Have you ever experienced “hitting the wall” while working out? It’s when the body’s stored glycogen has been depleted and the feelings of fatigue and negativity typically accompany it. “Glycogen is the carbohydrate that is stored in our muscles and liver for energy. It is the easiest and most readily available fuel source to burn when exercising, so the body prefers it. When you run low on glycogen, even your brain wants to shut down activity as a preservation method, which leads to the negative thinking that comes along with hitting the wall.” Susan Paul, Runner’s World, Oct. 2015
“Hitting the wall” may also be experienced in life and work. When we are running low on “fuel” and our reserves are depleted, we want to shut down and do nothing. That’s when a person might shift to self-doubt, questioning ability and effectiveness, etc. However, if they had pushed through a few more steps and had reserves to draw from, I wonder what would have been accomplished; experienced?
I am preparing for the annual 10k Peachtree Road Race that I participate in each year. Let me quickly say, the “race” is each participants’ personal goal. While I workout year around, this event requires a different preparation; i.e. outdoor courses to get acclimated to the heat/humidity and the feet and legs to get accustomed to pounding the pavement. Each year, when I start adding this training to my routine, there are points that I must make a choice: to push through or stop. Because I have three different distances for this training – 3, 4 and 5.6 miles – choosing to push through occurs at different points.
Using exercise and specifically training for this event, I have four tips to offer to help anyone push through.
- Pace yourself. I do not begin my 5.6 mile course at the same pace I begin my 3 mile course. If I did, my fuel would be quickly used and I would certainly “hit a wall.” In life, it is helpful to recognize pacing is key to completion. For example, if a work project will require 100 hours to complete, a person would not stay up for 100 hours straight. There would likely be a block of specific hours set each day to devote to the project. Pace is not about speed; it’s about the rhythm to successfully accomplish the goal.
- Understand yourself. When I am training on the outdoor courses, I know my signals that indicate I am out of alignment. My body begins to lean forward, my breathing is shallow and my gait is irregular. To push through, I understand I must draw my shoulders back, place my palms face up with thumbs out, and focus on my breathing. I can then push through for a few more steps.
- Smile. It takes fewer muscles to smile than frown. Next time you become aware of being so focused and intense that you are frowning, smile! Notice how there is an immediate shift in your body. When I realize on my training course I am too concentrated, I smile! It doesn’t accelerate my pace. However, it does relax my system and I can push through. Try it before you discount it!
- Shout or say Hip, hip, hooray! Last week on a course workout, I was really struggling due to the humidity and was drawing on my positive self-talk and other mechanisms to push through. And then I simply said out loud, “hip, hip, hooray!” Wow! What a moment of release. Those words opened the neuro pathway in my brain with the message of congratulations! Although I was not at the end of my course, I could visual getting there with a little “hip, hip, hooray” along the way. Silly? Maybe! Effective? Definitely!
Life is a marathon not a sprint! Push through is a mindset that can help you be effective.
Using these fours tips will help you push through and can serve as a restart, refresh, and/or reminder. If you find yourself “hitting the wall” and cannot move forward, I invite you to schedule a complimentary strategy session with me. Send your request to email@example.com and let’s push through together!