Tis the time of year when motivation can wane. Luckily, these running movies might be just the ticket to get you moving again!!
Some of you will begrudgingly find yourselves on the treadmill this winter due to travel, ice or just bad luck. Others of us will be loving wearing our shorts and watching tv while running!
Luckily, there’s nothing like a good show about running to keep your legs pumping just a little bit longer. Because if they can do it…well you at least want to try!
10 Motivational Running Movies
Excited to say a bunch of these are on Netflix and Amazon Prime video with your membership, so if you have those options you might just be able to pull them up on your tablet even at the gym!
Whether you want a movie about the Olympic runners, cross country movie, free running movie, a Disney running or just a great story these fit the bill. I indeed watched them all and expect a few to be repeated this year.
Race – Historical Drama
I recently watched this 2016 biographical story of Jesse Owens and it certainly made me run longer.
I admit to not knowing much about his story prior to the movie. Seeing the racism of both the US and the fears of that Munich Olympics was fascinating because it wasn’t so long ago. Another reminder of how much things have changed (and not changed) and of course a beautiful story of his legendary runs.
Spirit of the Marathon (2008 version) – Documentary Style
While in Miami, my good friend Deanna invited a group of us to watch this during our marathon taper and it was perfect for getting our mind right to race.
This is a documentary style film that follows both elite and everyday runners training for the Chicago marathon. Being able to relate to their fears, joys and frustrations makes this a great pre-race watch.
McFarland USA – Disney Movie about Cross Country
Kevin Costner knows how to bring the underdog story to life.
This one is a Disney movie based on the true story of a 1987 cross country team in Southern California. A fired football coach, he comes to a new school and finds a group of 7 young men with talent, but little future prospects and he decides to start a cross country team…it’s Disney, so you can take it from there.
Patriots Day – About the Boston Marathon Bombing
I was absolutely crying.
And yet, it’s extremely motivating. It takes that horrible day and makes you want to stand up and say “you will not stop us from doing what we love”. This movie is made in to a drama with Mark Wahlberg rather than a documentary and in some ways that just made it more powerfulSkipping a few too many runs lately? Checkout these motivational running movies! #runchat Click To Tweet
Fast Women – Documentary about Elite Runners (not pro’s)
Ever wondered what it would be like to train and race with other elites? Besides all the puking I’d be doing, it’s interesting to see that it might not be as glamorous as we’d like to think.
No personal chefs and in home massage therapists. “Fast Women” follows four female runners from the same local running club as they aspire to reach their goals.
Three women are aiming for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, while the fourth is a 32 year old woman who is trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon after having suffered a debilitating stroke.”
The Barkely Marathons – MIND BLOWING Documentary about Trail Runners
Looking for the hardest race you could possible do? How about one that hardly one finishes?!
This documentary follows a trail race in Tennessee that seems designed simply to induce pain. It’s a strange, funny, intriguing story that will have you running extra miles to find out what’s next. Why the secret application? How is the route even created?!
The Terry Fox Story – Documentary
I feel like his story is getting less attention each year and yet Terry has done so much for running.
This movie showcases Terry’s life of losing his leg to cancer and then attempting a run across Canada as an amputee to help raise money for cancer research. Of course it’s an 80’s movie, like many of the one’s listed, it’s a little grainy and the outfits are goofy…but it will inspire.
Prefontaine – Documentary
He seems so small compared to the large muscles we see on sprinters in the Olympics now! But that’s not really the point, the point is to see the life of an incredible runner unfold and find out what pieces of his intensity and spirit can drive your own running to a new level.
If you don’t know the story of Steve Prefontaine, you’re missing out. This is a compilation of old videos and lots of interviews with those who knew him.
Brittany Runs a Marathon – Drama based on real story, comedy
Some folks gave this backlash because she appears to lose weight…so what! A lot of us start running for that reason.
I thoroughly loved this movie because it felt relatable in that OMG running is so hard and yet I’m gonna keep doing it way. Her transformation isn’t really about the physical. Plus it’s one of the few comedies!
Transcend – Documentary
I just finished a book similar to this movie and knew it too would not only motivate, but open my eyes to the rest of the world. Deciding which of our running shoes we’ll pull on today, we can’t imagine a world where wearing those same shoes could get you killed.
This is the story of how being fast allowed Wesley Korir to escape that life of hardship in Kenya. And then more importantly how is love of country and family made him return home to try and improve life for everyone.
I know someone is going to slap me down for not including Chariots of Fire, but I have a horrible confession…I haven’t watched it. EIIK! I know I’m an awful runner, right? For some reason it’s just never jumped out at me, but I promise to fix that this year.
A few other honorable mentions:
- The World’s Toughest Race – not strictly running but it motivated me!
- The Rocket – Overcoming obstacles
- Marathon Man – OLD school Dustin Hoffman Drama
- The Jericho Mile
- Personal Best
While there are other running documentaries, I just haven’t found most of them to draw me in the way the one’s above did. Not that they weren’t achieving incredible things running through the dessert or across Antarctica, so maybe it was just the narration or the video.
These are my top picks for motivation.
I don’t know what it is, but watching a movie about running while working out just pushes me. I think it’s the same reason that I listen to podcasts about running outside!
What’s your top running movie?
What do you watch on the treadmill?
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