I’m about 6 weeks away from running my marathon and it definitely hasn’t been all peaches and ice cream. I’ve been ramping up mileage the past few weeks and it’s been rough.
A few weeks back I was on a 15 mile run along the beach in Kailua in Hawaii. The sun was shining, the weather was beautiful and it was one of the hardest runs I’ve ever had in my life
I had run that distance before but for some reason that day I just didn’t have it. My legs were heavier; time seemed to move slower and the rougher version of asphalt started to blister my usually tough barefoot feet. I pushed and pushed but I felt myself running out of gas and right into a wall.
Walls come up a lot in life. The difference between the people that do the impossible and those that don’t, are that the people that do the impossible, don’t let the walls stop them.
Here’s what to do when you hit a wall:
Don’t Give Up
A temporary set back does not mean you have to quit. At about mile 10 in that run, I decided to walk. For the next 5 miles I alternated running, jogging & walking. The whole time I was just beyond mad at myself that I was so gassed. At this point in my training, 10 miles isn’t too difficult for me to knock out, so why was this so hard? But I didn’t give up. I went ahead and finished the distance, even if it wasn’t pretty, I wasn’t going to give up.
Take a Breath
You can’t figure out anything when you’re mad. Your adrenaline is pumping and emotion tends to take over logic, which is what you’re going to need if you’re going to figure out how to improve.
After the run, I was pretty pissed. 15 miles is not that far. But, as I was about to work myself up about it, I looked up and saw my scenery. I was on Lanikai Beach in Kailua which is absolutely stupid beautiful. As I thought about where I was, I took a few seconds to breathe, and regain my composure.
Think About What Worked
Once you’ve calmed down, you can figure out what’s worked in the past and what happened this time around. For me, running in Hawaii was a lot hotter than running in Indiana. Also, the asphalt roads were coarser asphalt than the ones in Indiana and put a number on my feet. To top it all off, I did a terrible job of hydrating myself. Put those together and it’s pretty easy to see why I might have been struggling.
Plot & Regroup
Using your newfound knowledge of what worked & what didn’t, plan out your next moves.
The next week I took it easy, rested my legs, ate well and drank a lot more water (like I should have been doing already). I used the time to re-think & re-do my hydration strategy and plan my route better. I had a new plan of attack.
Most people don’t really fail. They just give up too soon. Always try again. One failure means nothing. Literally. There’s enough variance in almost any life experience that any one independent failure is not significant on it’s own to justify you quitting.
The very next week I had another 15 miler on the schedule. I went out and ran the thing. When I hit the 10 mile mark, instead of walking, I kicked it up a notch. Every mile after that, I kicked it up a notch and I dominated the run. Afterwards I stretched and while my legs were tired, I felt really, really good.
You won’t always break through a wall on your first try. You might run into the same wall multiple times or you might hit different walls as you pass different obstacles, but there’s always another wall. You have to have the discipline to keep going and keep trying in spite of your desire to quit.
A few weeks back, I wrote a post about discipline and got a lot of good feedback from it. Reader Dusti Arab created a desktop background from the post and put it as her desktop background. She shared it with me via email and I thought it was so cool, I asked if I could post it here for you guys and she agreed. Simply right click on this link to download the Discipline Is desktop background. If you like it, be sure to say thanks to @DustiArab. Hopefully it will help you have the discipline to keep going when you hit a wall.