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The digestion system is so, so weird.  There’s something about the guts that just freak me out.

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My lab partner makes an excellent model.  :)  Tonight’s anatomy lab was filled with tons of information about poop.  Of course, I asked why marathoners poop themselves sometimes, and everyone turned around and looked at me like — “Why? Have YOU pooped yourself?”  (The answer is not yet).  ;)

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Speaking of long runs, I am getting so nervous and excited for my 17.0 mile run tomorrow! I think its important to build up long runs in my head.  I try not to spend the entire week dreading my long run, but looking forward in anticipation.

 

I fueled appropriately by having a little pasta party for dinner:

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Angel hair whole wheat pasta, Alfredo sauce, kidney beans, and spinach (plus another 1/2) – yum!

 

Other snackies of the evening included an Oh She Glows bar:

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A bowl of cereal + banana:

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And some Halloween candy.  Tis the season!

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Clearly, I believe in carbohydrate loading for several meals before a long run.  I definitely ate with a purpose today – I don’t think its wise to overdo portion sizes the night before a long run (per the pooping incident), but I have noticed a huge difference in my performance with I build up my glycogen stores over several meals.

 

Fun fact: You body first burns off any glucose (i.e. food) in your body during exercise, and then it switches to using glycogen.  Glycogen is the long-term energy stored in your liver and muscles.   During a marathon, most runners will deplete their glycogen stores around mile 20 – 22.  This depletion is most commonly known as “hitting the wall.”  I’ve hit the wall once (during the Crooms Fools Run – check out the recap for the ugly details!) and it was NOT pretty.  I also came close to hitting the wall during my 60-mile bicycle race.  This is why it’s super important to fuel during long runs.

 

Time for The Office, and then it’s time for BED!  17.0 miles is a long, long way to run, and I need all the sleep I can get.

 

If you’re an endurance athlete, have you ever hit the wall?  What does it feel like for you, besides mind-numbing exhaustion?  :)

{ 49 comments }

 

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  • Katie October 29, 2009, 9:11 pm

    I have wanted to do a full marathon EXCEPT for the wall. I hit a wall about halfway through my halfs because if I eat my stomach cramps up so bad I don’t want to continue running, but if I don’t eat I am so exhausted I start shaking and not able to focus. It’s such a dilemma! I wish I could get it all worked out so I could run the 26.2 I wanted to do Disney, but can’t afford hotel :( college student on a budget here.

    Reply
  • Sarah @ The Foodie Diaries October 29, 2009, 9:14 pm

    Haha that first pic def caught my attention!

    Your pasta looks great! I haven’t had angel hair in forever!

    Reply
  • Jessica @ How Sweet It Is October 29, 2009, 9:16 pm

    Good luck on that 17 miler tomorrow!

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  • Evan Thomas October 29, 2009, 9:17 pm

    Very glad to see that less desserts and tighter eating did not equal underfueling. Way to go!

    Reply
  • Wendy October 29, 2009, 9:31 pm

    Your poo lab takes me back to my undergrad days. I clearly remember the vomit reflex lecture in physiology class, and then I had a nutrition professor who was fascinated by the inteligence of the anal sphincter: “how does it know when to hold it back (poo) and when to let if fly (gas)?”

    I can’t remember ever hitting the wall (I’ve run 2 halfs), unless the last 100 m of the 400 m dash counts. Have a great run tomorrow!

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  • RhodeyGirl October 29, 2009, 9:36 pm

    GOOD LUCK CAITLIN!!! You are such an inspirational runner!

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  • Runeatrepeat October 29, 2009, 9:42 pm

    It’s hard to describe to people who haven’t felt “hitting the wall”. I always read about it before I trained for a mary, but didn’t know what to expect. For me it just feels like I am depleted of all energy, completely drained :( Uh,it just makes me feel powerless.

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  • Melissa S. October 29, 2009, 9:44 pm

    GOOD LUCK on the 17 miler!!! i only wish i had the guts to train for a marathon!!

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  • Katy @ These Beautiful Feet October 29, 2009, 9:44 pm

    Sending you happy thoughts tomorrow morning! I hope you keep fueled and that you finish strong!

    Reply
  • Matt October 29, 2009, 9:47 pm

    I’ve never hit the wall that I know of. Even during my marathon, I felt great the whole race. As long as you are eating well, it shouldn’t be a problem.

    Reply
  • Jolene (www.everydayfoodie.ca) October 29, 2009, 9:47 pm

    I have never done anything that difficult or long to “hit the wall” … but it is something I hope I have the opportunity to experience, for life experience sake – I just need to get my ass in gear!

