Learning from a Bonk


Running is easy!  It’s the easiest sport out there….right?  I mean, all you do is move your legs and off you go.  Move the legs faster and you run faster, move them slower and your run slower.  There’s no strategy, no thought process, no planning….. you just go run…. simple as that.

Ok, ok…. don’t click on the back button.  Let me finish.  If you continue reading, I’m guessing you’re one of the following people.  Either your are…

  1. A non-runner who is looking for confirmation in what you’ve been saying all along
  2. A beginner that’s thinking…. “If this is true, I’m doing something wrong.”
  3. An experienced runner who’s saying to yourself…. “This lady is nuts!  But I’ll read on just for the entertainment.”

Well, for the non-runner… sorry, but my first paragraph couldn’t be further from the truth.  But if you’re looking for a challenge, I encourage you to give running a try.  And read on because what I’m about to blog may just help you out one day.

For the other two, you’ll just be shaking your head and saying either “Good lesson learned…. thanks for sharing!” or “Been there… Done that!!”

distancetired

I’m training for my first 25K, so I’m racking up the miles on my long run.  But with the crazy weather we see here in West Virginia in February, sometimes I have to be flexible with my training schedule.  I do my LSD runs on the weekends, mostly on Sundays.  However, this weekend I run my 14-mile LSD on Saturday afternoon as the forecast was calling for sunny skies and temps in the 60’s…. awesome weather!! Sunday was calling for rain. I wanted a spring-like run outside, so I decided…. kinda last-minute…. to do the LSD on Saturday.

So, I rode with my son to his baseball batting practice and 14.5 miles from the house, he dropped me off and I headed home.  The first few miles went well… I enjoyed hearing the birds singing, saw several squirrels scurrying up trees and deer running through the fields, and felt the sun shinning in my face and the breeze gently blowing.  Several cars blew their horns when they passed by, and I even saw some folks on motorcycles.  They always wave… they seem to adopt runners into their secret hand waving club.  😀

As normal, between mile three and four, I sipped some water and chewed on some beans, then washed them down with one more sip of water.  I was feeling good.  But around mile seven, I started feeling tired.  It wasn’t my breathing, nor was it my legs feeling heavy, but a weariness in my upper body.  I got to thinking about it and remembered that I had done a fairly tough upper body strength training workout the evening before…. one of my P90X3 workouts.  Plus I had run three miles on the treadmill.  But I had really pushed myself on the strength workout, and now I was still feeling it.  I was amazed at how much it affected my running today.  But I kept pushing through.

Then, somewhere between mile 9 and 10, I “bonked” or hit the wall.  Again, my legs weren’t really heavy and my breathing was ok, but I just wasn’t feeling well.  It took everything I had to swing my arms and I started getting sick to my stomach.  My fingers were swollen to the point that I couldn’t clinch a fist.  I just wasn’t feeling well.  For the first time ever, I almost called someone to come pick me up.   The last couple of miles I walked a lot.  I turned off my Garmin at mile 14 and completely walked the last half mile as a cool down.  And I walked very slowly.

When I finally got home, I was exhausted.  I drank some ice water while I made a protein shake.  I added frozen strawberries, a banana and some almond milk with the protein mix, and threw everything in the blender.  In just minutes, I was drinking my coction in hopes of regaining some of my strength soon.  As soon as I finished that up, I changed out my sweaty clothes for something dry, stretched out across the bed and fell asleep hard…. for three hours (and yes, without the shower).  I reiterate…. I. Was. Exhausted.

When I got up, I felt a little better, but still not 100%.  I took a nice long hot shower, put on some clean clothes and decided to do some menial housework.  That didn’t last long.  I was still tired and still not feeling very well.  So I ate something again and spent the rest of the evening watching TV and napping on the couch.  I finally went to bed at 10:30 and fell fast asleep.

I thought about it today and run the last couple of days through my mind over and over to figure out just what went wrong.  I’ve run half marathons before and ran double-digit training runs lots of times, but never had I felt this bad.  Then I remembered what I had done on Friday, the day before.  My diet on that day was not at all supportive of an 14-mile run coming the following day.  I had not met my daily required 170+ carbs, let alone carb-loaded for a long run.  Additionally, I drank a lot of coffee on Friday instead of water-bombing like I usually do the day before a long run.  So, I was not adequately fueled and hydrated in addition to being physically stressed from the upper-body strength workout and 3-mile treadmill run on Friday evening.  It’s no wonder I was so tired and weary during the last portion of my run and afterwards as well.

BonkSo what was my lesson learned….. not be flexible with my training schedule?  No, I always need to be flexible with my training schedule, especially when I have a chance to run in appropriate weather as opposed to bad weather.  But I need to watch my nutritional and water intake more closely.  What I ate and drank on Friday wasn’t enough for the workout and short run I did that evening, never mind the LSD on Saturday.  Or perhaps I should have eaten a bigger, healthier breakfast on Saturday morning (I just had an egg, bacon, cheese sandwich) to help with fueling, and definitely drank more water and eaten something salty to help retain water better.  Perhaps, I should have just been patient and ran later in the day, or maybe even wait until Sunday and run in the rain.

Whether I could reverse this bad run into a good one…. I don’t really know.  But one thing I do know is that I learned some valuable information about my body, my eating and drinking habits and my running.  That’s why I write this stuff down…. and when I blog it, maybe someone else will learn from it, too.  Or even better, can share in the learning curve by sharing their experiences, insight and advice.  Another thing I learned is that running is definitely lots of fun, but it’s not easy, and to keep from “bonking,” it does take a lot of strategy, thinking and planning.  Never let the graceful, fluid movements of a successful run fool you into thinking it’s an easy sport.

Have you experienced a similar run?

What did you learn from the experience?

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About Kim Conrad

I live in West Virginia with my family on a small farm. I'm a country girl at heart, so I feel quite at home here. I love God, and my family and friends. I enjoy marketing, reading, music and sports. One of my newest passions is running. I started a blog about running the hills and hollars of West Virginia so I can share the beauty and challenges through the written word and pictures. I hope you enjoy and feel free to share your stories with me as well. God bless!!

Posted on February 23, 2014, in Training Runs and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I’ve been there as well – not a fun feeling at all. But it’s good to look at it as a learning experience rather than a “failed” run.
    I bonked on a long run one time during the summer when it was an exceptionally hot and humid morning and I had 17 miles on deck. I tried to keep my standard long run pace, and hydrated with just water (as usual) but ended up walking more than I’d like to admit during the last 3 miles. My face was covered with salt, and my legs kept cramping. I was miserable. I learned that sometimes you just need to slow down in the heat – and hydrate with more than water! I started using a mixture of half-water/half-Gatorade after that, which helped significantly.

  2. It’s good you can pin point some factors that contributed to the “bonk” feeling. Every so often I just hit a wall like that when I trying to run my long run. Even if I hydrated well, ate well, had no wine all week, sometimes I just start can’t sustain a decent pace. I will start out fine and then start feeling that exhaustion all over. Sometimes it’ll manifest itself as lead legs. I always hope it doesn’t happen to me during a race! Hang in there though, often after a rough run I will have a few good ones 🙂 So good things are coming and the strength training is great 🙂 You just needed a rest day

  3. I definitely need to look at my nutrition. Now that I’ve started doing longer runs, I find that the rest of the day becomes a complete wash out and I reckon it has to be to do with diet. Every run is a lesson though, right? 🙂

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