Find Workout Inspiration Before you Finish Your Coffee. Avoid the Internet Rabbit Hole.

ipad and coffee cup

Need a just-right documentary, podcast, or guided workout to go with your endurance workout? Find it fast with zone2review.

I built zone2review to solve the problem of quickly finding inspirational podcasts, documentaries or guided workout videos to motivate me to get started on a workout.

I love training but getting started can be hard, especially if you need to work out indoors on a treadmill or trainer due to weather, terrain or family constraints. (Getting psyched up to run beautiful trails on a sunny day is not a problem!)

Finding the right documentary – something I’m excited to watch and that will keep my mind occupied, or an inspiring podcast for a long run outside, has been the perfect solution to get me going. That and excellent coffee.

The problem is finding that perfect documentary or podcast. And finding it before 40 minutes of productive morning time is lost forever.

While sipping the last of my morning cup I would start a “quick” search on my phone for something inspiring to watch. Check the Netflix app? Amazon Prime? (I subscribe to both but don’t have cable.) Anything new on SalomonTV? YouTube? GCN Channel? Podcast apps? Where’s my list of shows? Notes app? Or did I write it down somewhere…? What about Reddit? I’m sure I saw a great list there one time…

Suddenly I realize that 45 minutes have flown by. My coffee cup is cold and empty. I have to be somewhere in an hour. Do I still have time to workout and shower and get there in time? ARGH! It’s only 8 in the morning and I have already failed at having a successful day.

All I had to do was get in 5 miles easy and now I can’t. I’m so mad at myself. It’s early morning and I’ve already ruined the day by wasting all that time. I hit play on the first half-decent show I see, and head down to the treadmill for 3 miles with a dark attitude.

Fortunately I am able to get some perspective and get on with the day but I still wish there was a better way. I’m no pro athlete but still it hurts to feel like you are losing fitness, especially when you want to workout but just ran out of time.

After repeating the above scenario too many times I wondered if I could find a bookmarking or productivity app that would help me streamline the process. I found and tested a few options but nothing that worked really well for me.

For months and years I have been finding and making a note of inspiring workout content and telling my friends “you’ve got to watch this documentary about the Barkley Marathons – it’ll make your run feel so easy!” Or, “There are these awesome bike workouts on YouTube that are free and have a coach telling you what to do – you don’t need Peloton.”

There’s so much good stuff out there but it’s spread all over: Netflix and Amazon, YouTube and Vimeo, Audible and iTunes, plus a myriad of sponsor websites like SalomonTV or REI. It’s hard for the target audience to find and that must be equally frustrating for the athletes and sponsors that invest in production.

I’m a web designer/developer by day and I love all endurance sports and training. It occurred to me that I could build a website/app to make it easier for people to find the best endurance workout inspiration videos and audio. And find them quickly too, ideally in less time than it takes finish a cup of morning coffee.

The idea stuck with me so I set to work and created zone2review.

Coming up with a name was harder than I expected due to domain name availability. I love the name zone2review as it implies efficiency and speed. And of course, if you tuck in behind someone (metaphorically here the athlete/coach/trainer/inspiring person you are watching or listening to), then it’s significantly less hard to make the same gains.

Unfortunately, while not in use, wasn’t for sale at an affordable price so I picked – no “i” instead. (If you would do differently I would be interested to hear your domain name vote – at the bottom of this post there’s a quick poll.)

The zone2review website I created has 3 main features:

  1. Super high-quality videos, audio, and books from all over the Internet. Human-curated and tested for workout suitability and stoke level. In the future I plan to allow users to submit their own finds for inclusion. FYI I don’t create content, just find and review it. I’m not trying to compete with content producers, just trying to make it easier to find. Free embeds play directly in the site, protected or premium content has a direct link to play instantly on the provider’s site or app.
  2. The filter. This tool lets you narrow down the options by:
    • type (video/audio/text)
    • subtype (documentaries, podcasts, audiobooks, guided workouts etc.
    • access type (free, subscription, paid)
    • recommended use (aerobic base-training, intervals, rehab…)
    • duration
    • featured sport (e.g. trail-running, road cycling, ski-mountaineering, MTB…)
    • featured athlete
    • sponsor – kudos to the sponsors who are supporting production of great content instead of just investing in display ads.
  3. MyList playlist. If you register (just a username and password sign up) you can bookmark any of the content on zone2review to your own MyList page. This is helpful if you find a bunch of things you want to check out but you want to watch one now and save the rest for later without having to search again. Also, any YouTube videos you add to MyList will play one after the other automatically so you don’t have to search for and start the next video mid treadmill run.

What’s on zone2review?

runner woman listening to podcast for morning run

Podcasts: I LOVE podcasts. Listening to an interview with an amazing athlete, coach, trainer or scientist while I run feels like a real privilege – like I’m a kid listening in on the grown ups talking, or I got free entry to an expensive conference where experts share their knowledge. A podcast plus a long run outdoors is a great combo. I even get a Pavlovian response to some of the intro music now. My heart rate increases and I feel psyched to get going.

