Saturday, December 28, 2013

Hitting The Wall

In the sport of marathon running, the term “Hitting the Wall” refers to a point in the 26.2 mile race where a runner suffers from a depletion of glycogen stores in the muscles, resulting in a sudden loss of energy and an overwhelming feeling of fatigue.  I have run dozens of marathons over the years and have had this happen to me nearly every time.  Recently though, it feels like I’ve hit a very different wall.  It feels to me now, like I’m hitting the wall of life.

In marathon racing (and training) “The Wall” is very real and comes almost without any discernable warning.  One minute you’re clicking off the miles with relative ease, and the next, you’re barely walking.  And so it has been lately with me in my life outside of running.  Things have been going along relatively smoothly these past few years, and now for some reason it seems like I can’t get out of my own way.  I feel like my energy has been zapped and I’m staggering to the finish line.

Lately, I find myself losing patience more easily with my younger children and caring less about my older ones.  I find I’m having the same fights with my wife.  Over and over and over again.  My work has become stale and unrewarding.  My weight is up and my energy level is down.  I feel an overwhelming desire to quit the things I used to enjoy.  And I find I’m distancing myself from the people that I love.

I know I SHOULD be happy.  I’m healthy.  I’m married.  I have a job.  And I have four beautiful children.  But somehow, on most days, I still feel sad and unfulfilled.  Why is this?  Am I going through a mid-life crisis of some kind?  Who knows?  I DO know that I’ve never felt this way for this long before.  And now, the height of the wall that I’m staring at is beginning to scare me.

How do I get myself through, around or over this wall?  Do I need to try harder?  Or, should I let it come down on its own?  Do I need some time to myself?  Or, have I had too much time alone already?  Should I seek answers elsewhere?  Or, should I look for inspiration from within?  Should I go to church more?  Or, should I finally shed my big Catholic guilt?  I wish I knew the answers to these important questions.  But, I don’t.

So, for now, it’s just me and the wall.  One of us is going to win and one of us is going to lose.

… and I’m not going to lose.


  1. Hodie si vocem ejus audierites, nolite obdurare corda vestra.

    If today you hear His voice, harden not your heart.
    Read at least one passage a day from the new testament or the lives of the saints. There is much knowledge and wisdom that can help.

  2. You are exhausted. Stop running! Metaphorically.
    Never actually stop running please. But just relax a bit will you? You've done more in a year than most will in a life time. Relax a little already! Everyone around you is in awe, and getting tired merely watching you. You must be exhausted. 48 peaks, all those races, running them, organizing them. Big kids, small kids, taking on/over the household. What impressed me most? You squeezed in a whole lot of vacation and family time. Take the rest of the year off... will ya? _walk_ the (Minesfall) park, don't run it. 'waste' time watching a movie (Wilton!) and/or some concert or ballet. Cheers! Hein.

  3. Mike, this was an interesting post for me, since I have been experiencing what sounds like a very similar feeling. I believe you and I are the same age since I resonated with your post about being half way through life at 45. I can't say I've made it over the wall but I've certainly been doing a lot of noodling about how to climb it. I think I've come to the conclusion that for me at least there has been some realization that my biggest dreams may never come true and that I've lost my sense of direction. I've probably reached a peak in my running ability that I'll never exceed, at least not by much, and I seem to be on some kind of plateau in my carreer that may take a some kind of change in direction to get off. In short, I think I'm looking for a new sense of purpose. Sounds like you've still got some running bests in you. I can't imagine training for a 100. Hope you find a way around/over your wall. (Over sounds like more fun) - Greg