Talk to anyone about marathon running and they will all talk to you about “hitting the wall.”
The wall is the point at which you feel too tired to continue and as part of any training or long run regime you should be pushing yourself to and beyond that point.
Each time I have increased my distance, 14 to 15, 15 to 17, 17 to 20 I have hit a wall. Each time, without fail it has been when I get to the latter stages and when I get to the miles that are further than I’ve gone before.
In my last long run, a 20-miler, I slowed to what felt like a crawling pace for the last 3 miles. When I reached home my Polar 400 watch told me I’d clocked 19.6 miles. Even though I was utterly shattered, even though my son, who had been watching my beacon on Strava had come out to greet me, I was determined to reach 20 and stubbornly dragged my aching carcass around the block twice to reach that magic number!
Running tired seems tedious, painful and unnecessary but it is absolutely critical in building your stamina for longer runs. I have also found that it builds up strength for shorter distances.
Yesterday I competed in a snowy, wet, cold, muddy cross country event with my running club. The course was just over 5 miles with two laps. The route took us through a marsh and at one point we were running at full tilt knee-deep through freezing cold water.
I came in 69th out of approximately 300. For the first time I overtook club members I’ve been chasing all year. Coming in 11th position for the team I could really tell the difference that my 40 mile plus week’s training and perseverance through the wall has given me as I was able to stay strong and finish strong.
These kinds of results (and better) are available to anyone who is willing to persevere and to dedicate themselves to hard graft, whatever the weather.