I was thinking the other day about things I wish someone had told me before my first marathon.
Things that made me SO nervous, things I obsessed about that turned out to be nothing, things I didn't think twice about that turned out to be something worth obsessing about, and I think I finally concluded that the one thing that bothered me the most was "What if I cannot over come THE WALL".
I obsessed over this one point for months on end.
Only, I discovered something on race day...
There is no such thing as the wall.
No, I'm being dead serious.
You have trained your body with a solid marathon training plan in the months leading up to race day so that it can go this distance. So on race day if you are fueling properly, drinking as needed, pacing yourself according to your own goals and not your neighbors or the elites running out front... there is no need to fear the wall. I've heard runners say it happens at mile 18. I've heard them claim it at 22. Frankly, I've been to both those places twice on race day and haven't seen hide nor hair of it.
Did I feel despair? Sure.
Was I freaking tired? Absolutely.
But here is a photo from me at Richmond Marathon mile 22 of 2009.
and here is one from me at Richmond Marathon mile 22 of 2010.
If that's what the Wall looks like, well... bring it ON! I'm just sayin'.
Besides, we've already established that in 2009 I made a bunch of rookie mistakes. If there was a wall to be found, surely I would have discovered it.
I am not saying that you cannot find a huge mental block constructed of hopelessness at the marathon distance. If you go looking for it, you can find almost anything at a marathon, including a grown man in a tutu and tiara, or a viking hat, or a pink running skirt. What I'm saying is that the physical end to the ATP in your system caused by a chemical failure of the mitochondrial electron transport chain resulting in a complete shut down of your muscles... aka, The Wall, isn't really even a possibility.
You have to believe all this, or you would never have signed up for your first marathon.
Mental block is not the dreaded wall. A friend of mine says it best, "Mental issues are not training issues". I believe that is true, they are a lack of preparation of a different kind.