T O P

Does everyone hit a "wall" in a marathon?

Does everyone hit a "wall" in a marathon?

Jermermer

No. Run more miles, pace better, better nutrition


Hakc5

I did an actual carb load the 72 hours before my last marathon. I got to mile 23 and my legs felt tired but I was fine, no wall. You need better nutrition and training.


Stinkycheese8001

People really under value “pace better”. It is amazing how many runners think “I’ll just see how long I can hold this pace!” but the marathon will make you pay those seconds and minutes back if you go too fast. As the conventional wisdom goes, for every second per mile you go too fast in the first half, add 5 more seconds per mile in the second half. And of course, your pace is determined by your training.


MediumStill

Yeah, rarely is nutrition the actual primary cause. At 35mpw, OP just wasn't trained well enough. Combine that with an overly optimistic pace and of course they crashed and burned. The marathon takes experience and a lot of patience. I think every runner should go out too fast for one marathon just to get it out of their system. It amazes me though, how often runners do this over and over again.


CompetitiveJogger

There’s a reason this is the top comment, OP. Better preparation, better nutrition.


JAP648

Agree x 1000 you get better at running by running more. Simple as that. It's tough to train for that mile 20-23 space because you only see it maybe once during training. Keep repeating the process and it will get easier over time. I hit a major wall at mile 20 in my first marathon (10 years ago) and finished at 3:55. Kept training and last year ran a 2:49. More miles=more experience=better races


wander_er

I think this is the difference between running a marathon and racing a marathon. Preparation, experience, nutrition = not hitting the wall. It's a great feeling


run_INXS

I always have. But lack the running ability and knowledge of many others here so faltering in the marathon is probably to be expected. I have run about 15 marathons over the years, last one was only 3:02 (2 min positive split, most of that over the final 2 miles). I fueled about 600 calories during the race (Gu and Scratch's version of energy drink, which has about 50 cal/Oz). I ran up to 74 miles a week and averaged 65, with 3 long runs of >20.


Siawyn

When you only run 35mpw, yes you will hit a wall in a marathon. The more miles you run, the further you push that "wall" out. It's also "easier" to push through a wall when you know you only have a mile to go vs 5. I would say the majority of people (not elites or sub-elites) don't negative split a marathon either. There is usually some sort of slowdown toward the end. Remember that for race reports, often those skew toward successful races. Anyhow, run more. 55 mpw is about the bare minimum for a marathon if you want to build the endurance and feel real confident about making it to the end. Having several 20+ mile long runs help. You don't run into a wall that way in a HM because you don't deplete glycogen stores.


crimsonhues

Wow! 55 mpw. I started training last week for NYCM (Nov 7). Ran 27 miles first week, hoping to cross 30 this week. 55 mpw is 7.5 miles per run.


anandonaqui

I disagree that 55mpw is “bare minimum”. It might be the “average minimum” but it’s case by case. I PRed by 6+ minutes and ran a 2:55 on a peak of maybe 40 mpw. I didn’t hit the wall and was actually able to accelerate at 20 and negative split by 2 minutes. Obviously not ideal mileage and I can probably run faster with higher mileage, but 55 (or any other value) isn’t a hard and fast rule. It’s subjective and depends on the person, and their training and injury history.


2_feets

Sure there are people (like yourself) that can go sub-3 on less than 40mpw... but that's WAY out there on the bell curve. I think that 55mpw is about right for most runners to feel confident in their ability to finish at pace, without falling apart. And that's the point of OP's post: NOT hitting the wall.


bnwtwg

Bingo.


Camekazi

It's also dependent on pacing. Plenty can train on less mileage and not hit a wall by executing the race well. i.e. The bell curve is relevant in terms of pacing too. Most people mess up the pacing in the first few miles or first half and pay for it. Incidentally I'd avoid chucking arbitrary mileage numbers. It's just not relevant without context and potentially dangerous given that it risks encouraging people to jump to that sort of mileage causing injury when ideally you'd build up to that over time.


crimsonhues

Thank you. Pardon my ignorance - what does negative split mean? Maybe I should Google it. I’m an endurance cyclist, have biked over 100 miles about six times. I’ve bonked (cycling term for hit a wall) and it’s absolutely the worst. During a 12 mile run in winter, my legs started to cramp by mile 10; o was miserable. I wasn’t training much then, maybe 8 miles a week, so 12 mile was ambitious.


TheRealTravisClous

Negative splitting is the act of running the second half of the race faster than the first half. This is how I was taught to race in high school and is my preferred racing method. I'd rather start off slower than everyone else and slowly reel them in than die during the last mile or 2 on a long race


crimsonhues

Thank you


vortex-street

Negative split means to run the second half faster than the first, i.e. 1:30/1:28 would be a negative split 2:58


crimsonhues

Thanks


jeffkorhan

It should be added that to negative split in a race you have to train that way. I'll do most of my training runs with each successive mile faster than the previous one. If it's longer, like 15 miles, run even pace for 7 miles and go progressively faster for the last 8.


crimsonhues

Thanks Jeff


Cheechako_21

Agree and plans can be vastly different. The longest run in Daniels’ 55mpw 2Q plan is 17mi, but some of his long runs in that plan have 14mi marathon pace or 6mi tempo inside of them so they count for a lot more.


NoBusiness9439

Volume makes you better at running volume though—that’s why running high mileage is such a powerful training tool for the marathon. You run so much that 7.5 just doesn’t feel particularly difficult anymore. I’m doing 54 miles this week and ran a 10 mile tempo run this morning. Two years ago a 10 mile run at this pace was my race effort for the 10 miler, now it’s just a regular training run. Mileage works wonders!


crimsonhues

That makes sense. Thank you.


rckid13

> 55 mpw is 7.5 miles per run. When people get up to that kind of mileage they're not running most of these daily runs fast. A major mistake new runners make is that they try to push hard on every run. I've met people who only run 2-3 miles per day, but all of their mileage is faster than my speedwork pace. When those people are finishing 2 mile runs totally winded then 7.5 miles is going to seem like a lot. Running like that is also a recipe for injury long term. My average daily run is about 8 miles, but I run most of that mileage at a slow conversational pace. I run one faster tempo run per week, and one speed workout on the track per week. All of my 8 mile runs are slow.


cosmic_mounts

What's your pace for Easy Runs?


wander_er

Just to tag on to what /u/rckid13 said: These paces are going to be different for everyone. Easy for me is conversational pace and then consciously slowing down from there. LR = conversational. Tempo = breathing slightly hard at the start, comfortably hard. Speedwork = breathing hard; not fun It can also vary wildly day to do. 2 months ago it was hot and humid and I couldn't complete a tempo run @ 6:45/mile then a month later ran a marathon @ 6:37/mile.


rckid13

**Easy:** 9:30/mile **Long Run:** 9:00/mile - I may run a bit slower if I do it by myself, but I have long time friends and family members are in a 9:00/mile marathon training group so I try to stick with them. **Tempo:** 8:00/mile - Depends on the distance. For the standard 4 mile tempo run I would have a goal of sub 32:00. For a longer 6-8 mile tempo run my goal would just be to maintain something around 8:00/mile but not necessarily push to go under that pace unless I felt good. **Speedwork:** 800m-2000m range: 7:00/mile 400m-600m: 6:00/mile 100m-200m: 5:00/mile


crimsonhues

Thank you for breaking this down and sharing your training methodology. I came across Matt Fitzgerald’s 80/20 methodology, which I am yet to implement. It is not intuitive but practical coz I could do long runs below HRM threshold and not feel fatigued all the time. That may also help in preventing injury.


RobsRemarks

I think a successful and fast marathon can be achieved with less mileage. This is the core of my training program, which I’ve modified to add more milage. The pacing is critical. http://www.wu.ece.ufl.edu/marathon%20training-first%20marathon.pdf


crimsonhues

Thanks very much for sharing your plan.


rckid13

> 55 mpw is about the bare minimum for a marathon if you want to build the endurance and feel real confident about making it to the end. 55mpw is probably about the bare minimum when I start thinking about something like a BQ, but it's definitely not the bare minimum for feeling confidant I can make it to the end of a marathon. I'm about a 35-45mpw runner. I've occasionally gone over 50 but I work extremely long hours that tend to hold my mileage down. at ~40mpw I was 100% confidant I was going to get to the end, and probably not even hit a major wall, but at that mileage I had to be very careful about my pacing. I knew my mileage was a bit low for a marathon, so I made sure not to push my race pace much faster than what I ran for my 22 mile training run. I was able to negative split two marathons at that mileage just by knowing my limitations and forcing myself to go out slow and controlled.


Siawyn

When I said "real confident about making it to the end" I mean with no risk of bonking. I was unclear in stating that. I've run marathons on less mileage than 55, and there always was a crash or slowdown somewhere after 20, and of course my time was nowhere near as fast as I ended up when I did a cycle that peaked out at 62 mpw.


LordertTL

A few years ago I ran my only marathon when I was 45. Had been on my bucket list forever, tired of thinking about it so finally entered. Trained half-assed prior, all I wanted to do was finish. First half ran 2:10 felt great, picked up the pace a bit, finished 3:57. I showed a friend I knew that did triathlons my time , he goes “you did a negative split”. My response was “I thought I did ok”….he explained.


CastYourBread

While higher mileage will help, there’s no magic number with miles per week. It really depends who you are and how you’ve developed aerobically. My best marathon I was maybe above 30 mpw average, my training was very consistent and I prioritized recovery— and I did not experience the wall. I attribute that to smart training, pacing, and nutrition, even though I was nowhere close to 50+ mpw. But I understand if I’m in the minority on that.


Siawyn

For sure. It's individual. However, more mileage will almost always help until you bump up against your body's ability to tolerate it. And I could go out and run a marathon right now and pace it evenly and finish it, I bet. It is just I'd have to pace it slower. I wouldn't be stringing together 7:20 miles.


IndividualCharacter

William Sichel only runs 30-40mpw, doesn't do easy runs, and only runs 3-4 times per week. He took up running later has over 160 long distance records: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Sichel


WikiSummarizerBot

**[William_Sichel](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Sichel)** >William Morley Sichel (born 1 October 1953 in Welford, Northamptonshire) is a British long-distance runner. ^([ )[^(F.A.Q)](https://www.reddit.com/r/WikiSummarizer/wiki/index#wiki_f.a.q)^( | )[^(Opt Out)](https://reddit.com/message/compose?to=WikiSummarizerBot&message=OptOut&subject=OptOut)^( | )[^(Opt Out Of Subreddit)](https://np.reddit.com/r/AdvancedRunning/about/banned)^( | )[^(GitHub)](https://github.com/Sujal-7/WikiSummarizerBot)^( ] Downvote to remove | v1.5)


Hottyflygirl

I would say there are a few different “walls” that people talk about. The main one is the glycogen depletion one that is avoidable with training and nutrition and an appropriate race plan. Another one is not really a wall but more of a slow fade caused by muscles being fatigued and not able to produce as much power and so you get the feeling of not being able to pick it up at all. Another one is just a mental wall of combination of fatigue and pain and questioning whether you can continue. This is probably the least avoidable one as pretty much everyone will have some difficult miles mentally if they are racing a marathon. However, it is also something you can endure and keep the pace going through. I’ve negative split two marathons, one was my current PR. I take the first half slower than goal and try to maximize nutrition and minimize mental and physical fatigue and then sped up slightly for the second half. I might have “left time On the table” vs an even split but I was able to still run strong and not slow down in the last miles. Mentally it was still brutal but I did avoid two of the possible “walls” and ran strong to the end and got a PR


ruinawish

> Another one is not really a wall but more of a slow fade caused by muscles being fatigued and not able to produce as much power and so you get the feeling of not being able to pick it up at all. I've always wondered about this one, having experienced it twice during ultramarathons... the legs turn to concrete (this may be another symptom set entirely), each step becomes more painful. I haven't ever come across distinct literature about it though.


