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Top 15 Running Movies to Inspire the Runner in You

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Cinema is a fantastic medium to tell inspiring tales. Tales that get you moving, stir self-confidence mixed with a sense of self-worth and motivates one to get up and see life in a new light. While some movies tell you fictional stories, giving some food for thought, others narrate adventures and true-life events to inspire you out of your bed and get you going, or running in this case. Narratives like running movies fall into the second category.

Every now and then some of us who are passionate about certain things like running need to be reminded of our love for the passion. Running isn’t just an exercise, it’s an escapism – an escapism from the daily stress, the monotony of life, and in certain cases, it’s a coping mechanism with grief and anxiety.

Top 15 Running Movies to Uplift Your Passion for Running

Nike has a point, you know when it asks you to just do it. Because if you won’t allow yourself then nobody else can. Out of the 100 percent, more than 10 percent of motivation comes from within – that you can do it, that if not today then when? And if you need that extra nudge then here are 15 movies on running, check out!

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Four Minutes Mile (2005)

IMDB Ratings: 6.3/10

Four Minutes Mile (source)

This movie is based on the true story of Roger Bannister who cracked the famous “Four Minute” barrier in the history of track running. A young and troubled Bannister (Kelly Blatz) is shaped by an alcoholic coach (Richard Jenkins) using unconventional means of training, leading the talented Roger Bannister to set a new world record on the clock at 3:59.4. The route to Bannister's glory is paved with family issues that the boy deals with, his own moral conflict, and the redemption of a waning mentor.

This movie is most arguably one of the best running movies that will inspire to be a national hero just like Roger Bannister. Watch it for the solid chemistry between Kelly Blatz and Richard Jenkins.

Prefontaine (1997)

IMDB Ratings: 7.2/10

Prefontaine (source)

Another movie based on the true story of Oregon’s running hero, Steve Prefontaine. The 1997 release, Prefontaine is a biopic on a guy who was apparently “too small” to play other sports but was resurrected as he found his talent as a distance runner. The movie portrays Steve Prefontaine for who he was- an ambitious, conceited, ruthless competitor with steely determination. Watch it to get a closer understanding of an Olympic hopeful, Steve Prefontaine, who broke all the American track records of his time despite being born with a non-athlete structure and one of the legs shorter! 

Spirit of the Marathon (2007)

IMDB Ratings: 7.6/10

Spirit of the Marathon (source)

If you need motivation during a marathon training then play this movie on your DVD. Spirit of the Marathon documents the learning and training of six runners who run in the 2005 Chicago Marathon. It follows the emotional highs and lows of the runners, elite and otherwise. Of the elite marathoners, the movie closely followed Deena Kastor and other first timers who gear up for other elite marathon events such as the Boston Marathon. Though critics describe Spirit of the Marathon as somewhat amateurish, witnessing the sweat and pain endured by these real-life marathoners will make your heart pump up with inspiration and motivation.

St. Ralph (2004)

IMDB Ratings: 7.6/10

St. Ralph (source)

Inspiration comes from risks taken and not from age. St. Ralph is about the grit determination of a 13-year-old boy named Saint Ralph from Canada who sets out on a bold quest of winning the 1954 Boston Marathon. Watch it for the badass workout Ralph does to prep up. We bet you'd tear up a bit to know the innocent motive that drives him into the Boston Marathon.

The Jericho Mile (1979)

IMDB Ratings: 7.5/10

The Jericho Mie
The Jericho Mile (source)

The Jericho Mile is an Emmy winning movie that shows how determined runners can be for the passion of running.This is the story of a murder convict who is redeemed by his innate running talent discovered while he is doing his time in the jail. Although the protagonist, Larry “Rain” Murphy has the streaks of an Olympic competitor, the man himself is resistant to the idea. Can the jail officials turn him around? And how? Watch to know.

Chariots of Fire (1981)

IMDB Ratings: 7.2/10

Chariots of Fire (source)

A true runner movie with a sensational theme music, Chariots of Fire tells the story of Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell who represented Great Britain in the 1924 Olympics. Each of the two men faces his own sets of obstacles and struggles with severe criticism to emerge as champions in the true sense of the word. Chariots of Fire show two facets of an athlete- in Abraham, we see the sportsman who immensely believes in his athleticism and runs the race to leave prejudices behind while in the humble Lindell we find a man running for his faith. One thing that the movie clearly states is that no one can tell “you can’t” except for yourself. And you of all shouldn’t be the one telling that!

Personal Best (1982)

IMDB Rating: 6.3/10

Personal Best (source)

\What happens when your dreams of competing in the Olympics is crushed due to political reason? How do you measure your calibre when your set benchmark was beating other runners in the mother of all sports events?

