Monday, April 12, 2010

The Wall (and how to avoid hitting it)

I ran into the wall on my long run yesterday, 4kms before I was done, and in my extremely hilly city, I still had 2 major hills ahead of me. I was feeling quite unhappy and disappointed in myself when I got home when a wise friend and marathon runner told me that you have to have some bad runs in order to have good ones – true, but the bad ones still really bite. After a bit to eat and a warm shower, I wrote in my log and realized what I did wrong. I thought I would share it on the blog in case it helps anyone else.

1 - I was hungover. I make it a habit to not drink the month before the race but I am still 7 weeks out so I had a few too many on Saturday night, at the time thinking it wouldn’t be a big deal. Well it was. Dumb, dumb, dumb. No more drinking on Saturday night, or if I must, I’ll schedule my long runs on Saturday.
2 - I was tired. Five hours of sleep is not enough.
3 - I didn’t eat enough before I went out. All I had was a small whole wheat bagel and peanut butter. That was gone by the time I finished the bridge to Halifax.
4 - I didn’t eat enough during. I only brought one gel with me, which I took at about 8kms but since I didn’t eat enough before I went out, at about 14kms I was feeling very hungry, and even a bit dizzy. (although this also could have been a bit of vertigo as I was back on the bridge and it’s a bit freaky looking *way* down at the water while you’re running)
5 - I started out too fast. It was a gorgeous day and I felt pretty good starting out and eventhough my sister-in-law had just the day before reminded me to slow down because I am not good at knowing my pace (and my Garmin was working fine so I have no excuse), I kept on trucking. When I review my pace chart, the first half I was actually running close to or faster than my race pace - way too often.

I should have known better. I am glad I did this now and not a few weeks before the race because this will definitely smarten me up.

Next week is a cut back week on my schedule so I will be running less distance than this past weekend. I will also do my best to chart as flat a course as I can so I can get my confidence back. Maybe I’ll take another trip out to Winnipeg…


  1. Just another quick note about my own experience with alcohol (frankly, I could write a book).
    I don't think it's the evil potion that serious runners make it out to be... when ingested in moderation. If you do drink, you just have to be extra aware of the fact that you'll need to be that much more hydrated before and during your run :)
    And yeah, a big drunkfest before a long run, not recommended by anyone...

  2. I've been lucky so far during my training this year, I haven't hit the wall on a long run yet, but I did on a tempo run for the first time.
    I was really surprised since every time I've hit the wall it has been on a long run...including the Toronto half!
    My tempo run was 10KM including 2km warm-up and 2km cool down. My tempo pace was faster than my easy run pace, but I didn't think it would make that much of a difference. At about km 5.5 into my tempo run, I got the chills and started getting dizzy. So I just took it easy and started my cool-down.
    I did this run after work and I don't think I had enough to eat in the afternoon. I think for now on I will try to do my more challenging runs in the morning (if I can get my lazy butt out of bed) :-)
    If only I could get into my sister-in-law's sleep routine!

  3. Update - Following week's long run - sober, well hydrated and fuelled, was diligent with easy pace... Result? Great run, negative splits, felt like I could have gone much longer. Lesson learned. Yay!