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Coaches Blog

Blogs, Movies, Podcasts, and Documentaries for Endurance Athletes

Updated: Nov 14, 2023

Most endurance athletes in the northern hemisphere are settling in for the winter off-season when the days are short, the temperatures are cold, and we start dreaming about the coming season’s adventures.


Whether you enjoy wrapping up in a warm blanket with a hot drink and a good book, listening to a podcast while wrapping holiday presents, or watching something inspiring while on the trainer or treadmill, the off-season is the perfect time to dive into some of the great content about our beloved endurance sports.


In no particular order, I’ve gathered some excellent documentaries, movies, books, and podcasts for entertainment, inspiration, and education.


Endurance Sports Movies and Documentaries


The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young: The Barkley Marathon is notoriously hard–challenging the physical, mental, and emotional limits of every athlete who dares to toe the start line. The race is so challenging it only celebrated ten finishers in its first 25 years! Take a behind-the-scenes look at the man who dreamed up this ultra race and begin to understand what makes this event so challenging–and captivating.

This documentary is available on YouTube or to purchase digitally.


McFarland USA: Based on the true story of a 1987 cross-country team from a down-and-out high school. When a track coach takes on a last-chance job in McFarland, he discovers many of the students have natural running abilities rooted in more than just physical prowess. This is an uplifting movie the whole family will enjoy.

McFarland USA is available for rent or purchase on a number of streaming platforms.


Run For Your Life: This documentary explores the life of Fred Lebow, the founder of the New York City Marathon. It’s an endearing look at one man’s love for running and how it turned into one of the most popular marathons in the world.

Watch it on Amazon.


The Dawn Wall: In the mood for something other than swimming, cycling, or running? Check out this true story of Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgenson’s ascent of a seemingly impossible multi-day climb up El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. In addition to amazing climbing footage, this documentary conveys the story of how Caldwell was taken hostage on a climbing trip as a teenager.

Rent or buy The Dawn Wall on Amazon.


The Tour de France: Unchained: Follow pro cycling team Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl and other contenders for Grand Tour glory as they battle each stage as well as team dynamics. There are eight episodes in this mini-series, and promises of another season to come.


NYAD: Athlete Diana Nyad sets out to achieve her lifelong dream of swimming from Cuba to Florida. This treacherous open-water swim would prove too much for even the most elite endurance swimmers. Nyad makes her attempt at the age of 60!


Without Limits: Here’s an “oldie but goodie” movie about legendary distance runner Steve Prefontaine. Before Prefontaine was an Olympic athlete at the 1972 Munich Olympics, he was an unlikely track star at the University of Oregon.


Breaking Point: Some of the world’s best ultra runners face off at the inaugural Australia Backyard Masters hosted by Dead Cow Gully. The format is simple – complete a 6.7 km loop each hour, every hour, until there is only one runner left.


Defy The Impossible: the Sub7/Sub8 Documentary: Similar to the long-held belief that humans could not complete a marathon in under 2 hours, many people believed the human body was not capable of completing an Ironman distance triathlon in under 7 hours (for men) or 8 hours (for women). But endurance athletes don’t often respect barriers, so Kristian Blummenfelt, Joe Skipper, Kat Matthews, and Nicola Spirig, took on the challenge. This is a perfect “trainer session” documentary.


Podcasts and YouTube Channels for Endurance Athletes


Whether you’re looking for a podcast to keep you entertained on your next long run or a YouTube channel to help you stay informed, here are some good follows to add to your list.


That Triathlon Life YouTube Channel and Podcast: Pro triathletes Paula Findlay and Eric Lagerstrom curate a high-quality YouTube channel documenting their lives and adventures. The film quality is stellar, and the topics range from candid “behind the scenes” looks at training to their adventures traveling with their dog, Flynn, in their van.


Accompanying their YouTube channel, Paula and Eric have a weekly podcast with their good friend and amateur triathlete, Nick. It’s lighthearted, entertaining, and educational, as Eric and Paula spend the bulk of each episode answering listener questions about all things triathlon.


The Global Triathlon Network: The GTN show has everything from the latest news in the world of triathlon to gear reviews, athlete interviews, and “how-to” information. Keep up with all the latest and greatest in triathlon with this YouTube channel.


