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  1. #1
    Heeeeeere's Johnny! live311's Avatar
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    Any long-term health risks associated with bonking?

    Occassionally (like once every couple of weeks) I like to ride until my tank is empty. Sometimes I just feel like punishing myself and riding to my absolute limit. I always stay hydrated during my rides but never eat. By the time I make it back home all I can think about is stuffing my face with something sweet to get my blood sugar back up. I'm not a diabetic (that I know of), but I'm wondering how harmful bonking can be if it happens too often. I'll get in the habit of at least carrying a Power Gel with me on every ride, just in case I burn out earlier than expected. Thanks for any insight.

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    Some marathon experts advise not taking carbs during long runs in order to train the body to better use fat/glycogen. It works, and, as far as I know, there are no long term side effects. Just be careful and carry something just in case you can't get home when you planned.
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    Pat
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    I have a friend who is a diabetic and he doesn't have problems with long rides even when he bonks. Apparantly when muscle cells need sugar because of exercise, they can suck glucose right up from the blood without insulin intervention. I think that is why exercise is recommended for diabetics. It is beneficial in keeping down blood sugar levels. Eating sweet stuff after a ride probably will not hurt you as long as you do not do it to excess. My diabetic friend is able to even eat candy bars on a century without ill effect.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sm266
    Some marathon experts advise not taking carbs during long runs in order to train the body to better use fat/glycogen. It works, and, as far as I know, there are no long term side effects. Just be careful and carry something just in case you can't get home when you planned.

    they're obviously not "experts", as this is complete rubbish! exercise, above very low levels requires you a majority of the expenditure to come from carbohydrate oxidation. as you get fitter more, e.g., more FFA are oxidised at a given workrate, and less carb. however, if you don't take on carb while training, then your performance will decrease (i.e., your rate of expenditure, power output, velocity).

    if you bonk on a regular basis (glycogen depletion), this may have long term health effects -- it may cause diabetes.

    ric
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  5. #5
    Just ride. roadbuzz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ric Stern
    they're obviously not "experts", as this is complete rubbish!
    Ric Stern of CyclingNews Training Q&A fame? I'll be careful so as not to prove myself a complete fool. Welcome, Sir!

    In my experience, regular distance rides (say, 65+ miles) at a relatively energetic pace are perfectly adequate for getting the fat-burning systems out of dormancy.

    Just say no to bonking.

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    Quote Originally Posted by roadbuzz
    Ric Stern of CyclingNews Training Q&A fame? I'll be careful so as not to prove myself a complete fool. Welcome, Sir!

    In my experience, regular distance rides (say, 65+ miles) at a relatively energetic pace are perfectly adequate for getting the fat-burning systems out of dormancy.

    Just say no to bonking.
    that would be me!

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    Ready to go anywhere Csson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by live311
    Any long-term health risks associated with bonking?
    I am not a nutritional role-model by any means, and while I don't know about risks I highly doubt that it is beneficial to repeatedly and consciously put your body in what the body probably considers a state of shock. Psychologically it might have an effect if the point is to develop a strategy to recover from that kind of situation (that is, knowing how to get back to the living when that occurs when you don't want it to). I sure could have had use for such a strategy when I was wasted 60k into my first 300.

    /Csson
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  8. #8
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    Ummmmmm... yes!

    Read this article just in case you think otherwise- this woman thought she could keep on going like the energizer bunny, and now she's dead. Extreme dehydration leading to kidney failure, leading to death. Doesn't sound like fun, and it's plain stupid to try and go without replenishing your reserves:

    Runner died of dehydration in canyon, autopsy shows

    By Hal Dardick
    Tribune staff writer
    Published July 14, 2004

    As National Park Service officials released more details about the dangerous Grand Canyon run attempted by a University of Chicago medical student who was a lauded marathoner, an autopsy showed she died from dehydration.

    Margaret L. Bradley, 24, a native of the Boston area, died from "dehydration due to environmental heat exposure," according to a Coconino County, Ariz., medical examiner's autopsy report. The death was determined to be accidental.

    Bradley and a Flagstaff man took the Grandview Trail from the South Rim of the canyon, park service spokeswoman Maureen Oltrogge said. "It's fairly easy to get to, but the trail itself is very rugged, and it's not a maintained trail," she added.

