Jack Barber / Website Design

Hitting the Wall

Hitting the Wall

I went for a 'long run' on Saturday night. Fitting marathon training in around a busy work schedule and even busier family life is hard. My curreny schedule looks something like this:

  • Monday - Rest/Short Run
  • Tuesday - Gym Session #1 (Legs, Arms and Chest)
  • Wednesday - Short Run
  • Thursday - Gym Session #2 (Arms and Back)
  • Friday - Gym Session #3 (Kettlebell Circuits)
  • Saturday - Long Run
  • Sunday - Rest

Before this weekend the furthest I've ever run is just over 15 miles and with my first marathon* about 8 weeks away I really need to be working on covering the longer distances from now on. I decided I'd run along the Cinder Track for 10 miles (I use Strava, so keeping track of distance is easy) and then turn around run home again. You can view the run data here:


What Happened?

I have this semi-achievable target in mind of running 7:30/mile which would get me around the 24 mile Guisborough course in 3 hours flat. I set off at this pace and made it to mile 10 in 1:16:00 - great!

I turned around and started heading back down the Cinder Track from nearly Ravenscar towards Boggle Hole and then, at around mile 13 my legs emptied and I slowed to a jog. By the time I got to Robin Hood's Bay I was half jogging half walking and that continued all the way back home to Whitby. It wasn't fun.

Why Did it Happen?

I can't be sure. Partly I think it was mental. I'd got to the half way point in a really quick time (for me). I was pleasantly surprised I'd sustained my target pace over the first 10 miles and perhaps that's all I'd geared myself up for. I probably thought it'd be easier getting home than it was.

Also, I'm new to the gym. And these first few weeks of fairly intensive gym sessions have done wonders for my overall fitness, but have taken their toll on my ability to run as much as I used to - especially over longer distances.

Thirdly, Megan is on a 'low carb' diet - which impacts the rest of us. Mostly it's great - we're all benefitting for a little less cake and bread than usual - but that's not great for a distance runner. When I think about my food intake on Saturday it wasn't any more than usual, and it certainly wasn't high in carbohydrates. I remember stuffing myself with pasta before my Great North Run appearances, and perhaps I thought it didn't matter so much these days. How wrong!

Finally - the weather. It was cold and wet. The photo at the top of the post is from today - but it was like this all weekend. And has been for weeks. I never used to feel affected by the weather, but this year the constant drizzle and cold has left me feeling particularly flat - I need some sun!

What Now?

Having experienced 'hitting the wall' for the first time in years (in fact, I can't remember the last time it happened) I'm certain I don't want to experience that again! I'll learn from my mistakes. Distance running is not easy. It takes care and preparation. And while some of my training schedule and new habits are really paying off, I can't afford to neglect other areas, like nutrition and mental preparation.

Physically I feel much better than I thought I would - I'll be back in the gym tomorrow and will try and fit in a couple of short runs this week too.

One thing's for sure - the next few months will be just as challenging and I had hoped they would be.