Impossible FM #011: Running Faster 5ks Using The Hit List Technique


Today’s podcast is an audio version of a blog post I wrote the other day called “how to run a faster 5k using the hit list technique“. I recently made up this game while running the highest marathon in Europe.

I also share how you can use ramification and other similar techniques to lean in when others want to quit and how impossible things are really just opportunities waiting for you to do the work.


Links mentioned


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Impossible FM #011 Transcript

Hey everybody welcome to Impossible FM the show where we talk about pushing your limits and doing the impossible in fitness, gritness, business, and life. I’m your host Joel Runyon, welcome to the show. Let’s get started!

Hey everybody this is Joel Runyon with Impossible FM. Today I’m coming to you live in Zurich, Switzerland. I’m recording this on my iPhone with a voice memo app which is not ideal and not perfect but I don’t have my microphone with me and sometimes you have to make do with what you’ve got.

I’ve read an article by Tina Fey the other day that said, had a quote from Lorne Michaels, who’s the producer of SNL, and he says, “you can’t get to a task being perfect because the show doesn’t go on when it’s perfect. The show goes on at 11:30.” And so that’s what we’re doing right now, we’re going live with the podcast whether or not the audio is perrfect, so stick with me, stick with me. It’s gonna be fun episode.

So I’m in Switzerland for the Swiss Alpine Marathon. It was last week. It’s the highest marathon in Europe. We go up to about 9,000 feet and there’s 2 different peaks. One’s at like 8,100 I think, and the other one’s about 8,900 or really really close to 9,000 feet. And while I don’t typically run just marathon distances for fun, this is more like a training exercise, and it actually seemed more like an Ultra than anything because we were running through the Swiss Alps. So I’ve been training around the hills in San Diego which seem like small mountains compared to whatever I used to have in Chicago but even the small hills and mountains we have in San Diego are nothing compared to the Swiss Alps which I quickly realized during the race. It was quite a hike. It actually seemed more like an Ultramarathon more than anything because it took me a couple of hours longer than the slowest marathon that I had ever run. Given that it was a completely different terrain and a lot of it was hiking vertically because you couldn’t physically run some of the aspects of it. But still, it was an incredibly tough race and there were certain points in the race where you just kinda had to stop, like physically stop the race. I know I talked about in the Comrades Ultramarathon where my one mantra during Comrades was “Don’t stop. Don’t stop. Don’t stop.” And during this race sometimes you just had to stop and take in the surroundings because it was so beautiful, so gorgeous, I mean it was really crazy, just to be up on the edge of a mountain and be looking off at a dropoff to your right. You can be running on the edge of the mountain as you;re kinda making your way through this trail which is not really a trail as much as a path of rocks. You’re just moving forward, moving forward at any point, you get 2 feet to your right and you’re 500 feet straight down. So it was a heck of a race, absolutely gorgeous, probably the prettiest race I’ve done so far.

