What do I do when I'm in a running slump and need some motivation to get me out the door? I turn to running movies, and more often than not it's trail running movies (I'm also partial to triumph-in-the-face-of-adversity-type movies, as you will see below). There are thousands out there. Some are great, some are not-so-great, but I can always find something that will give me the 'I want to do that!' mindset. Before I know it, I'm strapping on my running shoes and heading outside.
Below are a few of the videos that have inspired me over the years. If you're like me and love living vicariously through other runners (or you are working on your degree in procrastination), have a browse and see if one speaks to you. If you have any favourites that aren't on the list, please feel free to let me know. Happy running!
Follows Hal Koerner, Geoff Roes, Anton Krupicka and Kilian Jornet as they battle it out in the Western States 100, a famous100 mile trail race in California.
A documentary that tries to gain an insight into what makes runners from Bekoji, Ethiopia, so successful.
If you have read Born to Run, you know who Caballo Blanco is. This film describes his quest to learn about and preserve the Tarahumara running culture in Mexico's Copper Canyon.
Three ultrarunners set out on a 6,923 km journey across Africa, from Senegal to Egypt. This documentary showcases the highs and lows they experienced along the way, and takes an in-depth look at the people who live in this harsh environment.
Another film about the Western States 100, this one captures the lives of three runners as they compete in the 2015 edition. It also looks at the part that family and friends play to enable someone to run 100 miles in one go.
Running four stage races across the four most inhospitable deserts in one calendar year? Yeah, I don't think so. But it turns out there are people crazy enough to attempt this insane challenge. With more surprises and drama than your favourite TV show, this movie has something for everyone.
There were only 10 finishers in the first 25 years of the Barkley Marathons. This gives you some sense of how ridiculously tough this race is. The race details are kept hidden beneath a shroud secrecy and exhibits practices you will find nowhere else, yet this movie makes me want to sign up for the challenge (if I could figure out how to do that).
Karl Meltzer: Made to be Broken
Follows Meltzer's journey as he aims to break the Appalachian Trail record. Over 3,500 km in 46 days? It's insane, but if anyone can do it, it's Meltzer. The scenery is stunning, and the movie inspires me to one day tackle the trail myself.
A documentary following the lives of two former warriors from Kenya, as they transform themselves from gunmen to marathon runners in the hopes of creating a safer existence. But money doesn't come as easily on the world marathon circuit.
What would you do if you were an unfit workaholic with a young family and were suddenly diagnosed with multiple sclerosis? How about sign up for an Ironman? After being told he wouldn't be able to walk 100 metres within a year, this is exactly what Ramon Arroyo did. Based on a true story.
With five series of quick, easy to watch videos looking into the lives of runners from all walks of life, as well as showcasing incredible scenery, this channel is my go-to for a quick burst of inspiration.
Another channel featuring short, awe-inspiring movies, but covering a range of outdoor sports that are guaranteed to get your heart rate elevated.
Billy Yang Films
Widely regarded as one of the best running film makers in the world, Billy Yang has something to please everyone. If you haven't checked out his work before, I implore you to do it now. Right now. I suggest starting with 'Life in a Day', 'Western Time' and any of the '15 Hours' series.
A comedian and middle-of-the-pack runner with a huge variety of content, showing that you don't have to be an elite to have an inspiring story. I tend to stick to the Running Films playlist, my favourites being 'Where Dreams Go To Die', 'The Squamish 50/50' and 'Amongst the Evergreens'.
Lisa broke her back at the age of 21 and was told she would never run again. Since then she has completed numerous ultras, including the 242 km Marathon des Sables, the 222 km La Ultra across the Himalayas, the 250 km Gobi Desert Ultramarathon, and she has run the entire length of New Zealand. Her channel includes full length race recap videos, interviews with elite runners and training advice.
Pretty much sums up every cliché there is about ultra and trail running. I'm guilty of many of these.
Have you ever wondered what is leftover in people's drop bags after a race? Two guys find out, by consuming, wearing or using every item in four unclaimed drop bags, before heading out on 4x1 mile loops. This duo have undertaken many crazy challenges, but this was the original and, for me, the funniest.
Short and sweet
Witness the beauty and diversity of Patagonia Park in Chile as three ultrarunners run along newly opened trails in the region.
Anton is a successful American ultrarunner and adventurer. This film gives an overview of his past, his current running and his future ambitions, and what it takes to go after your goals.
French ultrarunner Sebastien Chaigneau shows us the jaw-dropping scenery of his local training spots, and takes us through the highs and lows of various races he has undertaken (warning: not so short and sweet, but not quite a full length film either).
If there's one lesson to be learned from this film, it's that age is no barrier. Have some tissues handy.
Ryan Sandes of South Africa sets out to achieve the fastest known time of the Fish River Canyon Trail in Namibia. The scenery, of course is astounding.
Want to be a morning runner? Watch this video.
The film maker, Your World Within, has dozens of motivational videos that can easily be applied to running.
In 2014, the runners of the Tarawera Ultramarathon in New Zealand (part of the Ultra Trail World Tour) faced a unique challenge: Cyclone Lusi. Wet and windy conditions were felt by all runners but everyone still had a smile across their face at the finish line.
Follows elite ultrarunner Courtney Dauwalter as she attempts an overall win at the Tahoe 200 Mile Endurance Run.
Ultrarunner Nikki Kimball sets out to record the fastest known time on the Long Trail in the USA. At 273 miles long, it is the equivalent of doing over 10 marathons back-to-back. Nikki's courage, determination and raw emotions are captured in intimate detail as she aims to inspire women and girls to follow their athletic dreams.
Olympic rower James Cracknell switches sports to take on the Marathon des Sables, a torturous 250 km multi-stage race across the Sahara Desert. It's not pretty, but his drive and tenacity are second to none.
Although it's a road race the Badwater 135 is one of the toughest races in the world. This documentary captures what it takes to not only make it to the start line, but also to persevere in the face of the extreme conditions that the race is famous for.
Five teams, each representing a different continent, battle it out in a relay race around Mt Blanc. Teams consist of expert and amateur runners, so there is no certainty as to how well each will perform.
Okay, so it's not a trail or ultra running movie, but this documentary on the history of the New York City Marathon is still fascinating.
The extraordinary Nike project that brought together the best runners in the world in an attempt to break two hours for the marathon for the first time ever.