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unimpressed
RE: What does hitting the "Wall" during a marathon feel like 10/11/2011 12:56PM - in reply to malmo Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Good thing we have an authority on the matter here. Don't know what we would've done otherwise. So if I can just ingest enough fuel during my next race I'll be golden right? Riiighhht.
Aquafina
RE: What does hitting the "Wall" during a marathon feel like 10/11/2011 1:00PM - in reply to malmo Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

malmo wrote:


Aquafina wrote:

It's complete and utter exhaustion. Not so much cramping,


Huh? The cramping is the wall. It's when your legs no longer work.


When I say "cramp" I think of painful clinched muscles involuntarily balling up. My experience with "the wall" is just that the legs won't move beyond a shuffle or walk.
Rush Lumbar
RE: What does hitting the "Wall" during a marathon feel like 10/11/2011 1:09PM - in reply to unimpressed Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
My experience is you feel like you want to slow to a walk.
marathoning for dummies
RE: What does hitting the "Wall" during a marathon feel like 10/11/2011 1:09PM - in reply to Aquafina Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Wall is when your legs wont move. I don't think it necessarily has to involve cramping, but my experience only lends to a cramping wall. I was at mile 21 when I hit the wall. My legs were cramped so I decided to walk, stop, then stretch. For me, this made things even worse. Then I thought to myself, "1. I have to finish because people are waiting for me; then 2. if I stop my legs will completely seize up, so I might as well keep my legs moving no matter how slow." My last 5 or so miles were a very agonizing 7:30 - 8min mile pace.

If we are talking about a marathon cardiovascularly I was fine.
BTDT
RE: What does hitting the "Wall" during a marathon feel like 10/11/2011 1:10PM - in reply to Waller baby Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Just did one this weekend and the frustrating part for me is that everything can go perfectly to plan for 20-21 miles and then it just slowly goes to hell. It's almost like the first 75% of the race is just a prelude for the last quarter and if it's not there, there's nothing you can do except watch the time slip away. Having said that, I love everything that goes into trying to make it better "next time".
Rec Runner x
RE: What does hitting the "Wall" during a marathon feel like 10/11/2011 2:29PM - in reply to unimpressed Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

unimpressed wrote:

Good thing we have an authority on the matter here. Don't know what we would've done otherwise. So if I can just ingest enough fuel during my next race I'll be golden right? Riiighhht.


Yes, that is all you have to do to prepare for marathoning. Just don't ingest too much or you might want to run it again.
Precious Roy
RE: What does hitting the "Wall" during a marathon feel like 10/11/2011 2:55PM - in reply to Rec Runner x Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I think there is a difference between the wall and a bonk.

The wall is just the point were, as Malmo put it, you run out of the good fuel and struggle desparately to continue mainating your pace. The last 4-5 miles basically feel like the last 800 of a 5k over and over. You are totally in the red zone trying to maintain your pace, but can keep the pace close to what you have been running.

A bonk is when you cannot even come close to maintaining your pace and are reduced to a death shuffle as people pass you like you weren't even entered in the same event. You legs won't turnover at all no matter how hard you try. You drop 45-1:30 a mile in time and hope your friends don't look at the splits posted on the results page.
txRUNNERgirl
RE: What does hitting the "Wall" during a marathon feel like 10/11/2011 3:03PM - in reply to BTDT Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

BTDT wrote:

Just did one this weekend and the frustrating part for me is that everything can go perfectly to plan for 20-21 miles and then it just slowly goes to hell. It's almost like the first 75% of the race is just a prelude for the last quarter and if it's not there, there's nothing you can do except watch the time slip away. Having said that, I love everything that goes into trying to make it better "next time".



I've only run one marathon so far. I was expecting a "wall" at 18 and was happy when I made it through 20 feeling good. Then it hit me at mile 21. It wasn't cramping and it wasn't mental. My legs just started shutting down. I still managed to will myself to keep running, but it was slow. It was frustrating because I was so prepared mentally and physically (I thought). It wasn't a completely horrible finish, but went from 3:38ish pace to running a 3:44. I drank at every station and took GU every 5 miles or so, but it didn't help in the last few miles. What CAN you do to avoid the wall? Obviously I did something wrong.
silverfox
RE: What does hitting the "Wall" during a marathon feel like 10/11/2011 3:30PM - in reply to unimpressed Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I have bonked really bad in one marathon, my second. I have run 12. I ran 2:43 in my debut and drank no water or took anything except coffee beforehand and maybe a banana. Second one, went out way too fast and did not slow down when I heard my 5:18 first mile. I was ignorant and learned a lesson. it the wall at 20 and ended up running 2:51. Never it the wall again but could tell that drinking water early in the race prevented bonking later in the race. Ran 2:33 PR without any water but did have the ole coffee/banana breakfast.

