Motivation Articles

Hitting That Big Old Wall

How to Keep Going When You Feel Like Stopping

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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."

Word-watch
Watch the negative words and thoughts. Think instead about all the successes you have had. How about all those hills you conquered? All those long workouts you endured? You are a great person. Relish those thoughts.

Negotiate with yourself
Give yourself permission to simply go to the next water stop, or to the next milestone, or even just the end of the day. Keep repeating that strategy until you see the finish line. Just one more mile before you say one more mile!

If it was easy, everyone could do it. You are the one who will make it. And don't forget the finish line pose!


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Member Comments

  • "The Wall" is a psychological barrier, a myth created by those who gave up!
  • Oh my gosh. This how I am getting to retirement. I'm basically doing everything she suggests. Haha! It will be a few more years.
  • AMYROSEC
  • Just what I needed!
  • I used the "just do it" suggestion today. Hubby didn't have time to walk after lunch. But I went by myself after dinner. It wasn't far or fast, but at least it was movement!!
  • This is probably my favourite article on this site. Giving yourself permission to quit is sometimes what you need to keep going. It seems counter intuitive, but when the road seems endless, reminding yourself that you can step off is powerful and helps you feel more in control.
  • I enjoyed the article. thanks for posting.
    I did a 1/2 marathon in 2014 in 3 hours 54 minutes. I got in just under 4 hours which was my goal because I didn't start training for it until a few months before. Let me tell you, where it was really tough the 1st 10 miles, I felt really good about myself. But when I got to mile 11, I had to tell myself, its only a 5K from here, I can do it. Then, the last mile came into view, and I got my extra wind. I was so happy to have done that run - even if it was at a runners walking pace.
    Afterward I told myself I wanted to jog my next one but it wasn't going to be 2015... I knew I wanted a break from it... so I vowed to myself that I will do it again and probably in 2016. That's this year, and I'm so excited to get in shape for it. I am psyching myself up for it, staying motivated to work out. Reading this article is helpful to recall upon when I don't want to work out - like in the cold today...
    Thanks!!!!
  • If a person has TRULY "hit a wall" it means your body has run out of fuel. And you need to STOP! Not try to carry on and push themselves.
    It is difficult to do unless you are in training or an endurance athlete.
  • Just make sure you are *healthy* first. Listening to your body isn't a bad idea. People can die doing marathons too. I thought the "push through the pain" thing was pretty much obsolete by now.
  • I always do the milestone one. Just make it to the end of the fence, the end of the side walk, the light pole, the next light pole, the tree, that car. It really helps and then when you are actually almost done that really is a good motivator. "You're almost there don't quit now" or "you're more than halfway there".
  • Yipes, But a New House?
  • When I did my first full marathon I hit the wall hard at mile 19. I had to keep telling myself to remember relentless forward progress - no matter how slow. The feeling of crossing the finish line made up for it. A marathon really is a 10K with a 20 mile warmup LOL.
  • COASTAL6
    Thanks for the message today, It was talking straight to me!

About The Author

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