You’ve most likely heard of the infamous ‘wall’, the barrier that pops up when you want it least to shine an ugly light on a situation that perhaps isn’t going so swimmingly…
It’s been given other names, commonly referred to as ‘bonking’ more so in the ultra world, and ‘the block’ for those that prefer not to imagine running directly into a wall.
Whilst we’d love to be able to give some super secret that would prevent you ever coming up against the said barrier, sadly it’s just something almost every runner will encounter at some stage. What we can share are a few ways we find help break through the wall, bust through the block, and beat the bonk!
You’ve heard us talk about this a million and one times, but here it’s more prevalent than ever. The most common cause of hitting the wall hard is simply not taking on enough of the right fuel. When racing, or running any distance you’re demanding a lot of energy from your body, so it’s important you give it just that back. Practice the fuel you plan to take on, note where you begin to dip and put a strategy in place for this. If you don’t often it can end up being too late, and bam the barrier rises.
If your race pace is a 10-minute mile, don’t run the first two at 8-minute miles. There’s no glory in having a fast two first miles if you then have to walk (or crawl) the remainder of the race. Again, this is another one to practice. Know your splits, and where your body sits happy for the distance you’re taking on. If you get to the last few with extra power in the bank, then you can put your foot down!
Whilst there’s many a cause for the cry of the wall, there are also many cases where it’s simply a case of the mind giving up before the muscles. You have so much more to give than you think, you just need to know when to tell your brain to button up. Of course, if you’re physically struggling take a moment to recognise if said struggle could be a potential injury. If it could, be sensible in your next move. If it couldn’t crack on, and use some of that willpower we all know you have to continue to place one foot in front of the other.
Trust your body
In a similar suit to the earlier ramblings, know you have an incredible tool in your body and don’t be afraid to use it. We’re all quick to decide we can’t (or won’t) do something. Put a bit more trust in what you can do, and don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone every now and again. You’re stronger than you know!
Set your sights
When it all gets too much we turn to games. This is one of our favourites when we feel a wall approaching. Set your sights on people or objects, and take it one ‘tick off’ at a time. Setting these small goals throughout your run will offer up mini achievements, and feelings of empowerment when you’re likely at your lowest.
So, who’s ready to be the runners that beat the barriers?