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Motivation Articles  ›  Staying Motivated

Hitting That Big Old Wall

How to Keep Going When You Feel Like Stopping

-- By Julie Isphording, Olympic Marathoner
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Just about everyone has heard of the "Wall," as in "hitting the wall." And lots of us - in running and in life - have run straight into it. Head on.

A wall is the point in a race (or in life) where you're used up. You're officially done. You feel as if you are draining away into a little puddle on the ground. Your legs don't respond to the word "go." You vow never to do this again.

Although I hope you never have a wall get between you and a goal, here are some tricks I've learned from running that can help you get over your own wall when it's in the way:

Keep going regardless
Promise yourself that, no matter what, you will press on, even if you are walking, crawling, or puttering. In the Boston Marathon in 1993, I was running so slowly to the finish that I felt like I was actually going backwards. Stay on your feet. Eyes straight ahead. Move.

Don't think
Just go. Do not dwell on how overwhelmingly awful you feel. Focus on the cheering crowds, your friends and family waiting at the finish, the cool water, the trees... anything.

Try bribery
Tell yourself, "Self, when I get done with this, I'm going to buy you a new car, a new house, whatever you want." Continued ›

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About The Author

Julie Isphording Julie Isphording
Julie, a former Olympic marathon runner, is an author, radio host and fitness expert.

Member Comments

  • Great article. - 6/16/2013 5:57:33 PM
  • Two years ago I did a marathon after not running or competing for a number of years. I hit the wall, but I kept hearing the voice of Dory in "Finding Nemo," "just keep swimming, swimming..." over and over. - 4/10/2013 10:57:57 AM
  • This is exactly what I needed because I'm at that wall now! This is the encouragment I need to get back on track!!!!! - 6/13/2012 7:27:33 AM
  • Absolutely love this article. Thanks for the great endurance tips! - 4/1/2012 9:56:25 PM
  • This article could not have been timed better. I ran my longest run today ever, 14 miles, and there were numerous times that I waned to hist stop on the treadmill and just throw in the towel. Thank you for reminding me that I am stronger than I believe and giving strategies to help me get over the wall, - 1/22/2012 4:49:35 PM
  • Thanks, I just needed to read that today. It really helped me keep going. - 1/22/2012 3:33:54 PM
  • Frankly I think overriding your body when you are driving it too hard and its begging for rest, is terrible for your adrenals as well as your entire body.

    Guess that's why I don't run marathons!
    : )
    - 1/22/2012 10:45:40 AM
  • Best Part

    Finish Line Pose.... Getting stronger sound track playing in my head.

    - 10/7/2011 7:17:03 AM
    I definitely know what you're talking about - everyone who has run a long race can pinpoint exactly when they hit the wall. For me it was at mile 18 during the Philly marathon. I kept going because I was running with a friend and didn't want to hold her back, so that's another good way to motivate yourself - be accountable to someone else. - 10/6/2011 9:37:00 AM
  • Good topic. I love its emphasis on running! - 12/26/2010 12:19:43 PM
  • EDA540NA
    This is my first comment on any article. I've been working on diet/exercise since Jan. and losing ground lately. It was the perfect info at the right time. THANK YOU! - 10/15/2010 2:03:46 AM
  • This was really appropriate because when I hit the wall, I feel bad enough already - lightheartedness is like a second wind. Especially loved the bribery suggestion, LOL. - 10/14/2010 10:31:20 AM
  • Great blog Julie! Congrats on finishing the Boston Marathon!!! - 10/10/2010 12:25:33 AM
    this is a great article, almost more applicable to everyday life than running or weight loss. everyday can be a struggle sometimes, but we have to remember to keep moving. - 10/8/2010 2:46:56 AM
  • I don't understand how people here can say this article doesn't apply to weight-loss when so many comments here clearly show very discouraged people ("I'm slipping," "this darkness I'm in," etc.) who have hit "The Wall" in their weight-loss journey. Yeah, there's not a true finish line in a healthy lifestyle as there is in a road race, but there are certainly goals, and these suggestions can help people moving onwards and upwards to where they want to be as people and physical specimens.

    That said, they definitely do apply to running as well. I read this article last year, but I'm running the Chicago Marathon this weekend, my first-ever and something I couldn't have done if I hadn't turned my lifestyle around and become a "Sparkperson" almost two years ago, so thanks Julie, and thanks for reposting this, Sparkpeople: I will definitely use these when the going gets tough this Sunday and reach that goal I've set for myself, using Sparkpeople once again. - 10/7/2010 1:52:03 PM