Never Bonk

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Morning.  I am so miserable that it is Monday — my weekends just seem to slip away!


I had a nice bowl of oatmeal to console me:


I don’t normally enjoy raspberries, but I think they work so well in oatmeal because they just melt right in.


My oatmeal contained:


  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 banana
  • Toppings: raspberries, almonds, flax


Never Bonk


I’m slowly making my way through Bicycling Magazine and there was an interested article called Never Bonk.  FYI -"bonking" means "hitting the wall" or running out of fuel and having a mind/body freakout.  I’ve only bonked once during my 15.4-mile trail race and it was NOT an experience I would like to repeat on my bike.   Here are some tips to never bonking that can be applied to all types of exercise:


  • Tip:  Keep up with sweat loss – mostly.  Replace about 75% of your sweet loss during  a long bike ride.  To determine your sweat rate, weigh yourself before an after a one-hour ride and add the difference (in ounces) to the amount of ounces of water you drank.  That’s how many ounces of water you need per hour.


  • Tip:  Top off as you go.  You don’t need to guzzle gallons of water before your workout; just drink about 16 oz. an hour or two beforehand.


  • Tip: Caffeine actually improves carb burning:  Many people think caffeine is a diuretic; however, studies have shown that caffeine lowers your rate of perceived exertion and improves your strength.


  • Tip:  Eat a little protein – but just a little. You don’t need a sports drink that is supplemented with water if you are already eating real food on a very long bike ride.  Recent shows that riders drinking carb-only beverages rode just as well as cyclists drinking carb-protein beverages (both did better than cyclists who were not eating goo and just drinking  water – duh!).


  • Tip:  Drink water all day, every day – not just during exercise.   Research shows that 1/2 of cyclists begin the ride dehydrated, so drink up!


Have you ever bonked?  What are your tips for avoiding a bonk?



  • NoMeatAthlete June 1, 2009, 4:35 am

    Interesting. I’m primarily a runner, and bonking is definitely an issue in marathons.

    I’m wondering about caffeine. You say most people think it’s a diuretic. It is, right? That’s my problem. I want the energy gains it can provide, but not the bathroom stops. I don’t know how people drink coffee before marathons!

  • Nicole ( June 1, 2009, 5:07 am

    I don’t even know what bonking is, so I am not sure. Um, one sec. Let me google this. Nope! I don’t think this has ever happened to me.

  • Meganerd June 1, 2009, 5:19 am

    Yeah I didn’t know what bonking was either! I just looked it up, and then I realized I knew what it was but never called it that. (Hitting the wall, or stalling mid-exercise, right?)

  • ms June 1, 2009, 5:22 am

    Caitlin ~ This is completely off-topic, but I was thinking this morning about your 10 minute strength workouts. Then, my mind wandered, as it usually does, and I started thinking about how life is so busy for you working two jobs ~ and yet, your outlook on the situation is one of ‘just power through this and do it’.

    I admire you for doing what it takes to be financially responsible.

    I hope your day goes well today.

  • Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point June 1, 2009, 5:24 am

    ms – thank you! its hard to maintain that attitude but im trying. 🙂

  • Christina June 1, 2009, 5:25 am

    I’ve never experienced bonking. I just looked it up and it sounds pretty horrible! Thanks for the tips 🙂

  • Kelly June 1, 2009, 5:25 am

    I agree with the above poster. It really motivates me that you manage to have time for exercise when you are clearly more busy than most people. I am very busy too but not as busy as you 🙂
    I also agree with you about raspberries in oatmeal. I love how they seperate and the taste spreads throughout all of it, so tasty.

  • Brandi June 1, 2009, 5:58 am

    i love raspberries in oatmeal! I’ve never bonked, but I’ve honestly never trained really hard for anything (yet) so I just don’t think I’ve gotten to that point.

    Your 40 mile bike ride this weekend looked great!

  • Catch Me If You Can June 1, 2009, 6:36 am

    I bonk a lot running in the heat. I think I just get dehydrated or sometimes hungry. I have some mornings where I could eat a whole cow and not be full! I’m hoping my half on Sat isn’t too hot because I’ve heard the hills are brutal and I just started running again in March! Keep your chin up Mondays are always hard. Especially when you don’t LOVE your job. Unfortunately you have to work to play :/

  • Carolina John June 1, 2009, 6:47 am

    i’ve bonked a couple of times. you just have to stay hydrated.

  • Bec June 1, 2009, 7:12 am

    I definitely bonked on my ride on Saturday it was near the very end (7km to go) and i was low on water and felt I couldnt take one more hill and they kept coming… not pleasant and thats why I am putting a second water bottle cage on my bike today!

  • Matt June 1, 2009, 8:01 am

    I’ve bonked a few times and it definitely is not fun. It’s really only an issue on 15+ mile runs though. I blame it on dehydration and insufficient glycogen stores. As long as you rest, recover, refuel, and hydrate, bonking shouldn’t be an issue.

