I'm Joel Runyon. I'm an entrepreneur and athlete. I just finished the hardest challenge of my life - running 7 ultra marathons (any race farther than 42km) on 7 continents to build 7 schools to provide education to kids around the world in Ghana, Laos and Guatemala.

The races ended up taking me from Chicago to Australia to Antarctica and Finland (where I got an awesome ice beard).

The goal was to raise $175,000 and we ended up raising a total of $193,394 [details here]. All the money goes directly to Pencils of Promise and the schools will be built this fall!

I'm here for the next few hours to answer any questions you have about running, ultras, entrepreneurship, travel, Antarctica, giving back or anything else you want to bring up (as long as we keep it on topic about RAMPART) :)



Comments: 167 • Responses: 73  • Date: 

Gangreless20 karma

It sounds crazy to run a marathon in Antarctic temperatures. What precautions did you have to take? Was it totally outdoors? What was your best mile during the race?

joelrunyon28 karma

It was a 10k loop that we ran 10 times (100k total).

I think it was the last ultra in Antarctica actually as the race is being closed down after this year (there were only 9 of us and the race organizer running).

My setup was pretty basic - base layer, mid layer and wind layer up top and no mid layer down low. The hardest part is actually staying cool enough as if you start to sweat too much - THAT's when you run into problems. They say if you're out in Antarctica "if you sweat, you die", because the wind gets so cold when it hits the sweat.

As for total temperatures, Finland was actually colder, but the wind in Antarctica was a difference-maker.

I think my best lap mile was like 9ish? There's 62 of them, so the hardest part (especially at first) is making sure you don't go out too hard and crash at the end.

Gangreless6 karma

That's really cool (ha), I never would've guessed that Finland would have been colder. Thanks!

joelrunyon9 karma

Yup -

But to be fair, we visited Antarctica in it's summer basically and were in Finland (basically the arctic circle) at the end of winter. So the seasons make quite a difference.

robbyslaughter19 karma

Hey Joel, been following you since you were not-famous, not-doing-impossible things in Indy.

Question: What have you learned about doing regular, non-impossible stuff? Why do you think it's so hard for organizations and individuals to do regular things which aren't impossible?


joelrunyon31 karma

Hey Robby,

I think it has a lot to do with not being inspired. Inspiration isn't anything, but there's something to be said about having a bigger vision that the every day work is building towards. If your entire existence is built around grinding it out and doing regular, normal stuff, then I think it's natural to get bored, tired or give up when it's hard.

I think finding a bigger reason why those regular things are important is the first step.

JaimeOZ7 karma

Hi Joel, doing the impossible is a great challenge, ¿did you feel like "I can't" or "I quit" at some point? And if so, ¿what was your way to make it trough?

joelrunyon15 karma

I wanted to quit over and over in Thailand.

I had just run the Antarctica race a 2 weeks prior and my legs were trash. There was a lot more technical climbing than I anticipated and there were tons of out-and-backs so you were always passing people who had just hit the checkpoint and turned around (and made it tempting to skip the checkpoint).

The thing that keeps me going is really at the beginning of the races, I have a deal with myself that if I show up, I finish. My brain comes up with a lot of options in between, but that's sort of the deal I keep with myself.

e_tian6 karma

How did you improve your fitness when you first started?

joelrunyon25 karma

When I first started running, I was literally running 1 mile at a time.

I never liked running and never had run more than a 5k before I started triathlons.

I did mostly baby steps. One race here, one race there. Build on each fitness level and listen to my body. It takes time, but the key is to START.

skittles155 karma

Right on the money with that. 4 years ago i was smoking 2 packs a day and drinking a 6 pack a night. Got sick of it and started running. Now I'm 4 marathons deep and 2 half irons.

I feel like there is a whole level more for ultras though. How do you push through to get enough fitness to go that distance?

joelrunyon18 karma

If you can do a marathon, you can do a 50k.

