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How to avoid bonking

MAY 31, 2023

Minute 1: How to get over "the wall"

Hitting the wall can be as painful as it sounds. If you’ve ever bonked in a race or on a long run, you know it’s like that nightmare in which a bear (or debt collector) is chasing you, but your legs just won’t obey your brain’s commands. It means your muscles are signaling the cockpit that they are way low on gas. According to “Bonking While Running: All You Need To Know,” hitting the wall is primarily due to the depletion of glycogen stores in your body. The causes are varied, including pacing issues, inadequate training, or subpar nutrition, so having a well thought-out plan is essential to limiting your risk. During training, make sure to have plenty of low intensity exercise that improves your body’s metabolic efficiency. By running at a slow pace, you can improve your ability to draw energy from fat stores, preserving the glycogen and carbs for later in the race when you may need to kick. Eating and drinking right is important too, but it’s not as simple as grabbing bowl after bowl of pasta. To see why, check out this advice from Training Peaks: “Avoiding the Bike-Run Bonk.” Oftentimes, triathletes bonk when switching from biking to running because they’ve consumed too much food. When you’re riding, your stomach isn’t being jostled around as much, which keeps your digestion smooth. Switching to running while there’s a lot of food in your belly can cause nausea and disruptions in the digestive process, ultimately cutting off your energy supply and forcing you to slow down. For a guide on how to eat and drink properly for a race, ultra runners usually know best: “Leadville 100 Nutrition and How to Avoid Bonking.”

Minute 2: Improve your ankles with these exercises

If you feel like you’re on a roll this spring, the last thing you need to disrupt your training is a rolled ankle. Uneven pavement and bumpy trails have ruined seasons for many runners. Instead of just hoping for the best, you don’t have to be passive about your ankle health. Spending time performing certain exercises can reduce your likelihood of injury and even improve running performance, and you can start with these: “2 Ankle Mobility Exercises You Should Be Doing for Injury Prevention.” The first step to developing your ankles is determining your baseline range of motion. To find out, try the Knee-To-Wall test by placing your feet about 5 inches from a wall, entering a low lunge position, and bending your knee toward the wall. Take note of how far you can go before your ankle leaves the ground. Once you’ve got your baseline, grab a dumbbell and resistance band to perform the two exercises listed in the article. Ankle exercises aren’t just good for injury prevention; you can also use them to increase efficiency: “Ankle Mobility- Can It Affect Running Performance?” Mobile, springy ankles increase the transfer of energy as your feet hit the ground and bounce forward with each step. If you want your ankles to reach top performance, try some of the exercises shown in the video in this New York Road Runners post: “How and Why to Strengthen Your Ankles.”

Minute 3: There’s more than one type of fiber you need

Most of us understand that it's a good idea to have fiber in our diets, but many don’t realize that there are different kinds of fiber with different functions. We found this new story to be a good primer: “These foods are high in soluble fiber and vital for good health.” Soluble fiber dissolves in water, and it’s associated with improved gut health, lower fat absorption, reduced blood sugar levels, and increased feelings of fullness. Beans, oats, flaxseed, and brussel sprouts all contain lots of soluble fiber. Now, you might be asking yourself, “What’s the Difference Between Soluble and Insoluble Fiber?” Insoluble fiber regulates your digestion and bowel movements, and it can be found in foods like green beans, nuts, and potatoes. Beans are an excellent source of fiber and they are also packed with protein. Take a look at these “10 High-Protein Foods.” Lentils and quinoa contain large amounts of both fiber and protein, making them a solid choice for a post-run snack to promote muscle growth. It’s important to remember, the FDA recommends at least 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day, with the number going up the more active you are.

Minute 4: Do runners benefit from losing weight?

If you think back to your high school physics class, you might remember that the higher thrust-to-weight ratio an object has, the faster it can go. In other words, if you want to make something faster, make it lighter. For years, coaches thought that same logic applied to runners. They would instruct their athletes to keep their body weight as low as possible to improve their speed – but is it really that simple? Probably not, as you can see in: “Weight Loss for Endurance Athletes: Is It Worth the Risk?” In theory, losing body weight can make you faster, as long as it doesn’t interfere with your energy availability. To lose weight, you have to eat at a caloric deficit, and the weight loss that comes from that will often be paired with a decrease in VO2 max, according to one study. Does it ever make sense to lose weight for a race? Well, the benefits are substantially greater when racing uphill. That’s when the force of gravity is acting on your body the most, and it pays dividends to keep your weight down, even at the cost of power output. If you want to try losing weight without sapping your energy, you should remember these “7 Tips to Maintain Energy Levels During Weight Loss.” Having only a slight caloric deficit may make your weight loss journey slower, but it's a whole lot more comfortable, as well as easier to adhere to over time.

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • Springtime means flowers are blooming and business is booming for shoe manufacturers. If you weren’t aware, lots of brands announce new shoe models in the spring, which can cause a price drop on last year’s options. That makes it the perfect time to go shoe shopping, and if you want tips on finding the best deals, check out: “Why Now Is the Best Time to Find Running Shoes on Sale.” If you see a pair of shoes you like, check out Six Minute Mile’s Shoe Reviews to see how they perform.

  • Having a laugh will give you life, according to a recent study. Humor lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and pulmonary diseases. It can be a healthy cognitive coping resource, too, according to: “How Your Sense of Humor Impacts Your Longevity.”

  • If we told you the fastest marathoner in the world, Eluid Kipchoge, does most of his training runs at an easy (for him) 7:00 min/mile pace, would you believe us? Runners often underestimate just how easy their long runs should be, but if you need help figuring out the right pace, you can follow some guidelines here: “You’re probably running your easy miles too fast — here’s how to pace yourself.”

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

During this Memorial Day week, if you are looking for a way to honor our service men and women and also to test your strength and endurance, please consider the Murph Challenge. If you’ve never heard of it, the sad but inspiring details are here: “CrossFit’s ‘Murph Challenge’ Is a Workout Created To Honor Veterans – Here’s How To Do It.” Created in honor of Lt. Michael P. Murphy, a Medal of Honor recipient who lost his life in 2005, the Murph Challenge entails: (a) running 1 mile; (b) doing 100 pull-ups; (c) pumping out 200 push-ups; (d) doing 300 squats; and (e) finishing with another 1-mile run. To see how it’s done, check out the footage of the latest @deependfitness x @elevatefitness_oc Murph Challenge that raised over $5,500 in support of veterans.


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