Hitting The Wall: 10 Strategies for Marathon Success!

Hitting The Wall

Greetings, fellow marathon runner! Avoid Hitting the dreaded Marathon Wall! Are you prepared to conquer the gruelling 26.2 miles and triumphantly cross that finish line? Well, you’re in luck, because I’ve compiled some time-tested strategies to help you smash through that dreaded wall and finish strong. Let’s examine them below!

Fuel Up and Stay Hydrated: Hitting the Wall 101

Let’s start with nutrition and hydration – the foundation of marathon success. In the weeks leading up to race day, be sure to load up on complex carbohydrates like whole grain breads and cereals, brown rice, quinoa, lentils, sweet potatoes – foods that will provide long-lasting energy. Don’t forget to carb load the night before the big day as well, as this is not the time to suddenly start dieting! Aim for about 3-4 grams of carbs per kg of body weight.

Now, let’s discuss hydration. Proper hydration is absolutely vital before and during the marathon to avoid hitting that infamous wall. Drink plenty of water in the days beforehand but avoid overhydrating right before the start of the race – the last thing you want is to be sloshing around for 42 km! Aim to drink about 150-200 ml every 30-45 minutes once you’ve begun running. This can of course increase on a hot day. Sports drinks with electrolytes are also beneficial. Take advantage of every aid station to grab some water or energy drink. You can also carry your own water bottle to minimize stopping. Read here from the National library of medicine about benefits of fuelling.


Pro tip: During your long training runs, experiment with different hydration methods and easily digestible snacks like energy gels and chews to determine what your body best responds to. This is the time to get nutrition and hydration dialled in, not on race day!

Train Diligently:

If you want to conquer that marathon, you must put in the hard miles in training. Get on a comprehensive plan that incorporates long runs, speed work, hill repeats, cross training – the full spectrum. Building up your weekly mileage gradually is key to developing the endurance and resilience needed to go the distance. Those tough training runs will pay off hugely on race day when 26.2 miles feels like a walk in the park! Well, an incredibly long walk. But you get the point.

Some tips for successful training: consistency and sticking to the plan is vital, but also be flexible and listen to your body. If you need an extra rest day, take it to avoid injury and burnout. Rest and recovery days are just as crucial as your hard workouts. Without adequate recovery, your training will suffer. Prioritize sleep as well – aim for 7-8 hours per night minimum to repair fatigued muscles. I offer plans and if you’re interested in a plan where I will guide you through the process with weekly catch ups – please get in touch here.

Choose the Right Footwear:

Your choice of footwear is critical for marathon success and another key metric to avoid hitting that wall. Make sure to select well-fitted, broken-in trainers designed for long distances. Test different shoes during your training runs to determine the best option for your feet. Rotate between 2-3 pairs to prolong their lifespan. On race day, choose a newer pair to get the most cushion and bounce. Proper footwear will prevent painful blisters and keep your feet happy through all 26.2 miles!

Some shoe-buying tips: Visit a specialty running store for gait analysis and shoe recommendations. Replace shoes every 300-500 miles as cushioning breaks down. Ideally, alternate between 2-3 pairs during training so they last longer. Break them in gradually to avoid injury – don’t attempt your first long run in brand new shoes! Proper footwear may make or break your marathon experience, so choose wisely. Give your feet the support they deserve.


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Dial In Your Pacing:

Finding just the right pace is essential in marathon running. Go out too fast in those excited early miles and you’ll likely crash into the wall. Start out too conservatively and you’ll be playing catch-up the entire race. Identify your ideal pace – not too hot, not too cold, but just right. Lock into that steady tempo and stick with it no matter what. Passing all those other runners hitting the wall because they didn’t pace properly will be such a confidence boost!

Some pacing pointers: Practice maintaining various paces during your long training runs to determine what your marathon goal pace should feel like. Invest in a GPS watch to keep you on track come race day. And remember, it’s perfectly fine to start out slightly slower than goal pace to warm up and save energy for the later miles when you’ll need it most.

Cultivate Mental Toughness: Hitting the Wall avoidance!

