Twenty miles into the 2005 New York Marathon, Benjamin Rapoport realized something was wrong. Up to that point, he had been on pace to finish the race in about three hours — his best marathon time yet. But as he entered Manhattan for the last several miles, his legs just didn’t want to keep up the pace.Rapoport, an MD/PhD student in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, was experiencing a common phenomenon known as “hitting the wall.” Essentially, the body runs out of fuel, forcing the runner to slow down dramatically. “You feel like you’re not going anywhere,” says Rapoport. “It’s a big psychological letdown, because you feel powerless. You can’t will yourself to run any faster.”Most marathon runners know they need to consume carbohydrates before and during a race to avoid hitting the wall, but many don’t have a good fueling strategy, says Rapoport. After his experience,...
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