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Afternoon Commute Home: The Bonk

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Afternoon Commute Home: The Bonk

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Old 07-29-08, 12:57 PM
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DarkCommuter
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Afternoon Commute Home: The Bonk

I've been commuting to work now for approximately 2 months. It's 5 miles each way. As luck would have it the trip to work is mostly downhill or flat. Of course, the trip home is uphill with a little flat here and there. For the past few days I've noticed on the ride home that I run out of energy and feel completely bonked in about 2 miles. It's really HARD to finish the remaining 3 miles with no energy. I think I'm eating properly throughout the day and drinking plenty of water.

Is there something I can do in addition or better to make my commute home more energetic?
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Old 07-29-08, 01:07 PM
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How steep of a hill are we talking? You shouldn't be bonking after only two miles.

My advice is to slow down, if you can. Use a shorter gear and take your time. If it's super hot where you are, be sure to take water with you, and drink when you can.

Also, try doing some longer rides on the weekend at a brisk but not necessarily sprinting pace.
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Old 07-29-08, 01:13 PM
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mwmcginn
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do you have a single speed bike, or do you have some gear options?
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Old 07-29-08, 01:16 PM
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Unless your nutrition is severely deficient -- like, not eating at all -- it's really unlikely that you're bonking on a 5-mile ride. OTOH, if you have poor nutrition (sugary and fatty snacks, soda, etc.) you could really be messing with your insulin response, and if you throw even a small amount of exercise into the mix, it won't help. Better quality calories, rather than more calories, and better timing might help you. Another problem might be the amount and quality of your sleep. A lot of couch potatoes stay up until 2 am playing Halo 3 and then doze through their desk jobs all day, and it's no big deal, but if you're going to ride a bike, crappy sleep habits will catch up with you fast.
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Old 07-29-08, 01:18 PM
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Advice from a heavy breather:
Sounds like your running out of oxygen more than fuel. Get a good dose of water in you before you leave, maybe a couple of calories, and really try to pace yourself on your ride. Find a comfortable pedal cadence, one that keeps you moving without straining or breathing "too" hard. When the hill gets tough at that ratio, shift to the next easiest gear and keep that cadence going. Remember, it's only a commute, don't try to kill yourself. If you find you are working too hard to keep a genuine smile on your face, slow down a bit.
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Old 07-29-08, 01:21 PM
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Your body is also probably acclimating to new physical conditions, needs and such. Maybe your metabolism has changed a bit. 5 miles isn't much, but then neither is 2 months. Give yourself more time and just relax before making any radical lifestyle changes. I've been making my 24 mile commute for 3 years now and every year it seems I have a different physical condition to work with.
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Old 07-29-08, 01:23 PM
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"How steep of a hill are we talking? You shouldn't be bonking after only two miles."

The entire ride home is very gradually uphill and the only big hill is at a bike path overpass over a highway. But, I gotta tell you these past 2 days that big hill has been a beyaatch.

"do you have a single speed bike, or do you have some gear options?"

I ride a Trek Soho 3.0 with plenty of gears to choose from. I've been using a cyclocomputer with cadence and I try to keep a pace at 90 rpm or above.

Brown Bat: what types of food would you consider to be "better quality calories?"
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Old 07-29-08, 01:30 PM
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do you commute by bike everyday? do you 'bonk' even when not riding?

You're probably just tired, and yes, maybe don't have enough glycogen available for those harder efforts.

My advice:

1. Get a thorough checkup with blood work to see how your general health is

2. eat small meals throughout the day, not a big lunch several hours before riding home. Better calories would be fruits, veggies and whole grains - lay off fats and junk food. You want lower glycemic foods in there at some point to give you energy throughout the day.

3. buy some energy gels - stash a few at work and have one about a half hour before quitting time with some water. Also carry one when riding with water bottle just in case. (You shouldn't need a gel while riding if you had one a half hour before - but carry one in case you forget beforehand and you think you need it)
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Old 07-29-08, 01:32 PM
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Originally Posted by lil brown bat View Post
if you're going to ride a bike, crappy sleep habits will catch up with you fast.
+100

Everyone has different needs for sleep, but if you are exercising on a regular basis, you have got to get good sleep.
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Old 07-29-08, 01:55 PM
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Sleep makes a big difference, but if you are eating somewhat resonably, you shouldnt have that much of a problem. Have you thought about checking in with the doc? I dont get much sleep, with 2 young kids, but during my commute, I have about the most energy of the day.
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Old 07-29-08, 02:02 PM
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Is it warmer than normal?
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Old 07-29-08, 02:04 PM
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Drink lots of water and have some oatmeal a couple of hours before your ride. See if that helps.
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Old 07-29-08, 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by timdoug View Post
Is it warmer than normal?
It has been hotter and more humid the past few days. It never occurred to me that part of the problem could be climate.
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Old 07-29-08, 03:44 PM
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Can you be clearer what's happening to you? "Bonking" generally means that you've depleted the glycogen stores in your muscles and can't work any harder. Symptoms include tremulousness, anxiety, extreme fatigue, and hunger. Definition here.