I love all kinds of podcasts but have focused here on anything that helps motivate or improve athletic performance as opposed to other interests. One example for insight on mindset and the demands of top-level competition is Bode Miller (Olympic Gold Medal Downhill Skier) being interviewed by Lance Armstrong.

Runner on treadmill

Documentaries: Perfect for the treadmill or indoor bike trainer, elliptical, stair-stepper. Watching ultra-runner Courtney Dauwalter head out of an aid station on mile 74 of a 100 mile trail race changes my perception of the 5 miles I want to run.

Recently, watching Losing Sight of Shore I was so grateful that I could get off the bike at the end of the session as opposed to being in a rowing boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with only a tiny cabin and dried food for comfort.

Sometimes I’m a very reluctant starter when it comes to indoor workouts but when I get started with a documentary I get sucked in and I end up not wanting to stop.

Documentaries are great for recovery spins or for rehabbing injuries. If you are doing bike work to rehab your ACL after surgery then a really gripping documentary like Senna is a great way to avoid boredom, get the time logged, and be inspired by an amazing human.

Guided workouts: You don’t have to pay $40/month for a Peloton subscription (and $2K for a bike) to get a great indoor bike workout. I have definitely improved my fitness with free videos on YouTube, particularly interval sessions like this one featuring footage of a climb up the Passo from GCN.

There’s something about watching another human doing the same workout and speaking directly to you that activates the brain in an extraordinary way. I’ve learned that if I can just get to the stationary bike in my basement with water and a towel and commit to starting one of these videos then my brain locks on to it and somehow, as if by magic, a great workout happens.

GCN – the Global Cycling Network offers something like 20 different trainer sessions, all interval sets designed by former pros. I used one or two of these sessions each week (on my $199 stationary bike – you could use a smart trainer, rollers, or a Peloton) to get fit for the uphill bike leg of the Tuckerman Inferno in 2018.

The Inferno is a pentathlon held on and around Mount Washington in New Hampshire in early April so a tough one to train for during the winter. The bike leg in that race is tough – 18.2miles and 2K of elevation in a gusty wind, light snow and temps around 30 degrees. The free GCN videos helped me so much I sent a thank you letter. Now I want to go climb some of the mountain roads featured in their videos. The Maratona in the Alta Badia region of Italy is on my wish list.

I’ve heard there are some great treadmill guided run workouts too so I look forward to testing those out soon. If you have a recommendation please let me know in the comments below.

For rowers, CrossFitters and anyone who wants to try cardio work on an ergometer there are some great guided interval workouts by World Champion rower Josh Crosby featuring POV footage, and instruction on proper form.

Audiobooks/books: Sometimes I like to read an actual book with my feet up, other times I want the audiobook version to listen to on a long run outdoors. Reading during recovery can be super inspiring and I plan to include some race/FKT/adventure reports too as they can really help with motivation and exposure to races and information that you might not otherwise see. Trail-runner and ski-mountaineer Andrew Drummond’s Tuckerman Inferno race reports were crucial to me in getting psyched up and adequately prepared to tackle that race.

Point Of View Videos (POV): I know quite a few people who love TrainerRoad for bike sessions. I am very tempted to sign up but am trying to resist adding more subscriptions to the budget. If you are a TrainerRoad user, you could cue up one of the POV videos recommended on zone2review on a separate screen to watch GoPro footage of classic climbs such as Mont Ventoux in Provence or a UCI Elite CX race. Something to occupy the conscious mind while your subconscious works on pushing the pedals.

I’ve tried POV video with a written interval session and it definitely made the workout more enjoyable and the time flew by. Also with POV you don’t have to concentrate on a narrative so you can zone in and out as needed while you visit the pain cave.

What’s planned for zone2review?

I’d love to hear from anyone who has a suggestion of what would make the website better. Here’s my top-level todo list.

  1. Add a user submission feature so zone2review users can submit video/audio/text that they recommend for addition to the site. I (and any future editors) would moderate and publish the entry with credit to the user who submitted the piece (or anonymity as desired).
  2. Gain enough users to justify investing in building out an app for mobile. The current site works well on mobile but an app experience could be so much better. I would have to contract additional developers so I need evidence of user growth to justify an app build. Sharing and word of mouth is much appreciated.
  3. Add athlete/sponsor pages so that users can follow an athlete or sponsor and see all their content and recommended gear in one location. I would like to support the athletes and companies that are making all this good content so they continue to make more.

Finally, how to make money and justify keeping this going? I have some affiliate links with Amazon (and hopefully others soon) so that if a visitor purchases something from a link they found on zone2review we get a tiny % affiliate sales commission. Promoted posts are also available for ad sales as well as sponsor landing pages for content, branding and gear promotion.

If you would like to share your opinion please answer these quick questions, write a comment, or send feedback via the contact form. Thank you for your input.

Visit zone2review or and sign up here. Here’s to finding great workout inspiration super fast and getting it done!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *