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Is hitting the "wall" a matter of nutrition or ???

I've been doing some long runs lately, and I have not hit 'the wall' (nor do I want to.) Am I not hitting the wall because I am a) eating & drinking enough or b) not pushing myself enough in races/training runs?

I have found what nutrition works well for me on long runs. It is what I am going to stick to for my marathon.
I think I could run faster, for my marathon. This is where I have problems, mentally, pushing myself to run faster. I have felt good after some long runs, which leads me to believe I could have pushed myself further.

So what is your experience with "The Wall" and what do you think led you to it?

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I've been doing some long runs lately, and I have not hit 'the wall' (nor do I want to.) Am I not hitting the wall because I am a) eating & drinking enough or b) not pushing myself enough in races/training runs?I think it's definitely "a". If you pushed yourself way harder in a race than in your training runs, especially for a distance like a marathon, your body would let you know well before the rule-of-thumb wall marker of 20 miles.

So what is your experience with "The Wall" and what do you think led you to it?Chicago last year excepted (something totally different), I don't think I've had a hit the wall experience in my marathons. I have gone out a too fast a pace (that is my biggest problem in running - it is very difficult to get my body to run negative splits), and in the last three to six miles, my time slows noticably. But I don't get those 'symptoms' associated with the wall. I never think about it - I never think "Mile 20 - when's it going to happen?" I always get myself in a positive mind set - "Only four miles." "I've come too far to stop now." "This is what you put in those training runs for." I think attitude is as important a factor as the proper food/hydration, and adequate/proper training.
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I've hit the wall 3 times in races, and twice on training runs... in 27 years of running.

All 3 races it was because my pace was WAY too fast, unrealistically so.

One of the training runs was because I was young and didn't even know I should fuel up before running... The other training run was a 20 miler where I was feeling great around mile 12, so I decided to step it up a bit... and I hit it hard at mile 18.

Avoiding the wall has EVERYTHING to do with enough training (including enough miles in the legs for several months, and an adequate taper) AND fueling properly the week of, and DURING the race.

Then, if you run the race at a pace that is supported by your training, you should be okay...

Just my thoughts... but it sounds like you're putting in the miles and doing the nutrition thing well.

Don't be concerned that you haven't hit the wall, and don't be sad that you haven't. Avoid it by doing things right, as long as you can! It's no fun trying to decide whether to try to gut it through to the end of the race after you hit it.
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From my experience and what I've read, the 'wall' has to do with your level of endurance. A good many marathon training programs don't go beyond 20-miles and surprise, surprise, that's where the wall rears its ugly head. I've read an analysis that says the average marathoner has enough 'energy' to run 3 marathons when they toe the line. And being an 'empty stomach' runner myself, I know distance running is not a matter of nutrition..you've likely got plently of calories (and there's no way to replentish anywhere near what you burn while you run anyway).

So what I really believe and I think high mileage and elite marathoners prove to be the answer is running 24, 25 or 26 milers in training to avoid the wall. Pushing your personal endurance is the way to stay out of no-man's land and the wall. There's no silver bullet gel, gu or gatorade that can replace old school high mileage training. :twocents:
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I did not hit the wall on my first marathon and after seeing others doing so in the last 10k, I was glad I didn't...
From my personal experience, I think hitting the "wall" is more to do with training than nutrition (not saying that nutrition has no part in this..you still need to carbo load for the 2-3 days before the race...). You train your body to be more efficient in storing and utilizing glycogen as well as fat burning through your long runs. This is one of the key physiological demands of the marathon.
So far, my long runs are almost always done on empty (I do it first thing in the morning) other than water. I never carry along or use GUs during the run...If it's hot, I'll bring water to prevent dehydration. That way I am training (or forcing) my body to utilize the carbs stored up from the previous night's meal. From what I read, the late portion of the long run is when the body gets stressed the most (since this is the period when you are most carb-depleted) and the body adapts (this happens after the run) by storing up more glycogen in the future. Of course after the run, it's important to replenish what is spent so I get in some sports drink, usually gatorade, and later on a good breakfast within 2 hours after the run.

That being said, another reason the wall may occur could be due to pacing strategy...if you ran the 1st half of the race too fast, then you may risk depleting your carbohydrate stores too much such that you may not have enough for the 2nd half, thus the wall comes.
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the 'wall' is merely the body's reaction of switching fuel types, from glycogen to fat....

no matter how much you carb load, how much you gel or gatorade you take in during a race, it is just a physiological fact that you are going to have to make that transition sometime during you 26.2 mile event...you will feel the effects of the 'wall' more if you are pushing yourself to the limit...

i disagree with jrjo somewhat on this point, in that more important in my estimation of running past 20-22 in training is that you run several 16-20 mile runs at (or very near) to your intended race pace....and experiment to find what works best to find right kind of pre-run and during run nutrition that will make the transition a smooth one...

---
megawill
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EXCELENT REPLY MEGA.!!! Your right on the money in saying it's the body's reaction to switching it's fuel source from sugars to fats.
I'll go one further and say there is no such thing as a "Wall" provided you train for it (a run long every week ) and don't over race your capabilities ( pacing )
Nutrition should have been taken care of 48/24/12 hours before your marathon, after that it's too late. (I've never seen anyone die of starvation in a marathon)
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