Whether you’re looking for an inspirational documentary to get you back on the road for your new year’s running regimen or a light-hearted flick to enjoy during your recovery days, we’ve got you covered with our pick of the best running movies.
From the very best classics to modern biopics of famous athletes, we’ve selected a wide range of movies to suit whatever mood you’re in and whatever pace you’re feeling.
Best running movies to watch in 2023
Chariots of Fire
Is it time to revisit a 1981 classic? Always! Following the true story of running rivals Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell as they compete for gold in the 1924 Paris Olympics, this special edition version has plenty of extra features.
Get to know the real life story behind the award-winning film through a series of bonus features, which include a closer look at the 1924 Olympic games, as well as director Hugh Hudson’s journey as he created the film. There’s also additional scenes available to check out that were cut from the 1981 release, making this a great edition for those familiar with the story as well as first time viewers.
Free to Run
Director Pierre Morath explores the rise in popularity of running, from an elitist sport reserved for male athletes, to its transition through the ’60s as it became more readily accessible to women in particular, becoming one of the world’s most popular activities.
Released in 2016, this documentary includes interviews from notable athlete Steve Prefontaine as well as women’s rights activist Kathrine Switzer, who became the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon in 1967.
Running for Good
Running for Good tracks the journey of athlete Fiona Oakes who became the fastest female marathon runner on all seven continents, as she tackles a new, intense challenge.
Undeterred by 17 previous knee surgeries, she attempts to break an endurance racing record while participating in the Marathon des Sables, a brutal 250km race that takes place across the Sahara Desert.
If you’ve ever been told to “Run Forrest, Run!” as you’re jogging down a busy street you’ll have this classic to thank. It follows the story of Gump as he recounts the surreal and major events in his life, which include overcoming his leg braces as a child to win an American football scholarship and become a cult running figure, embarking on a three year marathon. It’s one of the best running movies of all time.
Brittany Runs a Marathon
In this 2019 comedy drama, a young woman discovers she barely has the cardio to complete a jog around the block so she decides to put aside her partying ways and bad habits, and see if she has what it takes to complete the New York City Marathon.
This film is based on a true story and won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival upon its premiere.
Run Fatboy Run
Follow Dennis Doyle (Simon Pegg), an out-of-shape dad who tries to win back his former fiancé by proving to himself and his friends that he can successfully complete the London Marathon.
A story that’s more about grit and endurance on race day itself than any natural running ability, this would be a fun recovery film to get you amped for your next session.
Directed by Angelina Jolie, this 2014 film follows the true story of the record-breaking American distance runner Louis Zamperini, who eventually became a pilot in the United States Air Force during World War II.
The epic follows his journey as his plane crashes, he drifts at sea for 47 days and is ultimately captured by Japanese forces and sent to a series of prisoner of war camps, where they discover his status as a former Olympic athlete.
Released on Blu-Ray, it has bonus features including deleted scenes, and a closer look at the real Louis Zamperini.
Thanks to the story and dramatic performances, this is one of the best running movies if you’re looking for inspiration.
The Barkley Marathons
The Barkley Marathons may take place each year in Tennessee with over 40 runners attempting the 100-mile ultramarathon (with 18,000m+ elevation gain – that’s over twice the height of Everest) across a small town, but it’s such a tremendous challenge only 10 people have completed the race in its first 25 years.
This 2014 documentary follows the recent batch of ambitious runners as they take on the challenge to cross the finish line in the 60-hour time limit.
A young Jared Leto stars in this biopic of track legend Steve Prefontaine, who broke every record from the 2,000m distance to the 10,000m event in the US during his reign.
Known as the ‘James Dean of Track’ because of his controversial and aggressive running style, this true story follows Prefontaine’s accomplishments and life story leading to his early death aged just 24.
I Am Bolt
Want to know what it takes to become the greatest sprinter of all time? You can now find out in HD with Usain Bolt’s documentary I am Bolt.
Taking a closer look at how the Jamaican runner earned his triple treble Olympic gold medals, this behind-the-scenes portrait of the athlete provides access to his training days, as well as his coach, sprint team and family background.
With large portions filmed by Bolt itself, this is an authentic look at the athlete with the famous lightning bolt pose.
Prefer to read books then watch TV? Here’s our list of the best triathlon books on the market right now.