When I’m in a slump, great running movies are one of my favorite ways to get myself motivated. I love movies anyway (I actually majored in Motion Pictures in college!), so it would only make sense that they would figure into significant parts of my running self care.
Want to know my favorites? Grab your popcorn and keep reading!
Spirit Of The Marathon
Spirit Of The Marathon is the quintessential running documentary. The award-winning film chronicles the training of six runners as they prepare for the 2005 Chicago Marathon. It’s really incredible to watch the stories of such different individuals, all working towards a common goal. Tension, heartbreak, and triumph all merge together in this one. And yes, there is a sequel, also available for viewing.
I had the privilege of seeing Forrest Gump in theaters, and instantly fell in love with Tom Hanks’ character, and the entire story. As Forrest falls in and out of a series of amazing brushes with historical events, runners can probably relate most to the day he just starts to run. He runs and runs, across the entire country. Forrest is completely oblivious to the people who literally follow in his footsteps, until the day he decides he’s finished running and ready to move on to something else. We see you, Forrest. We see you.
Brittany Runs A Marathon
Confession: I don’t actually love this movie. It’s a great, based-in-reality, story of a woman (Brittany) who gets a serious wakeup call in regards to her health and life choices, and decides to run a marathon. This is great, but the journey is plagued with obstacles and challenges, not least of which is Brittany’s rather awful personality. I found it hard to root for the protagonist, while also really relating to her journey and struggle. Yes, it’s worth a watch, and it is an inspiring flick, but it’s not as incredible as others on the list.
Chariots Of Fire
Chariots of Fire is based on the true story of two British athletes, and their journey to and triumphs at the 1924 Summer Olympics. This is a movie about personal sacrifice, religious devotion, overcoming prejudice, and sportsmanship, all set on a track. Bonus: the soundtrack. The main theme by Vangelis, is swoonworthy, empowering, and holds a place of honor on my own running playlist. If you know, you know.
Run Fatboy Run
Run Fatboy Run is a comedic foray into marathon running, starring Simon Pegg and Hank Azaria. This hilarious and truly great running movie follows Dennis Doyle, a man who has spent his life running away from every challenge he’s faced. In a last-ditch attempt to win back the mother of his son and woman of his dreams, he decides to run the London Marathon. Through his training, Dennis finds himself, a support system he never knew he had, and the strength to face his fears. Does he conquer 26.2 miles? You’ll have to watch to find out!
To be honest, the cinematic retelling of the Jesse Owens story is an uncomfortable watch. The 1930s were an ugly time, not only for Germany, but for the United States and many other countries in the world. It’s gut-wrenching to see racism and prejudice play out, even among the people and characters we might consider “heroes.” However, all it takes is one person to fly (or run) in the face of that ugliness to start the turning of the tide. Race is one of the great running movies that will get you fired up, and serve as a reminder to always stand up for what’s right.
I confess that McFarland USA brought me to sobs in a crowded a crowded movie theater. McFarland USA tells the true story of Coach Jim White, who built a cross country team at a high school in one of the most economically challenged cities in the country. The focus here is family, loyalty and making the best out of seemingly hopeless situations. It’s also so inspiring to see what these men are doing now to pay it forward. If this is on TV, I will watch it.
The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young
This incredible documentary is something I can (and do) watch on repeat. The entire story of this race, from its history to its implementation, is nothing short of fascinating. Ultra running (and runners) are so fascinating in their quest to push themselves beyond reasonable limits, and I truly can’t get enough of the tale of athletes who set out on a truly hellish race. Wrap your head around the fact that there are years with no finishers at all! Will you be there when Laz lights his unfiltered Camel at the yellow gate?
Join the Runner’s Roundup!
You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!Click here to enter
Grab our graphic and share the love!
Have you watched any of these great running movies? What’s your favorite?
I’ve seen Run Fat Boy Run and the movie about the Barkley marathons, but haven’t seen the others. I need to add them to my list!
