What Do You Do When You Hit Your Wall?

Last week I ran the Rotorua Marathon.

It’d been a childhood dream to run my ‘local’.

1,400 others.
And our collective sense of hope.

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Forty two point two kilometres were ahead of us, interspersed with three (potentially dream-shattering) hills.

I could see the finish line in my mind. Feel the butterflies in my tummy. I just had to get started.

The crowds were packed along the city streets. People carried signs that read, “42.2km because 42.3km would be crazy.”

I laughed.

At the first hill, I recall thinking how great I was feeling. You know that leap-a-tall-building-in-a-single-bound-kind of greatness. I was full of excitement, hope and optimism around my ability to finish the marathon with little difficulty.

Woo hoo.

About 22km my right knee began to twinge. I was so busy watching the crowds, studying the scenery and comparing notes with fellow runners that I didn’t give it much attention.

One foot. Then the other.

At 27km, the doubt, negativity and discomfort started to creep in. Who was I kidding? I didn’t have the stamina or the runner’s body to run 42.2kms.

Never mind that I had completed other marathons. I was talking about N.O.W.

Yes. . . I was wallowing in self-pity.

Then, I started the whole comparison trap. I thought about how easy previous marathons had felt, how my body had cooperated better, how the weather wasn’t as warm, in those other marathons. I thought about the race winners who were probably at the finish line refuelling and about to have a massage.

Next came the “I should have’s.” Stupid me should have trained more. I should have had done more stupid hills in training. I should have had more stupid carbs at last night. I should have not signed up for this stupid marathon.

Yup. . . ‘stupid’ is my word of frustration.

“Prodigiously stupid”.

To top it off, I’d lost sight of my balloon-wearing pacer dude so I was all alone.

And, if things couldn’t be any more challenging, I’d entered a part of the course where the crowds were smaller and spectator energy was waning. Think long stretches, industrial buildings and shopping malls.

So there I was.

Kilometre 33.

Welcome to THE WALL.


I was pouring sweat. I was nauseated from all the energy gels I’d necked in the first half. I’m sure I wasn’t looking so sparkly and I definitely wasn’t feeling it.

“I’m gonna throw up…”

“Uh oh … I’m gonna pass out …”

“Maaan … that pavement looks like it’s made out of memory foam.”

About now, all I wanted was the pain to be gone. It occurred to me how easy it would be to leave the course: find shady tree, some water and just hang out for a few hours.


I even started preparing the excuses in my mind for my family and friends who were patiently waiting at the finish line.

I wanted to cry. I realised I was. Silent liquid ache.

This was that moment.

That moment where I had to decide whether to quit or continue.

At that time, I entered a part of the course where the crowds became more alive. There were drummers on the roadside, people cheering louder than ever.

Then, three specific things happened:

1. my right knee pain re-appeared.
2. I saw a woman running in a full body burn suit (she’d been involved in the Tamahere factory fire) which made #1 SUCH a non-issue.
3. My husband and-all-time-champion-of-the-world-supporter said to me, “you OWN this course, honey, you OWN IT”.

Something miraculous happened.

It was that moment.

That deeply happy moment when you turn the corner in your mind.

Suddenly, I knew I was going to finish the marathon. Not only did I know it, but I started to enjoy it again, because I wasn’t alone.

Sure the knee still ached but the fog was lifting.

My husband’s words, the crowd’s energy and support at kilometre 33 was exactly what I needed to keep me in the race and, ultimately, cross the finish line.

What does this have to do with you and weight loss?

Well, I see a lot of women when they have hit their wall.

They feel hopeless and powerless about their weight, and they doubt that they’ll ever be able to overcome their weight struggle.

Instead of a shade, tree and water, they want a sofa, some chips and some chocolate, because the race ahead seems SO much bigger than them.

But, I know better.

Not just because I’ve experienced the wall in a marathon, but I’ve also experienced the wall in my own weight struggle.

What I’ve realised is that there will always be a wall when you are going against the norm, when you are transforming in a big way and when you are refusing to settle for mediocrity.

But, a tough patch is a small price to pay for the feeling that you experience when you cross the finish line.

When you hit the wall best thing you can do for yourself is to find support. Seek out that crowd to cheer you on when you think you can’t take another step. Find a someone – that mentor or friend to hold you accountable to your desires. They will hold up signs and shout your potential, power and possibility.

And before you know it, you’re running again.

So, dear reader, sign up for something that is beyond your ability by a truly stupid margin. Get support, and allow yourself the gift of surprising yourself. You are infinity more resilient than you know.

– When was the last time you experienced hitting the wall?
– How did you gain the courage and support to keep moving forward?
– Or, if you’re in one right now, what can you do to make sure you keep on going?

Leave your comments below, and if you know of anyone who might be hitting their own wall, please forward this on.

(Sweaty) love etc, Avril

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6 Responses to What Do You Do When You Hit Your Wall?

  1. Ling says:

    Hi Avril

    Surrounding yourself with support–that’s something I’m struggling with. Not to say that I don’t have any (I do!) but what do you need to conquer in your own mind before you can get people on board? I think the answer is to keep at it, despite naysayers and they will either eventually jump on the bandwagon or flitter away. But if getting past that wall during your run was in part due to the support you had, how important is it to success would you say?

    Luv your work!


  2. Avril says:

    Hi Ling

    Thanks for popping by hon :)

    You’re exactly right. And how cool is it that you can see the support around you. I believe 100% that what we give, we get back. On the run when the pain ramped up, it was real tempting to tumble into the ‘wah wah pity party’. Instead, every time I passed a walker (yup, the real marathon heros are the ones who take seven hours), I’d splutter a “good on you mate”. Invariably they’d shout a “you’re awesome” in return. Giving support will have it boomeranging right back at you.

    In answer to your Qn though. Support from others makes the load lighter and a tonne more fun. But first n foremost you have got to support yourself. If you’re not stepping up for yourself, no amount of cheer leading from the sidelines by others will bring success. So step 1, support yourself. And step 2. is S.W.S.W …as in ‘some will, some won’t’. Some people just ain’t your your peeps. They won’t ‘get’ you, and that’s cool. There’s plenty of beautiful people who WILL get you, are ready and waiting to get you, just as soon as they see you flying your own support flag.

    Thanks for visiting!

  3. Kath says:

    Hi Wonderful, love your article! And well done for completing that marathon…you’re amazing. Keep up the good work, Kath

  4. Avril says:

    Back at YOU wonderful, thank you for dropping by and sharing your love!

  5. Claudel says:

    Girlfriend – you are so, so , so funny. Love the commentary which I feel you should enter in some writing competition because the content is (1) inspiring (2) funny – something one could use in a development class………

    I’m taking my bit of wisdom from your piece to deal with the thief who stole my first crop of plaintain. I’ve asked the guys on site to look out for him, hold him when they see him and call me………….. I have a great big hammer which has an appointment with his knuckles. By the time they catch him I may have risen above this!

    • admin says:

      Sista…. And you reckon I’M funny!!!!! Seriously though, thanks for your comments – educational and entertaining is my goal. I love writing this stuff and I get a real kick outta hearing that people get some value from it. I have this crazy belief that people learn better when they’re chuckling as well.

      I’m curious as to how you’re going to apply this wisdom to the plantain thief though!!! Reeeal curious. Are you and the hammer going for that gorgeous sense or hope or the whole new world of pain? Actually C, don’t answer that ;) Good luck C x

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