The Triathlon Hour with Jack Kelly: If you’re into hard-hitting interviews, long race recaps, and deep dives into the life and news in triathlon, this podcast is for you. Jack Kelly doesn’t shy from the hard questions and seems to have insider knowledge about all things triathlon.


Feisty Triathlon Podcasts: You read that right — there are multiple podcast options in the Feisty network! With everything from women’s specific training insights to highlighting incredible feats of female athletes, the Feisty Triathlon podcast is for everyone committed to making the endurance sports world equitable for all. From interviews and tips to the latest triathlon gossip, there’s something for everyone.

  • If We Were Riding is a podcast focused on interviews and tips from the pros.

  • [Un]Phased is a podcast focusing on dismantling racism, sexism, and ablism in endurance sports.

  • Mental Endurance is all about getting your mind right in endurance sports.


Team Charles-Barclay YouTube Channel: Many pro triathletes have YouTube channels… some are better than others. LCB’s channel is arguably one of the best. Its high-quality production gives entertaining glimpses into the life and training of pro-super-star triathlete Lucy Charles-Barclay with her husband, Reece Barclay, and their two dogs, Lola and Pickle.


Wild Ginger Running: This is a YouTube channel offering trail and ultra running advice, gear reviews, and inspiration around all things distance running.

Subscribe to the Wild Ginger Running channel.


Endurance Sports Books to Read


Iron War: Dave Scott, Mark Allen, and the Greatest Race Ever Run by Matt Fitzgerald:

This book recounts the epic story of one of sport’s most iconic rivalries and neck-and-neck races to ever have happened. In 1989 at the Ironman World Championship in Kona, the two best triathletes in the sport, Dave Scott and Mark Allen, raced shoulder-to-shoulder at record-setting paces for nearly the entire race. This race redefined the role of mental toughness in endurance sports and called into question the perceived limits of human endurance.


This book is a captivating narrative that tells the story of these two world-class athletes and the paths that led to their incredible showdown on the Big Island.


Finding My Voice: Tales from Ironman, the World’s Greatest Endurance Event by Mike Reilly, Lee Gruenfeld, et al.:

Race announcer Mike Reilly is known throughout the endurance sports world as the “Voice of Ironman.” Over the years, hundreds of Ironman athletes have shared their personal stories with Reilly. In this book, he shares some of these stories that have touched adn inspired him, in the hope that they will inspire each reader.


Running on Empty: An Ultramarathoner’s Story of Love, Loss and a Record-Setting Run Across America by Marshall Ulrich

Marshall Ulrich is arguably the ultimate endurance athlete, completing more than 100 races averaging over 100 miles each. Marshall has finished 12 expedition-length adventure races and ascended the seven summits – including Mount Everest. Yet, his run from California to New York proved to be the most challenging feat of endurance. This memoir is an incredible dive into the heart, life, and mind of an ultra-athlete.


Choosing to Run by Des Linden:

This book offers insights into the unforgettable win of the Boston Marathon in 2018 and glimpses into the life and mindset of Des Linden – marathon winner and Olympian. Linden is known as a tenacious athlete with an independent spirit. Learn how she developed that resolve, how Des trains, and her deep value of friends and family.


How Bad Do You Want It? Mastering the Psychology of Mind over Muscle by Matt Fitzgerald:

The greatest athletic performances happen in the mind, not the body. This book analyzes epic moments in endurance sports to identify habits adn tactics we can use to cultivate our own mental strength. In gripping stories from triathlon, cycling, running, rowing, and swimming, Fitzgerald sheds light on what science says about mental strength and how any athlete can cultivate the mental tenacity to overcome challenges in sports and in everyday life.


 

Gregg Edelstein is a certified USA Triathlon Level 1 Coach, an IRONMAN University Certified Coach, and a USA Cycling Level 3 Coach based in the greater Boston area. Gregg offers his athletes insight on the principles of exercise, nutrition, sports psychology, and injury prevention, working to make them well-rounded and engaged athletes that share his passion for sport. Gregg can be reached at Gregg@TeamMPI.com

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