Hitting the marathon wall.

by Craig Miller
(Aberdeen, UK)

Hitting the wall in the marathon :


I've used the 100-day 3:30 marathon plan for 2 marathons now and both times I've failed to meet my goal due to fatigue which starts around 16-18 miles.

My heart rate gradually rises from the start of the race and by the time I've got to around 18 miles its up in zone4 and I have to slow down. I don't believe I'm running faster than I should as my target is 10-15 mins slower than the half marathon time predicated so I'm thinking I may simply be running out of energy.

Breakfast before the marathon was light as due to nerves I didn't feel like eating much but I did take on gels & sports drink during the race.

Any advice ?


Answer: Hi Craig, from looking at your predicted marathon time from your half marathon, it does look like this is the classic wall of the marathon.

Now, in most cases this can be corrected (as you obviously have paced yourself well) by doing the following :

1. Go much harder on the drink regime leading up to the marathon plus experiment with pre-workout meals on the long hard runs even more. I've said this in a couple of Q and A's before, and it is extremely important : if you struggle with hitting the wall you want to use the fact that you can "teach" your body to take up more energy during physical activity and this fact should not be underestimated.

2. Take 200-400 mg of Magnesium each morning leading up to your next marathon. In some cases "the wall" is a combination of small cramps in addition to the actual lack of energy and this will help you.

3. I've seen some runners need slightly higher mileage to avoid the wall. I will talk about this in a future update of the 100 day plan. In your case, I would probably try and add in there some easy runs 40-50 minutes to the schedule, in order to add that.

4. You may want to try another marathon quite close to the one you did now, say 6-8 weeeks from now ; after an easy few weeks first. And go out even slower, to make sure that you "teach" your body to actually handle the last part of the marathon and also get a feel of where your limits are, when finishing strong. In this period leading up to this marathon, also do try the above tips.

I do believe these things will help you next time around and I wish you all the best !

kind regards,

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