Splat. The noise reverberated throughout the neighborhood, causing a stutter in the step of thousands of nearby runners, who even without witnessing the event, knew what had happened.
A fellow runner had hit the wall.
This is not the wall of Humpty Dumpty or the wall that Trump would build. This is the narrow, easy to navigate around, if you’re focused on good training and nutrition, wall of the marathon.
Course officials made this statement “we don’t place the wall there intentionally, in fact, we spend a lot of time in emails and during the expo handing out information to help prevent this from happening. But we simply can’t monitor each individual runner.”
And of course because we all sign a liability waiver filled with legal jargon we don’t understand, the race cannot be held liable for the the Splat.
Luckily, medical staff was on hand and as the runner weaved wearily past their aid station, they stepped out to offer a nice warm paper cup of Gatorade. As the runner gulped the orange liquid dripping from their chin, mixed with less salty than normal tears, they started to smile.
No strike that, they started to dry heave.
What is the wall?
The Marathon Wall stands about waist high, which is why it’s often such a punch in the gut. We can see over it to what lays beyond, but haven’t the energy to actually hurdle it while running.
Instead, we must slam in to it, pause, cry, regroup and haul our weary legs over as though we’ve encountered a Spartan obstacle. It might take three or four tries, but once over a startling wind rises up behind us and our feet begin to move.
Not like lightning, just like a turtle that finally wants to cross the road.
To better understand the wall, we reached out to numerous veteran runners and coaches. Nearly all said they’d had a run in with the wall that left them with emotional scars for a least a few weeks, but some for decades.
“After the Splat, I swore I’d never run another marathon. It was so painful, I mean why would I put myself through that.” Upon hearing this statement, we questioned in they’d read our story about runners spreading fake news. None the less, they stood by their statement, even though they have now completed 10 marathons.This is not the wall of Humpty Dumpty or the wall that Trump would build. This is the marathon wall...splat. #running Click To Tweet
Other runners have stated they believe the wall is fake. It’s a figment of the runners imagination and that our bodies can do so much more than we believe. And to them we ask, have you ever run a marathon? 99.9% said no because it sounded awful.
The runner noted at the beginning of this story could not be found for comment, but we have it on good authority (our own) that she finished the race on her own two feet. It wasn’t pretty, she wasn’t really all that happy about it, but she achieved the 26. goal.
And then proceeded to register for next years race because it was only $25 at the finish line and that’s a price you just can’t beat.
How to prevent bonking?
Because hitting the wall isn’t visual enough, we started referring to this epic moment as bonking, which makes it all the better. While it feels like an inevitable part of every race because we hear about it so frequently, it doesn’t need to be!
Clearly this is going to be the most obvious statement made, but you need to follow your training plan. You need have the consistent build of of mileage to peak week which is going to help your body adapt to the needs of race day.
If you’ve done base building correctly, you’ve helped teach your body how to use a little more fat that carbs for fuel, which means you won’t need quite as much fuel on race day. And that my friends means less porta potty stops.
BUT as you increase intensity, your body is going to start burning more carbs and looking for quick easy sources of energy. You don’t need to be taking in hundreds of calories per hour, but you do need to be giving your body some fuel.
- Eat a solid breakfast a few hours before the race to ensure your glycogen stores are topped off and you’ve got enough to not feel hungry!
- Start line fueling with pre-workout or caffeine
- Shot block or whole food option at 5, 12, 18, 23
- Take advantage of tools like caffeine for a boost
You’ve heard that you need to stay in control during those first miles when the energy is high, but did you know it’s to help prevent hitting the wall?? Taking off in that initial surge burns through those quick carbs as your HR shoots way up and it expends too much energy.
- Make the first mile your slowest mile, likely won’t happen, but thinking that way will help you hold back.
- Try not to spend a ton of energy dodging other runners
- Settle in to your goal pace quickly, rather than aiming to negative split
- Don’t try to pick up the pace until you’ve passed mile 21 still feeling strong
How did you regroup after hitting the wall?
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