Bonking is a more casual term for extreme exhaustion. It happens when the body runs out of energy from muscle glycogen. This is why you feel like even the slightest push is impossible, when you bonk.
While you might be expecting an in-depth look at how to avoid bonking, we are going to give you some factors you may not have thought of...
Discussed in this blog:
- How do we prevent bonking?
- Working example
How do we prevent bonking?
Nutrition is incredibly important in keeping your energy levels up, obviously! Be mindful of your diet, ask yourself these questions:
- Is your calorie intake high enough?
- Are your protein levels high enough to recover?
- Are you eating the right foods, or the wrong ones?
- What are you taking onboard to recover from training and riding?
- Have you eaten properly before the ride?
All of these answers will have an effect on your energy levels through the week so answer them truthfully and feel free to seek support with this.
Sleep is the most important aspect of your recovery. If your sleep isn’t good, then you will struggle to keep energised. Check in with yourself and see if you are sleeping enough. You want to be getting at least 7-8 hours a day. This requires a little discipline and calculation too.
Try adding a few of these healthy habits into your night-time routine:
- Hot bath
Give yourself at least half an hour each night to relax, calm your mind and improve your sleep.
Have you had a stressful week? Have you been left frustrated at your family life? Have you battered yourself in the gym? Do you take your rest seriously?
A lot of people do not! Allow your body some time to rest and recover. Plan out the days you train, and then you can see where you can implement rest. Be as disciplined with this as your training.
Add recovery rides, recovery runs, or smaller sessions into your week. Have sports massage every two weeks, and foam roll regularly.
Essentially what we are talking about here is being smart, using common sense, and getting to understand how your body works. If you can do this then you can begin to work out when you may need to recover and when you can push your body.
A working example
On her normal week, Jane is tired from work/training, riding and everything else that goes on, around Thursday. She eats well (enough calories), but in the past she has experienced bonking on her longer weekend rides with her friends.
Her Thursday and Friday become days more focused on recovery. The reduced daily stress, plus less training intensity and duration, allow her to sleep better and thus allow her body to restock her glycogen stores for the weekend.
Essentially understanding her body and mind is key to making sure she doesn't bonk while she's on the bike. In this case a less is more approach has allowed Jane to complete far more training and enjoy being on the bike.
Plan out your training week, pay close attention to your nutrition and take your sleep seriously, and all this will go a long way towards preventing a bonk on a ride. It's really quite simple!
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About The Author: Adam Copley
Adam is a self-employed coach based in Sheffield, UK. Alongside this he is an avid cyclist and competes in cross country mountain biking across the UK. He has raced Cyclocross during the winter and is also a huge lover of road cycling. While he's not working on his business, he is usually out on two wheels getting fitter, and enjoying the fresh air and many climbs in the peak district.