Sign up for your normal marathon, do your normal training. Don't try to KILL your marathon time though. Then, two weeks later, go do a 50k.

The fitness level is the same - you just need to change your mentality.

After 50k though, you'll see if you have a taste for ultras. If you do, then the longer distance training is a bit more complicated (but completely doable if you're already running marathons)

wafflez7074 karma

Hi, what was the hardest part of the marathons?

joelrunyon15 karma

Doing so many of them back-to-back.

After the Finland race, I thought I broke my foot. After spending all day in the hospital, the nice Finnish nurse heard what I did, shook her head and said "you work it too hard."


Why do you make me feel like such a lazy piece of shit?

joelrunyon13 karma

Get out of your chair and do 25 pushups :)

cthomas3433 karma

When is MoveWell going to be released on Android? Or is there a membership site I can get it on my computer with?

joelrunyon1 karma

We're working on it - we wanted to get it right with iOS first as Android is a bit tougher to test on. Hang tight :)

johnnynoname123 karma

what is your stance on "barefoot" type running shoes?

I'm planning on making the switch....fortunately, I don't have a running gait where I land heel first and never have

joelrunyon9 karma


I could never run more than 2 miles because I always got massive shin splints.

I finally switched to Vibrams and they let me run farther than a 5k! I was coming from a pretty low level of running fitness, so I naturally worked up my strength in them.

To be honest - I know the tide has turned against them recently, but I'm a fan. I ran in Vibrams for the first two years basically (and ran my first marathon in them as well - NOT RECOMMENDED).

I tend to run in low profile, minimalist-like shoes. They change a bit depending on the terrain, but I'm a fan - just make sure you don't run 20 miles in them your first time out.

johnnynoname121 karma


I plan on starting off with some minimal merrells

joelrunyon1 karma

Love them :)

_shredder3 karma

Since your podcast with Johnny B Truant ended, he's become quite the successful writer. Do you still keep in touch with him or read his books? I think some small part of me hopes you'll restart that podcast one day.

joelrunyon2 karma


Johnny's done great! We talk on occasion, but he's been on a tear writing like a maniac!

I am launching my Impossible Podcast next month.

Get on the list at and I'll let you know when it comes live!

_shredder1 karma

That's the third iteration of it, right? Counting the podcast with Johnny, my podcast app also shows a series you did from July 2015 to September 2015, and a series you did from November 2016 to February 2017.

What's going to be different about the new launch next month? Any changes from your previous attempts at launching a podcast?

joelrunyon1 karma

Yah :)

  1. I'm going to be in a set location here on out - I was traveling all year last year and that made a regular podcast difficult.

  2. It's going to be relaunching the interview format. I like finding interesting people and it's much easier to do longer conversations than when it's just me by myself.

Anything you'd like to see specifically?

auditoryfatigue2 karma

Hi Joel! How much would you say willpower plays a role in what you do, and what are some ways that you've strengthened your willpower/self-discipline over the years? Thanks, and keep up inspiring work!

joelrunyon3 karma

I think willpower + confidence tend to multiply each other.

I have a hell of a lot of will power but after I got hurt (the first race) and had to deal with some business stuff, my confidence was shot.

At some point, I closed my eyes and said I was just gonna go for it - consequences be damned - and then once I commit to something, I follow through (it's a personal commitment to myself).

I definitely feel like I have confidence that if I commit to something, I'll have the willpower to finish it out.

sparselogic2 karma

When is the next WDS bungee jump?

joelrunyon3 karma

This is a great question. We've done it 3 times so far. Interested in #4?

sparselogic1 karma

Hell yes!

joelrunyon3 karma

I'll look a few things up!

They did rappelling this year right across from the hall. Thought it would work in well with our "plummet" theme :)

sparselogic1 karma

<grin> Yeah, I had to think of the previous 'plummet' events while watching folks rappel. I'd still rather jump.