  • Katherine June 1, 2009, 8:12 am

    The key for me has been maintaining a good schedule of hydration and calorie intake. I eat the same thing an hour before every long run (1/2 cup oatmeal with water, a spoonful of peanut butter and a glass of water). I also wear a Fuel Belt for runs over 8 miles and I drink 1 bottle (my belt has 6) every 4 miles starting at mile 2 and I have a Gu every 4 miles starting at mile 4, so I’m taking in fluids and/or calories every 2 miles. I also fill my bottles with a 50/50 mix of water and red Gatorade.

    I know this seems really picky, but I’ve finally found a system that works for me and I’m stickin’ to it!


  • Recipes for Creativity June 1, 2009, 8:32 am

    Never bonked!

    Thanks for putting up the trailer for New Moon…I am not a Twilight-obsessed person, but I am interested in reading the books and I did recently see the first movie…but I’m not going to admit how much I liked it 🙂

  • runsarah June 1, 2009, 8:35 am

    Love the fresh raspberries! I haven’t bonked yet but I haven’t biked or run long enough distances at this point.

  • ellie June 1, 2009, 8:37 am

    I never knew the term, but definitely have “bonked” (3 hour breakdancing class in 100 degree weather = bonkable conditions!) It’s hard to squeeze in adequate fluids/nutrition during classes for me, but I generally keep glucose tablets…am guessing they are the same idea as Clif Bloks, etc but my dancing days were primarily before I got into blogs so never knew what would ‘work’!

    Monday’s aren’t the best day of the week- agree! Hope it goes smoothly… I posted today about finding positivity if you have time to check it out- would love to hear your thoughts 🙂

  • Lindsey June 1, 2009, 9:29 am

    Thanks for the good info. I am training (quickly..) for a 10 mile race (running). I wonder if I risk bonking in that or if it’s too short.

  • Melissa @ For the Love of Health June 1, 2009, 10:01 am

    I am not a fan of Mondays either….the weekend always flies by way too fast.

    Good tips! I don’t think I ever bonked before. I’ve gotten tired but definitely haven’t lost it. 🙂
    I always try to ensure I am hydrated.

  • Niki June 1, 2009, 10:23 am

    Thanks for the tips!! I’ve never bonked but teh longest I’ve run so far is a half marathon so hopefully I won’t in the future!!

  • Frannie June 1, 2009, 10:33 am

    Hi there. I’m a triathlete and runner such as yourself. I’m very interested in watching you progress from running to multisport only because I did the same thing last year, and I’m enjoying both better (faster, longer) running and being mostly injury-free. I have experienced the bonk effect, and it’s not pretty. I recommend really practicing your nutrition/exertion as you plan to do it during the race at a point in time that is a little bit before the race. Something that I’m concerned about with your bike training (aren’t bikes magical?!) is that you physically stop and take breaks. I don’t know if you’re going to want to do that during your races, so if you don’t plan to do that, you should practice some on-bike nutrition. Good luck 🙂

  • VCK June 1, 2009, 12:07 pm

    I had my first really awful bonk last week. It was supposed to be a 7-mile run but after the first mile I just felt like complete and utter poo. I realized that I had not eaten any protein all day, and it was 82 degrees outside (we Oregonians certainly aren’t used to that!). I actually cried during the run. Twice. That has never happened. It was not fun.

  • Anne June 1, 2009, 12:59 pm

    Thanks for the tips on how to avoid bonking. I’ve never fully bonked, and I’d like to avoid it!

  • Oh She Glows June 1, 2009, 3:11 pm

    Ive also read in RW that people who THOUGHT they were carbo loading actually weren’t consuming enough carbs- I think we need to eat about twice as much as we ‘think’ we do before a HUGE event.

  • Laura in Pgh June 1, 2009, 4:46 pm

    i 'bonked' last year during my first marathon at around mile 18. contributing factors were that i went out a tad too fast and did not consume enough calories during the race and depleted my glycogen stores. it was horrible and the last 8 miles were far worse than the first 18! i would not walk at all, but my pace slowed considerably. i drank a TON of water though, so wasn't dehydrated. so for my second marathon (Pittsburgh!) i ate sooo much the entire week before, and then proceeded to eat much more during the marathon. And it worked!I stayed strong the entire time, and beat my time by 12 minutes! Fueling properly is so important. i've read a lot about it, as i was bound and determined not to repeat my mistakes from the first marathon and have to survive that torture again.

  • snowygrl June 2, 2009, 8:37 am

    I have experienced bonking esp in warmer days. A lot of the time it is due to dehydration and loss of electrolytes like salt and magnesium through sweet. A couple of years ago I started taking salt caplets and increase my sports drink consumption on hot days and if I do that I don’t bonk.
    Another great thing I found is a product called sportlegs which is calcium and magnesium with Vitamin D and it helps a TON with muscle cramping and even soreness. I tried it for teh first time last year at Hawaii 70.3 and swear by the stuff ever since.

    Good luck with training 🙂

  • seekinghealthybalance June 3, 2009, 3:05 pm

    I had to laugh at this post and the comments. In the UK 'bonk' is slang for a much more enjoyable activity!! 🙂

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