Will I Bonk?

As my mileage is increasing on the trails, I notice that I am having a hard time after mile 11-12.   In fact, I’d say that I’ve “bonked” a few times.  During one run, I felt my calves cramp and there are at least 2 other times I felt completely drained before the run was over.  Why is this happening?

I started reviewing my recent activities.  I know I’m not increasing my mileage too quickly.  I also have experience running this far on the road without bonking.  But, I have to remind myself that road running is primarily flat and quicker where there are lots of hills in trail running.  If I compare how long it takes to cover the same mileage, I’m definitely out on the trail much longer than on the road.   I decided it isn’t my training or the mileage, it must be something else.

The second thing that I think about is my nutrition.  I was told was that the gels I use don’t have enough electrolytes in them for long distance running.  In addition, several people told me to try salt tablets in general for long distances.  I was reluctant at first, but after these last “bonks,” I decided I needed to try them.


our bunny liked the packaging!

This past Saturday, I went out for a 16 mile trail run.  It had several rollers, but nothing real steep.  I was hopeful that I had planned my nutrition correctly.

2013 elevation SAT run

I packed 4 gels and ended up using all of them.  I had just under 50 oz of water and drank all of it and could have used more. (It was in the 90’s by the time I finished running.)  And, I brought along 3 Salt Stick tablets.  The package suggests using 1 every 30-60 minutes.  I decided I would use one every hour since I have never used them before.

By the end of the run, I was tired.  It was a good run, but challenging since it was the longest trail run I have completed.  And, I’m happy to say that I didn’t bonk.  I still feel like I need something more.  Perhaps I need to eat some real food out on the trail.  Perhaps a PB&J would help.   And, in general, I think I need to increase my daily carb intake.  Fortunately, I have several more long runs where I can experiment.

Do you run trail ultras?

Have you ever bonked?

What do you use to fuel?


4 thoughts on “Will I Bonk?

  1. I find that on my long trail runs it is not gel and sugar that keep me going, but protein and calcium. String cheese and hard boiled eggs have become my trail food staple. I cut crap and now run happier! Great job on Saturday! Sorry we couldn’t chat more!

  2. Thanks for sharing, Alisyn. What do you consider a long run? And, when (what mile) do you start eating? I would have like to chat more, too. Maybe next time. 🙂

  3. A friend of mine sent me this message. I asked her if I could share it on my blog. I think it has some good info.
    “Oh boy, I bring a full lunch on my long runs. Long run = anything including 2 hours or more.
    2 Liter hydration pack with gatorade (slightly watered down).
    1 hand held bottle full of water.
    1 banana.
    1 sandwich. (usually salami)
    small sandwich baggie of potato chips.
    small sandwich baggie of trail mix.
    Beef Jerky
    2-4 gu’s.
    Several salt tablets (I start taking these 1 hour into the run along with a gu and I do this every hour after along with some when I get home and recovering after my run.
    I always have food left over but better safe than sorry. I’ve been out there 4-6 hours and you don’t want to be low on fluids or food because it will take you 4-EVER to get back home!”

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