Bonk & DNF, not my best weekend

Bonk & DNF on consecutive days making it  a tough weekend in my ironman training journey. As many have said, as long as I learn from this, I will go forward stronger and smarter.


So on Saturday I set off following a round trip route plotted by my new Garmin GPS Touring, its a great bit of kit you select the distance you wish to ride and it provides 3 alternative routes as close to that selected distance as possible.  I was amazed that it took me down many previously unknown but local lanes which were virtually traffic free. Operator error struck as I forgot to press Start so that the ride was recorded ! but I did get to follow the route perfectly. The only tricky section was along the Devizes canal path and under a few low bridges. The fields all around were flooded but even the aptly named Puddle Lane was passable with out creating a wash or wake as I cycled through a few puddles. You can see the ride profiles and I chose a hilly route.

It seems I had operator error not only on the Garmin but for myself too. Bad bad fuelling – I just didn’t take on flapjack, gels or anything as I rode. So 2 hilly hours into what seemed a constant icy  headwind was done on a bottle of sports drink alone. Inadequate. Irresponsible. Impossible. Imbecile. Idiot – yes thats what I was that day.

Puddle Lane, Devizes lived up to its name
Puddle Lane, Devizes lived up to its name

Upon returning home I grabbed a recovery drink, scrambled eggs on toast and took a cuppa up to the bubble bath. When getting out of the bath I experienced all the symptoms of the BONK/ Hitting the wall. I then devoured as much as I could to get back on an even keel. I felt awful and only now realised my error in lack of fuelling.

However I managed to correct the error on the Garmin by plotting the route on Garmin Connect when I got home, but seems I did more damage to myself than expected and that came back to bite me the next day.

On Sunday I was signed up for Corsham Challenge a new 6 mile cross-country run. It was a glorious morning with temps hovering just above freezing but  the sun was out. Full bowl of porridge, banana, mugs of tea and a gel just before I set off under the big red start/finish inflatable. The mood was light, plenty of chatter and excitement on the start line. Muddy trail shoes at the ready I headed off on the springy but energy sapping grassy trail, the first mile I was feeling OK, ploughing through the muddy puddles, ducking over hanging trees, climbing the first slippery bank. The in mile 2 I start dot fade, I encouraged my firmed Pat to go on ahead as it was feeling like a tough run. Pat stayed with me for another mile then realised I was having a bad run and she knew it was unlike me for pace and positivity so she pulled away as I slide back through the field faster than sliding down the hill on a sledge.

I only managed just 5 of the 6 cross country miles in Corsham, the soft sodden grass sapped the last of my energy.  If we had not to run past the finish arch at mile 5 then I may have plodded on. But with the Garmin showing 4.7miles I decided to DNF, I made up run up to exactly 5 miles as I walked under the finish arch with my hand over my number saying I hadn’t completed the last mile loop around the field. The marshals insisted on giving me a medal, which I reluctantly took, but at least it allowed me to grab some finishers food. Now my fiends call me weird as I don’t like chocolate but I scoffed a sugary, sickly caramel & nutty chocolate bar in 30 seconds, it would have been 20 seconds but it was semi frozen !


I just had nothing in the tank, no oomph, no energy  just    feeling exhausted. Coffee, flapjack, home for a bubble bath and rest & recovery were required big time that night.

Lesson learnt – don’t forget to fuel on the bike- duh!

The rest of the week training went rather well with 3 swim session including one video analysis session by a BTF coach. A trail run in heavy frost around Bowood Estate which looked beautiful in the sunshine. Then I tripped over a molehill and rolled down the frosty grass bank towards the lake. At least a nice soft spongy landing in the mossy grass and amused us all at my para roll. It was time to go long in a chain gang in Swimfit with  800 meters x2 for main set. We managed to keep steady pace & a compact chain, no one flung off the back, meant we benefited from drafting too. A Spin & Condition class with fight night theme focused on hills & sprints on the bikes then boxing gloves pads and boxing style circuits.
Flooded my spin bike area with sweat. Not sure I got best benefit if Pilates & massage from the morning but a fun class and great strength training & cardio.

Week 3 - ironman training
Week 3 – ironman training


For those not familiar or lucky enough no to have experienced it here is a definition of  BONK:

In endurance sports such as cycling and running, hitting the wall or the bonk describes a condition caused by the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles, which manifests itself by sudden fatigue and loss of energy. Milder instances can be remedied by brief rest and the ingestion of food or drinks containing carbohydrates. The condition can usually be avoided by ensuring that glycogen levels are high when the exercise begins, maintaining glucose levels during exercise by eating or drinking carbohydrate-rich substances, or by reducing exercise intensity.


  1. Just started following you and I love your blog…I am hoping to train for a 1/2 ironman next year, but getting my feet wet in Sprints this year. The beauty is…rest and then you get to start all over. Live and learn! Don’t let it get you down!! -Jackie

    • Hi Jackie thanks for the interest in my triathlon blogging hope it inspires you to enjoy triathlons watch out though they’re addictive !!
      I loved my first half ironman. Ironman training is about learning for race day.
      You’ll always learn but that’s the beauty of the sport

  2. A bonk & a DNF are tough but you’ve taken a great positive out of it. I agree withy he last comment about the devil being in the detail. Try new things, record how you felt & what you performance was etc. I know I don’t want to rely on gels as I don’t get on with them so I’m starting to learn how to run on my fat first with natural food if I do need to keep energy levels high. Keep on trucking! You’ll be fine.

    • Thank you. I certainly have some winter weight gain that I can use for fat stores !
      Going to start good diary and workout energy required for long rides & runs do I can fuel appropriately.
      Do prefer real solid fuel to gels but as I am a big sweater I need to keep fluids & electrolytes up.
      It’s all a learning process.

  3. One of the hardest part of IM training is the daily eating….making sure you eat enough and of course the RIGHT foods too all day, every day. THEN having a sound nutrition plan, in writing that you follow for every single workout. People laugh at me, but i have notebooks filled with training and race-day nutrition formulas….when to take caffeine, fluid depending on conditions/body wt/exertion level, electrolyte replacement (when, how much)…how many grams of carbs/body wt/hr…’s all written down and was all tweaked until I found the right balance. Every time I try to mess with it, I end up in trouble….It took years to find it though. Take the time to write down what works (DETAILS!!!) and what doesn’t. Save it so you can look back incase you forget what failed and what was a raging success…Once you know whats right, it makes things so easy!

    • A few people have suggested a food diary to work out how much food and fuel I need for training.
      Writing it down will also remind me to make healthy choices and see what I really am eating & drinking.
      Fifth element of triathlon – fuelling as I’ve learn a good lesson this weekend.
      Thanks for your commentary no advise, a very wise approach.

  4. Oh I hear ya! I always forget to eat AND drink on the bike. After 2 hours I’m bonking. Thankfully, my body warns me early enough that any little muesli bar them will last me for a while. And I always have everything with me, too. It’s just the excitement of cycling. Best food to shove in your bento box: Kellog’s Elevenses. They are so dense, you don’t only need one or two of them on a 3 to 4 h ride. And a banana. Saves you from thinking about food too much. I now add cold or lukeqarm herbal tea with a bit of honey instead of the sports drink in one of my bottles and that feels really good and makes me bonk less. I think all the artifical sports foods are just not appetizing enough for anybody to want to take them in and hencebpeople forget.

  5. Maybe Saturday had a knock on effect to Sunday? Shows the importance of acheiving that balance to maintain energy levels, something which I’m not great at. Good recovery though 🙂

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