I was asked about the dreaded mental wall, the overwhelming feeling that you just have to stop! We’ve all been there and here are a few of my thoughts that I wanted to share.
What could be the causes?
Nuitrition – you have depleted your glycogen stores and your body has not switched over to fat burning yet. Typically, if you are running under 60 minutes depletion of glycogen levels is not an issue. Although your body may not be efficient, it’s not running out.
Going too hard – running too fast too soon. If you are running intervals, normally they are high output followed by a rest period that includes a stop.
What is the probable cause?
Central Governor theory or general anxiety over something new.
Your brain is hard wired to protect the body, and if there is anything, even a little bit different, it sometimes starts panicking. It wants to bring you back to a state where it knows it can function comfortably. The brain will play little tricks that include making you think you need to stop. But think about this, what happens when you do stop? You suddenly feel better and can usually go again right away.
We need to break that cycle with your brain and the only way to do that is to force it to reset itself. We need to push through the wall and bring it back in line.
So how do we do that?
1) Narrow your scope down. Instead of thinking about how long you have to run, take the pressure off. Bring it into manageable buckets and this could mean seconds….or minutes. Refocus your thought process to “how many you have completed instead of how many there is to do”
“I’ve gone 2 minutes instead” of “I still have 3 minutes to go“.
2) Think about the moment, not the bucket. Acknowledge what you are feeling..and then let it go.
“Right now this moment and second, I am ok” instead of “I’ll never make 4 minutes because I feel too tired“.
3) When you are feeling like you need to stop, do a quick body reset.
a) Shrug your shoulders and roll them back 3 times.
b) Take a deep breath and just relax your entire body
c) If needed…slow pace for a second.
d) Smile and remember that there was a time you would not have been running at all.
Try these tricks and let me know if they work. Also know, there is no definition of what makes a runner and you make your own rules in the end.