The Bonk.

The Bonk: /n/ That moment during a run where you don’t think you can take another step, much less finish out the mileage you have planned.
Bonk: /v/ to hit an invisible but very physical threshold during a run that robs you of all confidence in future runs.*

I Bonked last night during my track practice.

The past week has been kind of hellish. The combination of crazy-work-deadline stress plus holy-shit-my-kid-is-going-to-kindergarten stress plus get-my-miles-in-because-I’m-marathon-training stress plus some other low-level stresses has given me trouble with insomnia.

Insomnia is bad in general. But it’s REALLY bad when you are running 45 miles a week. And working to meet a deadline. And getting your kid ready for kindergarten.

But. Last night. The workout was a ladder – 400, 800, mile, 1.5 mile, mile, 800. Which is a tough one.

And within the first 400, I had doubts. In the first 800, I had serious doubts.

And within the first lap of the mile, I had this panicky feeling in my chest.

I can’t do this.

I had NOTHING. No energy. No zip. Nothing.

It was like running in a nightmare, where you feel you’re in quicksand and you have dead legs like they’re not even attached, or alive, and you need to get away but you can’t go anywhere.

So I stopped. In the first mile. I actually laid down on the grass, and when someone else ran by and asked if I was okay, I gave her a thumbs up – I wasn’t injured, I was as okay as I was going to be. I was just trying not to cry from exhaustion.

I got up and tried again. I stopped.

And this time, I gave into tears.

I was just so tired. I had nothing to give, no kick, no reserves. I figured I’d just quit and call it a night.

And then a running friend, who was struggling herself, gave me most practical advice and got me to keep going. Karen, she said, you’re not going to win any money in the marathon! No one but you cares how fast you go. So just run slower. Pick a slower pace and run that. You are putting way too much pressure on yourself.

She was so right.

It’s funny how I didn’t even NOTICE. Work has picked up. My testing is going slower than I’d like and so I’m working more hours than I expected. My mileage has picked up too, so I have to spend more time in my day running. Owen is going to kindergarten, and I’m trying to prepare him (and me!) for the changes, and trying to do special things for and with him to celebrate this milestone.

All along, I’ve been putting more and more pressure on myself to be better. A great, productive, effective worker. A great, loving, kind mom, who takes time out of her day to make her son feel special. A better runner who nails every one of her workouts. All with a sleep deficit.

Okay, so maybe I need to let go.

So I did.

Thanks to my running club friend, I finished the workout. The mile and a half repeat was a beast, even with the slower pace. The next mile sucked too. But then it was the last 800 – the last repeat. And when I rounded the corner near the finish, with maybe 200m to go, I found some spark in my legs, and I pushed to the end.

I am doing the best I can.

I am doing the best I can.

I am doing the best I can.

And you know what?

That’s more than enough.


*yes, these are made up definitions. Why do you ask?

5 comments on “The Bonk.

  1. Joey says:

    Crazy! I had a friend just tell me the other day that no one cares how fast you run. I was slowing on my workout today and picked it up because of his words repeating in my head. We run for ourselves with nothing to prove to the world.

  2. Turia says:

    What a clever friend. And well done you for picking yourself up and continuing on again.

    Thanks, too, for the post. I needed to read something like this today, when I am facing down all that is coming our way in the fall. I am doing the best I can. I need to hold on to that.


  3. catwoman73 says:

    I’ve been in sort of the same place with my running lately. I only started running again in April, and I found myself already pushing to run better/faster/longer… and I ended up with some nagging hip pain that wouldn’t go away. I suddenly realized that it wasn’t worth risking my health- no one was going to give me any awards for running a super fast HM in November. All the pressure was from within. So I slowed down, and the hip pain went away. Funny how that happens.

    It’s not easy though, is it? I think some of us are just driven to always want to be better at what we do, no matter what the cost. It’s really tough to keep it in perspective sometimes.

  4. Being wired as an over-achiever is a bitch.

    “I am doing the best that I can” is a powerful mantra that can apply to so many walks of life.

  5. B says:

    You know what sort of mental image I get when I hear that you bonked during your run, don’t you?

    (How did you even manage it?? whilst still running?)

    But anyway, I’m glad you finished and you’re definitely right that you’re pushing yourself every bit as hard as is reasonable already. Well done, and keep putting those feet in front of each other.

    (Nup. Still getting those images…)

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