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The Best Cookbooks for Runners

If you’ve ever adopted a running routine, you know that running isn’t just about running. While you start out believing you can pull on your shoes every day, run a few miles, and get on with your day, you soon find that running is much more than that. Running is a lifestyle. Piggybacking off of my post about the best healthy cookbooks, I wanted to dig a little deeper and discover the best cookbooks for runners. 

Especially as your running goals grow, it’s important that your diet adapts to accommodate your needs as an athlete and as a runner. While time on your feet is important, your time in the kitchen is just as essential. Understanding that food is fuel is crucial when looking to take your running to the next level. This is why I want to introduce you to my top picks for the best cookbooks for runners. These are books that cover a wide range of nutrition needs, cooking abilities, and time constraints. Give a few recipes a try to see how they impact your performance and running goals.

Do you have anything you want to add to my list of the best cookbooks for runners? Let us know in the comments below!

Shalene Flanagan is a 4-time Olympian long-distance runner, so you better believe she knows her stuff. What I love about this cookbook is that it is truly focused on fueling runners and athletes with real and natural foods. There are no calories listed in this book, and this is intentional. Shalene believes that nourishment isn’t about filling ourselves with low calorie junk. Real food has calories and runners need calories to sustain their lifestyles. In addition to great recipes, get ready for some great running humor. Anyone want to try the Fartlek Chili?

Matthew Kadey has your fueling needs covered, whether you’re out on the trail, or home in the kitchen. With recipes divided into “before,” “during,” and “after” your workout, this book makes it easy to determine your nutritional needs throughout your workout and your day. Recipes cover a wide variety of dietary needs, making it easy to find meals whether you’re paleo, vegetarian, or gluten or dairy-free. In addition, Kadey has a good variety of meals designed for those with busy lifestyles and need something they can pop out of the freezer or store in their bags. This book is a great choice if you’re looking for recipes that require few cooking skills, but are still focused on your needs as an athlete and runner.

I’ve recommended Fitzgerald in past posts (The Best Audiobooks for Runners) and am a huge fan of his work. This cookbook is a companion to Fitzegerald’s book Racing Weight, which explains the how and why of nutrition for runners. Based around his “Racing Weight Program,” Fitzgerald offers recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner to optimize your nutritional needs and reach your running goals. While this sounds serious, don’t be fooled. Fitzgerald’s recipes are delicious and span from Cinnamon-Raisin Wheat Berry Bowls to Wasabi Meatballs. In addition, Fitzgerald breaks down recipes into categories based on cooking abilities, making optimal running nutrition accessible to everyone.

Written by a doctor that spent years working with professional cyclists, this cookbook takes you through often forgotten components such as macronutrients, hydration, food timing, dietary choices, and more. While I’m not a fan of becoming obsessive about specifics as far as nutrition is concerned, this book offers good information without being too detail-oriented.

A companion to the Feed Zone Cookbook, this cookbook is focused on nourishing meals that satisfy the entire family. Now, these recipes are not simple or easy, but they are beautiful and delicious. When you want to both fuel for your next run and impress your dinner guests, this cookbook is a great choice. You won’t feel like you’re subjected to a life of rabbit food when you try your hand at the chicken pad thai, baked jambalaya, or cashew honey brittle. Satisfy your running goals, as well as your palate with this cookbook.

As expected, Runner’s World understands running. What I love about this cookbook is that it has a lot of recipes in it. 150 to be exact. And, all of these 150 recipes can be made in less than 30 minutes. This cookbook is a great choice if you’re a runner that wants to get your fueling right, but doesn’t want to spend a lot of time doing it. These recipes are easy, delicious, efficient, and will prepare your body for your next run on the road.

Are you tired of spending money on over-priced energy bars filled with ingredients you can’t even pronounce? Well, Saulsbury is here to save the day with this cookbook. Power Hungry is full of recipes for DIY energy bars that are easily customizable to accommodate your tastes, dietary needs, and flavor preferences. Love almonds? Throw some in there. Have some extra dried fruit? Mix it with some oats and call it a day. Instead of overspending at the grocery store on energy bars, this cookbook will give you back your control over your fueling options.

This is only a small sampling of the best cookbooks for runners. Let me know your favorites and anything I should add to the list. Get cooking and keep running!