Monday, October 30, 2006

The Wall

At the Chicago Marathon race expo, Leah and I subscribed to a year's worth of Running Times. I mean, why not, they gave us a free technical shirt and hat which must have been worth damn near the cost of the subscription (unless...wait, you don't think running clothes might have a huge markup, do you? You mean my Nike dri-fit might not cost 30 dollars to manufacture?!?!).

Anyway, this magazine supposed to be the answer to the SAT question:

Runner's World:USA Today:: __________:New York Times.

Anyway, we got a few back issues of the magazine which they had for free (free!) and the April edition had an article on Rethinking The Wall. For a week now, I've been telling people for a week now that I didn't hit the wall, I just got sore and couldn't keep running. I mean, I saw people who hit the wall, and I wasn't interested in feeling their pain. Yikes. Nope, I was just sore.

However, according to this article, there is another component to the wall besides running out of carbs and switching to fat burning (and, as a result, slowing down to a crawl). Apparently, when the muscle damage hits a critical mass, the body releases a chemical that restricts the impulse to rally muscles to the running cause. Basically, the brain is saying: hey, you're breaking me, knock it off.

So it sounds like I did hit the wall, just not The Wall that I fear ever so much. And that's why there are so many of us out there walk/running the last few miles, befuddled as to why our legs won't just run and get it over with. Our mind says "go, bitches" and our legs say "no, I'll pass. Isn't there anything on TV?" and so the finish line approaches ever so slowly. It's chemicals! We aren't just lazy and/or weak!

I have to admit, this does make me feel a little better. Self-preservation is a powerful instinct and fighting against it is no trivial matter. The key is to figure out how to prevent that instinct from kicking in and to avoid the wall, just like with the other wall. But I knew that, that my legs have to get stronger, I just understand why a bit better now. I love when stuff gets all science-y and makes sense.

As far as what to do about it, they suggested strengthening the muscles that keep the body from succumbing to gravity. Jumping exercises, running a bit downhill (gentle downhill), and drinking stuff while exercising that has both protein and carbs. I'd link the article, but they don't seem to have the article online. In short, I think it's just "be sure to exercise the muscles that running doesn't." I was planning on doing that anyway.

So, all you hitters of the secondary wall, feel better? I know I do.


Josh said...

That might have been the funniest thing I've read in terms of how you're feeling towards the end of a race. "Go bitches..." absolutely hysterical.

yumke said...

Uh huh, that could have been me... i didn't think i hit a wall, but mini walls..

Kristi said...

I saw that article too...I forgot all about it though. Thanks for reminding me, and does make me feel better somehow.
And yes, go you bitches go is exactly what my poor clueless brain was thinking.

E-Speed said...

wow. I think my legs were trying to rally more of that chemical in Chicago. They didn't do it though. But maybe that means I didn't totally shred the muscles...who knows. Interesting info though!

Firefly's Running said...

Damn chemicals....why do they have to let us down when we almost finish.