Some of the above posters know their stuff. Pride and determination don't mean a whole hell of a lot if your cells are out of energy! My suggestions for not hitting a wall: prepare for the marathon properly, RESPECT THE EVENT AND BE HUMBLE, drink water before and during the first half when you are not thirsty, (once you begin feeling thirsty, you are in big trouble!) and do not go out too fast. That is what worked for me, except I did not do the water thing properly and probably would have had a few stronger finishes if I had.
danm
RE: What does hitting the "Wall" during a marathon feel like 10/11/2011 4:36PM - in reply to silverfox Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Silverfox! Welcome back.

When your muscle cells can no longer function (glycosis) they begin to shut down one-by-one. You can feel it starting around mile 18 and most people manage to make it to mile 21-23 before complete shut down.

Like many of the posters said, it is like your legs literally turn to cement. There is no coming back from this except rest and refueling.

To prepare better for your next marathon, you need to become better at burning fat as a fuel vs. all of your glycogen. So even eating MORE during the race will not help you if you are burning glycogen at too high of rate.

But you don't have to hit the wall with proper training and running a pace that you are capable of maintaining.
silverfox
RE: What does hitting the "Wall" during a marathon feel like 10/11/2011 5:25PM - in reply to danm Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Good job, danm. I never left, but guess I am back as far as running is concerned. I am 56 and took a 10year break but ran a 19:36 5k a few weeks back. First time I have ever run slower than 17's so it made me humble. I am gonna run another 5k this weekend. Who knows? Maybe pop and old fashion 16:03 like I did back in the youngster 40-45 days. Ha!

Back to the wall! Burn fat and creep along for 20 miles and then keep the pace but you will feel it when the glycogen kicks in and the fat quits burning! I mean it! All of a sudden you just want to run fast but know to keep holding back and every mile gets faster and faster and you sprint the last 400 in 90 seconds and feel like a star. Then, you drink a few cold ones and limp around for a spell.

Ha!
Internet Sargent Slaughter
RE: What does hitting the "Wall" during a marathon feel like 10/11/2011 6:04PM - in reply to Waller baby Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I haven't read the other posts, but to simulate working through the process of hitting the wall, I found that it was beneficial to have a small dinner, go to bed early (get at least 7 hours of sleep) and then go out on a 4 miler as soon as you wake up. Your body fights to try to find sugar that isn't really readily accessible.

"Hitting the wall" happens when you are working too hard to consume enough sugar, so you can practice fighting it off by doing runs when you are sugar depleted, and practicing running your legs back under you by starting in a sugar depleted state and consuming enough sugar during your run to start to feel good again. I don't think it's ideal to "hit the wall" during a marathon, but it's certainly a good idea to have a recovery plan to salvage a marathon if you mess up and wind up sugar depleted at some point in your race.
lucetree
RE: What does hitting the "Wall" during a marathon feel like 10/13/2011 11:03AM - in reply to Internet Sargent Slaughter Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
My experience with hitting the wall is that I was just unable to continue running. It was always a sudden transition from running smoothly to a walk within a few strides. It was always insufficient mileage in training. Oddly enough, I couldn't just slow down, so post-wall I alternated walking to some upcoming landmark -- I was partial to telephone poles -- and then running at a decent pace until I shut down again.
Randy Oldman
RE: What does hitting the "Wall" during a marathon feel like 10/13/2011 12:29PM - in reply to Precious Roy Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

Precious Roy wrote:

I think there is a difference between the wall and a bonk.




Bonk is American slang for hitting the wall.