(source: wearing my 2012 Plummet shirt right now)

joelrunyon2 karma


Yah...we're gonna have to update that one...

sparselogic2 karma

Gotta catch 'em all! (except i wasn't around for 2011)

The best part of the 2014 jump was being able to take a running jump off the bridge.

joelrunyon2 karma

I will see what we can do!

cthomas3432 karma

Hey Joel, I read the manifesto back in 2011, and have been following ever since! Question about the last couple of ultras. You had several races in the span of a few months, and I'm curious how you were training during that period to keep from over-training injuries and to stay freshish for the races?

joelrunyon3 karma

Yeah - I did the last 5 in about 3 months and 4 of those in 6 1/2 weeks or so.

Australia - Jan 1st Antarctica - Jan 21st Thailand - Feb 4th Finland - Feb 17th

At the end, I was basically using each race as my "long run" before the taper. So the Australia race was a good training run for the Antarctica race. After that, it was mostly some short stuff during the week, some additional strength work and a longish run on the weekends (10+ miles) to make sure everything felt good. (I talk more about this prep on Jason Fitz's podcast)

I was trying to make sure to do mobility work + stay loose while traveling - which is almost as tough since I spent so much time in airpots.

ihavenocluetbh2 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA! Truly impressive and inspiring!!

My 2 questions are basic: What do you eat after running such great distances? What is your go to snack when you are craving for something sweet?

Good luck in the future dude!

joelrunyon5 karma

1) Whatever the heck I want :). My go to post-race food is a massive pizza (1, 2, 3)

2) Justin's peanut butter cups.

bonus: My current vice is red bull (although they haven't sponsored me...yet). If you read this Red Bull.

Kentisland192 karma

Joel what college did you attend? What inspired you to do all of these ultra marathons and raise all of this money for schools in education?

joelrunyon1 karma

A tiny school in northern Indiana.

I did a similar fundraiser in 2012 for Pencils of Promise and it was one of the most impactful things I've ever done.

I wanted to do something to push myself a bit farther and when I started 777, I really didn't know if I could do it.

In the developed world, we tend to use the word impossible when we really mean "it's hard" - but in other places around the world - basic stuff like clean water or learning to read really is impossible. Helping give and create opportunities for others help me keep perspective on my own excuses and help create opportunities for others, just like there were opportunities created for me.

taylorjacobson2 karma

Hey Joel -

How has your personal relationship to the concept of "doing the impossible" evolved since you started?

I know that at first it was about living your life in a new way, and you've clearly internalized that new way.

What has that morphed into? Is there a new phase you're in now?



joelrunyon3 karma

When it first started off, I wanted to get a job NOT at UPS.

Now it's much more focused on how do I grow my business in the way that I want to and how do I continue pushing myself physically in new and interesting ways.

taylorjacobson1 karma

What's next physically?

joelrunyon2 karma

Planning for the Fire & Ice Ultra + the Red Bull X-ALPS

A_Man_of_Routine2 karma

what's next, Joel? ...and when is enough? Ever think about settling down? wife, kids and a few dogs?

joelrunyon3 karma

I have some personal fitness + strength goals I want to hit. I have a few new impossible challenges, I want to launch at the beginning of the year.

I would love a dog!

I don't think all of them are mutually exclusive :)

Reform1slam2 karma

Hey Joel, finished your CST and I keep one of your blog posts stapled in my notebook; the one about 'Wear Your Own Motivation'

Question: Is there a secret formula to developing a passion?

joelrunyon3 karma

I'm not as interested in passion as I am in determination.

The thing that made me come alive is asking the question: "what story are you telling with your life? Is it a good one?"

Figure out what you want the answer to that to be - then go after it and don't let anything get in your way.

Reform1slam2 karma

Excellent! Do you write your story down on paper? I've been meaning to do this for so long. I'm gonna do it today.

joelrunyon2 karma

I write it on my blog -

peteroy152 karma

Hey Joel, what goes through your mind during an ultra-marathon? What do you think of? lol I've done a half marathon and even that seemed long.. I can't even imagine having to run for so long! Thanks

joelrunyon8 karma

Swear words. Lots of swear words. Some ones that don't even exist (I just make up as I'm running).

