Monday, April 30, 2012

Hitting the Wall


This past week, a few of my running friends have mentioned to me “hitting the wall” while running.  Jeff Galloway says “Your wall is normally the length of your longest endurance session within the last two to three weeks, provided you are going at the pace you could on that day. Even a little too fast in the beginning will introduce you to the wall sooner.” 

This wall sounds like a scary thing.  I do not think I have ever hit my wall while running.  I would like to say that I have always been faithful to training plans, but the truth is I have not.  I have been close to faithful, but never 100%.  The reason I think I have not hit my wall is because I have never run past a half marathon length—13.1 miles. 

While discussing this with a group of running friends, several opinions were brought up.  One friend suggested that the wall is mental.  This very well could be true.  After running for two plus hours, the body and brain get tired.  Another cause for hitting the wall could be hydration.  We sweat a lot more then we realize when running.  If those fluids and electrolytes are not replenished, the body and brain do not function properly.  One last thing that could be causing a runner to hit the wall is improper fueling.  Our muscles use glycogen as energy.  Glycogen comes from the carbohydrates we eat.  When running for long distances, we deplete our glycogen supplies very quickly.  Low glycogen, like fluid and electrolytes, need to be replaced for optimum performance. 

So, what is the best way to refuel and rehydrate?  The answer is simple.  There is no best way.  Everyone is different.  I have heard all kinds of different ideas.  For fluids—water, Gatorade, Nuun and Power Aid are common.  I like the low calorie Gatorade because it is less sweet.  For fuel, the possibilities are endless.  There are tons of companies that make fueling product—like GU and Cliff.  They make gels and candy like solids.  I prefer a less conventional way of refueling—pop tarts.  I love them, but don’t eat them on a regular basis because they are so high in calories.  What better excuse to eat some Pop Tarts--"I have to replenish my glycogen supply".  Jeff Galloway recommends gummy bears.  I have friends who swear by Skittles and even Twizzlers.

Do you feel like you have ever hit the wall?  How do you refuel and rehydrate on your long runs?

A dream is a wish…

--Amy

4 comments:

  1. I've not hit the wall either, but need to "practice" my hydration and fueling. I cannot stomach even water when I run so I pass by hydration stations. Not a good thing as the distance increases. Especially as summer heat starts to come at us, I am going to need as much water as possible!

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  2. Thank you for sharing this. I have not hit a wall yet but like you 13.1 is as far as I have done. Im new to running and have heard about refueling and rehydrateing supplies, but as simple as the idea is, with all the products out there it can make a newbee like me feel kinda lost, Thanks again and Keep up the great work! You are such an inspiration!

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  3. A girl at the gym was eating some sort of gummies, I was interested but a little shy to ask her. I just started running, so at this point I am doing well - but I am sure I will be interested the longer I run

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  4. I have not "hit the wall" yet but I know it is there...I am going to try GU soon or something similar to see if it helps keep me energized on the last part of my runs/races.

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