I watched Jumanji (the newer version) today with my son. The characters find themselves inside this game where each has three lives and spectacular strengths and weaknesses. I thought how neat it would be to have a “remaining power indicator” when you are on a long run.
Today I hit the wall. Yes, that can happen to anybody especially if you are over-confident. I did not have time for a good breakfast long enough before my 30k run. So, I just had a small quantity of cereal. I did not take anything along to eat on the way. I thought my water bladder would be enough. It is after all “only” 30k.
Around 22k I started slowing down. At 25k I was walking. Around 28k I found a store open and got a banana and some chips and rested while I ate. Very soon I found I could run and kept going until I reached home at 31.5k.
I remember at least three other times when this kind of thing happened. While cycling I found you can go from feeling fine to unable to pedal within minutes. I have this vivid memory of my friend Corne and I in some kind of cycle race about 25 years ago. We were passing cyclists left and right just to later watch those same people pass us with wistful smiles while we were sitting on the pavement absolutely exhausted. Embarrassing.
When you “bonk” or “hit the wall” your glycogen stores in your liver and muscles are depleted. Prevention is better than cure. This article does an excellent (and even humorous) job of explaining how to prevent and overcome hitting the wall. It comes down to eating protein and carbohydrates in the right form at the right time and giving your body enough time to store the glycogen that is needed. I usually rest one or two days before an important race which helps with this.
I found that carrying a protein bar and some raisin/nut mix, plus sports drink helps prevent bonking and slowing down too much. Any quick source of carbs like coke or chocolate has been most effective in getting over the wall. While we do not come equipped with a “remaining power indicator”, we should be sensitive to the signals our bodies give us and be well prepared.