I also do a lot of bogus math in my head (hey, only 3 miles until you only have 10 miles until you only have a half marathon left). That and calculating splits, etc.

Also, sometimes, I'll go out sometimes with a problem in my head, and sometime throughout the race, I'll solve it and completely forget about the problem completely. :)

peteroy155 karma

Ok.. so you are human

joelrunyon3 karma


CluelessWanderer154 karma

I do the bogus math too. 100K...that is 2 50Ks. So basically 10 10Ks. Or 20 5ks. Only 19 more to go!

joelrunyon2 karma

Haha - I'm not the only crazy one!

mellochord2 karma

Hi Joel. The first thing I ever read was about was your chance-meeting in Portland with one Russell Kirsch. It was a great post. Was wondering if that meeting still inspires you in ways as you progress through the IMPOSSIBLE and are making things happen in your life?

joelrunyon1 karma

I think about it a lot. Anytime I spend too much time on my phone, I think of his words:

They’re trying to get everyone to use iPads and when people use iPads they end up just using technology to consume things instead of making things.

Makes you want to get off your butt and make stuff!

Here's the original post if anyone else is interested -

mellochord1 karma

That's what you've done for me, and I can't thank you enough. I'm going to take an extra ice cold shower in your honor, sir! Thanks.

joelrunyon1 karma


willdoc2 karma

How were you able to raise that much money? Did you have corporate sponsors or a lot of individual people? What method of outreach really struck a chord with your individual donors?

joelrunyon2 karma

  1. We have a lot of people donate small amounts!
  2. I matched some donations from my business IMPOSSIBLE
  3. When I finished the last race, we were still about $20,000 short of our final goal! I reached out to Jesse Itzler who runs where they do a fitness challenge every month for charity. I asked him if he would consider making June's month dedicated to Pencils of Promise / 777 and if he would, I would match the donation. A couple other entrepreneurs joined in and we raised $36,000 in that month alone!

kesmaster2 karma

Hey Joel, I was just curious about which towns in Guatemala the schools were being built in? Keep up the good work. These are the fights worth fighting.

joelrunyon2 karma

We're still waiting on those details.

Our first school was built in a school outside Panajachel (in Las Palmas).

The HQ in Guatemala has moved to Guatemala City, so I think the schools are being spread a bit more evenly across the country - but we should know in the next few months!

mrlozza882 karma

Fair play to you mate! An incredible achievement to have. Ive done an ultra marathon myself, 62miles (100km) so know what you went through, but not after your 1st one I dont. I cant imagine the pain you went through, I nearly lost my big toe due to doing mine.

A question about entrepreneurship:

How does one go from having an idea to getting it to be real, with zero cash?

Kind Regards Lozza

joelrunyon2 karma

Make your idea as small as possible.

Find out if people will pay for it. Like cold call them, do it by hand, whatever you have to do. Get paid for it before you do the work.

Then, once you get a couple customers, build it.

mrlozza882 karma

You need to patent it first surely? How does one even get to that point, I spoke to many people in regards to my ideas and all have said a brilliant idea, however I dont want to tell companies of them as they have the money to patent it for themselves

joelrunyon2 karma

Depends on what it is. Patents can cost thousands and thousands of dollars. And that's just the patent. Then you have to enforce it.

At some point you have to jump. If you can't do the patent idea, there's gotta be another idea that you can do that will provide the funding to do the patent idea.

answednesdays2 karma

Hey Joel,

What kind of advice you would give someone who wants to travel more and make income in a way that doesn't require being in a physical location? (i.e. freelance and online)

joelrunyon3 karma

Get really good at what you do.

Figure out how to sell those services outside of your normal 9-5.