    Reply
  • Liz October 29, 2009, 9:47 pm

    I took anatomy a 2 years ago. I remember learning about the digestive system. You learn more than you ever need to about poop and other things. Have a great run tomorrow. Go long and go strong!!

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  • Allison (Balance in Bites) October 29, 2009, 9:50 pm

    When I ran in the NYC marathon in 2005, I bonked around mile 19. I think it was a combination of it being pretty hot that day, me being too dehydrated, and me peaking too early in my training. I ran a beautiful on-pace 22 miler three weeks before the marathon, and then tapered WAY too much (as in, didn’t run much at all – I was way too busy. Stupid, I know – but I took “taper” to mean “oh I can skip my run today…and tomorrow…” etc). So I bonked. It wasn’t a really awful black-out kind of bonk. I remember everything that happened – but I did have to walk most of those last 7 miles. I got charlie horses in both calves, my left quad in two different places, and my hamstrings that went away when I walked, but came back with a vengeance when I tried running. It was absolutely awful. BUT! I finished! And I’m damn proud of it! :D I’m thinking of doing the Providence, RI marathon next May… we’ll see.

    Anyway, long comment is long. Good luck on your 17er! It sounds like you’re really prepared. You’ll do great =D

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  • amanda October 29, 2009, 9:51 pm

    haha that is funny! At least your learning something semi interesting

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  • Lu October 29, 2009, 9:52 pm

    Good luck on the run tomorrow.

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  • Estela @ Weekly Bite October 29, 2009, 9:57 pm

    I’ve totally been sneaking the Halloween Candy ;)

    Reply
  • Bec October 29, 2009, 10:09 pm

    I have hit the wall twice once on a 75 km mountain bike ride and another time on a brutal century ride on my road bike both times I just became completely exhausted and all I could do to keep going was think about eating a snickers bar at the end and watching the numbers on my bike computer!

    Reply
  • Sarah @ See Sarah Eat October 29, 2009, 10:13 pm

    I love reading your discussion about glucose and glycogen as I’m studying all about that right now in Exercise Science! I have never done an endurance event longer than a half marathon and thankfully I have never hit the wall. But I can only imagine!

    Reply
  • Britt (Runnerbelle) October 29, 2009, 10:20 pm

    I’ve definitely hit the wall before, although I think it was more mental…. as I properly fueled during the race. I’ve had much better marathons since then though!

    Best wishes for the long run tomorrow!!

    Um so… what was the answer about the horrible awful…. runner’s trots?

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    • Caitlin October 29, 2009, 10:28 pm

      if you have eaten a lot of fiber, the lack of blood to your intestines (causes its centered in your legs) + the jostling motion from running simulates the muscle contraction that start the pooping process, and you poop yourself. there is only 1 small ring of skeletal (aka voluntary) muscles around your anus, so if you have severe waves of muscle contractions in the smooth muscle of your large intestine, you’re pretty much destined to shit yourself.

      Reply
  • Cynthia (It All Changes) October 29, 2009, 10:24 pm

    I totally would have asked that question.

    Reply
  • Susan October 29, 2009, 10:24 pm

    I haven’t hit the wall yet (or pooped myself yet for that matter! :P) but, it’s amazing the difference I feel after a little mid-run or bike fuel. For my long bike rides, I always bring dates stuffed with peanut butter. I’ll start uncontrollably salivating at first taste because my body wants it so bad! :P

    Reply
  • Jenna October 29, 2009, 10:24 pm

    good luck on the 17 miler tomorrow! you will rock it.
    i am glad you properly fuled yourself with carbs today!
    jenna

    Reply
  • Joelle (The Pancake Girl) October 29, 2009, 11:02 pm

    You and your beans haha I don’t know how you do it- I personally can take ‘em or leave ‘em.

    Hope you have a great run!

    Reply
  • Emily Eats and Exercises October 29, 2009, 11:06 pm

    Good luck with the run tomorrow – I can’t wait to hear about it! The wall sounds intimidating – I haven’t gone far enough yet, but maybe someday…

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  • Jamie October 29, 2009, 11:19 pm

    Good luck on the 17. Fuel early so you don’t hit the wall. And props to you being able to down beans and greens before a long run… that’s usually too much fiber for me!

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  • BroccoliHut October 29, 2009, 11:27 pm

    As a nutritionist-to-be, I was actually really fascinated by that unit of anatomy class. I like learning how all that food gets broken down to provide nourishment:)

    Reply
  • emily October 29, 2009, 11:33 pm

    I had to bring up a “shitty” (ha!) story, but wasn’t it you who posted the story on Kath’s site (like a year ago) about the unfortunate running/fiberific breakfast experience?

