Oh, THAT Wall

I was exploring metabolic conditioning and got stuck wondering why Jason Borne seemed to hit a wall at 800m and marathoners frequently experience and train to avoid a wall at mile 20.

Then I research enough to communicate an idea.

My confusion concerns an idea that "the wall" people hit is the point when their energy stores are depleted. You can run flat out for 800m and your speed will decline and you will keep going - you have plenty of energy. When running 26.2 miles, the body has plenty of energy to run it - maybe not at the intensity you want, but the energy is there.

So, what are we talking about?

The anaerobic system is always turning sugar into things. Some of those things are hydrogen ions, which make the environment more acidic. So, the aerobic system consumes these ions and keeps the environment from becoming too acidic.

When anaerobic respiration outpaces the aerobic system's ability to remove waste, the body uses the other thing the anaerobic system turns sugar into and combines it with a hydrogen ion to make lactate. This helps keep the environment from becoming too acidic.

Why was Jason Bourne shaking at 800m running as hard as he could? He was limited by the acidity in his muscles and blood. The hydrogen ions build up too fast and mess with the central nervous system and muscle's ability to contract. Shaking hands or wobbly knees are common signs.

Why do Marathoner's hit a wall at 20 miles?

It is said higher aerobic capacity is needed. So, higher endurance? Makes sense. Marathons are endurance races. Aerobic capacity will mean more waste removal, less acidity, and longer races. Training the anaerobic system makes the body turn lactate into glucose and glycogen more efficiently. More lactate means more fuel and less acidity as well. Longer running and faster running.

If there is always enough energy in the body, why carb load and why "fuelings" at races?

Next time, friends. Next time.