Become indispensable to your company.

Talk to your boss and tell them that location freedom is important to you and you'd like to take a pay-cut/hour-cut and be able to work remotely a bit. If they say no, then you have your services on the side that you're selling already so you won't be in such a deep hole.

My buddy Chris Guillebeau just put out a book on building your side hustle last week which is a good read if you want to get an idea about this

kl02 karma

Hi Joel,

I can only run about a half-marathon myself, but just completed a few month tour around some of the countries you've been running in. My dad became a marathon runner a few years ago and I think has now run 17 marathons in the past 12 months -- recently qualifying for Boston. He's 62. I'd not be surprised if he sees this.

Anyway, question is what kind of advice you would give to a person like him. While he'd probably ignore this, the reality is that he is definitely aging and running the distances he is has to be taking a tole on his joints. He's obsessive (mostly in a good way) and so I think he can power through just about anything, but do you have any words of wisdom, encouragement, or even warnings for somebody like him?

Also, he's been competing in marathons all over America, but is fairly well traveled. Did your overall experience of being an experienced and competitive marathon runner change when you started competing around the world? If so, maybe just a brief statement as to how? I ask because I'm sure he'd enjoy the idea of traveling to another country to compete against people and I thought it would be interesting to know how it broadens the experience to one, so to speak ;)

Congrats on your fundraising! That's an amazing goal and final outcome!

joelrunyon2 karma

1 - Running long term can have effects. That said, if it makes him happy, there are way worse things he could be doing. I always see the 80 year old dudes at ultras hobbling along. They look like they're in pain, but they're out there pushing themselves. I'm not sure what your dad's goal is, but if that's how he finds his limits, good on him.

Personally, I'll be doing some more strength work - that's the only way I've found to both 1) continue doing stupid-long endurance feats and 2) not look completely emaciated. I'll probably space out the races, but I don't think I can get away from them entirely :)

2 - Running internationally is amazing. I've done quite a bit of international travel and I absolutely love it. People act like we're all so different, but in the middle of a 65km race, you can look over at the guy next to you and not say a word and know what each other is thinking. South Africa is a particularly fun place to run (Comrades is incredible!).

kl01 karma

Wow, very awesome response and thank you so much for taking the time to write back.

I agree that he can definitely have much worse hobbies, but of course there is the perpetual fear (from the rest of us) that he overdoes it, gets a legitimate sports injury, and at his age it would just take much longer to heal. Obviously this would be very crushing to his spirit (we assume anyways) and so I think noting the strength training is a really good point. He definitely has that ultra-running emaciated look going on a bit, so additional muscle bulk would definitely seem ideal.

And thank you for the international comment. Being a very active traveler I find the same thing just in my travels (which are always very cultural for me -- eg: not going places to get drunk; going to learn the culture, language, religions, important archeological sites, etc). He's pretty social and so I'm guessing he'd really get a kick out of that.

Incidentally he ran with the bulls for his 60th birthday and I'm guessing had a similar experience - albeit it's a bit more of an intentionally festive environment than a marathon, but the point still resonates.

Thanks again for your time and wonderful reply!

joelrunyon1 karma

Your dad sounds awesome.

I would recommend the patagonia international marathon if you want to break him into it.

It's an awesome gravel path marathon in Torres del Paine. I did my first race there & it was amazing. Beautiful people, beautiful place.

obiwan_died4ur_sins2 karma

First off, congratulations on what you've done! How were you able to pay for everything? When did you start fundraising? Was your life compromised of essentially just fitness, prep, and travel? And finally, what do you see next for yourself?

joelrunyon1 karma

I started 777 in 2014! After doing the launch, i hurt my ankle pretty bad and had to do about 6 months of rehab. I also got SUED in there - so that took some time to sort out.

But once I re-launched at the beginning of the year - yeah, basically I was running every 2 weeks, flying to a new continent, running again, and trying to run my businesses in between at some point.

