The Art of Bonking

Having a bunch of time off over the last few weeks has been great.  However, having a ton of time off in the middle of the work week poses some real problems.  For one, nobody is around to do anything with.  Let’s face it, most off the world has jobs and people are out doing them.  Two, it just is not as much fun heading up north solo (also, there is no one to split the gas with).  So with an abundance of spare time and not feeling psyched on driving up north I found myself doing a lot of running.  The tremendous weather, great foliage, and feeling fit and strong help propel me to near-daily runs. 

My week off started with some casual five mile trail runs before heading out to climb, and finished with a ten mile trail run on my last day off.  Keep in mind that before the end of August and the Greenfield/Highbush half marathon, my longest run to date had been seven miles.  In addition to running, I managed to sneak in two thirty+ mile bike rides and a bunch of climbing.  My legs felt great and as the week came to a close I felt stronger than ever.

That Saturday morning, Ashley was visiting some friends so I decided I would try to bang out an eight-mile run along the Blackstone Greenway and into downtown Millbury.  Figuring that the week’s earlier runs had felt easy, I took a fairly nonchalant approach toward this eight miler on a paved surface.  The warning signs for a tough day were all too present:  I did not feel great when I woke up, I was not particularly psyched on running, I had not eaten anything for a while, and I chose not to bring any food or water.  This was clearly a recipe for disaster.

I pushed through the first few miles easily, settling into an easy rhythm and finding the run rather pleasant.  At the end of the Greenway, I resisted the urge to turn around (would have made my run about five miles) even though my instinct told me otherwise.  Deep down I knew I did not have it but for some reason toughing it out sounded better in my head than retreating.  Just as I started turning around in Millbury center I began to feel the fatigue in my legs.  By the time I got back to the Greenway I knew I was in trouble.  By mile six I was contemplating walking and by mile seven I resigned to the fact I could not run any longer.  The last mile might bring new meaning to the walk of shame, as I walked back to the car with my ego fractured.

On the way home I stopped, bought a can of Coke, and pounded it.  I thought the quick sugar fix would help me bounce back.  It did not.  At home I made a couple sandwiches thinking that getting something solid in my stomach would help.  I was wrong and I felt terrible.  I hopped in the shower hoping to wash the stink of my run off me.  In the shower I could not get the water temperature right.  It was either too hot or too cold, and I could not stop shaking.  Getting out of the shower I bee-lined for bed.  I barely remember making it there.  What I do remember is waking up two hours later, not feeling much better and wondering what had happened to the day.  

In hindsight, the value of adding those three miles were probably not worth losing the rest of my Saturday.  Perhaps going forward I will trust my instincts and listen to my body a little more.