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My second marathon is tomorrow! March 24, 2007

Posted by atlantarunner in Running.


It’s finally marathon weekend! The inaugural ING Georgia Marathon is tomorrow morning. This will be my second marathon (my first was last October, the 2006 Lasalle Bank Chicago Marathon), and I am hoping to do much better this time. In Chicago, I finished in 5:05:16, 20 minutes slower than my hoped-for 4:45. I hit the dreaded “wall” at mile 22 and wound up walking until some point past mile 25.

The thing is, somewhere into mile 25 , I found the will to pick up my feet and start running again, belabored though it was. What stopped me from doing that sooner? And what really led me to stop running at mile 22 in the first place? If I can answer those questions, I will be much better prepared.

I think the answer to both of those questions is the same: I was tired and discouraged, and as a result, I gave up hope on my 4:45 time. I think it was mostly a mental issue, and not so much a physical one. I was not in an inordinate amount of pain: I was a little achy in the muscles, but that was all. And once I picked up my feet and started running again, I actually felt a little better than I did walking. So this “wall” thing is very much a head game, and the key to breaking through the wall is to stay pumped up: I cannot let discouragement get the better of me this time.

So how will I stay pumped up tomorrow when I pass mile 20 and the wall starts to threaten? I’m going to try the following:

  • Bring music. I’ve never carried an MP3 player with me in a race before, but I tried it during my training this time, and it really seems to help for those last few tough miles on a long run. I’ve created a Marathon playlist full of songs that motivate me. I don’t plan to listen to music throughout the whole marathon (I enjoy taking in the sights and sounds around me), but I’ll have it ready when I need motivation.
  • Recite some mantras:
    • Don’t walk; running feels better.
    • Remember Chicago; you can make it.
    • Stay pumped; you’ve got the power.
  • Mal James offered a good mental distraction technique in the “Shouts of Encouragement” episode of the Phedippidations podcast (the episode meant to be listened to during the 2006 World Wide Half Marathon Challenge): count backwards from 20 to 1, with your running cadence. I tried this during the Atlanta Half Marathon in November, and it worked well–the miles passed by pretty quickly. I’d start at 20, and every time my left foot hit the pavement, I’d count backwards. When I got to 1, I’d start over again at 20.

I’ll let you all know what happens.

What techniques do you use to break down “the wall?”



1. Lydia - March 24, 2007

That picture made me smile 🙂

I’ve never run one, but I’m planning on it, so thanks for the ideas. I hope it goes well!!

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