Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Bonk Monster Pays a Visit....

The Bonk Monster rarely visits me, but today, he climbed up out of the slime from which he lives and said hello. 

For the uninitiated, "Bonking" is a term many long haul athletes use for that feeling you get when your gas tank is on empty and you have absolutely no energy left.  You absolutely feel like all the life has been drained from your body and soul.  You usually also question why the heck you just ran/biked/swam whatever distance you just did to earn this special feeling.

Today, as Mr. Bonk pummeled me mercilessly, I wondered..."Why can't I be home sitting on the coach drinking beer, eating Doritos and watching a football game like every other middle aged dude in America?"  "Why am I out here feeling like this?"

I am not sure why I bonked today.  However, I speculate that my diet of the last few weeks (a B- if we were grading it) and six time zone changes in 12 days probably contributed.  I woke up hungry this morning and ate a lot...which is pretty rare for me.  I am not usually hungry in the morning...this may have been a warning sign.  I will make a note for the future.

So technically, what is bonking? 

I have read a lot on the subject.  There are lots of books and articles on the phenomenon that go into deep explanation.  Here is a simple one.

Your body can basically store about 1,600-1,800 calories in burnable glycogen/sugars.   After the 1,600-ish sugar calories are burned through and not replenished, your body enters into a state of ketosis.  Ketosis is when the body attempts to burn other energy fat or muscle.  Sugars make a great fuel...fat and muscle are poor fuels.  Burning through your stored up sugars and not replacing them well will lead your body to start "burning the furniture" to keep the heat on...and ultimately will lead to hitting the wall (otherwise known as bonking!). 

Ever wonder why marathoners talk about hitting the wall around mile 15-18?  The average runner will burn 100-120 calories per mile.  Do the math and you can see that 1,600 calories divided by 100-120 ends up right around 15-18 miles.  The only way to keep the Bonk Monster away is to keep the calories coming in.  That is why most people like gels, bars, bananas etc. during runs.  It replenishes the sugar quickly and is usually enough to ward off feeling like you have not enough energy to even breathe.

I got my special visit from the Bonk Monster at mile 28 today of a 35 mile run.  It took me about 10 minutes of eating/drinking sugary stuff to get me back running.  Yuck.  I shuffled on the way home just glad to be done. 

Enough about bonking!

I am on target for hitting 400 training miles this month.  On target for the run!

I read in the New York Times this morning that five of our young men lost their lives in Afghanistan this week.  Sad.  Think about your freedom... 

More miles tomorrow!

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