Marathon runners talk about hitting a wall that's part mental, part physiological. People participating in mountain climbing or other physical activities can also encounter a wall that's part fear, part exhaustion.

Political activists and philosophers can also encounter walls. In fact, just about anyone can encounter a wall that they can either conquer or submit to.

Is there a synonym for this term?

P.S. It would also be interesting to know how ubiquitous the term "the wall" is. I think I've seen it used by a variety of athletes, not just runners, but have you ever heard it used by non-athletes?

  • You want a word that replaces the wall in hitting the wall so that you could use hitting X or a term to replace hitting the wall totally? – vickyace Apr 16 '17 at 4:54
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    It's sometimes called "bonking". – Hot Licks Apr 16 '17 at 5:01
  • @ vickyace - Either would work. I'm just looking for alternative ways of describing the phenomenon that some call "the wall." – David Blomstrom Apr 16 '17 at 5:13
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    The wall is a metaphor, from a metaphor theme. You have to either pick another term from the same theme (running), or pick a new theme and another term from that. – John Lawler Apr 16 '17 at 13:30
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    Or go literal: obstacle, resistance, difficulty – The Nate Apr 16 '17 at 15:53

I've heard the expression I've reached my limit also in second and third person forms. It has multiple contexts similar to the wall:

He reached his limit at this year's hot dog eating contest.

OK, man, you know you reached your limit [at the bar, casino, etc.]

The marathon runner reached her limit and fell, gasping for breath and with a cramp in her left leg.

  • I upvoted your answer. I want to wait to see if any more answers appear before I choose a correct answer, though yours is likely the most logical/familiar answer. – David Blomstrom Apr 17 '17 at 3:37

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