Race wise - I want to do this Fire & Ice Ultra in Iceland. It looks epic. There's also a Red Bull X-ALPS race that looks intense (but I need to learn how to paraglide first).

scottkeyes2 karma

Whoa, super cool!

Which continent had the toughest competition? And does running somewhere pretty make it easier or harder to finish an ultra marathon?

joelrunyon2 karma

Finland was the toughest - just because it was self-supported, it was in the arctic in the middle of winter - so it was only actually light for a few hours of the race.

It's easier to finish a race when you travel for it - all you have to think is "I didn't come all this way to NOT finish this thing!"

ValiSimplePasta1 karma

If you could do one more ultra marathon with anyone, who would it be?

joelrunyon2 karma

To be honest - I like running ultras alone.

I think it'd be fun to do a stage race (think Ragnar) with David Goggins, but I have a feeling he wouldn't talk that much during the race :)

digitalnomadic1 karma

How do you feel about Maneesh being way cooler than you tho?

joelrunyon1 karma

If only that were true...

CluelessWanderer151 karma

Great work!

What is your preferred method of carrying water, food, etc during ultras? It definitely varies depending on how fast you're going, weather, terrain, etc. but what (belt, handheld, pack?) did you end up using the most? Were there lessons learned along the way and did you adjust your load after each race?

joelrunyon1 karma

I like carrying a camelbak. I hate holding on to stuff in my hands and stuff on my hips always bounces around too much.

My camelbak did burst in Finland, so I had to carry around a water bottle instead - which kicked off an entire different adventure where I ran out of water, resorted to eating snow and then melting for water, and then that water freezing in my bottle 2 miles later. So frustrating!

I carried different stuff for each race - some where well supported, some just had a campfire and a clipboard so you really had to take it on a per-race basis.

CluelessWanderer151 karma

Thanks for sharing! I can't stand hand held bottles. I typically use a vest or belt depending on the race.

I'm hoping to apply running for a noble cause like you did someday, so thanks again for sharing and telling how it worked out for you.

joelrunyon1 karma

Yeah - hands-free is the way to go.

Groovyguy1 karma

How much do I have to run to be able to pay my rent?

joelrunyon1 karma

I'm not sure I follow...

biggestofbears1 karma

I'm running my first half marathon this weekend and eventually want to work my way up to running ultras...any advice?

joelrunyon1 karma

For the half or for working up to ultras?

biggestofbears1 karma

Sorry, I meant ultras, but if you have any last minute advice for my half I'll surely appreciate it!

joelrunyon1 karma

Get up to a marathon - then schedule your ultra for 2-3 weeks after your marathon (and keep training after the marathon).

Do a 50k, see if you like it (it will be a whole different feel than a marathon).

Then, mess around on and check out all the ultra races. What pulled me in was how many places you can go run in with ultras that you can't really do as a marathon. It will get your imagination going!

drchopsalot1 karma

Pineapple on pizza or no?

joelrunyon2 karma

After an ultra, I'll eat a pizza with anything on it.

joelst1 karma

Hi Joel! I've been taking cold showers since January and gotta say, CST really changed my life.

Two quick questions, have you consider taking a course with Wim Hof (aka the iceman)?

What are your thoughts on his approach to cold?


joelrunyon2 karma

I don't know any of Wim's specific courses - so I can't say. I like to learn from smart people though.

I like the cold :)

joelst1 karma

During my first weeks with the CST I researched on the cold effects on the body and found a lot of info on this dutch guy. With breathing exercises and cold exposure he can regulate his body temperature and produce even some sort of enhancement of his inmune system.

He climbed mount Everest and the Kilimanjaro(with some of his students) just wearing shorts.

You should check out Scott Carney's book. A really good read if you are into cold.

Keep up the good work Joel! Thanks!!

joelrunyon2 karma

Yup - I know about Wim! I've read parts of Scott's book as well.

