It’s a common phrase heard in the running world. It tends to be talked about with frustration, which is no wonder really as I know a wall is most definitely not something I’d want to meet whilst out picking up my feet.
But what do these mile chasers really mean when they talk about said wall?
It’s simply a figment of our imagination and fatigue. It’s the term used to explain the point during a run or race when our bodies say no, and decide they no longer want to move forward in the direction we wish them to. There’s no actual wall, and no one was hurt in the making of this phrase… it’s simply a way we describe the tougher times in our challenges.
So how do we overcome it? How do we climb the mythical mound of bricks? How do we crash through the carefully constructed obstacle? In most cases it’s simply a stern word with oneself, but there are a few tips and tricks we’ve picked up along the way to help us plough through:
When you start to doubt your powers, remind yourselves of your strengths.
It begins to rain 3 miles in, and even before you were soaked through you’d set your sights on the wall approaching soon. Yes, it’s raining, yes you’re a little soggy but what about all the positives here? You’re still able to run, you’re out now, you’ve done the hard bit and guess what… skin is waterproof. Think about how you are feeling internally, do your legs feel strong, your feet light or maybe lungs breezy? Now we’re not saying these are the easiest lines to pull out the bag mid splash in a sneaky puddle but they are still positives. You can’t control the weather, especially in Britain but you can control the way you choose to think! Hey, it could be worse, you could be drowning in sweat as opposed to fresh rain?!
Set small step plans as to how you’re going to climb it
We wish we could jump in and break it down for you, but we can’t so you’re going to have to use a bit of willpower here. The wall has cropped up, quite unwelcomed but this isn’t the be all and end all. It can be broken down, it just requires a little positivity and some smart thinking. Say you’re halfway through a 5k? Think how far you’ve come and how you tackled that first 2.5k and apply those principles to P2. For example, how about lining up 3 or 4 of the songs you sang to when so blissfully cruising through part 1… give them another go. Practice makes perfect is the aim of this game, and you never know you may improve your vocal and stride skills in one hit.
The ‘wall’ isn’t always just in your head, it can be your body. If you get your food and hydration wrong you will ‘bonk’ (ultra running term)! This is when your legs turn to lead due to your glycogen stores and blood glucose levels being completely depleted, as well as your water and electrolyte levels being too low. Practice your race fuel and hydration in training, and do not underestimate the importance of the day before when it comes to the promise of a strong race.
Use your support network
We are lucky enough to pretty much run every race together, so when the going gets tough we turn to the one at our side. We know not everyone has the luxury of having a running partner, but perhaps it’s just because you haven’t asked. Reach out to your nearest and dearest, and ask them to join you be it run or race. They’ll offer the cheer, and chase you need to avoid the dreaded wall! If you are racing, trust us when we say, seeing a friendly face in the crowd defies science…it’s like a dose of painkiller and motivation all in one go!