Hitting the Wall

Hitting the wall is a point in the race when all the glycogen has been used up. When all the reserves of glycogen in the body are used up, the body starts using fat for metabolism and to produce energy. Since burning fats is not as efficient as burning carbohydrates, the body feels is extremely fatigued - it is very difficult to run. This fatigued state of the body is similar to runners carrying huge bags of sand on their feet - the commonly used term is "hitting the wall" or "the wall."

Carbohydrates and fats are the main fuel for endurance exercises. While carbohydrates supply a majority of the energy, fats supply the remainder. Depending on how hard you run, you burn either carbohydrates or fat. If you run at a faster pace, you burn more carbohydrates and if you run at a slower pace or walk, you burn fat.

Carbohydrates are a more efficient energy source than fat. Burning fats does not produce energy as efficiently as does burning carbohydrates. Hence, you can't run as fast burning fats.

In order to avoid approaching the wall during the race, the body needs to have enough supply of glycogen to complete the race. Carbohydrate loading is used to prolong the point at which you hit the wall or to store maximum glycogen levels in the body.

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