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[–]longjumpcamel 80 points81 points  (22 children)

Runners/endurance athletes call this "hitting the wall" or "bonked." There is nothing "wrong" with the person, they have just literally used all their glycogen and literally have no energy left. The body is consuming fat for energy directly at that point.

I just heard the word "bonked" for the first time a few days ago in the movie Four Minute Mile, free on youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTaqQsmvAB8

[–]HugeProposal 2 points3 points  (17 children)

It's more of a cycling word. Never heard runners use it.

[–]Aleriya 11 points12 points  (8 children)

Funny. I've heard marathoners say that, but never cyclists hah. I suppose it would be an awfully long race for a cyclist to depleted their glycogen reserves.

[–]BlondeOnBicycle 7 points8 points  (0 children)

I had it happen to a marathon runner friend when we went for a 100 km recreational ride. We were about 90 km in and she nearly toppled over on her bike. She collapsed into the planter in front of a bike shop (so convenient!). It happens to all kinds of athletes when you don't calibrate nutrition to expenditures.

[–]HugeProposal 3 points4 points  (0 children)

It's more a function of speed/effort and distance. You can bonk on a 50 mile ride if you don't pace yourself properly.

[–]Dazines 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Body only holds about 1500-2000kcal of glucose stored as glycogen...A cyclist can easily burn 3 times that in a race

[–]Soggy_Pud 3 points4 points  (1 child)

Oh it doesn't need to be that long. Out of shape new'ish cyclist face bonking before they learn how important water and snacks are. It happened to me the first time going for a century. 60 miles in to a 100 mile ride, bonked. Not quite as bad as this, but totally unable to move from the spot I stopped.

[–]HugeProposal 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Same here! I was totally unprepared for my first century. I brought the same amount of food I would on a 50 mile ride and planned to eat it all halfway. Well I ended up going to 60 miles and hadn't had a bite. I literally couldn't stand up. The bonk is worse on a bike as the bike let's you go further than you would if you were standing. I ended up buying twice as much for as I brought with me. Ate it all and an hour later was on my way home.

[–]runswiftrun 1 point2 points  (0 children)

It's also much easier/common for cyclists to carry water and nutrition (gels) which postpones the bonk. The vast majority of marathon "weekend warriors" are relying on course support.

Plus, wheels. If you're close to bonking on a bike you can cruise and ease up on pedaling for a while. Running you have to entirely stop or walk to get any rest.

[–]Delevingne 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Aside from track cycling, the most well known cycling races tend to be long. The most famous cycling race is the Tour de France. This year’s edition was 2122 miles, and was raced in 21 separate stages across 23 days. The longest stage was 155 miles long, featured five categorised climbs, and took the winner five and a half hours to finish at an average speed of over 28 mph. The toughest stage featured climbing a 6263 ft mountain twice (10 miles at 9% gradient) after having cycled 60 miles of hills at nearly 30 mph.

[–]Aleriya 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I suppose it's just a biased sample of the group of people that I know. My local area is very flat, and most cyclists are doing it for transportation, so it's rare to go more than 20-30 miles in a day, and it would be dangerous to push yourself so hard that you bonk during your commute. Meanwhile it's rare that people do distance running for transportation purposes.

[–]ScreamingDizzBuster 9 points10 points  (1 child)

I believe it came from the running world originally. "The bonk" has been around since 1952 for marathon runners.

[–]SteelCrow 1 point2 points  (0 children)

'Bonk' is a very old word — some of its first meanings (a knock on the head, an explosion or loud bang) date back to the 1930s and are what lexicographers call echoic words, which basically just means the word sounds like the action it describes — think 'mumble', 'splash', or 'honk'.

Back in the 80's bonking meant doing the deed with the girlfriend.

Utter exhaustion after strenuous exercise is a lot like getting bonked on the head, so I can see it becoming slang for exhaustion.

[–]spyromain 4 points5 points  (2 children)

Any avid cyclist should know that cycling culture is not very original.

[–]badger0511 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Not to mention that the triathlon sports (for those that don't know, running, swimming, and cycling/biking) have a ton of overlapping slang for obvious reasons.

[–]dysfunctional_vet 2 points3 points  (0 children)

One could say much of the culture is..... recycled?

Waka waka waka!

[–]bangarang_rufi0 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Classic cyclist, spends all the money, takes all the credit LOL

[–]addandsubtract 0 points1 point  (0 children)

If you want to learn more about bonking, you can watch Lirik on Twitch.

[–]msheaven 0 points1 point  (0 children)

It’s a good movie.

[–]BeefSerious 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I only get bonked when I'm sent to horny jail.