5 Great Books to Listen to While You Run
Thank goodness we are beyond the days when we need to find a way to carry a walkman or a discman while we run. Now our devices hold enough audio to work out for a week, and we’ve got snazzy armbands to keep our hands free while we cover our mileage. If you see me out for a run, I’ll definitely have my earbuds in, but it’s probably not music I’m listening to.
When I run, I read.
If you’re used to high intensity tunes while you run, it may seem odd to listen to a story instead, but it’s good audiobooks that have helped keep me running for the last six years.
Part of why it works is that when I pick a book to run to, I only listen to it while I run. This helps motivate me to get out the door when I think there are too many things I should be doing at home instead. My schedule, like most people’s, is super busy. It’s challenging enough to set aside time to run; how in the world would I fit in generous bouts of leisure reading, too?
My solution is to multi-task. My library has a great audiobook borrowing program. I have an app for it on my phone and download the books right there. When I can’t find what I like at the library, I’ve taken advantage of free trials to services like Audible (when you cancel the subscription, even just after the trial, you get to keep your book!).
As you’ll see in the list below, good audiobooks exist in a variety of genres. What they have in common are compelling stories and readers that are easy to listen to (in my experience, most are).
The next time you’re out for a long run, queue up one of these vetted titles. You’ll stretch your body, your mind, and maybe your soul as well.
The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown
I can’t say enough about this book. My husband read it with a group at work and then shared it with me. It’s a true story that tells both a close narrative of a young man named Joe and his crew team at the University of Washington and the broader picture of Europe and the United States on the brink of World War II. It’s not an explicitly Catholic story, but the idea that everyone needs to give of himself and surrender to the whole in order for the boat to find its “swing”—and fight for the gold—is something that will resonate with Catholic readers.
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
I set a 5K PR listening to this story, so it has a particularly special place in my heart. It’s fiction, loosely based on the Japanese embassy hostage crisis in Peru in 1996-7. In the book, a group of rebels takes a party including an opera singer, a businessman, and his translator hostage for what turns into weeks. With so much time spent together in such a confined space, the dynamics between and within the groups change in ways you might not expect. There are so many characters, each so well drawn, and there’s so much tension as the human condition is explored. The movie comes out in about a month - you can watch that on a rest day.
Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life’s Storms by Tim Tebow with A.J. Gregory
I’d heard good things about Tebow’s first book, but wasn’t sure what to think of him, as a result of media coverage in NY/NJ when he was on the Jets. My neighbor listened to this book on his drive to work, and I took the recommendation. I’m so glad I did. The message here is that it doesn’t matter how the world sees you: you are a child of God and that is something to be grateful for. Tebow has dealt with a lot of ups and downs in his career (which I related to in my marathon training while I was listening to this), but he always comes back to his relationship with God, reminding himself (and the reader) that it only really matters how God sees us and how much He loves us.
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
I’m all about recommending Narnia to adults. I couldn’t get into these as a kid, but I adore them now. Focus on the Family recorded a dramatized audio version of the books, which is available as a set from our library. It’s like watching a movie while you run, but way better. Different actors and actresses do the voices, and Lewis’ stepson introduces each story with an anecdote from his own life. These stories are magical, and I think a lot of people will enjoy them even more as adults than they did as kids.
The Hiding Place: The Triumphant True Story of Corrie Ten Boom by Corrie Ten Boom
Another true story, another book set in the context of World War II, but also another that is powerful, unique, almost unbelievable, and totally awe-inspiring. Guided by their Christian faith, Corrie ten Boom and her family sacrificed their security, their material goods, and eventually their freedom to hide Jewish people from the Nazis in their Dutch watch shop. The tale is told with grace, humility, sometimes humor, honesty, and tremendous love. When tested, the human spirit is capable of so much, and even in tragic times, when everything is falling apart, God is good. When you finish this, you may find yourself recommending it to everyone you know!
What books are on your “To Be Read” (TBR) list? Which author would you want to go on a run with, if you had the chance? Let us know in the comments!
Lindsay Schlegel wrote her college entrance essay about her lack of athletic ability. In the decade since, God's proven her wrong--and taught her a great deal about Himself in the process. Now a wife and mother, Lindsay has completed a half marathon, a full marathon (while pregnant), and a Spartan Sprint. She's the author of Don't Forget to Say Thank You: And Other Parenting Lessons That Brought Me Closer to God. You can find out more about her at LindsaySchlegel.com.