget Jones is about a modern-day Elizabeth Bennet taking control of her life. Talk about inspiration!
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Listening Length: 10 hours and 29 minutes
Sometimes, what you really need is a light, sweet, young adult book set in Paris, and this is it. Anna and the French Kiss is perfect for those times when you want to let a sweet little romance sweep you away. Plus, as you read, you can pretend you're running through the streets of France each time protagonist Anna travels through the city.
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Listening Length: 10 hours and 59 minutes
This bestselling thriller is perfect for runners who need a kick of adrenaline to get through a run, because it will keep your heart beating fast. Read by three different narrators, this story begins when the main narrator Rachel sees something shocking from the window of a train. It's fast-paced, chilling, and mysterious, and the perfect read to keep you on the run.
For Marathon Training
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
Listening Length: 14 hours
Since Unbroken follows the story of Louie Zamperini, who was an Olympic distance runner, it's an extremely motivational book to listen to while running. Zamperini survives incredible odds, from 47 days on a raft at sea, to years spent in a World War II prisoner of war camp. His resilience is inspirational and a great encouragement during long runs (and in everyday life).
Faithful Place by Tana French
Listening Length: 16 hours and 17 minutes
Frank Mackey thinks that his childhood sweetheart, Rosie, left him long ago — just before they were supposed to run away together. Years later, however, her suitcase turns up in their meeting spot, and Frank begins to investigate this unsolved mystery from his past. This creepy thriller is perfect to sustain you on long runs, because there's no way you can stop listening until you find out what happened to Rosie all those years ago.
Emma by Jane Austen
Listening Length: 16 hours and 38 minutes
The hilarious and witty story of Emma Woodhouse, matchmaker extraordinaire, is great for Jane Austen fans on the go. Emma's always trying to improve herself and those around her, so why not listen to her story while working out? After all, the classic movie Clueless was based on this classic work of literature, so Cher Horowitz (with her Buns of Steel video and very '90s workout getup) would totally approve.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Listening Length: 38 hours and 5 minutes
OK, so none of the above audiobooks are long enough, you say? Well, if you need something with a little more length, Anna Karenina is the audiobook for you. Clocking in at almost 40 hours in audiobook form, this classic tells the story of a wealthy socialite and her affair with the alluring Count Vronsky. You may or may not also want to keep some tissues in your running shorts pocket for when you get to the end.
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Listening Length: 43 hours and 15 minutes
Anna Karenina still not long enough? You're a serious runner, and you need something even longer? Well then, it's time to pick up a copy of Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo. This book tells the story of Edmond Dantès and his many adventures. By the time you get through this epic audiobook, you'll definitely be marathon finisher.