    Reply
  • maria October 30, 2009, 12:19 am

    Thanks for the carb explanation. :) Very informative and helpful!

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  • Lizzy October 30, 2009, 12:34 am

    this post is wonderful. i sort of learned my lesson about carb loading the night before my half just a couple weeks ago, and honestly i think i might have over done it. What do you think is to much?

    Reply
  • Whole Body Love October 30, 2009, 1:13 am

    My last Anatomy/Physiology exam covered a little bit on gloycogen. I love that I learn things in that class that apply to my life now.

    Reply
  • Marissa October 30, 2009, 2:02 am

    My A+P prof told us this week how much those models cost. That’s the business to get into, LOL :)

    Reply
  • Tay October 30, 2009, 3:08 am

    I’ve definitely hit the wall a couple of times. The ones I remember most was during a 22 mile training run, when I hit it around mile 20. Oh god. Those last 2 miles were awful – I felt chilled and goosebumped and my head felt like it was detached, yet still super heavy. I also hit the wall during my marathon around mile 16-17. They were super tough. But the fuel and the thrill of being done pushed me through miles 20-26!

    Reply
  • Nicole October 30, 2009, 3:56 am

    Ah the dreaded runner’s runs. They are NOT my friend, but I know them oh so well! I have been on many runs and have come back with only one sock. My first half marathon was horrible. I had to go so bad at mile 3, and finally found a portapotty. I tried to be all quiet in there so it took a little bit longer than I wanted. At mile 10, I had to go AGAIN!! At this point there was a line for the next porta potty, and when I did end up getting in there, I didn’t care about discretion. I was desperate to finish this race if it killed me! My intestines were screaming and wanted everything out! I finished the race alright with about 10 min devoted to potty time! Damn runners runs!!

    As for hitting a wall, oh yeah. A few times this past tri season when I had worked out for 2 or 3 hours straight and didn’t take in enough nutrition, you bet I hit a wall. I felt like I was going to faint. No matter how hard I tried to push my legs to go, they slowed down. I felt like I couldn’t control my body. Not fun!!

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  • Danielle October 30, 2009, 7:34 am

    I hope your run is going well! I can’t believe you are already at the 17 mile long run in your training. So exciting :)

    I totally hit the wall between mile 17 and 18 when I ran the Nike Women’s Marathon a few weeks ago. I started out pretty good, pacing my self pretty slowly because I knew 26.2 miles is a long way and didn’t want to burn myself out. The weather in SF was so much nicer than here in FL but I really wasn’t prepared for the hills (no amount of bridge running could have helped the mountain that we climbed!) so I know I didn’t fuel properly during that time. Around mile 15 (maybe earlier, maybe later I honestly can’t remember now) I started to get a horrible stomach ache and felt terrible and I was HUNGRY. I know I should have taken a GU but I was afraid that it would bother my stomach even more…so I walked for a few miles and finally around mile 18 I called my husband crying because I was so DONE. He encouraged me to keep going (“You only have 8 more miles! It’s like a training run!”) so I sucked it up, ate a GU and FINISHED!

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  • Andee (LAEasyMeals) October 30, 2009, 8:05 am

    Omg, my last marathon 2 weeks ago, I TOTALLY hit the wall at mile 20. I was feeling so great until then, actually running faster mile 19 than the first couple miles. I couldn’t feel my hands or my arms and thought I was really going to pass out if I didn’t stop and walk. I was trying to go for a Boston qualifier and was hitting each mile right on the dot to make to the end. Turns out I was way dehydrated and not properly fueled even though I had drank Powerade through all water stations and took GUs. I’m not sure what happened, but I hope it never happens again. It was a pretty scary experience, but once I stopped and walked for half a mile, I felt better and was able to finish the race running, but 7 minutes too late for a BQ :( Oh well, I have another marathon next month to hopefully go for it again

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  • Kim October 30, 2009, 8:05 am

    The wall always hits me first physically, but is quickly followed by tons of feelings of hopelessness and exhaustion (which shows me it’s more mental than it really is physical). Feeling like I should give up, like I can’t do it… ugh. That wall is ugly. But it sure if fun to beat!!

    Hope your 17 goes well!!!

    Reply
  • Peter October 30, 2009, 8:30 am

    When I hit the wall my whole body feels like it’s vibrating.

