January 18, 2016

Running Motivation (movies and books)

I didn't get a single Motivational Monday submission this week! I'm going to cut back the Motivational Monday posts down to "Monthly Motivation" or something like that. Since I've only been getting one or two per week lately, I'll just save them up and post them once in a while.

To keep with the "Motivation" theme today, however, I thought I'd share some of my favorite movies and books about running! I've included the trailers for the movies, so you can see for yourself if it's something you'd like to watch. (I am sorry, but I had to truncate this post because of all the media on it, so if you're reading this on a reader or email, you'll have to click through to the blog).

Here they are, in no particular order...

McFarland, USA

Available on Amazon, Vudu, and iTunes

This is your typical feel-good Disney movie. A physical education teacher of a Latino school discovers several kids with some serious running talent (or potential, rather). He begins to train them to run cross country, despite the kids' parents not being very supportive. As most Disney movies are, it's predictable and a little corny at times, but it is very inspiring and makes you want to run. AND, it's based on a true story!


Available on Amazon, Vudu, and iTunes

Chances are, if you're a runner, you know who Steve "Pre" Prefontaine was. He was a track runner in Oregon who was as confident and cocky (in a likable way) as he was talented. He once held the American record in SEVEN different track events, and he competed in the 1972 olympics. The movie details his life, which ended tragically at age 24. (I recently discovered that Pre and I were each born on January 25th! I think it's fun to share a birthday with a running celebrity.)

Saint Ralph

Available on Amazon (free with Prime!), Vudu, and iTunes

This movie is hilarious! It's about a ninth-grade boy named Ralph who attends a strict Catholic school. He's always getting into trouble, in the way a coming-of-age boy does. He gets caught smoking, and as punishment, he has to join the cross country team. His mother is in the hospital, dying, and Ralph makes a bargain with God that if God heals Ralph's mom, Ralph will train for and WIN the Boston Marathon. This movie is extremely entertaining! The only thing that would make it even better would be if it was a true story (it's not).

4 Minute Mile

Available on NetflixAmazon, Vudu, and iTunes

This movie made me want to run FAST. It's about a high school boy with a tough home life who is discovered to be a very talented runner (kind of like 8 Mile, the movie with Eminem, only instead of rapping, this guy runs). He is trained by (if I remember correctly) a former track coach who turned alcoholic. The coach decides he's going to train him for a sub-4:00 mile. I won't spoil the ending, but it's inspiring ;)

From Fat to Finish Line

Available on Amazon, Netflix, Vudu, and iTunes

I couldn't resist posting this one... From Fat to Finish Line is a documentary that I took part in when I formed a team of runners for a Ragnar Relay. Here are the posts about when/how the team came together. Our team was made up of 12 people who had lost a collective 1200 pounds and became runners throughout our journey. One of the girls that I asked to join the team happened to be a part owner of a small film company, Media Meld Studios, and they thought it would make an awesome documentary. The film has premiered in Nashville and in Las Vegas, and is now available on Netflix and iTunes! Here is the trailer (just try to watch this without getting goosebumps!)

The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young
Available on Amazon, Vudu, Netflix, YouTube, and iTunes

If you want some serious motivation, this is the movie to watch. These people are HARDCORE runners. They run a loop of what seems impossible terrain and elevation changes--100 miles, and it has to be completed in under 60 hours. There are only 40 runners allowed, and it fills up immediately. The application fee is only $1.60 (plus a license plate)--odd, but the film explains it ;) This is a must watch!

These are a few of my favorite books about running. I didn't include training books--these are stories/novels/memoirs about running. (Amazon affiliate links)

Running for My Life: One Lost Boy's Journey from the Killing Fields of Sudan to the Olympic Games
By: Lopez Lamong
This is hands-down my favorite inspirational running book. This is the true story of Lopez Lomong, who went from a refugee from the Sudanese Civil War to being a Nike-sponsored athlete on the US Olympic team. If you find yourself making excuses not to exercise, or take care of yourself, this is a must-read. I felt SO incredibly grateful for my life after reading this book. 

Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner
By: Dean Karnazes
Dean Karnazes is an incredible runner who can basically run for days without stopping. He never gets tired! I was hooked from the first page of this book, which details Karnazes' adventures and how he got started as an ultra runner. This is an interested read whether you are a runner or not!

