Hitting The Wall

I’ve been slacking with posting, I know. Sadly, life and running just hasn’t made much time for blogging.

I really want to write about “hitting the wall,” a phrase used pretty often in running. In technical terms, it’s “the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles, which manifests itself by sudden fatigue and loss of energy.” To put it more simply, your body reaches a point where it ‘hits a wall’ and at that time, you can’t go any further.

It’s important to note that hitting the wall (also sometimes called bonking) is not the same as plateauing. We’re referring more towards a single workout rather than being stuck at a particular fitness level over a period of time.

Last week, I was scheduled to do a 14 mile long run. Unfortunately, that was a busy weekend as I headed out of town to do some scuba diving. Over the course of maybe 50 hours I got in 5 dives and 10 hours of driving back and forth. Around all of this, I also attempted to do some running. The shorter distance wasn’t too bad, but still pushing it a bit around the diving.

We got back Sunday around 6:15PM and I headed out of the house by 6:30 in the hopes of getting at least 10 miles in. Now, I do admit that I headed out knowing I wasn’t ideally rested, hydrated or fueled. In my mind, I knew I had no business trying to get a run in, but guilt at having a bad mileage week sent me out anyways.

The first few miles weren’t too bad, though I could feel the strain and lack of hydration/fueling. But I figured my body would hold on a bit longer. It didn’t. At about 5 miles, after tripping over multiple cracks in the sidewalk from lack of concentration, I hit another one and my body just gave out. I was able to get my hands up and under me enough to break the fall for the most part.

I rolled my body into the grass and just sat there, pulling myself together. If I was smart, I would have used the phone I took along just for this instance so someone could come pick me up. Instead, I decided to be stupid and make the roughly 1 mile trip back to the house at a very slow jog. I think doing so not only caused me to hit the wall, but to get plastered to it.

For my stupidity, I had to have a lot of help getting my body to respond correctly for the next hour or so. Family gave me plenty of liquids and some good food to help with nutrition. Then I called it an early night and passed out for about 10 hours. Took the next day off as well and managed to come back on Tuesday (I hit the wall on Sunday) and end up alright.

So my lesson is learned. In the future, I’ll take less mileage for a week if it means not doing that to my body again. Hitting the wall was not pleasant and I have no desire to repeat it anytime soon.

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