    Reply
  • Megan (The Runner's Kitchen) October 30, 2009, 8:42 am

    oh man, i know all about the wall/glycogen depletion. i started out too quick in the boston marathon last april and didn’t eat/drink enough during those early miles. by mile 17 i was dragging and by mile 21 i was really out of it. even as we approached the finish line i was convinced that we hadn’t run heartbreak hill yet (it’s at mile 20). i think i was hallucinating. my pace slowed, but i was able to finish! that scary, shaky, dead-legs feeling is not fun though…but i still want to run another marathon and conquer the wall! we runners are a little crazy :-)

    Reply
  • Jessica (Mile High Jess) October 30, 2009, 8:51 am

    I definitely hit the wall during my marathon last summer. I started feeling it around mile 17, by mile 20 I felt like my legs were cement. Not to mention the horrible pain I was in due to tendonitis. I had done everything right with hydration and take gels, etc. during the race, but there was just no avoiding it. If my team mentor and one of our coached not been there to keep me going, I don’t know if I’d been able to finish. It is not a good feeling at all!

    Reply
  • Stephanie October 30, 2009, 9:08 am

    I think that ‘hitting the wall’ can be both mental and physical in a marathon. For me, sometime after the 20 mile mark my legs are just so incredibly sore that they do not want to move. However, the mental ‘wall’ is the worst when you start thinking about how much further you have to go etc. Two weeks ago I did a half and I tried something new to get through the mental ‘wall’. Although it was not a full marathon, I tend to start hitting a wall at a certain point in every race, whether it is mile 2 of a 5k, mile 10 of a half, mile 20 of a full, etc. So this time I held back the first 10 miles so I was running comfortably, and then I decided my last 5k would be my fastest. Having properly paced the first 10 miles, I was able to start speeding up and actually passing a significant amount of people miles 10-13.1. This was a great confidence and adrenalin boost because usually I am the one going out too fast and getting passed left and right in the end. So, I think that the wall can be avoided somewhat if you run a properly planned out race. Also, I try to think of the miles I have left as minutes instead. i.e. At mile 20 I would think, “I can stop running in one hour”. That way my mind thinks, “Of course I can run an hour. I do it all the time”.

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  • Ally October 30, 2009, 9:26 am

    Gah! I hit the wall around mile 16–which is sucky, because that’s still 10 miles to go! Although, I’ve found lately, when I run with a group rather than on my own, it’s much easier to get past mile 16. Maybe it’s now just mental, I don’t know. I do know that once I’m at 17, it’s much easier. Only two more long runs before taper time for my marathon!! Yay!

    Reply
  • Samma October 30, 2009, 9:26 am

    So I just googled poop during a marathon- I have never heard of this! Hilarious (and gross).

    Reply
  • alli October 30, 2009, 10:59 am

    good luck! :) when i did my 1/2 i thought i was going to poop myself the last 3 miles, kinda whimpy…anyways it was at a track and no potties around and i was NOT going to stop and go home. {although the trash cans were calling my name! HAha}
    i totally applaud you for training for a full!

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  • Jill Will Run October 30, 2009, 11:46 am

    In my first marathon I hit the wall around mile 18 or 19. For me it was the mental side that was the hardest. I think the way I described it was “I hated everyone and everything around me.” Basically, I got really irritable and grumpy. Then I took in a gel and it was such a dramatic and rapid turnaround. Being deprived of fuel can affect both your physical and mental energy negatively.

    Reply
  • Kathleen October 30, 2009, 12:20 pm

    This discussion is perfectly timed for me! I ran my 1st marathon last Sunday, and I had no idea that “hitting the Wall” had an actual biochemical meaning and reason. I thought it was just the point when a long run gets really mentally tough!

    Unfortunately, I totally physically hit the wall between miles 20 – 22, and I can’t remember ever feeling so awful before. I mean, forget about muscle spasms and sore joints, those had already been present a little while. Now it was overwhelming nausea AND feeling like I was going to pass out on top of all the ‘normal’ pain. My mind was going, too – I couldn’t remember basic things like who I was running with. It was really scary and really frustrating, and I had to walk the last 4 miles.

    ARG! So, how do you prevent this from happening? I tried to fuel during and before, although I guess I could have done more. I really want to do another marathon and ‘redeem’ myself, but I am now worried that this will happen again. Not feeling like you have control over your body like that is really not good.

    Reply
    • Caitlin October 30, 2009, 12:41 pm

      you definitely want to try eating more and maybe fueling with a sports drink (for electrolytes).

      focus on the fact that you completed a marathon – you are awesome!!

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      • Kathleen November 2, 2009, 12:15 pm

        thanks for the kind reminder :)

        Reply
  • Katie (Runs for Fun) October 30, 2009, 5:46 pm

    I hit the wall badly in my first two marathons…it was like having the sensation that everything in your body hurts…even your hair! My third marathon I seemed to get it right and didn’t really hit the wall at all…one of those rare occasions when nothing could really have gone any better!

    Reply