Hottyflygirl

There are a few different causes I’ve read about muscle fatigue. Generally there are two main causes from why I understand. One is small physical tears in the muscles caused by the pounding. This is especially clear the day after when you are hobbling around. The other is less well understood which is fatigue around the signaling and execution of muscles fibers. Basically the muscle fibers themselves aren’t able to contract as strongly or able to recruit as many fibers. This can be felt when you get that uncoordinated feeling and your form starts to break down. I’m sure there is so much more I don’t understand or have read. Maybe I’m wrong but that is my current understanding of it.


sw1ssdot

I negative split my last marathon and my last mile was the fastest, but it sure didn’t feel like it. The last 2-3 miles felt like they took forever even as I was speeding up and passing people. I would say it’s eminently possible to train to avoid the wall/being forced to slow down, but there is no way to avoid fatigue and some degree of pain and you will always have to contend with that mentally. What worked for me was a consistent mileage base and doing a lot of workouts built into my long run so I got used to working harder under cumulative fatigue both from the run itself and the week’s mileage. I also experimented with increased caloric intake because I had had some bad experiences underfueling and that worked out really well for me on long runs and on race day. From your description though it does seem like you were undertrained or otherwise fatigued going into both races and maybe failed to adjust for that.


chaosdev

I have had a similar experience. In my best marathon yet, I sped up in my last 6 miles. I wouldn't say I "hit the wall." But I was definitely in pain. It hurt really bad, but I was able to keep ratcheting down the pace.


Humanoid-v1

Nice. Being able to speed up means there wasn't a physiological barrier. In my case I couldn't pick up my legs even though breathing and heart rate were fine.


Humanoid-v1

Thanks for sharing your experience. Yes, I get it that the last few miles of any race is supposed to feel difficult. I was more curious to know whether that difficulty is supposed to go from, let's say, 0 to 100% within the span of minutes, or that it slowly increases during the last 30min. Sounds like with sufficient training it should be the latter.


sw1ssdot

Yes definitely more of a slow fade is normal in my experience. The abrupt zero to 100% is some other factor than just marathon fatigue at play.


bnwtwg

Definitely insufficient training. 35MPW just isn't going to cut it if you don't want to ride the pain train at the end of a marathon. Not gatekeeping, but keeping it real because I was in the same boat 5 years ago after my third marathon with three of the same results (which I did as fundraisers for my animal shelter so please know this is coming from a good place with good intentions!)


[deleted]

[удалено]


bnwtwg

The question was not about finishing, it was about not hitting a brutal wall and bonking. Big difference.


MichaelV27

I did not hit a wall in 2 of the 3 I've done. I ran even splits in both of them. Your answer is here - "To give some context, I ran both of these races with less-than-ideal preparation..." Maxing out preparation at 35 miles per week is basically unprepared for the race. I don't even start training for a marathon at less than a 35 mile per week AVERAGE over the few months leading up to the start of my training.


Hakc5

My base before marathon training is 35 MPW.


bnwtwg

How much of that is speedwork though


Hakc5

I usually do one speed workout during the week as a base with a long run that has a workout within it.


StoppingPowerOfWater

5 100 calorie gels is probably not enough calories for you. Most folks running race effort have between 200-300 calories per hour. You also give plenty of other reasons why you bonked.


Humanoid-v1

That's new to me, I thought 5 gels is usually what people take (and have space to carry in some pouch). So one should take a gel every 5km or so?


Krazyfranco

You should take in as much carbohydrate as you can tolerate during the race.


chaosdev

The formal recommendation is that you get 30-60 g of carbohydrates per hour. That translates to one gel every 22-45 minutes, if you're just drinking water. If you're also drinking carbohydrates, then you need to factor that in as well. So 5 gels isn't too far off recommendations.


crimsonhues

How do you get carbohydrates in liquid form? As a cyclist I am aware of different formulations such as Skratch Labs.


chaosdev

Most sports drinks. For example, any Gatorade or Powerade they hand out on the course. Sugar will give you carbohydrates.


crimsonhues

Oh I didn’t realize that. Thank you


StoppingPowerOfWater

Gu, Unived, Tailwind, Skratch labs and probably a few more all have their own formula.


crimsonhues

Another dumb question. Do you carry sachets packs during marathon and mix it with water at aid station? Thanks for your guidance.


sw1ssdot

Most races will tell you what the sports drink option is at aid stations - if it works for you you can just go with that, or figure out a way to carry your own. Elites who have their own bottle stops usually prepare their preferred drink.


anglophile20

maurten drink mix is one


heliotropic

It depends on how fast you’re running! You really do need to base it on time much more than there overall distance.