Today I wanna share with you guys a really quick strategy, sort of a fun little game that I wrote about on the blog but I wanna do it, an audio version of this as well. I’ts basically called a hit list. The idea is that during a longer race, whether it’s a half marathon, a marathon, or an Ultra, there can get points during the end where you’re a little bit beat, you’re a little tired. Everybody’s a little tired, everybody hurts a little bit, everybody kinda wants to slow down. It’s really easy to let other people’s body language affect kinda your attitude on how you’re gonna do the race. Basically it’s very easy to not run your own race because you’re looking around at what other people are doing, you’re seeing how they feel and that’s sort of coloring at least how you think you’re feeling at the moment. So especially at the end of a lot of these races, you’re seeing people slow down, you can sort of tell that people are having a rough go. If you not up at the front, you can definitely see some people just starting to feel it at the end of the race. And if you’re not careful, that can really affect how you finish out the race. So right around… I think we spent about 21 kilometers in the mountains and after you get off the mountain, we have about another 10 to 13k left to go, once you got off at the mountain. Right around the 10k to go mark, I noticed I started being passed by a lot of people. And at first I was like, okay, it was just 1 or 2 people. Then it started being a lot of people. And I was getting pretty upset at myself. And I was like, this is not okay, this is not alright. And after that point I kinda convinced myself, okay, I finished this, it’s been real tough, it’s much tougher than any other road marathon I’ve done. I was like, okay, we’re going to be coming in but it’s not going to be really as fast as I want to be, but we’re gonna finish it, we’re gonna be great. Along with that I saw a bunch of people who kinda looked like they were tired so I was like, okay, everybody’s a little bit tired. The Alps is kind of a little bit different than a normal road marathon. What happened was I noticed a lot of people slowing down but even some of the slower people started to passed me and I got a little bit upset about this and it made me mad. So I decided to make up a game. I call it The Hit List. The idea was simple. It’s basically gamification in order to make me… convice myself to make me run faster. So what I did was I started assigning people a point value. Every person I pass, I gave myself a point. Every person that passed me, I lost 2 points. And the goal was to get as many points as possible during the last 5K. I figured that during the last 5K I could run as fast as I humanly could. And I still kinda finished the race one way or another so even if I started hurting or whatever, I could still finish really strong. When I started this, I actually thought to myself, oh this little game, kind of a fun story. It’s probably not going to help that much. And I was actually very surprised how much it did help. It was really interesting to see how my attitude changed when I started assigning people a point value because instead of just saying, you know, we had a massive hill coming up, those guys are walking it, I’d say, hey, we’ve got a massive hill coming up, those 3 guys there are walking it. That’s an opportunity, that’s actually 3 guys right there, that’s 3 points. Let’s go. Well they were walking it, I’d run the hill. And all of a sudden I got 3 points. So by the end of this, the last 5k, I think I had 14 points. I think I passed 18 people and I had 2 people pass me which was quite a big turnaround from the 10k to the 5k mark. As I was getting passed by a ton of people from that 10k to 5k mark. And from 5k in, when I implemented this strategy, I basically didn’t get passed any more. I got passed by 2 different people but I think they were running either a shorter race or they should not have been out there because they were fine and it was absolutely ridiculous.

Anyways, the point of the story is that for a lot of people and for myself personally, I like to power through stuff. I like to suck it up, get it over and then just go. But a lot of times, if you make a small little game to yourself, it completely changes the way you approach something. So if you’re aiming to go into something impossible next time you do it and you find it… you know, you’re tired, you’re just a little bit spent. Try to make a game out of what you’re trying to do. Instead of trying to make it something difficult or something that’s hard, or something that is tough and you’re like, oh I should feel bad about this. I should feel tired. Nobody wants to do this. This is ridiculous. Why am I doing this? Instead of thinking about that, think about how you can make a game out of doing these stuff that other people don’t wanna do. Instead of calling it in when other people wanna call it in, go after it. That’s your opportunity. That’s your chance. Dan and Ian at Tropical MBA like to say, Friday night is catch up night. It’s hustle time for entrepreneurs. Everybody else is going out partying, everybody else is going out to have a good time. You’re in there, basically hustling, getting your business started. Doing the stuff that other people don’t wanna do. And that is where the real opportunity shows up. That is where the real chance to do extraordinary Impossible things. It is. Because at the risk of sounding cliche, if it was easy, everybody will be doing it. So the hard things, the difficult things are worth the opportunity. And if you could figure out how to keep going and sustain yourself when everybody else is giving up, calling it in, or coasting on hope, that’s where the opportunity is. So whether it’s running a marathon through the Swiss Alps, starting your own business on a Friday night when everybody else is going out to party. See how you can find a way to make a game out of going and doing the Impossible. And if you do, you might find out, just like Walt Disney said, that it’s kinda fun to do the Impossible.

So that’s today’s episode. Rough and rugged. To steal a line from my buddy Vic Magary. If you guys liked the episode, head on over to iTunes and leave a review. Reviews are the lifeblood of this podcast. It keeps us doing more, lets us know you like it and lets us know what to do podcasts on in the future. So thanks for listening guys, and I’ll see you next week.

Hey everybody, thanks for listening to the Impossible FM podcast. For more tips, blog posts, podcasts, videos, and a whole lot more, check out Until next time, I will see you guys next Monday morning, right here behind the mic, at 8:00 AM Eastern Standard time. Until then, get out there, go do something that pushes your limits, and do something impossible.

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  1. says

    Nice episode! I’ll need to try out the hit list for my next race. I’ve always chased the “cute butt” and it’s a great motivator but when there isn’t one around, racking up points will be my fallback.

  2. says

    When the world is sleeping and you are awake , that’s when and where the action is ! Opportunities are always in the dark. If they were in the light, everyone would see them . am doing this kind of a thing right now . Tried hard for 7 months and now it is moving with some momentum.

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