I think the caveat on the Everest climb is that he climbed to base camp or just above it - I don't believe he summitted (please let me know if I'm wrong)

bubba22222222221 karma

Joel! I've been following you since 2013 and I'm so glad to see you on here.

I totally want to do some of the IMPOSSIBLE-type things you're doing, especially travel. How do you manage to pull yourself away from work and your other responsibilities to travel and such? I really want to, but I feel so tied down. Any advice?

joelrunyon2 karma

I work while I'm traveling. That's great - because it allows me to travel, but I also have a hard time BEING in one place and not doing work.

If you want to do it, start asking your boss if you can do remote work. Overdeliver 150%. They'll notice and you can start using that leverage to eventually work remotely.

cactusjackalope1 karma

Love Pencils of Promise! I've built two schools with them myself! Have you gone on any of their trips? They are really life-changing. Highly recommended.

joelrunyon2 karma

I went on one in 2013 -

I also got to visit Laos on my travels earlier this year and see what they were up to. It was great!

cactusjackalope1 karma

We went to Ghana. Pat Flynn was in our group and he documented everything with his professional photographer. PoP is such a great organization. The necklace I got from one of the tribal chiefs is one of my most prized possessions.

joelrunyon2 karma

JaySpillz1 karma

What is your biggest regret?


joelrunyon2 karma

Not buying SpotHero stock ;)

coryrenton1 karma

food wise what are the most palatable foods at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end of a marathon?

joelrunyon2 karma

Before - I don't like to eat very much before races. Maybe a couple of eggs on toast.

Middle - Gummies are my go-to.

End - Pizza.

PuertoRicoNeedsUs1 karma

Hey Joel! I've been following your journey for years now. Thank you for all the inspiring work! Two quick questions: what's the best place to find information on strength training for your first marathon? How do you deal with perpetual soreness while training?

joelrunyon1 karma

  1. I would check out my buddy Jason's site -

  2. Perpetual soreness - you shouldn't ALWAYS be sore. If you are, you're not recovering properly. You should have active recovery days in your training program and do a ton of foam rolling and mobility work.

I actually built an app called MoveWell that's designed to coach you through mobility and recovery routines if that's something you're looking to do more.

PuertoRicoNeedsUs1 karma

Gracias! I'm running the Philly marathon on Nov. 19th and the struggle is so real right now. I'm downloading the app!

joelrunyon1 karma

You can do it!

canigetagobears1 karma

What is your favorite breed of dog? Is it Wrench?

joelrunyon1 karma

Pitbulls (and wrench)

Bumbalina281 karma

Joel. I really love your IMPOSSIBLE list. I astonished that you have the time. Anyway, my question is: what program did you use to make the Impossible list? I feel I should also ask a deep and interesting questions as well... What made you start this?

joelrunyon1 karma

Originally started with just the wordpress website.

We just "upgraded" it and it now runs on Airtable now - you can get a copy and make your own here -

briankidwell1 karma

What do you think separates marathon runners from ultra marathon runners?

joelrunyon2 karma

A few miles :)

Marathoners tend to have standardized courses + specific times they're going for.

With ultras you have so many variables (course, weather, etc) that it's tough to manage & predict all of them. The races tend to be much more about "you versus you" than about the specific time.

ld432331 karma

Mr. Runyon

Your name tells me you are doing what you are meant to do. Keeping running for those problems. Any idea when the schools are going to be built or has the construction already started?

joelrunyon1 karma

They're matching them to communities in need right now! I think we'll have some more details on the dates this fall & (hopefully) have a few started by the end of the year!

mrivap1 karma

Hi! I have ran 7 marathons and I want to run my first Ultra next year. For a first time ultra; witch races do you recommend? 60km? Where? Any particular race?

joelrunyon1 karma

Are you based in the US? Do you want to run it there or somewhere else?

TallSunflower1 karma

Hi Joel! Great accomplishment here. Aside from the amazing running did you fundraise and get noticed?

