Hitting the wall – do you have to?

If you’ve ran up to 20 miles in training, carb loaded three days before and you get your fluids and carbs in during the race you’ll be fine.

Before the Liverpool marathon I kept to my usual big bowl of porridge with honey and a pint of water about 2-3 hours before the race. Gives it enough time to digest and turn into energy. Must admit though it was hard to finish with the nerves and excitement. I’d got the proper pasta sweats the night before as well. I ploughed through a big plate and nearly fainted. Anyway I  also had an energy drink on the drive into town, making sure I stopped drinking about 45 mins before the gun.

Gels, jelly beans and juice

Jelly beans got me around the race, had them every 5 miles or so. Whenever I needed a quick burst of energy I’d have a few beans and be on the up. I loved the caffeine Hi Energy gels, small enough to pack loads in a pouch. The shock bloks of gel are also ace, tropical is nice. These are a  good  alternative if gels upset your stomach.

Keeping hydrated is important too, you should be taking in fluid every 10 mins either water or energy drinks. Runade is a good one but you have to buy it by the shed load – looking at their website though, you can’t even do that now.

Throughout the marathon I had half a packet of bloks, 5 High Gels and two packets of jelly beans. I was proper sugar buzzing at the end.

Which wall will you hit?

Hopefully none if you eat right and train well beforehand.

There are two types of wall apparently. Mental and physical. If your sugar levels drop you hit the mental wall where your brain thinks your tired but your muscles are fine. Some people hallucinate and the mind plays tricks. I had this once on a 20 mile training run when I had hardly eaten all day, it was funny. Seriously did not know where I was or what I was doing. It’s easy to sort out though with an energy drink or a gel. For me it was the jelly beans to the rescue.

From how I understand it, the physical wall is the worst one because it’s when your muscles are all out of energy and your stores are gone. Unless you have mega mental strength this is harder to get over as you’ve usually left it too late. These are the people you see walking and shaking their head near the end. Defeated.

I didn’t hit the wall really during the marathon. But at 20 miles when I was running towards Parliament Hill (I’d ran up it about 5 miles ago) I saw all the people struggling after the 1 ½ mile climb. I felt sick at the thought of having to run up it. I started to doubt I could finish the race and felt really heavy legged. It was the only point I felt proper tired and got the doubt. I knew your mind can play tricks so I had a handful of jelly beans for the sugar rush. Then I saw the 21 mile marker and boom the sugar hit and I suddenly realised I was about to run down hill as I’d ran that climb already. I realised I was on the home straight. Looked at my watch and thought I could actually finish under 4 hours. It was one of the best feelings ever. I proper sped up and was smiling like a maniac. I then saw my best mate and her family and was lifted even higher. Apart from crossing that line under 4 hours, that was the race highlight.

It’s all worth it

The amount of time, energy and mental strength training for a marathon takes is something else. I can honestly tell you that it is worth every run in the cold rain, every injury, every missed drunken night out, every bowl of sodding pasta. When you pass that line for the first time it’s the best feeling ever – a sense of such amazing achievement  I’m yet to match.


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