    They planned to run along the Tonto Plateau to the South Kaibab Trail that heads back to the rim, preliminary investigation results indicate, Oltrogge said. The entire route is about 27 miles, she said.

    When Bradley and the Flagstaff man, who authorities would not identify, attempted the "day run" on Thursday, temperatures in shaded areas reached 105 degrees. "It could have been 120 or higher" in the sun, Oltrogge said.

    "Because this was a remote trail, it does not have water along it in summer months," Oltrogge said. "It's a tragic reminder that even the most physically fit can be challenged and run into problems in the remote areas of the canyon."

    The man returned to the rim with help from a U.S. Geological Survey employee he ran into. He asked a trail worker to leave a note at Phantom Ranch, at the bottom of the canyon, informing Bradley he was returning to Flagstaff.

    After relatives who were to meet Bradley in Flagstaff reported her missing at 1:30 a.m. Saturday, a search was called. Bradley's body was found about 13 hours later below the Tonto Trail in a drainage called Cremation. It was dry, authorities said.

    It's possible Bradley, unable to find water, took a trail that leads to the canyon's bottom and the Phantom Ranch in hopes of finding water, Oltrogge said. Bradley and the man likely ran out of water fairly early in the run, she said.

    Bradley late last year or early this year joined the Universal Sole-Reebok Racing Team, said Jessica Harlow, manager of the Universal Sole, a running-gear shop near Lincoln and Belmont Avenues. Earlier this year, Bradley placed 31st in the Boston Marathon with a time of 3:04:54. That was the 15th best time for a U.S. female runner.

    Tom Derderian, coach of the Greater Boston Track Club where Bradley had trained, said Bradley might not have known what to expect.

    "I don't know that she knew about performing in such places," he said. "Her experience was running in Boston and Chicago, places where adverse physical environments are cold."

    Bradley was a strong runner who, with further training, might have been ranked in the top 25 in the nation, he said.
    Copyright 2004, Chicago Tribune

  9. #9
    don d.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sm266
    Some marathon experts advise not taking carbs during long runs in order to train the body to better use fat/glycogen. It works, and, as far as I know, there are no long term side effects. Just be careful and carry something just in case you can't get home when you planned.
    Actually bonking has little to do with hydration. "Bonking" or "hitting the wall" is when the bodies glycogen reserves are depleted and the body must burn fat reserves as energy. Since it requires more energy to convert fats to work than it does to convert glycogen to work, this extra energy expenditure is seen as a bonk or wall.

    This physiological phenomenon normally occurs after ~2 hrs of high intensity effort, or for world class marathoners and 100k TTT cyclists close to the end of their event even though these athletes are very careful to remain adequately hydrated.

    LSD(Long Slow Distance) training is used by athletes in many endurance disciplines to train the body to efficiently burn fats so the effects of this "wall" are minimized. It is of course paramount to remain adequately hydrated while doing this since fats cannot be metabolized in the absence of water.

    The correct way to accomplish this type of training is to ride at low intensity, no more than ~70% max. heart rate, so that the body uses fats as it's primary energy source instead of using glycogen, and to remain properly hydrated at all times, which means drinking ~6-8 ozs of water every 20-30 minutes. This type of training helps to avoid the bonk while at the same time accomplishing the goal of training the body to more efficiently metabolize fats.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by don d.
    Actually bonking has little to do with hydration. "Bonking" or "hitting the wall" is when the bodies glycogen reserves are depleted and the body must burn fat reserves as energy. Since it requires more energy to convert fats to work than it does to convert glycogen to work, this extra energy expenditure is seen as a bonk or wall.

    This physiological phenomenon normally occurs after ~2 hrs of high intensity effort, or for world class marathoners and 100k TTT cyclists close to the end of their event even though these athletes are very careful to remain adequately hydrated.

    LSD(Long Slow Distance) training is used by athletes in many endurance disciplines to train the body to efficiently burn fats so the effects of this "wall" are minimized. It is of course paramount to remain adequately hydrated while doing this since fats cannot be metabolized in the absence of water.