Chaitali recently posted…Weekly Review
Sounds like it’s time for a running movie marathon!
Kimberly Hatting says
I first heard of the Barkley Marathon in an article in RW (a few years ago). I didn’t realize a movie had been made! I’ll have to check that out 😉
You definitely have to check it out! You will love it!
Kristen Woolsey says
I’ve never seen any of these!!
Time to watch some movies!
Kim G says
I haven’t seen any of these movies so thanks so much for all these recommendations~
Absolutely! You will love them all!
Deborah Brooks says
The only one of these that I have seen is Barkley marathons! That was a crazy movie full of crazy runners huh?
Deborah Brooks recently posted…5 Reasons To Cheer On A Marathoner- Guest Post
I am so inspired by all of them. It just blows my mind the limits they all push.
Zenaida Arroyo says
How could I forget Race? I saw it and loved it too. I used to work with one of Jesse Owen’s granddaughters. One day she was telling us about being at the Olympics (cannot remember the year or location). Were were wondering what she was doing there and that is when she told us. 🙂
What an incredible connection!
Madhusree Basu says
The Barkley marathons is a great watch. I’ve not seen the others though. New list for my weekend 😉
Madhusree Basu recently posted…19 Best Walking Shoes For Bunions in 2019, According to Podiatrists
Absolutely! You won’t be sorry!
Dominique Cheylise says
I haven’t actually seen any of these! I did enjoy Brittany Runs a Marathon recently, though. True story!
I didn’t love Brittany. It made me want to run another marathon, I will say that.
Michelle @ Running with Attitude says
Run Fat Boy Run is one of my favorites too! I haven’t heard of McFarland or Barkley Marathons.
I just love Simon Pegg and I love that he’s so very average and human. It spoke to me.
I loved McFarland USA! So inspiring. The Barkley Marathons is something else. Such a good movie but wow! I could never do it!
Oh, girl. Me, either. I think it would be fun to crew, but I would be lost within the first mile.
Debbie @ Deb Runs says
Out of your list, I’ve only seen The Barkley Marathon, but then, we’re not really into movies so it doesn’t surprise me. Like you, though, I loved The Barkley Marathon. We really should watch Chariots of Fire since it’s such a classic.
Debbie @ Deb Runs recently posted…Family Time and Back to Babying My Body
You really should. It is truly exceptional!
I loved McFarland!
You also have some other great tips of films which I will need to add to my list. Thanks, Jenn!
Is that Danny Diaz? OMG, that part kills me every time. Every. Time. What a story.
Lisa @ Mile by Mile says
I’ve seen a few of these, but I’ll need to check out the others! My husband and I were just talking about the Barkley marathons and I didn’t realize it was a movie. Thanks for sharing!
OMG it’s such a great movie! Super obscure, but dang. What a ride.
I’ve seen Brittany Runs a Marathon (and I agree with your review) and Chariots of Fire. Oh, and Forrest Gump of course! I want to see the Barkley Marathon one, and also Run Fatboy Run sounds funny. i’ll check them out!
In my opinion, Brittany was just not likable. Not at all. But it was part of the character arc, and I guess we had to ride it out. I highly recommend Run Fatboy Run. It’s great.
Deborah Brooks says
A few of these I have not watched yet. Thanks for the fun recs might have to cue one up this weekend
I loved McFarland, USA! As a cross country coach, it had extra meaning for me. Now I need to re-watch many of the older movies because it’s been way too long.
All my favorites are on your list! Although Brittany runs a marathon didn’t really move me.
A couple of others I love: October Sky (just for the inspirational story, no running) & secretariat — the horse is doing the running but another very inspirational movie. Oh yeah & The Rookie with Dennis Quaid! Going after your dreams at any age.
Chocolaterunsjudy recently posted…Let’s play did I run here? Part II
Darlene Cardillo says
These are great. I haven’t seen Fat Boy Run so I need to add that to my list.
I need to re-watch Brittany runs a marathon now that I’ve run the NYC marathon,