Afternoon! I've got a guest blog on today. This is Louie Luc who writes over at Health Listed and he's written a post on how you can avoid hitting 'The Wall' in a marathon! Enjoy!
My name is Louie Luc and I’m a 30-something runner, marathoner, ultrarunner and fitness, nutrition and healthy lifestyle blogger. Running is my greatest passion in life and I enjoy sharing what I’ve learned along the way with others who are similarly passionate about the sport.
As any serious running enthusiast or cyclist will know, there is nothing more difficult than “hitting the wall.” This usually happens around mile 20 into a race and when that feeling washes over you, totally pushing you down. Your spirit wants you to keep on going, however your body is just saying ‘no’.
That shift from feeling in control and strong to questioning as to how on earth you’re ever going to manage to finish, feels like sheer hell. Even when you’re running at a slow pace, every step seems like trying to navigate through quicksand with weights tied to your feet. That horrible acknowledgment of your energy levels dropping, your muscles getting stiff and increased breathing rate is something that no athlete wants to -- or even needs to -- endure.
Through training, longer runs and speed sessions, it is possible to actually increase your endurance so you can avoid having to deal with the “wall” at all. I’m here to help you with my tried and tested tips to stop you both from “hitting the wall” and finding the strength to keep going once you’ve hit that plateau. I’ve also discussed this topic with some of the top running bloggers I know and these are some of our best tips combined.
What Does “Hitting the Wall” Feel Like and How Can You Move Beyond It?
There’s nothing worse when you’re in the middle of a run and things begin to fall apart. The physical symptoms are bad enough, add this to the negative thought processes and almost overwhelming urge to quit that accompany “hitting the wall” and it’s understandably something that every athlete dreads. Unfortunately, it’s something which every runner will experience at some time or another.
As reported by Runner’s World, research fellow at Stanford School of Medicine, Matt Buman, Ph.D., ran a study into the specific psychological and physical reasons that recreational runners tend to have when they hit the “wall.” He also looked into how they recover from and cope with this setback.
Of the 315 runners surveyed, a huge 43 percent had hit that plateau in a recent race. Although the study focused solely on marathon runners, the information he collected is helpful to all running enthusiasts -- professional and otherwise. Take a look at these three proven strategies to help ensure you can bounce back from those mid-run meltdowns in no time:
1. If You Feel Pain: Slow Down, Stop and Stretch or Walk
When you’re pushing yourself to the limit, it’s perfectly usual to feel pain in your calves, quads, hamstrings or even upper body. If the pain becomes severe, it is important that you slow right down and assess the condition of your body. Often, simply stopping for a few seconds of stretching or walking is enough to ease the discomfort and to allow you to continue.
2. If You’re Overwhelmed: Shift Your Focus
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you have miles left to cover. A great trick to use when you feel that you just can’t handle going on, is to shift your focus to something else entirely. For example, you could make a grocery list in your head or perhaps count the number of trees along your route.
The runners in Buman’s study used techniques such as counting backwards to help them refocus. They were also urged to focus on their own physical well-being and on staying hydrated in order to stop themselves from feeling overwhelmed.
3. If Thirsty or Feeling Energy Drop: Drink Water or an Energy Drink
Runners who keep going without water for 75 minutes or less and who feel sluggish and thirsty are likely to be suffering from mild dehydration. This is simple to remedy, you just need to keep a sports drink or some water with you and take regular drinks.
If, however you’re on a longer run and you feel thirsty, have heavy-feeling legs, accompanied by a lack of energy, you could be running low on fuel. To remedy this, drink an energy drink that can be converted to glucose in order to fuel your muscles.
A Final Thought
We all run at our own pace, with varying levels of fitness. What works for one person, might not necessarily work for another, so try not to stress too much if you get into difficulties during a race.
Goals can always be made fluid and modified and just remember, there will always be more races. The here and now is not the be all and end all. It’s the journey that really matters as well as the destination.
Author bio: Louie Luc is a runner, marathoner and ultrarunner. When he is not blogging about fitness, nutrition and healthy lifestyles on his personal blog. Louie is living his biggest passion: running.