    The correct way to accomplish this type of training is to ride at low intensity, no more than ~70% max. heart rate, so that the body uses fats as it's primary energy source instead of using glycogen, and to remain properly hydrated at all times, which means drinking ~6-8 ozs of water every 20-30 minutes. This type of training helps to avoid the bonk while at the same time accomplishing the goal of training the body to more efficiently metabolize fats.
    Actually, if you were bonking, you wouldn't have enough glucose necessary for the body to go to fat metabolism. Glycogen (glucose) is the energy used to drive fat metabolism, and when there isn't enough glucose available, fat metabolism doesn't happen either. So the body begins to shut down, and eventually, you just stop. The best way to avoid the bonking is to properly hydrate, make sure you have a proper electrolyte imbalance, and eat simple sugars (in the case where you feel the bonk starting to occur). When you do all these things, the body can then use the glucose you eat to again drive the fat metabolism so that you can start doing work.

    If you want to avoid it completely, it's what everyone is pretty much saying- eat a combination of complex carbs, and bring the simple carbs with you to consume during the long rides. Also make sure you have enough water, and take along a drink like poweraide or gatorade for the electrolytes (used by muscles cells). One thing that was tragic about that woman in the Tribune article was that she really thought she could train her body to go without nutrients for a long period of time by training in extreme weather. I didn't post the other articles that the Tribune published, but the earlier articles hinted that she was training for some kind of extreme sporting event and was out there running with no water or nutrients. It was lucky that her running partner happened to run into someone that pointed him in the right direction to get out of the park, or there would have been two dead bodies instead of one. It is a sad story because it was a totally preventable accident.

    Eat, drink, hydrate, nourish. Don't think you can go without, because you will end up doing more harm than good.

    Koffee

  11. #11
    aka old dog greywolf's Avatar
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    Intresting question !! Bonking has a differant, more common meaning in this part of the world, to non-cyclists anyway !
    :D
    dont worry be happy ????

  12. #12
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Koffee - Did You Really Mean This?

    make sure you have a proper electrolyte imbalance
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  13. #13
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    you know I didn't! Make sure you have a proper electrolye balance.

    Off you go!



    Koffee

  14. #14
    don d.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Koffee Brown
    Actually, if you were bonking, you wouldn't have enough glucose necessary for the body to go to fat metabolism. Glycogen (glucose) is the energy used to drive fat metabolism, and when there isn't enough glucose available, fat metabolism doesn't happen either. So the body begins to shut down, and eventually, you just stop. Koffee
    I guess you'll have to convince endurance athletes who run or ride "through the wall" of this. "Eventually" is the key word and is the period where focused training of the body to efficiently metabolise fats becomes important. If the glycogen stores in the body are completely depleted, then fat metabolism cannot take place. It is during the process of depletion, when liver glycogen reaches a low level, that fat metabolism kicks in , that the bonk occurs. At this stage, you would still have enough glycogen to drive fat metabolism and efficiency becomes critical. Here is an article in Runner's world that discusses bonking. Notice page 3:

    http://www.runnersworld.com/article/...0-6263,00.html,

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    bonking occurs due to glycogen depletion (hypoglycaemia). adequate ingestion of carbs during exercise will help prevent this (e.g., ~ 30 - 60 g CHO/hr). fluid intake is also critically important, and should never be restricted. paradoxically, too much plain water can cause adverse reactions, and in some case be fatal (hyponatraemia). Thus a sports drink with CHO and electrolytes should be consumed, to prevent both conditions.

    interestingly, as you get fitter (higher VO2max, LT) more of the energy expended is covered by fat oxidation, and thus less is covered by CHO oxidation at a given intensity. Therefore, to better train fat useage it is more important to do moderately intense training (i.e., TT type efforts, heavy tempo work) rather than lots of long steady stuff to better increase fat oxidation.

    ric
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    Senior Member RacerX's Avatar
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    the only long term damage is if bonking makes you fall off your bike, otherwise I wouldn't worry about it. I don't recommend doing it! and bonking once every couple weeks sounds crazy but the only thing you're doing is torturing yourself I imagine.

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    racer X read my first post on the subject!
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  18. #18
    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    Any long-term health risks associated with bonking?