Personal Best is a running movie on a group of women athletes trying to qualify for the American track-and-field team bound for the 1980 Olympic Games. The movie upholds the age old saying - your best competitor is you. Beat your last best time to create new competition for yourself Plus, you have Olympic marathoner and legendary sportswriter Kenny Moore in the cast

The Mountain Runners (2012)

IMDB Rating: 8.4/10 

The Mountain Runners (source)

This is definitely one of the most inspiring running documentaries in the landscape of sports movies. The Mountain Runners accounts the incredible story of early ultramountain runners who ran in America’s First mountain endurance foot race between 1991-1913. These amateur athletes attempt the arduous 28 to 32-mile race to the summit of Mount Baker, a 10,781 ft. volcanic, glacial peak and return to the town to win $100.00 in gold.  Equipped with nothing but their wits and fast feet, can these amateur mountain marathoners accomplish the grueling marathon?

Town of Runners (2012)

IMDB Rating: 7.1/10

Town of Runners (source)

Running gives hope to some of us. The hopes to have a better life. A chance to pull yourself and your family from the rural gutters and sleep in decent houses.

Such is the story of three Ethiopian adolescent runners from the rural town of Bekoji in the movie, Towns of Runners. A fine documentary on running, Town of Runners follow the life of three budding runners from school competitions to national tracks.

Forrest Gump (1994)

IMDB Ratings: 8.8/10

Forrest Gump (source)

Sweeping Oscars for a brilliant storyline and excellent portrayal of “Forrest Gump” by Tom Hanks, this movie unfolds historic events through the perspective of a man with a marginal intelligence of 75. After the iconic “Run Forrest Run” scene where a young Forrest with leg braces runs to save himself from bullies, Gump finds a new found confidence and thrill in running that earns him a football scholarship from the University of Alabama. From running to bagging football scholarship to fighting in the Vietnam War, Gump does it all. And it all begin with an earnest effort to overcome his disability, isn't is uplifting?

Marathon Boy (2010)

IMDB Ratings: 7.3/10

Marathon Boy (source)

Director, Gemma Atwal tells the shocking story of a 4-year-old boy from India who displayed the rare talent of long distance running. The arc of the story begins from Budhia being discovered by coach Biranchi Das following his insane popularity and ends as both are shattered by broken dreams. This is an ugly tale of opportunism and exploitation where politics plays a catalyst. Be prepared to cry a little as you discover the lovely, selfless bond between Budhia and his coach.

Goshen Film (2015)

IMDB Rating: 8.2/10

Goshen Film (source)

A documentary on Mexico’s Tarahumara tribe, Goshen Fim investigates and bring the Tarahumara people’s diet, ultra-running endurance, and the ability to running with minimal footwear to the world. In the Tarahumara society, (long distance) running is a tradition that the natives want to preserve as an identity of their tribe. That running is more than “just running” is understood through this movie.

De Marathon (2012)

IMDB Rating: 7.5/10

De Marathon (source)

A group of very out-of-shape men decides to run a marathon to win the prize money to pay off a debt of EUR40.000. Can these "not-so-fit to marathon" aspirants win the longest race of their lives? This is one runner movie that gives hope to any “out-of-shape” ordinary man to strive for extra ordinary goals.

McFarland, USA (2015)

IMDB Ratings: 7.4/10

McFarland, USA (source)

This movie dishes out the old hat sports movie formula of a failed football coach who discovers running talent in a bunch of goofy students and nurtures them to be the country’s one of the best cross country running teams. But what sets McFarland, USA apart is its brilliant direction and an ensemble of skillful actors. The movie echoes that the desire to run with a bit of training guidance can make great things happen, like being the country’s best runners. 

Running the Sahara (2007)

IMDB Rating: 7.1/10

Running the Sahara
Running the Sahara (source)

Do you need a greater inspiring story? Here’s one – Running the Sahara is the tale of three men who attempt to run the Sahara Desert coast to coast and become the first ones to accomplish it. This running documentary covers the 111-day journey of the ultrarunners running for more than 4,300 miles on the challenging terrain. The harsh conditions of the desert do play with the runners' mind and determination but they are too passionate to give up. And running in and out of the countries- Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Libya, and Egypt, they finally accomplish the unthinkable.

And that’s our list of running movies to inspire you.

All of the above-mentioned running movies or documentaries tell the same running story but with a different angle. Some speak of a runner’s personal struggles while others talk about the external obstacles they face. But every one of them run towards the ultimate running goal - the pursuit of self-recognition and heroic glory.

Like we said running is a passion and every passion needs the inspiration to keep doing it, to achieve relative excellence in it. Watch our hand-picked list of movies on running and pick your ultimate running movie from the lot.

Do tell us why you picked the movie and what inspired you the most in it.

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