Running Movies … Just in case you want a little motivation, there is nothing better than running to showcase the power of inner strength over adversity

February 16, 2019

You might have gathered that I love running.

Ever since the age of 10, when a group from my school used to head out each lunchtime for a run along the old railway line at Rothbury, I’ve been hooked. Since then I’ve run competitively in events all around the world.

I remember back in 1981 running the first ever Great North Run in 91 minutes as a 13 year old. I remember watching Steve Cram racing in and empty Gateshead stadium one night, in a last ditch effort to get an Olympic qualifying time, and then running a sub-4 pb in my own race, whilst still inspired minutes later. I remember competing in amazing races from Golden Gate Park in San Francisco to the peaks of Black Forest mountains near Freiburg, winning a fabulous race through the packed summer streets of Palma, and the lone westerner in a 10km at the Leipzig Sports Institute just after the Berlin Wall came down. I remember the incredible thrill of Super Saturday in London 2012’s Olympic stadium, as Jess and then Greg and then Mo gained gold. And I still get goosebumps when I hear the Chariots of Fire music of Vangelis.

Which brings me to movies, or running movies, to be precise. So if you want motivation, incredible stories of human success over adversity, running films have it in bundles. Here are some of the best:

The Barkley Marathons (2014)

In its first 25 years, only 10 people have ever completed this 100 km ultra marathon race, which is based on a prison escape and has a cut-off of 60 hours. The alternative is the 60km event, which is known as the “fun run.”  

 Run Fat Boy Run (2007)

This film starring Simon Pegg is about a non-runner who enters a marathon as a drunken bet. We follow his haphazard training through to the inevitable raceday drama. Funny and heart warming in equal measure.

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

This may not be a running film per se but contains plenty of running scenes. When Pat attacks his wife’s lover and is sent for therapy he turns to running to help sort himself out.

Unbroken (2014)

Based on the excellent book of the same name and directed by Angelina Jolie, this film tells the true life story of Louis Zamperini, a US Olympic track record holder who ends up a prisoner of war during the Second World War.


Forrest Gump (1994)

This is a true masterpiece. Who can’t be moved by Tom Hanks in this brilliant film about a simpleton who takes to running? It’s full of brilliant quotes and 25 years after its release is still one of our all time favourites.

Chariots of Fire (1981)

Worth watching just for the opening scene and inspiration. The story of Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell in an amateur age when values and belief were everything.

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962) 

A coming-of-age British film based on a short story, this film tells of an boy from the slums who reviews his troubled past while training for a race. Importantly it perfectly demonstrates how the pure act of running can be used as much for mental escape and wellbeing as physical fitness.

Running for Good – The Fiona Oakes Documentary (2018)

If you only have time to watch one new film, please watch this. It follows the story of world record marathon holder, Fiona Oakes who was told (aged 14) she would never walk properly and has no kneecap, as she prepares for the Marathon des Sables. When she’s not running Fiona spends her time devoted to the 450+ animals in her sanctuary. She is a rare combination of gritty determination and compassion. 

The Office (American) – Fun Run – Season 4, Episodes 1/2 (2007)

When office manager Michael Scott insists everyone enters a 5km charity race, chaos ensues. From the errors of carbo-loading to bleeding nipples, this is one of our favourite episodes from The Office.

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