The Wall – London Marathon
The Wall – London Marathon
With The Virgin Money London Marathon 2018 just around the corner we asked some of our patients who are experienced marathon runners advice on hitting the ‘wall’.
What is it?
If you are running a marathon you have probably heard of the dreaded ‘wall’ that some runners hit commonly around the 20 mile mark. It is at this point the runner may have to slow down or even walk.
The wall is a physiological and psychological effect.
Our legs and liver store glycogen, a carbohydrate that gives us fuel when doing endurance activities such as running a marathon. An average person can store between 90 and 120 minutes worth of glycogen whilst running. After this time the body switches from glycogen to fat that is stored in your muscles and this is when the ‘wall’ can be felt, where you may feel disorientated, confused, shaky, weak and fatigued. This consequently influences the brain functions like slowing down reasoning, ‘will to continue’ and logic.
It is important to note that not everyone will hit the wall. We believe that if you have a better understanding of it, you can be better prepared for it both mentally and physically.
If you feel any symptoms of hitting the wall, it is best to stop running and replenish the glucose in your bloodstream with a sugary drink or an energy gel pack. Fuelling with carbs during your marathon will prevent you from running out of energy and hitting the wall.
Let’s see what our experienced marathon runners say about it.
Colin Brett (Ultra Marathon Runner and Running Coach) says: “you can work out how much you need to fuel for long distance runs. The body will need to be fuelled after your natural stores run out. An average runner would need to refuel every 30 to 45 minutes, after the initial reserve is depleted. The most efficient way to take the required fuel is energy gel packs as they are easy to carry and consume. However, gels do not agree with everyone and do need to be used during training to see how your body responds.”
“An average runner would need to refuel every 30 to 45 minutes,
after the initial reserve is depleted”
Here is an example, if your expected finish time for a marathon is 4 hours and your natural stored energy is 90 minutes, you need to refuel for the remaining 150 minutes, taking 1 gel pack every 30 minutes.
Colin also mentions that “pre-breakfast runs, running on empty stomach, help this glycogen-to-fat transition preparing both your body and mind get used to this way of fuelling your muscles, just make sure you have a running buddy and plenty of water with you”.
Dave Lucas (Running Coach, Level 4) says: “The body uses glycogen for fuel which begins to run out at around 20 miles. To produce the same amount of energy from fat requires more oxygen intake. This consequently influences the brain functions like slowing down reasoning, ‘will to continue’ and logic. Your marathon training will have prepared you for this and you can reduce the effects with keeping cool and intaking calories whilst running your marathon. I do believe that knowing these physiological effects help you prepare and cope better.”
“This consequently influences the brain functions like
slowing down reasoning, ‘will to continue’ and logic.”
Lastly, we can some words of encouragement from Lisa Preston (New York Marathon twice and Paris marathon) says: “I have never hit the wall as hard as I did in Paris! Accept it may happen be prepared and trust your training. Don’t be afraid to stop and stretch if you need to. If you use energy gels then save one for this time to help give you a second wind. Understand that most of the runners around you are feeling the same. The pain is short lived, but the euphoria of finishing out-ways it. It’s worth it! Stay positive and not everyone hits the wall so don’t fear it and enjoy a great experience.
“Accept it may happen be prepared and trust your training.”
Good luck to all of our patients and everyone else that are running the Virgin Money London Marathon 2018. You can do it! #londondmarathon