All of us marathoners have a feared enemy: “The Wall”—that shock of exhaustion that always hits around mile 19. Those of us who are ultrarunners have gotten to know it better than our oldest friend. For some of us, it just might be our oldest friend.
We’re all beset by The Wall, until one day we outrun it, and it vanishes in the road behind us.
But why is The Wall such a shared experience? Why does it happen? And perhaps most intriguing: is it possible to find a way around it?
Yes. Systems thinking lets us explore recurring patterns of behavior, which is why it helps us to understand The Wall. The Wall isn’t inevitable; it isn’t “a fact of life” for runners. Most runners use their bodies in a particular way, and The Wall arises from the reality that most runners don’t use their bodies in the right way.
How many times have I heard a runner say, near the beginning of the race: “I’ll charge up this hill while I still have energy!”
Many. And that’s because the patterns of behavior that elicit such thinking are rampant. Continue reading Hitting The Wall: “The Tragedy of the Commons” in the marathon.