Reel motivation for runners

It can be tough to get out of bed on these hot, humid days to train for the Mill Race Marathon that is approaching quickly Sept. 26.

So how about this movie fare at night to get you pumped up for the next morning’s run? Here are five of the top movies about distance running.

No. 1 — “Forrest Gump”

The 1994 film won six Oscars, including Best Picture, which means you can watch it with your friends whether they run or not. Tom Hanks plays a slow-witted Alabama native who in one part of the movie takes to long-distance running in an attempt to escape his problems. The running scenes were glorified as a route to discovery for both Gump and those who followed his relentless trail. This movie is about a whole lot more than running, but it’s tough to watch without wanting to go lace them up.

No. 2 — “Spirit of the Marathon”

The 2007 documentary follows runners are they prepare for the 2005 Chicago Marathon. Director Jon Dunham said he wanted the film “to offer inspiration for anyone who sets out to achieve a goal that takes the determination, effort and attitude of running a marathon.” What makes this one special is that it just doesn’t follow elite runners, but a cross-section of runners who cover the distance for different reasons. In other words, we can identify with some of them. It should get you off the couch.

No. 3 — “Saint Ralph”

OK, this isn’t great filmmaking, it’s great marathon filmmaking from 2004. Cornball in nature, the story of a Catholic school teenager trying to win the Boston Marathon as a miracle to pull his mother out of a coma is silly in nature, but who doesn’t watch one of those Lifetime network movies on occasion? The hero in this one, Ralph Walker, manages to overcome life’s tragedies by turning his focus to marathon running. It’s about effort and perseverance and, ultimately, it has a happy ending. What miracles can you produce by running a marathon?

No. 4 — “Run, Fatboy, Run”

Running doesn’t have to be grim. In this 2007 movie, our protagonist decides to run a marathon as a way to win back the love of his life. A lot of it is standard fare, the lazy, knucklehead transforming into a disciplined human by becoming obsessed with running. We know what’s going to happen, but that’s OK. It’s all possible. David Schwinner directed, so smile as you begin training.

No. 5 — “Unbreakable: The Western States 100”

What better way to prepare for a marathon than to watch a 2011 movie about people who run 100 miles through the mountains? The film covers the 2010 West States ultramarathon and the amazing top runners who congregated for it. The film is caught from every conceivable angle, so you might feel like your going to yak yourself in the later stages. By the time it is over, though, you feel your morning workout is a stroll in the park.