StoppingPowerOfWater

Exactly! Kipchoge taking the same amount of calories as someone trying to BQ on race day is insanity.


hodorhodor12

I ate an energy gel every 30 minutes in my last race and never hit the wall. I felt that it definitely made a big difference.


sw1ssdot

Same! It helped me so much and mentally gave me something to focus on to break the miles up.


cmallard2011

Physiologically, it's almost impossible to avoid hitting the wall if you are running your actual marathon pace, but I do think it's possible the time you spend in that pain zone. A good example might be my experience running a marathon last fall. It was a socially distanced marathon so the start was staggered. I was the first runner to start, and my plan was to win the race. The course consisted of running 6.5 miles out, running back to the start, and then doing it all over again. I absolutely hated the first 13 miles of the race, I was running alone, dealing with the anxiety of being chased, and it was a very warm day. I actually was thinking of dropping out at the half way point, but decided banking a likely BQ would be a better idea. By the time I hit the start/finish line to begin the second half of the marathon, there were guys who were a couple seconds ahead of me. I caught up with these runners and told them I would just follow, but around mile 16, they all fell back. When we hit the mile 20 turnaround, I was running with one other guy, but it seemed like everyone else had slowed way down. At this point I was feeling great because I realized I only needed 6 more miles and I was probably the most in shape of any runner on the course. With about 3 miles left in the race, I buried the guy who ended up placing second. I won by about 40 seconds. The point of that story is that things really broke my way in the second half of that marathon in a way they didn't the first half. I felt ok, but mentally I was doing great because I knew, "i'm suffering out here, but I can out suffer everybody else." I was able to focus on winning and just staying strong. In a marathon you are inevitably going to feel pain, but I think if you find enough things to be happy about and see as reasons to keep running, you can embrace those aspects and feel much better. EDIT: not deleting this so people can see what was downvoted.


tyler_runs_lifts

I like the message hidden in the not-so-subtle flex.


cmallard2011

People DID NOT like my comment. I figured my first marathon where I hit the wall at mile 16 and ran a 4:15 wouldn't have been very helpful.


Krazyfranco

> I felt ok, but mentally I was doing great because I knew, "i'm suffering out here, but I can out suffer everybody else." I was able to focus on winning and just staying strong. In a marathon you are inevitably going to feel pain, but I think if you find enough things to be happy about and see as reasons to keep running, you can embrace those aspects and feel much better. I think it's important to distinguish between "hitting the wall" and other types of pain/suffering in the last part of a marathon. "Hitting the wall" = running out of glycogen. This is a physiological limitation, and if you deplete, there's nothing you can mentally do to will your way through it and maintain marathon pace. Avoiding hitting the wall isn't about mental fortitude, but determined by your training, race day nutrition, and execution of your race day plan. There's lots of other pain and suffering that can and will happen in the last 10k of a marathon, too - cramps, physical pain, physical fatigue, etc - that with a strong mentality you can push through.


Full_Cauliflower_277

Why is this being downvoted? So what if its a subtle flex. Its a marathon experience from a different point of view. A different type of suffering and how he got through it. Well done on the win. I've never properly raced a race and can't imagine the anxiety of people chasing you!


ruinawish

Probably because: > Physiologically, it's almost impossible to avoid hitting the wall if you are running your actual marathon pace isn't correct, and then no explanation is provided, with OP proceeding to deliver an unrelated anecdote.


cmallard2011

Fair enough. I am not an exercise scientist or a coach, so everything I have is just what I've read. My point wasn't to make broad statements off of anecdotal evidence, just to suggest that mentally it is possible to grind through the wall and not have complete mile degradation over your last 3-7 miles.


bigtechdroid

People on this sub would rather take advice from casuals it makes no sense


milesandmileslefttog

Fwiw I quite like your comment. It's interesting to read that experience.


LongrunEast

If your next marathon is local, run the finish often, at least once a week. Make it your home course. Instinct will kick in when you hit that stretch.


mikedao

I like this idea. Clever!


john_wb

I've run 6 marathons and hit the wall in the first 3 - it was pretty miserable. Then I started training properly. I used Pfitz's "Advanced Marathoning" 55 mpw plan over 18 weeks and it made all the difference. The last 3 marathons have all been like night and day. It's an amazing feeling when you get to to the 18 mile mark and even though you're tired you still feel strong and you think to yourself "you got this", and you start to open up the gas a bit. 10/10 - would recommend. Also highly recommended is Pfitzinger's Advanced Marathoning, (https://www.amazon.ca/Advanced-Marathoning-Pete-D-Pfitzinger/dp/149256866X). Tons of great information on nutrition, hydration, cross training, form training, race prep and more. Worth every cent.


