Navigating the latter stages of a marathon presents a unique challenge for runners, often characterized by mental and physical fatigue. 

In this article, we delve into a query regarding the recurring struggle encountered between the 32km and 37km marks, shedding light on potential causes and effective strategies for mitigating the infamous “wall.”

The inquiry underscores a common phenomenon in marathon running—the onset of confusion and loss of focus during the critical closing stages of the race. Speculation arises as to whether this predicament stems from a lack of endurance training, pacing discrepancies, or nutritional imbalances.

Insights from the Coach

A comprehensive analysis addresses multifaceted factors contributing to the marathon conundrum. Emphasizing the significance of endurance development, the coach suggests a potential disparity between training distances and marathon demands, urging the recalibration of pace expectations to align with current fitness levels.

Nutritional Considerations

Delving into the intricacies of race-day nutrition highlights the perils of hypoglycemia and over-hydration. Symptoms of dizziness and disorientation signal potential electrolyte imbalances, necessitating a nuanced approach to fluid intake and energy replenishment during the race.

Related: Running Nutrition: 8 CRUCIAL Nutrition Tips You Need To Know

Strategic Adjustments

In response to the dilemma, two strategic pathways are proposed: augmenting long-run distances to bolster endurance or adopting a more conservative race pace to forestall fatigue-induced lapses in concentration. By recalibrating race goals and optimizing nutrition strategies, runners can mitigate the risk of hitting the proverbial wall and sustain performance throughout the marathon.

The inquiry serves as a poignant reminder of the intricate interplay between physical conditioning, pacing tactics, and nutritional adequacy in marathon preparation. Through astute guidance and strategic adjustments, runners can navigate the formidable challenges of the marathon distance with confidence and resilience. 

For back-of-the-pack runners aiming to enhance their performance, navigating the complexities of training adjustments can be daunting.

In this segment we address Steven’s inquiry, offering insights into effective training modifications and dispelling common misconceptions.

Strategies for Progressing as a Back-of-the-Pack Runner

Steven’s quest to elevate his standing as a Comrades Marathon participant underscores the desire for tangible progress amid the rigors of endurance running. 

Armed with a marathon time hovering around 4:47 and a determined mindset, he seeks validation for his training endeavors and clarity on optimal strategies for improvement.

Expert Guidance

We recommend Stevens’s methodical approach to training modifications, highlighting the importance of balanced adjustments to training volume and intensity. While acknowledging the benefits of incorporating high-intensity intervals, caution is advised against the potential pitfalls of downhill repetitions, emphasizing the need for prudent execution.

Strategic Training Adjustments

Steven’s training regimen reflects a gradual progression, characterized by a strategic blend of speed work and extended long runs. We advocate for a nuanced approach to long-run development, urging moderation to prevent premature overexertion and minimize injury risks.

Navigating Training Advice

Amid a plethora of training resources and advice, Steven is encouraged to streamline his approach and prioritize consistency in training methodology. The importance of selecting a trusted source of guidance is underscored, emphasizing the pitfalls of fragmented training advice and the benefits of adopting a cohesive training program.


With a passion for high performance sport – Lindsey Parry is one of South Africa’s most widely recognised coaches. Having led a team to the London, Rio and Tokyo Olympic Games as well as the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, the Gold Coast & Birmingham, and coached both triathletes and runners onto podiums of some of the world’s most illustrious races, Lindsey has a unique ability to understand what it takes to succeed at any level and thrives on coaching, motivating and inspiring others to do the same – whether it’s on the track, on stage or behind a mic.

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