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“Bonking, hitting-the-wall, crash and burn, total muscle fatigue, whatever the name – as an ultrarunner, this is your worst nightmare. When you are beginning to lose it, the cause of your meltdown matters less than the vision of your training, goals and dreams drifting out the window. But there are different kinds of bonking and a variety of causes. Besides the obvious lack of adequate physical training, which we will not discuss here, most causes begin with a nutritional imbalance. Whether you’re sitting dejectedly on the side of the trail, mentally finished but with plenty of fuel still left in your leg muscles (low blood sugar), looking up at a hill, mind focused on pushing to the top, but legs shaky and depleted (low muscle glycogen) or you’ve reached the hallucinogenic Big Screen where rocks and trees are sprouting legs and beginning to pass you (central fatigue), you are not in your happy place anymore.”

If you haven’t read this, you are severely limiting your capabilities in ultra and trail running! Click here to read the full article over at ultraRunning Online. Let’s discuss the topic and, given enough rabble, maybe we can even get Sunny to make an appearance.

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  • I agree nutrition plays a huge roll in the bonk. Learning to enter the race with the adequate glycogen stores, hydration and essential minerals is step one. Steps two and beyond is learning to monitor your reserves as you run.

    This is how we “Dance with the Bonk”. It is a careful balance between physical effort, the environmental conditions, nutrition and our mental attitude.

  • My favorite tip was from Sunny Blende. I have set a re-occuring alarm on my Garmin. Every 20 minutes the alarm reminds me to take in food.

  • I first heard Sunny 8 years ago. Since then, we’ve had her give her presentation to our Coastside Running Club three times and it’s made a big difference to many people. She’s dialed in.

  • The thing that absolutely fascinates me about Sunny’s work and the podcasts I listened to, is this: Leading up to a very technical, mountainous 50 miler 7 weeks ago, I re-listened to the podcasts and made a special point of saying to myself “I’ve got to remember this, this, this and this for the 50.” Fast forward to race day and I simply failed to execute the most key aspects of her advice. Long story made short is that it was a lousy, lousy race for me. I just don’t know how I could “know” in my head the things I need to do during the event, and yet forget/fail to execute them when I’m in the moment. I’ve clearly got a long way to go in this sport.

  • Great article. Back of the GU packets gives one the amount of calories from carbs. A post with the calories from carbs of foods frequently found at Ultra Aid Stations would be informative. What are the nutrition facts of a small boiled red potato rolled in salt or a quarter of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Taking in 240-340 calories per hour has been a guess for me. Thanks to the Nation.

    • That’s a fantastic question… what is the nutritional makeup of the standard fare offered at aid stations? It’s relatively straightforward to calculate and “plan” your nutrition for the items you carry/stash in a drop bag, but what happens when things break down and you find yourself at an aid station in need of the “right” fuel to either keep you going, or else get you going again after a bonk? Great question, Brad.

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