Running a ½ Marathon – An Optimists Guide for the Impatient and Ill-Prepared VI

May 1st, 2007

Just finished another long run – ten miles – and have realized that the post-run wonkiness is not a fluke. The run felt great, and for about an hour and a half afterwards I felt totally normal. Then I was overcome by an increasingly urgent sense that being vertical in this world was no longer acceptable. So I installed myself in bed. I didn’t feel sick, exactly, but kind of like remaining not-sick required holding completely still. Even rolling my eyeballs to the side to make eye contact with Sam was an inappropriate amount of effort. Then, after an hour and a half, the wonkiness went away… and I was perfectly fine again.

An hour and a half of downtime after a long run doesn’t seem that unreasonable. But, my half-marathon is through the vineyards north of Santa Barbara, and it’s on Mother’s Day, and Sam’s mom will be here visiting us. There’s also a wine tasting party, along with tons of food and live music after the race is over. Clearly, I don’t want to miss out on any of it! Also, requiring an hour and a half of prone, no-eyeball-movement time is fine when I’m at home but I’m not sure how it will work out if I’m away, and already checked out of my hotel. Most importantly, I want Mother’s Day to be fun and stress-free…

I had dinner with some friends who run last night and I discovered that this post-run malady is technically referred to as “bonking” (Wikipedia has a fascinating etymology). It happens to endurance athletes when the body uses up all of its natural stores of glycogen; symptoms include general weakness, fatigue, hypoglycemia and sometimes hallucinations. Fun times! But, avoiding the bonk is apparently fairly easy: eating lots of carbohydrates the day or two before a long run (“carbo-loading”) to increase the body’s stores of glycogen, and most importantly, consuming carbohydrates during the run.

In theory, “bonking” doesn’t happen until the 15th mile, and I’m only up to 10. But, I don’t “bonk” while running, I “bonk” an hour and a half after I’ve stopped – I never drink anything while I’m running, and aside from a few sips of water, I don’t like to eat or drink for a couple of hours after a long run, which is apparently quite stupid. Also, I don’t eat many grain-based carbohydrates in general, so maybe my glycogen stores are a little lower to begin with. I guess I’m a prime candidate.

I have one more long run before the half-marathon so I get to test all this out next week. I’m normally a running technology luddite, and the thought of buying chemically enhanced drinks, powders and gels makes me cringe. But “bonking” in public, and in front of a bunch of runners who all know better makes me cringe even more.

Entry Filed under: Optimist's Guide

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed