What is hitting the wall in Marathon speak?

2 item(s)



on 10 mAY 2016, 10:30AM
  • recovery
  • massage
  • 2016

Picture this... You are at the Marathon and all is going superbly. You have trained well and you are feeling strong. In fact, you may wonder what all this fuss about Marathon running is. You feel pretty invincible, strong and full of beans. Then when you get to mile 16, 18 or maybe a bit further...bam! You have no energy left. You may start to weave, your speed drops, you feel like you are running on empty. You wonder how on earth you are going to finish? This my friends, is known as hitting the wall. It is pure depletion of energy, morale and the will to go on.

How can you make sure that you don't hit the wall in the marathon? There are a few things that you can do. Make sure that you train adequately for Marathon - that means not under running and not over running; get help with a proper marathon training plan and listen to your body. If you are genuinely too tired to stick with that day's training session, skip it and get back on track. If you have allowed enough time, this will not be an issue. Taper effectively, so that you are full of energy on race day. Get lots of good quality sleep. Practise some key stretching exercises to keep your main running muscles supple enough to function effectively. Make sure you warm up and cool down effectively in your training sessions and on Marathon day.
Nutrition, fuel, fluids and electrolytes are so very important and perhaps the probable culprits, if lacking good balance, for hitting the wall on race day. Very importantly, get to know your own body. How much do you need to fuel during the long runs? Can you take energy gels on race day? You will need to make sure that you carb up adequately before the race. In the preceding week, you will taper and have an excess of carbs as a result. You will benefit from having a few extra in the three days before the race in addition to this. You will not need a lot extra though; too much and you will be bloated and lethargic. Too little and your supplies will quickly run low on race day. This is part of your planning and preparation. Experience is key here. See what works for others and devise your own version suitable for you.

On race morning, have breakfast a good 3 hours before your race. Then have a small energy bar one hour before the race. Twenty minutes before the starting gun goes off, down a couple of gels. Practise this during your long runs before the important day and see if your body can tolerate it. You will feel like a race horse and start strong. Have adequate fuel during the run; a muscular frame with a high metabolism may need three gels with a total of 240 calories per hour. A lighter, less muscled person may function well on two gels per hour. A two hour Marathon runner will manage to run without energy gels during their race. A two hour, 30 minutes runner or three hour plus runner will need fuel en route. Practise and learn.

Be strong. Learn what it feels like to push through the discomfort you will feel as the miles accumulate. Breathe easy. Keep relaxed. Learn to mentally deal with what is happening. Perhaps you will try a mantra, or repeat words of an inspiring song. Or, think of loved ones that will be proud of you. Whatever it takes, do it. Know that if you have trained right, fuelled correctly, hydrated properly and had electrolytes when necessary and you are not injured, you will definitely push through this wall and come out feeling better on the other side.

We hope that you enjoyed this article. We wish you good luck with your planning, preparation and racing on Marathon day!

Eva Evangelou, BA Hons, PGCE, Adv Post Grad Dip, IFA Dip & ITEC Dips, is the Author of. 'Say No! To Neck and Shoulder Pain' and the owner of Limassol Sports Massage. Her past as a teacher and her penchant for sports has led to her passion to help athletes stay injury free and achieve their sporting dreams. Read more about her work at www.limassolsportsmassage.com and email her at eva@limassolsportsmassage.com.