Movie Recommendations for Runners

I’ve been thinking a lot about movies this month, since it is Oscars month, after all. I always like to watch an inspiring movie the night before or week of a really big race. If you need some running inspiration or you’re just looking to satisfy your inner running nerd, check out one of these excellent movies about running.

   McFarland, USA

This heartwarming drama follows novice cross-country runners who strive to build a successful team under Coach Jim White (Kevin Costner) in their predominantly Latino high school. Based on a true story of a hard-working group of teenage boys and their dedicated coach, the film’s themes and lessons are applicable and inspiring, whether or not you’re a runner. Beyond the boys’ talent, it’s the power of family, commitment to each other and work ethic that transform them into champions — helping them achieve their own American dream.


This film brings to life the incredible true story of Olympic legend Jesse Owens. In his epic quest to be the greatest athlete in history, Owens chooses to compete in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, where he must overcome not only elite competition, but also the brutal racial climate of Adolf Hitler’s Germany. Race is an inspiring story about courage, determination, tolerance, friendship and trust.

   Chariots of Fire

You may know the theme song from the movie very well, but not be very familiar with the actual story. The 1981 Best Picture winner, this film tells the fascinating story of two Olympic sprinters from Great Britain who run for different reasons in the 1924 Olympics. One is a devout Protestant running for the glory of God and the other is a Jew running to overcome prejudice.

   Spirit of the Marathon

This documentary shares the stories of six runners preparing for the 2005 Chicago Marathon. The runners, all with very different backgrounds and ability levels, have varied reasons for running the race and have their share of challenges along the way. Interspersed through their personal stories are vintage footage and interviews with running legends that illustrate the rich history of marathon running.


Adapted from the enormously popular book by the same name, this unbelievable and inspiring true story is all about the resilient power of the human spirit. The epic drama follows the incredible life of Olympian and war hero Louis “Louie” Zamperini who, along with two other crewmen, survived in a raft for 47 days after a near-fatal plane crash in WWII – only to be caught by the Japanese navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp.

    Without Limits

This film dramatizes the life of Steve Prefontaine, America’s top distance runner in the 1970’s, whose record-setting, front-running style revolutionized the sport and captivated American running fans like no other distance runner.

   Run for Your Life

This documentary tells the story of how Fred Lebow, a Romanian immigrant, took the NYC marathon from a small, unknown race in Central Park and turned it into the worldwide, celebrated event that it is today. Through the use of archival footage and interviews with famous runners such as Bill Rodgers and Grete Waitz, the film explains how Lebow ignored many naysayers and galvanized support for his big idea – to take the NYC marathon to the streets of the city’s five boroughs — and made the dream a reality in 1976.

   Spirit of the Marathon II

Similar to the first Spirit of the Marathon, the film follows runners from all walks of life as they prepare for their big race. While the setting for the original film was the Chicago Marathon, this time the runners are hitting the streets of Rome.


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