How to Set Goals that Scare You Sh*tless: New Interview with Joel Runyon

Remember back in January when you made your bold New Year’s Resolutions?

I’m going to run my first marathon this year!Goals

It’s time I lost 40 pounds!

Finally, I’m going to stay injury-free for an entire year!

Now that it’s way beyond New Years… are you on track to reach your resolutions? If not, why is it SO EASY to make big promises to yourself as you toast the New Year, then lose momentum in just a few days or weeks?

Unfortunately, humans are lazy. We always do the bare minimum unless our ass is held over the fire. It’s like in school when you waited until the last day to write that 15-page paper on Catcher in the Rye. I hate you, J.D. Salinger.

Since consistency is the “secret sauce” of good training – and a constant struggle for many of us – this laziness threatens to derail our running.

The Cure to Hum-Drum Goals

The problem with many of our goals is that they’re boring. Beginners hope to improve by a minute in a half marathon. Or a runner will try to run seven days in a row (a whole week!).

But these goals aren’t exciting. No wonder you lose momentum and fizzle out.

So I sat down with Joel Runyon, creator of Impossible HQ and ultramarathoner, to talk about the goal setting process.

See, Joel’s run 50k. And a half-Ironman triathlon. He’s also run two marathons on back-to-back weekends. “They were just training runs,” he told me…

He knows what it’s like to set goals that scare you shitless. It’s what motivates him to accomplish seemingly “impossible” things.

So I was fascinated to interview Joel for the Strength Running Boot Camp about his mindset on motivation, discipline, stretch goals, and his experience with accomplishing the impossible.

Note: The Boot Camp program is no longer available – but you can get this interview as part of Injury Prevention for Runners.

My favorite topics from our conversation:

  • How Joel blackmails himself to train
  • “Flipping the mental switch”
  • How to make your workouts non-negotiable
  • The “ladder approach” to setting – and accomplishing – stretch goals

Below is a preview of the interview where Joel talks about how he’s able to stay disciplined and accomplish so much.


Or click here to open the interview in a new tab.

The full interview is over 31 minutes and we go deeper into the topics of motivation, goals, and how to mentally prepare for big races like his 50k ultramarathon.

It’s included in Week 2 of the Boot Camp: Creating the Motivation to Crave Running. Each day in week 2 includes a lesson on building momentum in your running.

  • How to build more confidence and “snowball” momentum
  • The psychology of “small wins” and the value of stretch goals
  • How to avoid Double Marathon Syndrome
  • …and more
The SR Boot Camp is no longer available but you can get this interview as part of Injury Prevention for Runners.

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  1. Shelly Browne says:

    Good interview and article. I like that blackmailing idea – really holds your feet to the fire if you have a goal and you think you might be sketchy about hitting it.

    — Shelly

  2. Jerri Kindig says:

    I also thought this was a great article. I have known some people who use a similar idea to the blackmailing, it really works for them. I have been on a real personal growth journey in the last few months, reading just about anything I can find on various subjects in that. I found a great book by life coach Riana MIlne, I recommend it to anyone who wants some real motivation in goals, meeting and setting. She does cover just about everything. Live Beyond Your Dreams is the name, her site is It was given to me as a gift and I have passed it on and it seems to have given things to a lot of people! Take a look if you have a minute!


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