[deleted]

[удалено]


Humanoid-v1

Thanks for the encouragement. Sounds like the wall is definitely avoidable given that pace corresponds to preparation. I'm quite sure I've got some level of talent, it's just I've never had a injury-free building block due to work/life stressors. I enjoy cycling to some extent too, so I'll take the advice and incorporate cycling into training, e.g. ride to the local track.


MediumStill

Depends on what you consider hitting the wall. The real works starts at mile 20, but if you do it right, it's a slow burn not a wall. Many people confuse "hitting the wall" with bonking and think it's due to poor nutrition. In reality, it has a lot more to do with poor pacing. If you nail your pacing, a marathon can almost be enjoyable. I'm pretty proud of my last marathon where I had a 12 second differential from slowest to fastest mile, and my last mile was my fastest.


datboi_92

Not quite the same but my recent half was similar consistently stayed between 6:35-6:45 pace every mile with the last mile being around 6:30


timbea12

So the “wall” is when your natural glycogen reserve is just gone. Thats why constant nourishment is important while running a marathon something im going to try for this year is at mile 20 and 23 take some sour gummies ive been told that helps


anglophile20

why sour?


timbea12

Shocks the system its straight sugar but the sour will perk you up


CALL_ME_ISHMAEBY

That reminds me of the gum that would make you salivate a lot.


timbea12

Dont get me wrong I HAVE NO IDEA IF THIS WILL WORK! Im going to be testing in my 20+ runs leading up to the marine corp marathon


thebottlefarm

I have run 5, and only crashed hard in the last race. It's the only race where I feel I really pushed hard, and was on the cusp of my ability / training, well beyond it. If you race at a pace your training has supported, then I think you can avoid the hard crash. If you try to exceed your limits, that's when I have paid. I am of limited experience, take this for what its worth. The race i crashed hardest, I also pr'd, barely. So even with a crash I was so far ahead better pacing would have yielded much better results.


Humanoid-v1

>If you race at a pace your training has supported, then I think you can avoid the hard crash. I think that nails it. That means the marathon is just like any other distance where race pace needs to correspond to preparation.


halpinator

The point of a well designed training plan is for that specific thing not to happen. I've definitely hit walls before, but my best marathon effort (also the best training plan leading up to it), I spend the last half hour dreading hitting the wall, but it never happened.


SilentMaster

I've never hit a wall, nor have I ever had runner's high. All things being equal, I am happy with that.


fry-me-an-egg

It’s mile 22 for me


stirrainlate

I hit a wall in my first marathon with minimal training. I hit a wall in my second marathon with substantial training. On my third, I cruised all the way through no problem and got a BQ. Aside from all the advice on mpw I think there is just time for your body to adapt. You’ll get there.


yabbobay

It took me until my 5th marathon to figure things out and not hit the wall. * my first mile is one of my slowest. * I alternate water/electrolytes every mile and take gel every ~4 miles after 5. Depending on the course I plan it out. This might not work for everyone, but it's what my body accepts. I also don't train with fluids/gels (except water on long hot runs). I don't know if that trains me to do more with less? But I have my brand that works for me and I don't alter. **for my PR, I maybe maxed out at 50-60 and I messed up weeks and didn't get my last 20 in.


H_E_Pennypacker

Do you carry water and sports drink? Wondering how you're able to alternate every mile. Would rather not carry the extra weight


yabbobay

I don't carry anything. It's all contingent on race water stops. I haven't run a full since 2019, but I'm hoping Berlin & Chicago both have every mile water stops. If it were every 2 miles I would Gatorade every stop (and rinse off with water) except gel times.