Running a marathon requires just as much mental strength and fortitude as physical fitness. When fatigue sets in and you’re still facing many miles ahead, that little voice in your head may begin to doubt your ability to finish. This is when you must dig deep, silence those negative thoughts, and press on with relentless positivity. Affirm to yourself that you’ve put in the work and you’ve got this! Visualize powering through the finish chute. Break the race up into smaller chunks so it doesn’t seem so daunting. You were born for this moment!

Some mental toughness tips: Develop mantras or phrases you can repeat when the going gets tough. Picture yourself achieving your goal to stay motivated. Practice mindfulness, focus on your breathing and staying relaxed to calm your mind and body when the mental battle rages. Your mindset makes all the difference!

Roll With the Punches:

Marathon day can throw some unpredictable curveballs your way, from sweltering heat to torrential downpours. Mother Nature likes to keep us on our toes! Successful marathoners are adaptable and able to adjust when conditions aren’t ideal. Stay fully hydrated, carry sunscreen if hot, dress in breathable layers if cold, and don’t allow poor weather to dampen your marathon spirit!

Tip: Keep an eye on weather forecasts in the days leading up to the race. Prepare gear accordingly to be ready for anything – heat, cold, rain, or shine. Unexpected conditions may force you to modify goals or walking strategies, and that’s okay! Just stay focused on putting one foot in front of the other until you cross the finish.

Rest & Recovery:

You’re not a machine, my friend (unless you actually are a cyborg marathoner, in which case please share your secrets!) The human body requires adequate rest to repair damaged muscle fibers and bounce back from intense training. Prioritize rest days as integral components of your training plan, not as optional extras. Don’t skimp on sleep either – shoot for 7-8 hours per night, minimum. Your exhausted muscles will thank you!

Recovery tips: Listen carefully to what your body is telling you. If you feel excessive fatigue, niggling pains, or just feel generally rundown, take an additional rest day or ease up on training intensity/duration. Light active recovery like walking, yoga, or easy cycling can help speed recovery without overtaxing the body. Don’t forget the power of massage, ice baths, compression gear, etc. Treat rest with the respect it deserves! Read more here.

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Race Day Prep:

Meticulous preparation in the days leading up to the big day will provide a huge confidence boost at the start line. Review the race course map and fuelling/hydration stations. Double check you have all necessary gear – shoes, clothing, watch, gels, etc. Prepare your pre-race nutrition plan for optimal energy – avoid unfamiliar foods or eating too close to race start. Hitting the Wall – NO chance – smash right through it!

Hitting the Wall success

Also, mentally rehearse how you will tackle the marathon and respond if challenges arise. Envision yourself powering through even when it gets tough. The calmer and more organized you are on race morning, the better!

Some race prep tips: Lay out all gear the night before (tested and broken-in shoes are essential!) Eat familiar foods and hydrate well in the 24-48 hours pre-race, then stick to light snacks 2-3 hours before the start. Set multiple alarm clocks so you don’t oversleep! And remember, it’s normal for unexpected issues to arise on race day – stay flexible and adaptable.

Embrace the Marathon Community:

While running a marathon may seem like an individual pursuit, in reality it takes an entire community to conquer those 42.2 km. Turn to your local running group, online forums, or running partners for camaraderie, advice, and motivation when training gets tough. On race day itself, feed off the incredible energy of the crowds and fellow runners. We’re all in this together!

Also, don’t forget to thank the volunteers who make these events possible with their boundless energy and encouragement, even at 6am! The support of your community – both in person and online – will lift you up every step of the way.


After Crossing the Finish Line:

Nothing quite matches the euphoria of completing a marathon and crossing the finish line, your monumental achievement finally realized after months of gruelling training. Be sure to celebrate properly and reward yourself – you’ve earned it! Enjoy the post-race party and libations, indulge in a massage, and spend time reminiscing with your supporters about race highlights.

But also take time for reflection once the soreness subsides. What went well that you should repeat in your next training cycle and race? What can be improved? Enjoy it as a learning experience that makes you an even stronger and wiser runner. This is just one step in your continuing marathon journey – lace up your shoes and start dreaming about your next 26.2-mile adventure!

Well, my friend, I hope these tips help you rock your upcoming marathon and achieve that elusive runner’s high! Wishing you happy training and a lifetime of triumphant finish line moments. Now get out there and show that marathon course who’s boss!

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