ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Wagner: Some can conquer 'The Wall' without gels

You know the feeling all too well. Heavy legs. Lightheaded. Your insides pulled out and put in a blender. And if you were any closer to home, you'd throw in the towel and come up with a reason to skip next week's long run. But as you slowly regai...

You know the feeling all too well. Heavy legs. Lightheaded. Your insides pulled out and put in a blender.

And if you were any closer to home, you'd throw in the towel and come up with a reason to skip next week's long run.

But as you slowly regain the feeling in your legs over a breakfast of pancakes, eggs and juice, reality settles in.

You'll be out running again soon. Personal goals or your commitment to a group simply outweigh the temporary discomfort of running for hours on end.

It's a scenario that plays out week after week until the big event marked on your calendar.

ADVERTISEMENT

But while I've discovered plenty of pain during training, the excitement and accomplishment of finishing a marathon overshadows what it took to cross the finish line.

Twenty-two months ago, after the first of my six marathons, I searched for answers to one of the sport's biggest challenges: How to conquer the final six miles without feeling so miserable.

Runners fear "hitting the wall," a problem I've yet to experience in a race. My issue has been more a matter of stamina or cramps, in the case of two finishes on the rolling hills that comprise Grandma's Marathon.

After that first marathon, I read a short passage in a running book that simply stated some coaches tell their athletes to train without ingesting nutrition aides like gels. "Train low, race high" by only using gels immediately before and during a race, the theory goes.

Intrigued, I weaned myself from using them while training for my second marathon and endured some of the most difficult training runs.

But something interesting happened as a result.

In my second marathon, with the extra carbs for fuel, I felt much stronger. Running on empty, so to speak, during training gave me a huge lift - physically and mentally - when it came time for the marathon.

Now it's become second nature for me to train without gels, so I was pleasantly surprised by an article in the latest Running Times magazine offering it as a suggestion for runners looking to bust through the marathon wall.

ADVERTISEMENT

It will make training harder, but as the body adapts and burns fat as fuel, it becomes easier. And you might just be thankful when the late miles of a marathon don't seem quite so difficult.

Forum News Director Steve Wagner writes a running blog, which can be found at www.areavoices.com/runningspud . He can be reached at (701) 241-5542 or swagner@forumcomm.com .

What To Read Next
Get Local

ADVERTISEMENT