There are a lot more movies about running out there than you might think. So which are the best ones that are worth your precious time? I have in my personal collection a boatload of movies from “Prefontaine” to “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner” to “Athlete”, but which of these really captures the spirit of who we are and what we do? Which ones are worth giving two hours of your life to?

  1. Let’s start with the Steve Prefontaine movies. The three I know of are:
    • Without Limits
    • Prefontaine
    • Fire on the TrackI have worn out two DVD copies each of “Without Limits” and “Prefontaine”, so enough said. I recorded “Fire on the Track” on VHS when it debuted right after the Prefontaine Classic that year. I have watched it three times since, for fear of ruining it. All three pre-films get 5 winged feet.
  2. Finish Line (1989) was an after-school movie about the dangers of steroids, it starred a very young Josh Brolin and Mariska Hargitay. I found it on VHS a few years ago and had it converted to DVD. If you can find it, it’s definitely worth the watch. 5 winged feet.
  3. Four Minutes (2005) follows Sir Roger Bannister on his quest and ultimate victory of the 4-minute mile. I’m not too crazy about this one. The book was better. 2 winged feet.
  4. Running Brave (1983) tells the story of Billy Mills, featuring his trials, tribulations, and underdog come-from-behind win at the Tokyo Olympics. A good flick but kind of slow at times. 3.5 winged feet.
  5. The Jericho Mile (1979) is a phenomenal movie about a convict in San Quentin who runs to escape the walls in his mind and is given a shot to qualify for the Olympic Trials. 5 winged feet.
  6. On the Edge (1986) is a fictional story about the Dipsea Race in California and a disgraced runner attempting a comeback. It stars actual runner Bruce Dern and Pam Grier. A must see. 4.5 winged feet.
  7. The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962) This film is based on the Alan Sillitoe book. I really couldn’t stand either the book or film. I guess I’m not that deep, although the Iron Maiden song is really good. .5 winged feet. The Maiden song gets 4 winged feet.
  8.  Running (1979) Michael Douglas is a wannabe Olympian trying to prove himself to those around him..Yawn. 2 winged feet.
  9. Chariots of Fire (1981) is ok. I really don’t get the hubbub. There is a great quote, though, that I use a lot myself, “You can eat an elephant one bite at a time.” Great advice for taking on a big training schedule. 2 winged feet.
  10. The next five are all great, inspirational, and entertaining documentaries that I would highly suggest. All get 4 winged feet:
    • Athlete
    • Spirit of the Marathon
    • Run for Your Life
    • Running the Sahara
    • Running on the Sun
  11. Forrest Gump, is an amazing movie about a guy in the right place and right time, all the time, every time. NOT A RUNNING MOVIE! I’m glad we’ve established that. It gets 5 winged feet for the movie and 3 winged feet for incorporating running into its plot. 

Movies are great motivators, psychologists, and just plain fun.