3 Ways to Avoid Bonking
What is Bonking? Bonking is a nemesis of endurance athletes. While you are on a long ride bonking sneaks up when you aren't paying attention. Before you bonk you don't feel hungry, your're enjoying the pace and the pleasant ride. However when you bonk it's like physiologically hitting, "The Wall." You feel drained, can't pedal very fast, have no strength and you can only think of eating food. In the end, you body is slowly shutting down because of a lack of glucose in the system. Bonking is unpleasant, especially when you are 20 miles from home! I would bet every endurance athlete has experienced bonking multiple times. Sometimes it's because we've neglected food and sports drinks during longer training days. Other times it's lack of good endurance fitness. How to avoid it? 1. Get Out and Train: An untrained body will primarily use glucose for it's energy. That's okay, however the human body only has about 90 minutes worth of stored glucose. Once it's gone, you feel the bonk. As you train over time (months of consistent training) your body will begin to become more efficient and burn fat stores rather than glucose for it's primary energy. Glucose burns quicker than fat, thus you've got a limited supply, but there's a ton of energy stored in our fat cells. Glucose will always play a role and it will need to be replenished. 2. Plan in Advance: Nutrition is something that we all need to plan in advance, especially with our long endurance training or events. Carbo loading is common and recommended, however it's best to start loading three days in advance. Give your body every opportunity to absorb all the complex carbs that it can. Additionally, it's not all about fats, carbs and sugars. A well rounded diet is always recommended. 3. The 45 Minute Rule: I've given myself a 45 minute rule. Perhaps you can too. I eat something every 45 minutes, especially during an event. Glucose is something that needs to be consistently replenished or you might bonk. Our modern day sport drinks and gels may also contain amino acids, complex carbs, sugars and vitamins. These are great and will help you maintain proper levels during long hard endurance days. Eat something every 45 minutes for a more comfortable day.