I've bonked once on a bike after I didn't eat breakfast and was on a very fast 40 mile ride. It is very unpleasant.

In contrast, perhaps you are just fatigued? When I first started bike commuting, I found myself wearing down over the course of the week and rode much stronger on Monday. I agree with others to just take it a bit easier when climbing and work on not hitting the bottom of the climb hard, but finishing the climb feeling good. You will get stronger and it will get easier.

Let us know how it goes.
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Old 07-29-08, 04:11 PM
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Originally Posted by mwmcginn View Post
Sleep makes a big difference, but if you are eating somewhat resonably, you shouldnt have that much of a problem.
Mmm, I disagree. If you're basically healthy, one night of short sleep won't make much difference. If you do it chronically, though, it'll come back to bite you.
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Old 07-29-08, 05:12 PM
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^^^ sleep is when the body produces HGH for muscle recovery.
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Old 07-29-08, 05:23 PM
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You don't drink beer after work do you? That always takes the mickey out of me.
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Old 07-29-08, 05:45 PM
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I used to get dizzy and tired when riding home and I found that drinking plenty of water coupled with eating a packet or two of oatmeal about 45 min before leaving really helped a lot. I keep a box of Nature's Path instant oatmeal with raisins and spices in my desk. Then I just add hot water to it from the water cooler (hotter ) and I'm all set. Adequate sleep is also a big one for me, too.
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Old 07-29-08, 06:06 PM
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my commute to work has more uphill than back home, and i sometimes get headaches and feel tired once i'm at work. this is usually if i eat too close to the ride or don't eat enough. once i'm at work i drink/eat about 8 oz. of water (half my bottle) and some granola and dried fruit. this usually prevents the headaches.

try to get enough sleep, eat a banana (your potassium may be low) or maybe go get your blood sugar checked.
banana's and gatorade are your friends.
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Old 07-29-08, 06:39 PM
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Never heard of anyone fatigued after 2 miles, let alone bonked....make sure there is nothing else wrong with you beside getting tired from riding.
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Old 07-29-08, 06:41 PM
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Over used term. Sorry but it is true.
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Old 07-29-08, 06:42 PM
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Normally, by the time you are real thirsty, you are already on the way to dehydration. That would include headaches, muscle soreness and cramps as well. Drinking water regularly will help combat this. As Pgoat said, too, eating smaller meals more times in the day as opposed to fewer, larger ones, can help. Also, water needs to be drunk sooner than 'right before you head out', as it takes a while to be absorbed into your system and tissues. I load up starting an hour before I head out. I read somewhere it can take up to 1/2 hour for waster to start being effective.

I have 10 miles, and tire sometimes in the afternoon, but I have only really bonked once. I also notice that by Fridays, I am a bit slower than I was at the start of the week. Eating regularly, drinking obscene amounts of water, and limiting alcohol during the week has helped. The obscene amounts of water are because I am also quitting soda, and limiting myself to 1 coffee per day in the morning. When I would rather have a Mountain Dew or something, I goon some water.
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Old 07-29-08, 06:54 PM
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+ 1 for checking if you're getting enough sleep. As someone who had sleep apnea once upon a time - I found it so very easy to point to everything else being the culprit. Everyone's given good advice, but make sure there's nothing out-of-ordinary with your sleep patterns, either. There are lots of people out running around with undiagnosed sleep apnea - overweight makes it worse, but fit people can have it too, it's a problem of sinus anatomy vs. conditioning. Closing your eyes and putting your head on the pillow doesn't mean you're getting rem sleep.

My PSA for the day.
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Old 07-29-08, 08:37 PM
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this is true...I was diagnosed by my ENT - I'd gone there for my tinnitus, but he could tell just by looking down my throat I was a snorer...
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Old 07-29-08, 08:55 PM
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Originally Posted by DataJunkie View Post
Over used term. Sorry but it is true.
Agreed. Bonking has come to mean any time you feel more tired than usual.
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