Last week my wife suggested a date night where we actually do something normal couples do, namely go to dinner and a movie. She had her heart set on the movie Brittany Runs a Marathon, and I was curious to see how a movie like this portrays the general trajectory of someone who wants to undertake running. Unfortunately, the release of this film seems to be somewhat limited, so we had to first find a theater that was showing the movie. We found it at the White Bear Lake theater and found a nice place to get dinner along the way.
Dinner turned out to be a bit of an adventure, but that’s a different story. We grabbed some popcorn and our seats in time for the previews to wrap up. The basic outline of Brittany Runs a Marathon is the story of a woman who isn’t having a lot of success in life. Very early in the film she’s confronted with a doctor who wants her to lose some weight and start eating better. She has a neighbor in her building that is a runner, and one day, she decides to go for a run. Her goal is to run one block, and I have to say, they captured her initial foray into running (from a sedentary life) pretty darn well. She was a complete wreck after just a few minutes.
I won’t spoil the plot of the rest of the film, but I wanted to touch on the reality of the film. It’s loosely based on a person that the director knew, and so it did a decent job of adhering to a typical runner’s journey. She has to learn how to run, and experience all the little trials and setbacks that come with that journey. She makes friends along the way, and learns that running is more than just one foot in front of the other, but a lifestyle. Many of the running elements of the movie are well portrayed, but I did have a nitpick in one scene. At one point it shows that she’s running an 8:30/min mile, but the effort being displayed on screen is very much less than this. It’s a small nitpick, but as my wife pointed out, it’s probably due to the person the story is based on in real life.
Despite being a movie about running a marathon, it really ends up being a movie about self-discovery, acceptance, and growth. You don’t need to be a runner to enjoy the message of the movie, and that’s really what makes this film special. For those of us in the running world, the life surrounding our running often plays a vital role in why we run. That’s certainly the case in Brittany Runs a Marathon, and it’s why the film works so well. She’s a flawed person, who finds stability in challenging herself. It’s a message that all of us, runner or not, can relate to.