July 24, 2018
Ex Olympic Triathlete and coach for www.thetrilife.com, Andrea Whitcombe, shares her advice on how to avoid ‘Hitting the wall’ and what to do if you do.
‘Hitting the wall’ is a situation none of us want to experience. If you are unfamiliar with this phrase, it is when your stored glycogen is depleted. Glycogen is carbohydrate that is stored in our muscles and liver for energy. You might feel physically and mentally that you can no longer continue. This is more likely to happen on the run leg of a triathlon or in a half or full marathon.
What you can do in training to help prevent ‘ hitting the wall’ on race day:
During workouts experiment with taking nutrition. Lots of bars and gels contain sodium, potassium and glucose, all great for keeping energy levels high.
Select routes where you pass shops or taps so that you can top up on food and drink if necessary.
Include long runs or bike rides in your build up to the big day. These should be close to your race distance. Run/ride at goal race pace during the latter half of this session so you get used to training at pace when fatigued.
After hard or long sessions refuel and recover. Protein based products are suitable as they help to rebuild muscle, repair damaged tissue and stimulate the development of new tissue.
What you can do on race day to avoid ‘hitting the wall’:
Don’t set off too fast, even if you feel good. Stick to your tried and tested race plan pace.
Make a point of knowing where all feed stations are. Don’t over eat but ensure fuel stores are topped up.
Drink according to your thirst and take in regular calories/carbohydrates. Approx 60 grams of carbohydrate per hour is a rough guide but everyone is different so you should have trialled this in training.
Race with a partner who can offer support throughout the race.
And if you do feel yourself starting to fatigue:
Slow down and walk if necessary.
Think positive thoughts or have a personal mantra – an affirmative statement that you say to yourself for the purpose of motivation or encouragement. If you are racing for a charity it could be something to do with how the money you have fundraised will benefit people.
Set mini goals which seem more achievable, this may help you maintain your rhythm and positive mindset . For example reaching the next lamp post or land mark.
Consume simple sugar calories such as jelly babies. Remember than your body has to convert carbohydrate into simple sugars before they can fuel your muscles.
Finally, turn to the crowds of spectators for words of encouragement.
Would you like Andrea to be your personal coach and help you achieve your race goals? Click here to find out more about thetrilife.com