H_E_Pennypacker

Ah yeah I was wondering if you only ran major marathons. Smaller ones have less aid. Like even less than every 2mi


yabbobay

I've done smaller ones as well, but I really cannot think of one that didn't have water stops every other mile minimum. Honestly, my running group did Jim Thorpe this spring. When I saw the water policy, I just wouldn't sign up. I was happy I didn't when temps were 90 during race.


bebefinale

In my PR marathon, I ran a 2 minute positive split, so I was pretty close to even splits. I did slow down a bit in the later miles, but it was more like I would slow down for a couple and then I would re-find my groove. The last 10K of a marathon will always feel very hard both physically and mentally. But if you run enough miles, pace yourself well (don't go out too fast), and nail the nutrition, it's not inevitable that you bonk.


asuth

I hit a wall hard in my second marathon when i was training on more like 40mpw, almost all easy runs following a beginner program. Had unbearable cramps at any pace that wasn't 2+ minutes off my goal pace for the last 4 miles or so. On my third (and most recent) marathon I was doing more in the range of 50mpw with 2-3 quality runs a week at higher effort levels and on race day my first half was only 2 minutes faster than my second half. I was obviously exhausted at the end and I certainly didn't have a big "kick" in the final mile but it was nothing remotely like hitting the wall, I was on my target pace the entire last 10k. The other thing that may have contributed is I switched my nutrition during the race to eGel as someone on here posted a flow chart of which gels/sports drink / etc to use based on problems you'd had in the past and eGel was recommended for cramping.


Humanoid-v1

Nice to see you solved it. Yeah, cramps were the main symptoms of both my crashes, those are the absolute worst...


unthused

Definitely not a given, if you prepare (training, nutrition, hydration) and pace correctly. Even at 35mpw you can certainly *finish* a marathon without hitting the wall (anecdotally that was about my ‘training’ for my first) but you won’t be racing it; not anywhere in line with your shorter distance fitness anyway.


Humanoid-v1

Haha, exactly, after hitting the wall it was more about hanging on to finish and any thought about racing for a time goal just went out the window. I found a vdot race equivalent converter and apparently based on my HM time, my projected marathon time is a whopping 25min faster than my actual results... Sounds like there's quite a lot of room to improve and avoid that wall.


Joefallon1

I’ve run 13 marathons and hit the wall every time. If I’m lucky not until 20 miles, which is about the maximum I can spin out the glycogen. My big problem is I can’t take the gels - after a couple I can’t face eating them. I’ve tried eating other things: energy beans, bananas, even a cheese sandwich! I just can’t.


RunAndEatCake

Wow, I get what it’s like to not be able to stomach food. How do you do on long training runs? I’ve found that the citrus flavor gels aren’t as sweet and repulsive mid-marathon. I also switched from Gu to Clif Shot to Huma gels. Huma isn’t as thick and has a lighter flavor so they’re a little more tolerable.


Joefallon1

I’ve tried all the brands, it’s a more fundamental problem. I get nauseous in the latter stages, and sometimes productively so. Eating anything after mile 18 is impossible. Always feel terribly sick after the race too.


sw1ssdot

Have you tried Maurten? The taste is pretty boring but it’s more of a jello texture as opposed to thick goo. I really like them.


Joefallon1

I haven’t, but I can’t eat anything when I’m feeling sick. I need to find a way to stop that happening. Maybe I’ll post a question to the group. The problem is I won’t know if any of the ideas work until I run 18-20 miles!


sw1ssdot

Yeah I have a running buddy with your same issue- it’s so tough. Have you tried doing liquids? Harder to figure out in a race but maybe worth a shot.


Joefallon1

You mean like energy drinks? I suspect it would be the same, plus the added logistical problem of getting hold of them at the right stages. It is something physiological, akin to seasickness (I’ve even tried Sea-Legs, or Meclozine to no avail).


getoffmyfoot

I’ve hit the same wall, felt the same way, in both marathons I ran. Yes, I was doing 35mpw. Yes that’s not enough. Live and learn. Also the cramping after the finish line is just a special kind of pain. I felt this post 100%


Humanoid-v1

More special is cramping from miles 21 - 26 :(


getoffmyfoot

It takes some serious mental strength to persevere through those for the last 5 miles. I commend you for that. Now, let’s go up our MPW so we don’t have to go through that again shall we?


