The Truth About THE WALL!

28 Oct The Truth About THE WALL!

It happens to us all at times…

We start so strong, full of confidence, on top of the world…

“I can keep this up easy”

And then out of nowhere… CRASH.

This so called “Wall” hits us.

What if it doesn’t exist at all..?

In endurance sports such as cycling and running, hitting the wall or the bonk describes a condition caused by the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles, which manifests itself by sudden fatigue and loss of energy. 
[Taken from Wikipedia]
running-into-a-wall-300x225_large

But what if I told you this wall is a figment of your imagination…

When you break it down, the wall only theoretically comes along when you’ve ran out of energy.

Your muscles store glycogen and when this depletes, much like petrol in a car… You won’t be going anywhere fast.

Well… I exaggerate, we are normally able to keep moving, just slower in comparison to a car which just stops.

So how can you help this situation?

Well, if you truly hit the wall, nutrition is key. Taking on carbohydrates during exercise is necessary. In total honesty, your sports gels are the only thing you can really turn to in order to get a sufficient dose of carbohydrates.

Jelly babies, jelly beans are a popular and convenient choice, HOWEVER… Bear in mind the following:

26.4g (roughly 4) Jelly babies gives you 87 calories and 20.5g of carbohydrates (19.5g sugars)

One (High 5) Sports Gel gives you 91 calories and 23g of carbohydrates (7.2g sugars).

General recommendations are to consume 30-60g of carbohydrates an hour when running (personally I’d recommend this when running for over an hour). Which means that if you do choose to consume the former… you’ll be taking on a heck of a lot of sugar!

Correct nutrition will certainly eliminate the physical signs of hitting the wall… But we need to think about the mental signs too.

Now, when we tire, our muscles are screaming out for us to stop. It is the brains decision to listen or to ignore.

Do we opt for the logical side of our head… “Just keep going, you’ve trained hard for this and you don’t want to slow down”

Or the chimp side “I’m slowing down, it hurts too much…”

The good news is that this too can be trained.

I was chatting earlier on today with a marathon runner who ran many, many marathons back in the 70’s and 80’s. His views (although very old school) are still incredibly relevant with the issues many of us have today.

He was talking to me about his performances over the marathon, and how everyone would play mind games, pushing on, easing off, trying to break each other.

So he structured his training to cope with this.

After every long run he would include some max effort sprints to get used to having to run fast when fatigued.

He said he ran 6×400’s after runs of up to 20 miles…

What can we learn from this? Well, adding in a round of short sprints can help our minds overcome these signs of fatigue, getting us used to running when the legs want to slow down.

I would start with something like 4x 30 seconds with 1 minute recovery, totally 6 minutes at the end of your run. You can then gradually build this up week by week.

Its not an easy way to finish a long run, but John (the runner mentioned above) swore by it.

Why not have a go and see how it changes you mental strategy at the end of a long run.

 

RunStrong,

Coach Ant

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