Top 10 Endurance Sports Documentaries to Watch on the Treadmill

lacing up for a treadmill run

Even the most motivated of runners can have a hard time getting started, especially if circumstances mean that a treadmill workout is the only option. One strategy to get things moving is to use what James Clear calls “temptation bundling” in his book Atomic Habits.

Temptation bundling works by linking an action you want to do with an action you need do.

Atomic Habits

We’ve found this approach super-helpful for getting started on a workout.

  1. Find an inspiring documentary that you are psyched to watch.
  2. “Temptation bundle” it with your treadmill run so you will only watch it while running.

The only problem is finding something great to watch. We created to review endurance sports-related content and make it quick and easy to find the motivation you need whether that’s a podcast, a documentary, an audiobook or a guided bike workout.

Here are our top ten favorite documentaries for treadmill running:

The Barkley Marathons

Fantastic feature-length documentary about a unique trail running ultra race. Equal parts hilarity (part of the entry fee one year was a pair of socks) and serious feats of extreme endurance, it’s mesmerizing viewing. Watched from the comfort of a treadmill you’ll be grateful that you aren’t climbing up the “Rat Jaw” section of the race where runners legs are lacerated by saw briars. Only 15 runners have ever completed the 100 mile, 5 lap race. Sure to make your workout feel achievable.

REI Presents: How to Run 100 Miles

What happens when two friends sign up for a 100 mile race? Brendan Leonard and his buddy Jayson Sime had never run an ultra before but signed up for the 2017 Run Rabbit Run 100. Fascinating to see the training, effort, camaraderie and sheer determination that go into this effort.

The Redeemed and the Dominant | Crossfit Games 2017

Feature-length documentary that follows athletes preparing for and competing in the 2017 Crossfit Games. Entertaining, fast-paced and full of intensity from the get-go. The amazing physical feats of strength, skill, agility and endurance combined with pump-up music and flashy editing are super-energizing. 

The Source | Courtney Dauwalter

Courtney Dauwalter is an ultra runner who has won multiple 100 mile + races. She also holds many endurance records. This film documents her run in the 2018 Tahoe 200 race while exploring the source of her motivation.

Breaking2 | Eliud Kipchoge

Feature-length documentary by National Geographic covering Nike’s 2017 project to break 2 hours for the marathon. Amazing attention to detail, insight into training and fascinating profiles of the runners that took part.

CHASING POUNAMU | Running the Tarawera 100 mile ultramarathon from the back

Great running movies aren’t all about winning races and setting records. This inspiring documentary  by Find Your Feet Films follows a back-of-the-pack runner competing in the 2019 Tarawera 100 mile Ultramarathon in Rotorua, New Zealand.


Winner of the 2018 Academy Award, this feature-length documentary starts with filmmaker and cyclist Brian Fogel investigating doping in his sport. As he digs deeper the story develops into something much bigger than anyone imagined.

Life in a Day | The Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run

This documentary by Billy Yang Films follows four athletes in the 2016 Western States 100 Mile Endurance Race. Beautiful cinematography, epic terrain and an inspiring effort by the runners.

The Man With the Halo |Tim Don

Save this one for when you are feeling low. When your injury rehabilitation program seems endless and results are hard to see. Or just one of those days when you know a run will make you feel better but you don’t quite feel as though you can do it. This amazing story will likely put a kick in your step and a smile on your face.

The Dawn Wall

Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgesen take on the Dawn Wall on El Capitan in Yosemite. An astounding 10-year effort to climb an unclimbable route as well as an unexpectedly emotional story about dealing with all kinds of adversity. Not just for fans of climbing, the extraordinary feats of athletic and mental strength on display in this movie will inspire awe in any viewer and reset your idea of what is possible.

Enjoy your run and check out for more reviews: of podcasts, audiobooks, guided workouts and playlists. It’s free and if you register (also free) you can cue up a playlist of your selections, bookmark podcasts and more.

It’s our mission to connect people with great endurance sports content and give credit to the athletes, creators and sponsors that make it happen.

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