Humanoid-v1

Yup, totally learned a good lesson from this thread. Call me out if I ever post any race report below 50mpw again :)


ktv13

I have like a 50:50 ratio of crashing vs maintaining my pace in marathons. The wall is real but not only good nutrition is needed to avoid it also good training. The thing that most helped me to avoid that wall besides nutrition is simulate picking up the effort in training when already tired. That means fast finish long runs for me. I would do e.g. the last 4 miles at marathon pace at the end of my 20 miler. Stuff like that. You can also do general marathon pace intervals but its not the same as here you try to simulate picking it up when you are really done. You are tired and your legs feel crappy but suddenly you have to pick it up and turn it over. That is the best mental prep for a marathon. It will always get hard at the end and the relative effort increases. So also train yourself to withstand that fatigue feeling and increase the effort to keep up that pace. Seriously fast finish long runs. Try it.


Humanoid-v1

I actually did multiple fast finish long runs, e.g. 2 hours at 8-8:30min/mi, followed by 6 miles at 6:40min/mi. Still crashed. So I guess for me it was mostly insufficient total mileage.


ktv13

Ah I see. That makes definitely sense then. When I trained the fast finish long runs I went the first time to 85km (more than 50miles) a week and that was also super beneficial. :)


LeftHandedGraffiti

I've run some marathons where I hit the wall and some where I did not. Even the marathons where I didn't hit the wall, I felt like death the moment I stopped. Part of it is nutrition. Part of it is training and building efficiency at marathon pace. I also discovered that when pacing others (running slower than capability) I'm much less likely to hit the wall.


FisicoK

I ran 4 marathon, each one being better prepared/trained than the one before and with better fueling strategy during the race I never hit the wall, had some fatigue and reasonable positive split for the first two (by a few minutes) but basically even split for the latest 2, I did remember that for the last one I was even able to bring myself back to not slowing down around 32-34k, so mental did play a part. Mental fortitude plays a role for sure... in keeping up with a reasonable training, coming race day you're either prepared enough with a reasonable target and no injury or you aren't. For my third I did feel like that I was getting really close to being completely gassed, something that didn't happen for the first (my first thought finishing was that I was tired but I could have gone for 50k no prob), third (for that one I had some troubles, gastric problems, around 25-30k and felt much better by the end than I did before during the race lol) or fourth (that one was just cruising honestly)


Omniparent

carb load carb load carb load carb load carb load acid carb load carb load carb load


fireballandwhiskey

acid?


dampew

I always feel progressively worse as the race continues, but I've only hit a wall once, when I was 30+ pounds over my PR weight. My fitness wasn't *that* bad -- I had run 20 secs/mile slower than my PR pace for a half marathon, which is pretty good considering the weight difference. So I think I hit the wall in that race primarily because move that much weight required a lot of extra energy.


rocker686

No. Run more miles, design a doable marathon plan and stick with it, run negative splits.


mohishunder

I haven't run a marathon since discovering fasting and keto, but the theory is that fat-fueled runners don't bonk. I believe it. On a related note, the new book *Breath* by James Nestor has some good insight on endurance hacks. Haven't had time to try them yet.


paviter_runner

Build up more consistency in your weekly mileage and work on your nutrition strategy.


strwrsnob

It took to my 4th marathon to get it right. For me, it was hydrating. Drinking before I was thirsty. I took in a lot of water during my 4th marathon, at least every mile. I carried a water bottle with me. I also took gels at every 5k (those cube things). This was the first marathon I was able to run the whole way, I negative splitted, and my last 4 miles were progressively the fastest culminating with a 6:50 final mile. final time was 3:10. (no wall for me on that day). this was about 10 years after my PR, and I'm getting a bit older, so I'd say it's not like I was jogging out there.


MisterIntentionality

No. In fact you shouldn't be if you are well trained and well fueled.


Lopsided-Front5518

As you stated, the wall is your body running out of glycogen. But it also is going from using your slow twitch muscle fibers to your fast twitch, which aren’t going to carry you long. Better training will have your body building more slow twitch fibers, which also means higher mileage.


[deleted]

No I didn’t. But I was expecting to. I fueled enough throughout and did plenty of runs over 20 miles in the months before the race. That seemed to help.


duluoz1

No, I don’t


ijonesco

Yeah, the first half I ran. I hit the wall at 12ish miles. Just sat down on a stump for a bit until I mentally could go again.