    Sure! Brain damage, liver damage, kidney failure, who knows what else.

    Seems like there's quite a bit of misunderstanding about the difference between "bonking" and glycogen depletion.........here I stole this from another forum...

    Your comments are "way off", are you bonking?

    Not that anyone really wants to be technical about bonking, (like me), but the term has a very strict, very real meaning in cycling slang.

    Much like the phrase, (hitting the wall) has in the sport of running.

    Simply running low on blood sugar, or glucose or running out of glycogen is NOT really bonking.

    Real bonking, the true, "WTF", "I nearly passed out" kind of bonking requires 2 conditions.

    For one thing, you have to have some very "real" will power and be working out at pretty high intensity. This is what causes you to "outrun" fat and glycogen stores as well as some other tissues that could be metabolized.

    Secondly, you have to have the will to drive yourself through the first layer of fatigue that comes from lower blood glucose levels, that are starting to send "alarm messages" that you're on "empty".

    Then, wham, "BONK", a truly lowered blood glucose level presents, dangerously little energy for brain function. You become dizzy, disoriented, and because you been running a steep deficit for so long, -- replenishment energy from fat stores in route to restoration of blood glucose levels is delayed or laggs behind healthy levels.

    Oh, there are plenty of people on the forum who have had "baby bonks". But to a have really good satisfying, life-threatening bonk, you have to be well trained and highly disciplined.

    Just going out and riding till you drop is not bonking.

    And much like heat-stroke or dehydration, bonking is like an injury that needs time for recovery.

  19. #19
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    Tom Simpson? Well, there were *other* contributory factors...

  20. #20
    Maglia Ciclamino gcasillo's Avatar
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    Therefore, to better train fat useage it is more important to do moderately intense training (i.e., TT type efforts, heavy tempo work) rather than lots of long steady stuff to better increase fat oxidation.
    I'm in the process of working off 40+ lbs. by riding and with an elliptical machine. I have a HR monitor, and it is my understanding that I want to keep a pace or tempo that puts me at (and not over) 75% of my peak HR. When on the elliptical machine, I go for an hour at a pace that keeps me to this. Naturally, I never bonk as I keep well hydrated and am eating right now.

    However, 75% for me doesn't quite feel like heavy tempo work or even TT training. It is somewhat easier, and I have to fight the urge to "put out" more. Is 75% of peak HR right for optimal fat oxidation? And how long do you recommend one perform heavy tempo riding?

  21. #21
    Whiner Execution Squad
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    Koffee Brown I hope I don't run into you in Chicago. You are totally out of line here. You are plain f'ing stupid to read the news and assume all the facts are correct as well as painfully insensitive to the countless people that are struggling to cope with Margaret's death.

    Here you can read about Margaret's life. She was an amazing person. You are a dickhead.
    http://chronicle.uchicago.edu/040715/bradleyobit.shtml
    http://www.ccgfuneralhome.com/services/services.asp

    "This woman" doesn't need to be used by you as an example. No one really knows what happened yet, but here is one account from people who should know better (below). Note that all the accounts of them being on a 30-mile "run" are wrong.

    http://forums.runnersworld.com/threa...982677#2982677
    Posted on the women's forum:
    Please, please be careful with your speculation regarding this situation. I am a personal friend of Margaret's and everyone I know that knew her is having an extremely difficult time dealing with this tragic situation. Be cautious of the stories swirling around. There was absolutely NO foul play involved. The "companion" did not simply abandon her. From what I have heard from other friends, he became severely dehydrated and Margaret decided to run (they were on a HIKE) ahead for help and water. He passed out and woke up delirious and dehydrated on friday. He found an employee -- and whatever happened from there, happened. Margaret was intelligent -- this was not a "stupid mistake" as someone said. It was a tragic accident. I don't think they meant to set out on a 30 mile "day run." I believe they got off trail and realized they were in trouble.

    Please put to rest the speculation and keep Margaret and her family in your thoughts and prayers







    Quote Originally Posted by Koffee Brown
    Ummmmmm... yes!

