Best Running Documentaries to Keep you Motivated


Few human experiences are more inspiring than the marathon.  The energy of a race, the hours on the road, the rush of completing a hard run with a personal record and even muscle soreness can be downright thrilling.  However, even the most enthusiastic runners need resources for motivation at certain points in their training.  One of my favorite sources of inspiration comes from documentaries about my favorite sport.  There is no shortage of these to draw from, but this article will list my personal favorites.

The Spirit of the Marathon

My first and foremost favorite documentary is The Spirit of the Marathon, featuring Deena Kastor (who happens to be my personal running hero) and Daniel Njenga, who are elitists in the sport.  It is one of the best to date (in my humble opinion).  Along with Kastor, runners at various levels of skill and experience are featured in their quest to conquer the 2005 Chicago marathon.  The documentary provides a realistic look into all aspects of the 26.2 mile race; the training regimen, emotional investment, losses and victories are all depicted in the shadow of the greatness of the human spirit.  There is something for elitists and first timers alike in this passionate film – and the sound track makes for an excellent long run playlist that is sure to bring you into beast mode.

Run for your Life

Run for your Life chronicles the life and work of Fred Lebowitz, who changed his name to Fred Lebow upon his Americanization as a Jewish immigrant.  Fred Lebow founded the New York City Marathon and is credited with transforming the sport from an elitist event to one that is inclusive for runners of all ability levels and stages of training.  The film documents the birth and growth of the NYC Marathon as well as documents the behind the scenes action that takes place before the runners take the starting line all the way through to the finish.  This film inspires me and many others to take to the streets in true NYC fashion; no holds, no barriers.

Marathon Boy

Marathon Boy is another incredible look inside the marathon and its test of human endurance – from the perspective of a young child.  The film features four year old Budhia Singh, who is rescued and raised by orphanage operator and judo coach Biranchi Das.  Das encourages the raw and uncanny talent for endurance running demonstrated by young Singh, but soon faces harsh criticism from his countrymen (and the rest of the world) when the child collapses during a daunting 65 km run.  While this film captures dramatic political struggles and social dynamics unique to India, it does so in the context of the grueling endurance required of distance runners of all ages.  I found myself asking the question that all marathon runners ask themselves at some point during their training; “How far is too far?”

If you find yourself in need of motivation or inspiration to conquer your next stretch of mileage, check out one of these documentaries.  Of course, you could always read awesome running articles here at

4 thoughts on “Best Running Documentaries to Keep you Motivated”

  1. These seem to be some good choices. Spirit of the Marathon was very good and I really that it was cool to learn more about Deena Kastor after learning a little about her life in Born to Run. I have not seen Spirit of the Marathon II yet but it gets even better reviews than Spirit of the Marathon. I will totally have to check out the other ones you recommend!

  2. Oh cool…I didn’t realize there was a Spirit of the Marathon II…going to check that out!

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