Whether you’re an experienced runner, or simply contemplating your first jog, these are some truly inspiring movies and documentaries that offer a burst of running motivation.
They can inspire our thoughts to consider possibilities, and leave us feeling inspired and motivated. Which is the perfect nutrition to be ‘feeding’ our minds.
Inspiring Running Movies
Dive into this list – each one guaranteed to fuel your motivation, touch your heart, and make you reach for those running shoes 🙂
Kipchoge: The Last Milestone (2021)
This documentary is centered around Eliud Kipchoge, the world-renowned Kenyan long-distance runner, and his quest to break one of the last barriers in modern athletics: running a marathon in under two hours.
The film provides an intimate look into Kipchoge’s preparation, training, and mindset leading up to the INEOS 1:59 Challenge in Vienna in 2019.
Through this journey, viewers are given a glimpse into the dedication, philosophy, and spirit of an athlete who has consistently pushed the boundaries of human capability. Beyond the athletic feat, Kipchoge’s endeavor stands as a testament to the broader human potential, encapsulated by his mantra: “No human is limited.”
It’s an inspirational watch, particularly for those passionate about running, but its messages about determination, discipline, and breaking perceived limits resonate universally.
Just. One. Mile. (2022)
Just one mile? Sounds easy right?!
A documentary about a grueling and psychologically challenging endurance race to be the last one standing.
McFarland, USA (2015)
Based on a true story, this film stars Kevin Costner as a coach who forms a cross-country team in a predominantly Latino high school.
The movie showcases the challenges and triumphs of the team members, both in sport and life.
Brittany Runs a Marathon (2019)
A comedy/drama based on a true story about Brittany, a woman living in New York who takes up running as a way to take control of her health and life.
Throughout her journey, she confronts her past, reshapes her identity, and challenges societal expectations.
I’m Not A Runner (2021)
An inspiring documentary for all of those who automatically say ‘I’m not a runner’.
From their couches to the New York Marathon, this documentary shows the story of a group of women who face their fears and doubts, to find their inner strength and tenacity. A must watch for everyone who doubts that they are ‘enough’.
Running For Good (2018)
A documentary that follows the journey of Fiona Oakes, a veteran marathon runner and dedicated vegan.
What makes Fiona’s story remarkable is not only her outstanding achievements in extreme marathons but her personal background. Despite losing a kneecap in her teenage years, Fiona has defied all odds by competing in some of the world’s most grueling marathons, including the Marathon des Sables.
This documentary is truly inspiring, showcasing the resilience of the human spirit. It also highlights the intersection of personal passion with a larger cause, making “Running for Good” a compelling watch for those inspired by stories of perseverance, commitment, and purpose-driven lives.
The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young (2014)
This documentary provides an in-depth look at one of the most notoriously challenging ultramarathons in the world – The Barkley Marathons.
Held annually in Tennessee, the race consists of five 20-mile loops (though many argue it’s more than 20 miles) through thick woods, treacherous terrains, and unpredictable weather. The Barkley Marathons is as eccentric as it is brutal.
The documentary captures the spirit, pain, and sheer determination of the participants attempting to complete this almost mythical race.
This film is especially inspiring for those who appreciate endurance sports, and it offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of extreme ultramarathoning. The tales of perseverance and resilience resonate with not just runners but anyone who appreciates stories of human determination against seemingly insurmountable odds.
Plus it’s crazy, in a good way 🙂
Finding Traction (2014)
An inspiring documentary about ultra runner, Nikki Kimball’s quest to become the fastest person in history to run America’s oldest hiking trail, the 273-mile Long Trail.
A powerful story about possibilities, endurance the the human spirit.
Fast Girls (2012)
A British sports drama that delves into the world of professional track and field. The story centers on two ambitious young athletes from different backgrounds: a talented sprinter from a working-class neighborhood, and a privileged and equally skilled competitor.
