The Marathon “Wall” and how to avoid it!
The bad news is that “the wall” is a very real thing. The good news is that you can avoid “hitting the wall” if you follow this advice. This article takes only about 3 minutes to read, so read to the end … on race day you’ll be happy you did!
Before we start …
Obviously anyone attempting to run a marathon needs to properly train. We like to say that if you don’t put in the training miles you won’t even make it TO the wall! That said, marathon courses are full of runners that have followed a training program and yet they still hit the wall (read on).
What is the wall?
Your glycogen stores (stored in your muscles and liver) are your primary source of energy when running a marathon (or any endurance event). When you properly carbo load prior to your event your glycogen stores will have approximately 2,000 calories, regardless of your body shape and size. Think of your glycogen stores as your “on-board fuel tank”. When your tank runs out you’ll have to rely primarily on body fat as fuel. One pound of body fat contains enough energy to run approximately 40 miles, so we all have plenty of fat to finish a marathon. The problem is that fat is a “survival fuel” … it’s designed to keep you alive. Fat is not a good source of fuel for high performance. So if fat is all you have left, you’ll still be able to move but you’ll feel like garbage. You’ve just hit the wall!
Why is the wall around mile 20?
When you run you burn approximately 100 calories per mile, give or take about 10% depending on body type, running pace, conditions (wind, hills), etc. So if you do the math at 100 calories per mile, after 20 miles you will have burned about 2,000 calories and your tank will be empty.
What’s the solution?
To avoid hitting the wall you’ll need to take in a minimum of 600 to 700 calories during the event. It’s vital that the calories you consume while running are rapidly absorbable, meaning that you’ll want liquid calories from sports drinks or energy gels. Solid foods with fats, fiber and/or protein can cause all kinds of problems while running and detract from performance (watch this video to learn why)
Energy Gels are the Best Choice
Most marathon courses provide Gatorade or some other high sugar drink and solid foods protein bars, chews, fruit). Energy gels can provide the right cabs without the problems associated with solid foods. Watch these short videos for more info:
why complex carbs instead of sugars
don’t eat solid foods during a marathon
What Energy Gel Should You Use?
The problem with most gels is that they are either high in sugar (see video above), or they don’t have the electrolytes you need. Electrolytes are critical to help maintain hydration and avoid muscle cramps and injuries. Only e-Gel Electrolyte Energy Gel gives you everything you need right in the gel!
Need a reason to try e-Gel? We’ll give you 12!
12 reasons to try e-Gel
How Do You Use Them?
With Water! The biggest mistake that athletes make with energy gels is that they take them with a sports drink or other food. Bad idea. One of the advantages of an energy gel is that it is absorbed through osmosis with no digestive requirements. But for that to all happen the way it’s supposed to you have to drink water. Taking other drinks and food can slow the absorption and cause stomach distress, not what you want while you’re running. So just take your energy gel and water, it’s that easy.
GUGU RoctanePowerGelHammer GelClif SHOT GelClif SHOT BloksEFS GelHuma GelHuma Plus GelGatorade GelGLUKOS GelMaurten GelMuir Energy GelVFuelHoney StingerSport Beans
We’re so confident that e-Gel will help you run your fastest marathon ever (or finish if it’s your first) that we’ll guarantee it! No other energy gel will do that!! Interested?
Marathon PR Guarantee
More helpful info …
Marathon race day strategy
Learn more about e-Gel
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Maricopa, ArizonaSport: Running
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Houston, TexasSport: Running
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Big Bear City, CaliforniaSport: Triathlon
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Waynesboro, VirginiaSport: Triathlon
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Springfield, IllinoisSport: Running
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Marietta, GeorgiaSport: Ultra Running
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Cleveland, OhioSport: Hockey
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Livermore, CaliforniaSport: Ultra Running
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Lakewood, CaliforniaSport: Running