The Wall

I ran my first marathon last month. I did a triathlon a few months before that, and I can undoubtedly state that a marathon is much, much harder. I trained for it for three months, and since I’ve been running more than 15 years, I was aiming for a 3:45, which you need to be in a decent shape to accomplish. And I was. I had a specific plan as to what I want to do during the race, how fast to run and when. My plan was to hold a 5:25/km for the first half, and then push it to a 5:15 in the second half, which will average out in a clean 5:20/km (8:30/Mile) and bring me my well earned 3:45…my training overall supported this game plan.

Race day came, 6:45am we’re off, and I’m running a little too fast. I was going at a 5:15/km pace from the start all the way to 32km. I was feeling great, imagining how I might end up with a 3:38 or something which is what I really desired, if I just push myself some more on the last 10K. HOWEVER, when it comes to the marathon it’s not a question of desire and willpower, but a question of numbers. How much energy do you have in you, and what is the pace at which this energy is vaporizing. One has to detect this pace from his training and be realistic as to what he can or can’t accomplish.

Well I had many marathon runners telling me this again and again, since burning yourself out is a well-known phenomena called “the wall,” which just as well could have been called, “Trying to move your useless body while feeling a tremendous amount of pain, while every second feels like a minute and every minute feels like an hour and all you want is for this torture to end end end why doesn’t it end and why am I here and why is this happening to me????”

So I had to run through this 10K “wall,” which took me around 80 minutes, and I finally finished with a 3:58 (which is still OK). All of my body was a single giant muscle cramp. I could hardly move, and it took me five days to be able to climb some stairs again. Pain. A lot of pain.

So what does this have to with performance you ask? Well, it turns out that capacity planning is exactly the same. I mean, if you want to stretch it, and not just spend an enormous amount of money on hardware you don’t really need. Capacity is all about measuring TPS/resource utilization (speed/energy) in a pre-production environment (training) and applying an accurate plan when going to production (race day). I’ve been called on again and again by customers, which on money time simply can’t hold the load. And I always asked myself why? What’s so hard? Measure what you need and plan accordingly. But we all try to stretch it, at one point or another, and turns out “the wall” is everywhere…