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Have You Ever "Bonked?"

A Your262 athlete wrote us to share one of their marathon experiences, which unfortunately ended the way it does for too many athletes, particularly newbie marathoners; by “bonking,” and walking the final few miles of the race.
We thought this was a good topic to address, as it seems to happen more often than not for many athletes, who train and race the marathon distance. Every athletic experience becomes something that you can learn from and improve on so the next time around you may benefit from your past mistakes.
“My first marathon was great. I ran it easy, just wanting to finish, no exceptions, so it went well. My second marathon however was very different. I had a goal in mind. When I started the marathon, all I saw were the splits on my watch. I didn’t think about how my body was feeling, or whether I was properly fueling myself. I simply wanted to get to the next mile marker to see if I was on target. Well, you can probably guess the rest. At about mile 22, I fell apart. At first I thought it just happened out of the blue. But, looking back at the race there were so many signs I chose to ignore. The end was not pretty. This is how it went.
I had trained hard. Really hard. I did numerous long runs, interval training in my long runs, double runs, speed work, etc. I had a goal in mind and nothing was going to stop me. Two weeks before the big day I ran a 21-mile hilly run, hard. It felt easy and I felt ready to go. I tapered a bit and the final week before the race, I hardly ran at all. All newbie mistakes, but I didn’t know better.
Race day was unseasonably warm. It didn’t occur to me to change my fueling plan or my race strategy. I started my watch and off I went. I didn’t drink at every water stop, instead waiting for every other one, so as not to waste time. At about mile 16, I looked down at myself and noticed that I was white with salt from sweating. But I didn’t really pay any attention to this realization choosing not to slow down or back off. My stomach was queasy at the time, but I was going to “run through it.”
At about 20 miles in to the race, I felt dizzy and it seemed very bright outside. By mile 22, I was all done. I was walking, had turned off my watch, and realized that I had hit the “wall” as marathoners like to say; a big time “bonk.” By not listening to my body and subsequently not recalculating my body requirements due to the heat, I had sabotaged my race. It was an eye-opening experience. I re-evaluated what had happened and tried to learn from it. Not that I haven’t bonked again. But I have been able to read the signs my body is giving me and have been able to stop “the bonk,” from happening if only very occasionally.”
In endurance sports such as cycling and running, hitting the wall or “bonking,” describes a condition caused by the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles, which is noticeable by a sudden loss of energy and feeling of fatigue.
One thing we always discuss with our athletes at Your262 is to stay ahead of your body’s nutritional needs. In other words make sure you’re drinking enough sports drink throughout the race to give your body the sodium and electrolyte levels it requires to sustain the effort being put forth. If it’s a hotter than normal day take that into consideration by drinking even more in addition to (at times), adding supplemental sodium in the form of salt tabs, and nutritional enhanced performance items such as Cliff Shot Bloks and PowerBar Energy Gels.
By staying ahead of the game in terms of liquid, sodium and nutritional needs during a race you’ll avoid that “wall,” and be able to run consistently throughout the race and finish strong.
But make note that everyone is different with uniquely, individualized nutritional needs. We recommend speaking with one of our licensed nutritionists at our partner site TheCoreDiet to get a personalized nutritional plan tailored to your body’s requirements.

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