The term was originally coined in Great Britain but is no longer used as its become a euphemism for sex.
hy
RE: What does hitting the "Wall" during a marathon feel like 10/13/2011 12:36PM - in reply to Randy Oldman Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
marathon is part mental, no doubt about it. But a much, much, larger part of it is physical.
Bushman
RE: What does hitting the "Wall" during a marathon feel like 10/13/2011 9:27PM - in reply to hy Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
The cement legs analogy works for me.
As a 22YO doing my first marathon I cruised through 20 in 1:57xx. I was still with a group and mostly thinking how slow the pace had been. In the course of the next 2 miles my legs quit. I walked it in to finish in 3:39. The day was warm, but cramps were not the issue. It was as if my legs were trying to churn their way through wet cement. This as '72. No GU ,water every 5 miles, and a decided lack of long runs on my part.
Crampy
RE: What does hitting the "Wall" during a marathon feel like 10/13/2011 9:42PM - in reply to Bushman Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Ok, I've run a couple marathons now and I don't get where my legs feel like they are running through cement. It's always cramping that makes me slow down. What will make this go away? More long runs? Better nutrition?
S. Canaday
RE: What does hitting the "Wall" during a marathon feel like 10/13/2011 10:00PM - in reply to Precious Roy Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
This description below by Precious Roy is good. I've done both: "the wal:l I had a slow pace falloff the last 10k (ie go from running 5:15s to 5:30s). The "bonk" I went from running 5:20 for 20 miles to a 10min mile (walk/jog) at 23...no joke.

I think its different for everyone, but in the really bad marathons I've run I knew i was in trouble at 17 miles (resulted in major "bonks") with tight legs feeling like cement, nausea, a foggy mind, becoming dizzy and having an overwhelming desire to quit. Hypoglycemia + dehydration

If you can just run through some stomach cramps and minor leg tightness lin the last 10k and just maintain pace the last 10k you have run a pretty good marathon.

You could bonk because you didn't pace yourself well, you didn't train enough (mileage or long runs), or you overtrained, or you didn't drink any gatorade/water, or any combination of those things.

Never ran a marathon that didn't hurt like crazy in the last 10k...

Bottom line: respect the distance, and treat the 20 mile mark like its the halfway point.



Precious Roy wrote:

I think there is a difference between the wall and a bonk.

The wall is just the point were, as Malmo put it, you run out of the good fuel and struggle desparately to continue mainating your pace. The last 4-5 miles basically feel like the last 800 of a 5k over and over. You are totally in the red zone trying to maintain your pace, but can keep the pace close to what you have been running.

A bonk is when you cannot even come close to maintaining your pace and are reduced to a death shuffle as people pass you like you weren't even entered in the same event. You legs won't turnover at all no matter how hard you try. You drop 45-1:30 a mile in time and hope your friends don't look at the splits posted on the results page.
J.O.
RE: What does hitting the "Wall" during a marathon feel like 10/14/2011 11:12AM - in reply to txRUNNERgirl Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

txRUNNERgirl wrote:

I've only run one marathon so far. I was expecting a "wall" at 18 and was happy when I made it through 20 feeling good. Then it hit me at mile 21. It wasn't cramping and it wasn't mental. My legs just started shutting down. I still managed to will myself to keep running, but it was slow. It was frustrating because I was so prepared mentally and physically (I thought). It wasn't a completely horrible finish, but went from 3:38ish pace to running a 3:44. I drank at every station and took GU every 5 miles or so, but it didn't help in the last few miles. What CAN you do to avoid the wall? Obviously I did something wrong.



You slightly misjudged your pace, which most marathon runners do, because we wish to run a certain time, and that number is nearly always quite optimistic. The actual race gives us a reality check. You should maybe have run the first half at 3.43 pace, but really you would only have run very slightly quicker overall with perfect pace judgement, perhaps only a minute or so faster? Two minutes tops. The last few miles are always going to be super tough no matter what, but on a really good day you might enjoy most of it.
MAYEROFF
RE: What does hitting the "Wall" during a marathon feel like 10/14/2011 11:22AM - in reply to J.O. Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
"Bonking" is bicycling slang. Marathoners "hit the wall." The worst and most frustrating case of hitting the wall occurred for me in the 2005 Berlin Marathon. I went through 10km in 31:40 and half in 1:07:02, and it felt EASY. I was with a group of Australian and German runners. I knew that I was in trouble at about 30km (still on sub 2:15 pace) but at about 32km, my quads and stomach cramped up at the same time. I would have walked the rest of the way but I was really unable to, it was that bad.
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