Monday, July 25, 2011

Hell Hath No Fury Like...A Nutritional Bonk

The past couple of days of training, I was reminded of the importance of nutrition. On Wednesday, I had an epic bonk while doing a very hilly trail run with my friend Chris, who is training for a 50-miler. Not only did Chris extend our 90-minute run to almost two hours, but he did so setting a torrid pace. My longest run had been 80 minutes and nutritionally, my body could not take both the distance and pace. The last two miles were not training, it was survival. Upon arrival home, I was nauseous and my stomach was sensitive and I couldn't eat much. I basically had a smoothie and went to bed. The next day, I started what was intended to be a 3-hour hilly ride with some strong efforts. From the start, I knew I had not met my caloric needs from the bonk the day prior, but I soldiered on hoping for the best. Thoughts of turning around and going home crossed my mind, but staying true to my OCD/Type A triathlete self, I pushed on hoping I would come around. Well, 90-minutes into the ride, I was now trying to figure out how I would make it home. Like the run the day prior, this ride was no longer about training but about survival. Hell hath no fury like the nutritional bonk.

The nutritional bonk is absolute hell. It's the reason why you see age-groupers passing fit professionals on the race course, specifically ironman races. Once you are in the nutritional bonk, it is no longer about athleticism. You are no longer trying to move fast, but instead, you are just trying to move, or worse, stay upright. Not only does a nutritional bonk take a physical toll, it wreaks havoc on the mind as well. Your head is in a haze and you can't even think clearly to rectify the situation. At some point during my ride, I realized that I was no longer training but just trying to get home. I was still one hour from home and with two daunting climbs remaining, I somehow pulled a somewhat coherent thought, "Kiet, all you have right now is your attitude. Just keep a good attitude and keep trying..and keep eating." And just like that, I was doing very specific ironman training.

After two days of bonking, I decided to skip my run on Friday (mental note: the threshold for an OCD/Type A triathlete to make a wise decision is two consecutive bonk days). Saturday was a 7-hour training day and can you guess what I absolutely made sure I nailed besides the 3 x 40 min tempo climbs...my nutrition. My teammates were teasing me all day long about the amount of food I was eating. But guess who pulled away during the last 40-minute tempo climb with a full belly and equal amount of energy, guilty. Come Sunday, you would think I would be quite the sagacious one with nutrition. Nope. Once again, a nutritional nightmare but l problem-solved and got the work done. I'm now convinced that when it comes to triathlons, we are a couple of gels short of a disaster. I banked 22 hours this week and most of it, very ironman specific training. And yes, that is an egg on top of two meat patties, waiting for a bun with both bacon and cheese to lay on top. You only have one life...albeit a shorter life after putting that in my body.

8 comments:

Jill Costantino said...

lots of protein - that's what I saw! woohoo Mr. getting all the cobwebbs out before you tear it up in Penticton! Woohoo!

Beth said...

Oh how fitting for me tonight!! I had a loooooong run on the books and mid way through felt bad things happening. Doubled up on the calories and survived just fine. I swear the difference between a good race and a bad one is calories!!!!!!!!!!!!! Eat up Kiet!! :)

Matt said...

funny you aint alone...I had a similar issue last week, happened on morning ride, then didnt eat enough before run..finished it but legs were bit tired..ate 2 dinners..felt better for next days ride which was a surprise but first hour was tough. Listen to your body ;)

Michelle Simmons said...

Glad you got that lesson out of the way... Pack plenty of food/nutrition for Kona next week! :)

Kathleen @ ForgingAhead said...

Sounds like some tough lessons. Glad you're ok!

Ok where are you eating? That looks yummy!

Libby said...

nice! love this post :) glad the threshold was 2 days and not 3- you are less OCD by the day. the best part of ironman training sometimes is earning indulgences like that burger! Love it!!

Teresa said...

Eat up my friend! Canada is so close. Going to share this post with one of our athletes that experienced the same thing this past weekend.

I bonked on a 1:15 run yesterday....yikes...going to get a hamburger myself :0)

Train on!

tn

Jennifer Harrison said...

EAT UP! If you need help eating, call me! I am the master eater. :) But, a nutritional bonk is the worse, so hope you are eating as you read this!!! Have fun in Kona !