Bonking is that feeling when you truly run out of gas. Most athletes have had this happen, regardless if you're a swimmer, runner, triathlete or any other type of athlete.
Fortunately, it's an easy condition to prevent. But that's the key, you've got to prevent it. Because once the dreaded bonk occurs, there goes your race!
So, what is bonking exactly? Bonking isn't a real scientific or medical term, by the way. If we wanted to define it medically, we'd call it hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia just means your blood sugar is so low that it's affecting you and causing symptoms.
SYMPTOMS OF LOW BLOOD SUGAR (HYPOGLYCEMIA) & BONKING
Extreme fatigue. Like, you want to lay down in the middle of the road kind of fatigue.
No energy. Like, zero energy.
You may feel hot and become sweaty.
Speaking of hangry, you'll have intense cravings for food - especially something sugary.
Dry mouth, dizziness and extreme weakness.
You can blame bonking on not eating enough - that can affect you as well, but a true bonk is when you’ve depleted your readily available carbohydrate stores.
Carbohydrates are our immediate source of energy. We’ve got about 24 hours worth of stored glycogen but after that (and add in race conditions) you’re gonna chew right through it and enter the bonk.
HOW TO PREVENT THE BONK:
Eat well the week before your race - don't skip meals, especially those in the 24 hours preceding your race or training session.
Eat breakfast - complex carbs + protein + very little fat. Your body needs the carbs for immediate energy, and the protein and fat slow their absorption so that you don't tip over into hypoglycemia.
Eat & drink during your race. Take advantage of the opportunities to refuel. Huge mistake not to! This also includes hydration - dehydration negatively affects your ability to absorb calories.
That’s it - It’s actually quite simple!
Diet needs to be a good mix of complex carbs, proteins and fats. Watch out for the simple carb diet - This may actually make it easier for you to bonk!