My Life on the Run: The Wit, Wisdom, and Insights of a Road Racing Icon
By: Bart Yasso, of Runner's World Magazine
In this book, the "mayor of running" Bart Yasso shares tales of some of his most interesting races. I've met Bart a few times at Runner's World events, and his stories are incredible. He has been all over the world and has done some really crazy races--including a naked run at a nudist camp! A very entertaining read.

Born to Run
By: Christopher McDougall
Additional: I feel like it would be a crime not to mention Born to Run, which is pretty much the most famous book of all time about running. I own a copy of the book, and I've started to read it probably five or six times, but I just can't get into it! I'm going to list it here anyway, because so many runners rave about it. (I'm vowing to read the book in its entirety sometime this year. Hold me to that!)

And there you have it--my very favorites. Do you have a favorite running movie or book? Please share!


  1. One of the reasons that Born To Run was so important for me is that I was facing horrible foot issues that kept me from running, and reading about minimalist shoes literally saved my feet. I don't think I'd have been able to run again without being inspired enough by the book to try minimalist running. It took some trial and error but I found the right shoes for me (not the toe shoes!) and now I run without injury.

  2. They trailer for "From Fat to Finish Line" was incredible!! I can't wait to watch it!! Great list, I want to read all those books :)

  3. Oh no! I was going to send in a MM entry, but I forgot it was Monday. MLK day has my week completely thrown off! Great list, though! I will definitely be watching some of these and I can't wait for your documentary to come out!!!

  4. This is a great post. We watched McFarland last night and even my non running husband could see the appeal of running. Thanks so much.

  5. I look forward to seeing From Fat to Finish Line.

  6. The trailer totally got me. Can't wait until it's finished and I can watch the whole thing (and probably cry, lets be honest)!

  7. I loved the FFTFL trailer!! I teared up! Can't wait to see it!!

  8. "How Bad Do You Want It?: Mastering the Psychology of Mind over Muscle" by Matt Fitzgerald was a recent and mind-blowing read. He's exploring recent studies on how mental fitness is a greater determinant (and limiter!) for our performance than physical fitness for endurance folks. He uses different examples across sports, like Greg Lamond and Pre to highlight different aspects of mental fitness. Super inspiring!

  9. I wanted to say GREAT birthday!! I too am January 25th. Great blog too, I am glad I follow.

  10. Loved seeing the trailer for From Fat to Finish Line! Very inspirational! My favorite running-related book is "The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances" by Matthew Inman, AKA The Oatmeal. It's a book of his comics dealing with running. They are funny and immediately relatable. I plan on doing the Beat the Blerch half marathon in 2016!

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  12. Love the trailer, Katie! Great book list, too. My favorite running book, so far (yours isn't out yet!), is "The Long Run" by Matt Long with Charles Butler. His courage and determination to keep fighting for his life after surviving a near-death crash is truly inspiring as he demonstrates for all of us that you CAN triumph over tremendous adversity. That said, you, and the runners featured in the trailer, are a real inspiration, too. I've got 120 pounds to lose and you're all guiding the way. Thank you.

  13. For real I owe you at least two submissions. I ran my first half marathon in November (I can't remember if I commented that before) and I hit goal weight. But I'm honestly so depressed im barely doing anything for myself. I'm not even excited about goal. I lost all the weight following your blog over the last 2+ years and im actually below goal (I set a new goal since I've never been this thin) but I'm just too sad. I feel like crap. Nobody tells you losing the weight doesn't fix your brain.

    1. I just clicked over to your blog - I'm sorry you've had to go through that, it must have been incredibly emotionally difficult. Be kind to yourself. {{{ virtual hug }}}

    2. Emily, this makes me sad for you :( Please feel free to email me any time!

  14. I have watched the first two movies and loved them both. I am curious to see the other two you mentioned now....I have never even heard of either of them before. ;-)

  15. Cannot WAIT to see your movie!!!

  16. Btw...can I just say that you look freaking adorable in that trailer!

  17. I suggest getting "Born to Run" on Audiobook. The first couple of chapters are pretty slow, but then it becomes incredibly engaging. I listened to it in my car, twice.

  18. What a great post! I am teary eyed after seeing the trailer for From Fat to Finish Line. Definitely going to have to watch it with some tissues!


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