As they are both selected to represent the UK in the World Championships 4x100m relay team, the film dives into their intense rivalry, personal struggles, and the challenges of teamwork.
Iron Cowboy: The Story of the 50.50.50 (2018)
This documentary captures the incredible journey of James Lawrence, also known as the “Iron Cowboy”.
In an attempt to test the limits of human endurance and capability, Lawrence sets out to complete 50 Ironman triathlons, in 50 days, across 50 states in the U.S.
An Ironman triathlon consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride, and a 26.2-mile marathon run – a challenge in itself!
The film not only showcases the grueling physical challenges James faces but also delves deep into the mental and emotional struggles he undergoes. Throughout the journey, the viewer witnesses the significance of determination, family support, and the human capacity to push past perceived boundaries.
The Courage To Run (2021)
A short, but inspiring story of Chip Gaines (‘Fixer Upper‘) meets Gabe Grunewald, a professional runner, who is battling cancer.
The documentary shows the highs and lows of Chip and Gabe training for a marathon together.
The Human Race (2019)
“The Human Race” is a documentary that challenges the conventional expectations of age.
This inspiring film follows six runners, aged between 50 and 90, as they train for the biggest races of their lives. They take on marathons, half-marathons, and the awe-inspiring Comrades ultramarathon in South Africa.
Through their journeys, the documentary delves into the physical and mental challenges of long-distance running, especially as an older athlete. Beyond just the races, the film highlights the transformative power of running and how it can offer purpose, combat the challenges of aging, and promote positive mental health.
Run Fatboy Run (2007)
A funny, but still an inspiring take on running, this film stars Simon Pegg as a man who decides to run a marathon to prove himself to his ex-fiancée and son.
Through training and perseverance, he discovers his own potential.
A biographical film about Steve Prefontaine, a legendary American long-distance runner who set multiple national records.
The story portrays his ambitious nature and tragic early death.
This film is based on the life of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who becomes a prisoner of war during World War II.
While not completely about running, the film touches on Zamperini’s early life and athletic achievements.
Spirit of the Marathon (2007)
A documentary that shows the journey of six marathon runners, from professionals to first-timers, as they train for the Chicago Marathon.
The film provides insight into the challenges and rewards of marathon running.
Chariots of Fire (1980)
An oldie, but a classic!
This film tells the true story of two British athletes preparing for the 1924 Olympics: Eric Liddell, a devout Christian who runs for God, and Harold Abrahams, a Jew who runs to overcome prejudice. The film explores themes of faith, determination, and national pride.
Forrest Gump (1994)
Okay, while Forrest Gump is not solely about running, the main character Forrest uses running as a way to cope with pain and later inspires people nationwide during his long-distance runs.
The movie shows how running can bring about self-discovery and inspire others.
“Overcomer” tells the story of high school basketball coach John Harrison. When his school’s basketball season faces an abrupt end, John is disappointed and questioning what his purpose is. He finds himself coaching cross country, a sport he doesn’t even like.
His outlook begins to change when he meets Hannah Scott, an aspiring athlete who’s facing her own personal challenges. As John learns more about Hannah’s backstory, he also discovers his own sense of purpose through their shared journey of faith and determination.
At its core, the movie highlights the importance of identity, self-worth, and understanding one’s place in the world through the lens of Christian faith.
For those who appreciate faith-based films, it offers an uplifting message about finding one’s true identity and purpose in life.
Patriots Day (2016)
‘Patriots Day’ is not primarily about running, but centers around the tragic events of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.
While the marathon itself serves as the backdrop, the movie provides a gripping account of the events as they unfolded, highlighting the bravery, resilience, and unity of the Boston community. It’s a tribute to real-life heroes, from law enforcement to everyday citizens, who came together during a dark moment in history.
While the focus isn’t on the act of running or runners’ journeys, the Boston Marathon serves as a symbol of the human spirit’s endurance, making it an impactful watch for if you’re wanting to watch stories of hope and resilience against adversity.
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