I run a bit and want to do fundraising for charity but don't know how to start and ask people for money .. I'm not very good or comfortable with this idea. Any thoughts?

joelrunyon1 karma

I already had some of an audience at so that made it easier.

To be honest - some of the press came in AFTER we were done fundraising and running the races. People seem interested in the story once it's completed (as they don't really think I'm going to finish it)>

TallSunflower1 karma

Then how did you build your website's followers at first?

joelrunyon1 karma

I spent 5 years writing on the site!

rickey14361 karma

You're great. We had some rich prick on here a year or two ago that biked to every MLB stadium for some charity but it was really him on a biking vacation. Even advice to future bicyclists who may want to emulate your great feat?

joelrunyon1 karma

Plan it out and make sure you're trained.

If you're doing it for a charity, search them out and vet them well. There's a few awesome charities that really do a great job of being transparent with their funds. Find them out & support them!

Then, when you're doing it - ENJOY IT (it can go by fast).

milkywaylava1 karma

Hi Joel, One of the most helpful things I've found on your blog is the clod shower trick. It is something simple and short that I can do every day that has a huge impact on how I think. Do you have any other short exercises for brain-training/dramatic thought change like that, or any advice on how to develop my own?

joelrunyon3 karma

I'm working on them :)

Here's a few:

Blackmail Yourself -

The Impossible List -

Workstation Popcorn -

LaserBison1 karma


Just discovering your accomplishments through this AMA. Your athleticism and entrepreneurial spirit are incredibly inspiring!

I wanted to ask whether you have heard of the Barkley Marathons or happen to have seen the documentary on netflix and if so, is it an event you would consider competing in?

joelrunyon2 karma

I've heard of it. One of the guys I did the Antarctica event did it (Mike Wardian). The application process is a beast. I'd like to go check it out and watch it maybe next year. We will see!

FatMan8321 karma


joelrunyon1 karma

Ask your friends to donate $10 for each cupcake you eat.

bkbush741 karma

Hey Joel. In your training for the marathons, did you use your blackmail technique or app to stay on track with any of your goals?

joelrunyon1 karma

I used cold showers quite a bit.

I also sort of publicly blackmailed myself by saying I was going to do it. I didn't use the app - mostly because I already had committed the money to the plane tickets, entry fees, etc - so it was like I would be forfeiting those if I didn't go.

bama891 karma

I enjoy your blog and, coupled with reading Guillabeau's book, Happiness of Pursuit (I saw you mention him down aways) I've shifted my personal goal setting to be things I can accomplish within a year, some turning out better than others.

How do you balance your Impossible list with intermediate steps that are required along the way and how do you timebox yourself to ensure results?

joelrunyon1 karma

A lot of the things on the list started out as small things I could do quickly - like running a triathlon. I really did think that was impossible when I started out.

After I got started, that's when the bigger goals started to come out.

So the big, impossible goals sort of grow out of the smaller, day-to-day stuff - does that make sense?

bama891 karma

sort of. I guess to rephrase - any tips on breaking down the impossible goals into more attackable intermediate goals along the way?

joelrunyon1 karma

The goals I pick tend to lend themselves to be broken down easily.

Ultra marathon > marathon > half > 10k > 5k

100 countries > 50 countries > 10 countries > 1 country

Do you have a specific example you're talking about here?

LittleRowBoat_1 karma

As a Guatemalan, I came here to say THANK YOU! What was your favorite Ultra Marathon?

joelrunyon2 karma

I love Guatemala :)

Antarctica was probably the most memorable! I really enjoyed Finland though - as bad as it went and with all the issues I ran into - it definitely has the best stories.

brandob51 karma

How do you train for an ultra marathon?

joelrunyon1 karma

Run. A lot.

50ks you can train for like a normal marathon. Just do a marathon training schedule, do the marathon, keep training and then do a 50k two weeks late.

50k+ change depending on the distance/elevation/track conditions, etc.