    Read this article just in case you think otherwise- this woman thought she could keep on going like the energizer bunny, and now she's dead. Extreme dehydration leading to kidney failure, leading to death. Doesn't sound like fun, and it's plain stupid to try and go without replenishing your reserves:

  22. #22
    Pat
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    Quote Originally Posted by angermgmt
    Koffee Brown I hope I don't run into you in Chicago. You are totally out of line here. You are plain f'ing stupid to read the news and assume all the facts are correct as well as painfully insensitive to the countless people that are struggling to cope with Margaret's death.

    Here you can read about Margaret's life. She was an amazing person. You are a dickhead.
    http://chronicle.uchicago.edu/040715/bradleyobit.shtml
    http://www.ccgfuneralhome.com/services/services.asp

    "This woman" doesn't need to be used by you as an example. No one really knows what happened yet, but here is one account from people who should know better (below). Note that all the accounts of them being on a 30-mile "run" are wrong.

    http://forums.runnersworld.com/threa...982677#2982677
    Posted on the women's forum:
    Please, please be careful with your speculation regarding this situation. I am a personal friend of Margaret's and everyone I know that knew her is having an extremely difficult time dealing with this tragic situation. Be cautious of the stories swirling around. There was absolutely NO foul play involved. The "companion" did not simply abandon her. From what I have heard from other friends, he became severely dehydrated and Margaret decided to run (they were on a HIKE) ahead for help and water. He passed out and woke up delirious and dehydrated on friday. He found an employee -- and whatever happened from there, happened. Margaret was intelligent -- this was not a "stupid mistake" as someone said. It was a tragic accident. I don't think they meant to set out on a 30 mile "day run." I believe they got off trail and realized they were in trouble.

    Please put to rest the speculation and keep Margaret and her family in your thoughts and prayers
    Well, I have been out in the desert southwest. It gets blazing hot out there and many areas do not have water. You have to be careful about the elements. It is clear from the reports that the unfortunate lady died of dehydration. Anyone familiar with the Grand Canyon knows it gets hot and it can easily be life threatening. But in our day and age, people can be amazingly stupid because they just do not appreciate the elements.

    I was on a bicycle tour in Colorado. It was September and we were at 9000' + in the Uncompahre Plateau. We got hit by a white out. I thought our first move should have been to get off of the plateau for some warmth. No one is prepared for winter camping or prepared for riding through dirt roads covered with 12" of snow. It got down to 15 degrees that night. I was the only person with dry socks that morning. In the morning our tour leader made the correct decision to get down off the plateau and get us shuttled back to Moab where they spent the rest of the time remaining on the tour taking us around to some of the premier riding areas. I talked the leader later that day. I was amazed to find out that most of my fellows had complained to the management about the decision! They had no appreciation or understanding of the potential hazard. The snows continued in the high country for a week. Had we gone on we would have been cold and miserable at best and at worst we could have lost someone to hypothermia or lost some digits to frost bite. But those yahoos had no appreciation at all for the danger.

    Look, when you go out to some of these wilderness areas, they can be dangerous. People die in avalanches, of hypothermia, of well you name it. These places can kill one quite easily and it happens. It is a shame that this estimable young woman perished and you have my condolances and sympathy. But tales like this might just prevent someone else equally nice from duplicating the same mistake and suffering the same fate.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by don d.
    I guess you'll have to convince endurance athletes who run or ride "through the wall" of this. "Eventually" is the key word and is the period where focused training of the body to efficiently metabolise fats becomes important. If the glycogen stores in the body are completely depleted, then fat metabolism cannot take place. It is during the process of depletion, when liver glycogen reaches a low level, that fat metabolism kicks in , that the bonk occurs. At this stage, you would still have enough glycogen to drive fat metabolism and efficiency becomes critical. Here is an article in Runner's world that discusses bonking. Notice page 3:

    http://www.runnersworld.com/article/...0-6263,00.html,
    Don, you said it better than I. I think there's some validity to this practice, and have tried it several times.
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  24. #24
    Don't Believe the Hype RiPHRaPH's Avatar
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    i'm with dickhead (richard cranium) on this one.

    to anger management: you might be in some need of some....anger management. to be gender correct, Koffee would be a vaginahead. she is neither that nor a dickhead. as far as i am concerned, every person's life has amazing aspects. there is no doubt that a univ of chicago med student who is equally dedicated to running as her career is special with regard to drive >>i couldn't hack med school nor running a marathon... (hey, 90% of life is just showing up, right?) it is what you do with the other 10%...Margaret obvious had that special other 10%.

    an intelligent and experienced runner has a good chance of making correct decisions despite her youth. it is tragic. no more tragic than if it was a janitor with 3 children.

    i don't think koffee had any malicious intent. if angermgmt knew Margaret or knew of her then it is a shame that he doesn't seem to embrace the qualities that made Margaret special judging by his post.

    perception is reality.
    I have enough words to get me into trouble, but not enough to get me out of trouble.

