Hitting the Wall – Marathon Endurance
I have had a lot of runners ask me about marathon endurance this week. I’m sure anyone who is training for the BH Great Limerick Run full marathon will have heard of or even maybe experienced a phenomenon known as “The Wall” which usually occurs around mile 20, give or take a couple of miles. Your pace slows down, your legs and arms feel heavy, you can’t think straight, muscle coordination is difficult, and self-doubt starts to creep in!
You can hopefully prevent this from happening during your race if you have been training at marathon goal pace, have at least run a 20 mile route in advance of the race, fuel your body properly before the race and find comfortable running gear like the I-SPY Cobalt steel shorts
But if despite following all of the marathon training guidelines it still happens that you reach a point in the race where you feel like you literally cannot take another step, these tips will help you push through:
1. Fuel Up
Hitting The Wall is basically running out of energy. The most important thing is to stock up on calories. Simple sugars are best such as sugary sports drinks or fruit Juice. But do not gulp lots at once because there are limits to how fast you can digest, and drinking a lot at once can make you sick so aim for 150-250 calories to take in immediately followed by another 50-150 calories every 15-20 minutes after your initial intake, until you reach the finish line.
2. Slow Your Pace
Slowing down is probably not a choice at this stage as it is inevitable that your body will slow down when you feel really spent. But slowing down will also help you to digest the calories you have taken on board quicker and when you start to feel better you will know the carbs have kicked in and you can hopefully pick up the pace again.
3. Break down the remainder of the race
Marathon endurance is tough at this stage and difficult to focus on crossing the finish line at mile 20 when you know you have another 6 to go. It will feel impossible to your exhausted body and mind, instead shorten your immediate goal and set your sights on a closer point to aim for, maybe the next water stop or the next crossroad, breaking it down into smaller bite size sections will help you feel it is achievable, then,as soon as you reach that point, immediately set a new one.
If your brain is able to at this stage try counting to 100, it will distract your mind away from the pain and exhaustion of the wall and the rhythm of counting may even help you get back into your stride.
Visualise is essential for marathon endurance, Imagine something pleasant like what you are going to do after the race, how you will feel, who you will see at the finish line, recounting to them how you hit a wall but kept going, how good it will feel to have a shower, where and what you will eat. Like counting, a detail-oriented mental tasklike this can distract your mind away from the exhaustion.
6. Accept some pain and….. breathe
No matter how fit and prepared you are running a marathon hurts. Accepting this fact as part of your race gives the pain far less power over you. Expectthe pain and greet it calmly, focus on your breath, you may be surprised how quickly you’re able to push through the wall and find your second wind.
The Wall is something many runners hear about and fear, but it’s also something all runners are capable of overcoming. So, best of luck!