Runners often describe themselves as “hitting the wall.” Walkers have the same wall. We tend to “hit” our wall usually about one half to three-fourths of the way into our walk. We know we’re “in” The Wall when we experience feelings of fatigue and tiredness, and we wish our walk was over. We may slow our pace, cut our walk short, or on very bad days, we stop.
Having the right walking motivation to beat “The Wall” is essential. It is the only way to ensure you will consistently have great, endorphin-producing walks. These are the walks where we walk briskly every step of the way, our entire body engaged; arms swinging, torso twisting, feet pushing us forward, oftentimes walking faster and farther and more energetically than we had planned.
To beat The Wall you must consciously, quickly realize that you are hitting it. Beyond feeling tired or fatigued, walkers have described The Wall as feeling as if their feet are two giant bags of sand, their legs are full of lead, or their body is pulling an anchor. Ultimately, you have the urge to slow down. You may also feel unsteady, weak, shaky or even light-headed.
Once we hit The Wall, our walking form and posture becomes poor (this assumes we are using good form to begin with). We may walk slumped forward or if we are on a treadmill, we may actually be leaning down on it. Our arms may no longer be pumping or worse, we may be over-swinging in an attempt to use momentum to keep us going. For those walkers on a treadmill, they may be grasping the machine’s arm-rails tightly—as if for dear life! (If you need help with your walking form, consider taking one of my FloWalking classes or home program-click here.)
Why The Wall Matters
When we hit the walker’s wall we not only slow down (and burn less calories), but because of our poor walking form we are at greater risk of injury. This is when walkers are most likely to get a stress fracture, pull a muscle, or if we are dragging our feet one of them could snag a crack in the sidewalk and we could take a nasty tumble.
All walking is good, but psychologically, when The Wall shorts our walking workout we risk feeling defeated. These feelings could sap our walking motivation for tomorrow and even lessen our overall enthusiasm for walking.
Keep in mind that when are hitting The Wall you must ask yourself if your body is TRULY tired. If it is, you may be dehydrated or have a medical issue brewing. You may need to give in to The Wall and stop. However, most of the time we are actually mentally fatigued, lazy, bored or just feel overwhelmed with the distance left to walk. For more on beating mental fatigue and laziness click here.
Walking Motivation to Beat The Walker’s Wall
Because the act of walking is almost as automatic as breathing, we can keep ourselves walking (and walking briskly) without much thought.Because of this we can let our thoughts go elsewhere periodically. When you feel yourself becoming tired or slowing down, immediately force your legs to speed back to a brisk pace and then STOP thinking about walking.
I know this may sound counter intuitive but stick with me. Instead of thinking about walking, try to focus your mind on anything else.
Most importantly, do not think about how much further you have to walk to finish. This is absolutely the most dangerous thing you can think about when you are hitting the walker’s wall. Thoughts of how much farther you have to walk, will lead to all kinds of negativity and that is the last thing you need bearing down on you at this moment.
By not thinking about walking, you are trying to temporarily DISSOCIATE from your body.
Don’t Think About Your Body
It seems that everywhere you look nowadays there are sports psychologists telling us to tune in to our body. But when you are hitting the wall, do the reverse: force yourself not to think about the fact that you are walking.
What You Decide to Think About Matters
Do not think about how tired you are, how hot you are, how cold you are, or how thirsty or hungry you are or your “to do” list. Bury anything hindering, negative, or burdensome.
You do not need to necessarily think “happy” thoughts, though I would recommend it, but avoid thinking about things that “weigh” you down.
I focus on the world around me. The number one thing I will immediately focus my mind on is the scenery. I will think about the trees, shrubs and beautiful manicured lawns that I pass. I notice the rustling sound of the trees, their wonderful aromatic scent, and even the feel of the occasional branch that brushes against me.
I will also glance at the houses as I pass, thinking about their design. I watch the people on the street, thinking about how interesting they look. I will even try to imagine what the people I pass do for a living.
The point is I play these “mind” games when I am hitting the wall. My thoughts at times are silly and mundane but never negative or directly about my walking.
The time I spend “in” The Wall forces me to clear my head of the clutter and crap. It is the only way I am going to have a great walk. Oddly, after doing this I not only have a superb, exhilarating walk but I feel mentally refreshed. Not thinking about my “to dos,” stressors, work and worries actually serves a wonderful break. I gladly let them go for this brief time. When I return from my walk, my mind fills with them again, however, at that point my problems seem more manageable, less stressful.
You may want to think about a recent party you were at, the vehicles driving by, or an upcoming event or vacation. Just as long as you take your mind off your walking, you will have more energy and stamina to push through The Wall.
Keep Moving Briskly–And With Good Form
As you are working on not thinking about walking, you must periodically do the reverse: do a quick check of your body. You need to make sure you are moving BRISKLY and your posture/form is good.
This mental check of your body is very brief. Do not linger on your form, posture or speed. It is a quick in and out, and then it is back to thinking about other things.
To boost this “beating The Wall” motivational strategy, I recommend you listen to music with a good beat. Scientifically, it should have at least 130 beats per minute. To read more about the power of music to help with your walking and what type of music is best for walking click here.
When it comes to walking and music, I avoid turning on any music until the moment I feel myself hitting The Wall. By not listening to the music during the first half to three-quarters of my walk, I do not become accustomed to it (and do not build up a tolerance to it). The moment I feel The Wall hitting me I put in my ear-buds and crank up the tunes. By doing this, I get that extra shot of adrenaline I need at the crucial moment.
You Can Beat The Wall and Walk Yourself Slim, Fit & Healthy
Next time you feel yourself slowing or even wanting to stop, walk even faster and focus your mind elsewhere. This walking motivation strategy will give you the energy to beat The Wall, and go on to walk yourself slim, fit and amazingly healthy.
If you have a tip to help break through The Wall, please comment on it below to help others. In these moments, thinking about other things is not the only strategy. It is but one strategy, and it works for me, and others. I hope it helps you, too.
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