Hitting the Running Wall
Fitness & TrainingInjury Care & Prevention Oct 14, 2015
Hitting the Running Wall

At Orthology, we treat sports injuries for active patients of all levels, from weekend warriors to professional athletes. As runners ourselves, we know first hand the physical obstacles these athletes can face leading up to the big race. While injuries can temporarily sideline us, there are other factors that can affect our performance such as “hitting the wall.” Hitting the wall refers to the point when your body becomes depleted of stored carbohydrates and is a very common part of the marathon experience. For the upcoming TCS NYC Marathon, our dedicated Orthology runners and clinical staff at our newest NYC location, 667 Madison have a few tips to help get over “the wall.”

Race Pace

Determine your targeted race pace before you reach the starting line and stick with it! It is very easy to get caught up in all the excitement surrounding you on race day, but starting too fast will burn a higher percentage of carbohydrates, increasing your chances of hitting the wall.

Find a realistic race pace based on recent race results and stick with it. There are a lot of tools on the Internet that can help you find an appropriate race pace and marathon time goal.

Fuel Your Body

Fuel your body throughout the run (and the week before the marathon). About 65 to 70 percent of your food intake during the last 4 to 5 days before the marathon should come from carbohydrates, such as pasta, rice, fruit, breads, and potatoes.

Carbo-loading does not mean increasing your total food intake, but rather increasing the percentage of carbohydrates within your normal weekly food intake. During the race, you should be refueling every 45 minutes. Many runners do this through the use of energy gel packs. Just be sure not to try anything new on race day as it can have unexpected effects on your performance.


It is important to make sure you are well hydrated before even setting foot on the starting line. Dehydration during the race can cause an increase in heart rate, forcing the body to burn more carbohydrates at a faster rate.

Make sure you are drinking enough water 4 to 5 days before the race and include some electrolytes, which help to retain the liquids in your system.

Mental Game

Get your mental game on. Print a map of your race route and visualize how your body will feel at the different points of the race, what you will tell yourself for motivation during the different points of the race, and what you want to remember during the race. Write the answers to these questions on your race map at the appropriate mile markers. Find an overall mantra and write it at the top of the map. Keep the map in a visible place (bathroom mirror, kitchen fridge) and refer to it often. Also, try to visualize yourself crossing the finish line and refer back to that image often throughout the race, especially during those rough spots.

With these tips, and proper training and preparation, you’re on your way to completing a successful marathon season.