  25. #25
    don d.
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    Quote Originally Posted by gcasillo
    I'm in the process of working off 40+ lbs. by riding and with an elliptical machine. I have a HR monitor, and it is my understanding that I want to keep a pace or tempo that puts me at (and not over) 75% of my peak HR. When on the elliptical machine, I go for an hour at a pace that keeps me to this. Naturally, I never bonk as I keep well hydrated and am eating right now.

    However, 75% for me doesn't quite feel like heavy tempo work or even TT training. It is somewhat easier, and I have to fight the urge to "put out" more. Is 75% of peak HR right for optimal fat oxidation? And how long do you recommend one perform heavy tempo riding?
    Glycogen depletion begins to take place between ~65% and 85% of your tested maximum heart rate. Below the ~65% HR level, the body uses free floating fatty acids for energy. The charts provided with most heart rate monitors are basepoints for calculating this range. But controlled testing to determine your anearobic threshold and maximum HR are the best way of determing this range if you can arrange such a test. At the highest levels of aerobic intensity, and we're talking world class levels, a bodies glycogen stores will not be depleted enough to start burning more fats than glycogen until ~2 hours of work.

    What you are doing in your one hour of riding is basic fitness exercise. Your body would be burning a much higher percentage of glycogen than fats. The Long Slow Distance(LSD) training and High Intensity Tempo(HIT) training are methods used by highly trained athletes who have very fit bodies already adapted to these methods. You will need to work up to those levels over a period of 1-3 years if endurance events are your goal. For what you are doing, your level of output should be determined by a doctor or trained advisor who best knows your individual needs.

    LSD training is really for times of 4-8 hrs. And in the laboratory, most people would suggest that HR should be kept closer to 65% than 70-75% for these long, steady efforts. However, most people simply do not have time to ride that long on any given day. So substituting 2-3 hours of HIT effort which will put you into glycogen depletion is the alternative.

    It is my opinion that an athlete with a serious focus on competing at the highest levels of an endurance sport needs to do both LSD and HIT work. I do not think you get the same fat metabolism efficiency with HIT work as you do with LSD training since the amount of time spent in fat metabolization mode in a HIT workout is substantially lower than on an LSD workout. At the same time, I think it is important to adapt the body to the stress levels and glycogen depletion process experienced in actual competition by doing HIT training.

    Individuals who cannot commit the time to LSD training may be best served to modify their goals rather than deceive themselves into thinking that shorter HIT workouts will provide the necessary training benefits to vault them into the upper echelon of their respective classes in endurance events.

    Obviously, proper hydration should be carefully controlled in any workout.

    With proper hydration a low intensity LSD workout should avoid the bonk, aka hitting the wall, since the bodies glycogen stores are not the primary source of energy and will not go into deep depletion. However, in HIT workouts, the bonk is theoretically inevitable. That is why it is, in my opinion, a training method that requires caution and careful planning.

    One final note: The term bonk has been used to describe different physiological states in this thread. Traditionally, it has been applied to the point in a workout where glycogen depletion has reached the point that causes the body to start burning more fats than glycogen for energy. This is the way I am using the term.

    I am not using it to describe the physiological state that occurs when the body is completely depleted of glycogen and can no longer function. In a highly publicized case, this was the state the women, I think her last name was Moss, went into in an Ironman years ago where she literally had to crawl across the finish line and she lost all bowel function and the fools along the course were cheering her on. This is the state Koffee was describing and others have alluded to. This can cause long term physiological damage and obviously should be avoided at all costs.
    Last edited by don d.; 07-18-04 at 12:37 PM.

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