Sears Training Tip #10: Sometimes on a Run Things Go Bonk

Bonk. [bongk]. Defintion: Also known as ‘hitting the wall,’ describes a condition caused by the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles, which manifests itself by sudden fatigue and loss of energy. In lay terms, you go from feeling awesome to awful in a matter of only a few steps.

Have you experienced that feeling while racing or training before. I have many times, sometimes when training I purposefully ‘look’ for the point at which my body goes ‘bonk.’ It let’s me know that I have physically pushed things as far as I could. The last time it happened I was doing some repeat 500s on the track. My coach kept saying just one more, same pace. When I finally hit the wall I came around the last corner and announced ‘I feel like a train wreck,’ (I probably looked like one too as my stride fell apart!). But what an awesome workout, who knew I could do that many 500s at that fast a pace!

But ‘bonking’ on a race day is not a desired effect. With your approaching run it is important to know what to do to avoid ‘bonking’ on your run.

Here are some tips to avoid ‘bonking:’

  1. Carbohydrate loading: Build those glycogen stores. To do that a few days before your race start eating a diet based more on carbohydrates than fats or proteins. Eat pasta, potatoes with a mix of good fruits and vegetables. Cut more fats than proteins. Continue with your simple proteins, nut butters, légumes and fish.
  2. Consuming food or drinks containing carbohydrates during the exercise: My favourite drink is Ultima, a well-balanced sports nutrition drink. It contains little sugar, lots of nutrients you need (like potassium and calcium) and has a much lighter taste than some of the other drinks like, Gatorade or Powerade. You can also try things like CLIF shot bloks, easy to digest and also quite tasty!
  3. Bananas: The world’s perfect fruit. It’s well balanced and full amazing nutrients and vitamins in almost perfect proportions. Add some peanut butter and a piece of dry toast and you have a great pre-race breakfast. If you’re doing multiple legs of the run bananas can be consumed in between as a fuel source.
  4. Water: Part of fueling up also requires you to drink a lot of water before you run. Day of the run is not enough, you must consume lots of water in the days prior to your race. And remember coffee does not count! Caffeine is a diuretic and will actually contribute to dehydrating you. If you need that coffee just remember to consume extra water.

Following a simple diet before your race and ensuring you have the energy stores makes for a much happier race. And remember post-race nutrition is equally as important. Following the above will also help you recover, although my favourite recovery snack is a chocolate milk and an apple immediately post exercise.