5 Ways to Keep Going After Hitting The Wall

5 Ways to Keep Going After Hitting The WallMost ath­letes have hit a point in their sport where they feel they’ve exhaust­ed their body to the lim­it and can’t pos­si­bly con­tin­ue. Run­ners have named this point ‘the Wall’, as it feels pret­ty sim­i­lar to run­ning face-first into a wall. It hurts and it seems insurmountable. 

This is the point where some quit. Many even feel jus­ti­fied quit­ting at the Wall, con­vinc­ing them­selves that it real­ly was their best. How­ev­er, just because your body has reached its lim­it doesn’t mean you can’t keep going. The trick to sur­mount­ing the Wall is to employ your mind – the strongest tool in your kit. Here are a few men­tal tricks to try next time you hit the Wall and see how much fur­ther you can real­ly go.

Short­en the goal
If the only goal you’re focused on is the fin­ish line, you’re pret­ty much doomed – espe­cial­ly in longer races. If you hit the wall at mile 20 of a marathon, and all you can think is how you have 6.2 miles to go, you may as well kiss your finisher’s medal good­bye. Six more miles to an exhaust­ed per­son may as well be 100 miles. How­ev­er, if you short­en your sights to the next water stop, the guy in the yel­low shorts about 20 feet in front of you who looks as worn out as you, or even to the wiener dog on the side­lines five feet in front of you, you’re far more like­ly to make your goal. Then, as soon as you reach your des­ti­na­tion, imme­di­ate­ly set a new one. If you get a sec­ond wind and begin feel­ing bet­ter, go ahead and stretch out your goal des­ti­na­tions a bit more. If you con­tin­ue to feel like you’re knock­ing into the Wall, short­en your des­ti­na­tion goals.

Count on it
Count­ing has a beat we’re all famil­iar with. Aim to count to 100, and odds are, by the time you’re to 20, your stride will even out and become more auto­mat­ic. Count­ing keeps your mind occu­pied just enough to dis­tract it from the pain and exhaus­tion of the Wall.

Take a vaca­tion
Go through all the steps of prepar­ing for a vaca­tion in your head, includ­ing pick­ing a des­ti­na­tion, plan­ning a bud­get to save for it, pack­ing your hypo­thet­i­cal suit­case, your agen­da when you arrive, what you’ll  eat…you get the point. Odds are, you’ll become engrossed in this large detail-ori­ent­ed men­tal task and be past the Wall before you’re done with your vacation.

Pic­ture tomor­row
When times get rough out on the race­course, it may help to think about tomor­row. You’re going to sur­vive the race, whether you stop or keep going, and you’re going to have to face the music tomor­row. Do you want to explain to every­one – includ­ing your­self – why you dropped out when you hit the Wall, or do you want to excit­ed­ly recount your adven­ture and expe­ri­ence with the Wall while wear­ing a wide grin know­ing you sur­passed it and finished?

Accept Some PainAccept Some Pain
Run­ning – if you’re doing it right – hurts some­times. Hit­ting the wall hurts every time. Not in the nor­mal injury way, but men­tal­ly and spir­i­tu­al­ly. It can be crush­ing. Accept­ing this fact as part of the process of over­com­ing goals and get­ting bet­ter, gives the pain far less pow­er over you. Expect­ing the pain and greet­ing it with a calm accep­tance makes it just one more step in your process toward get­ting past the Wall. It helps you approach it with a calm and deter­mined mind. You may be sur­prised how quick­ly you’re able to push through the pain and find your sec­ond wind.

The Wall is some­thing many run­ners hear about and fear, but it’s also some­thing all run­ners are capa­ble of overcoming.