Aug 27, 2011 at 1:07 pm #1278597
In a galaxy long ago and far far away when I was young I entered and completed not one but two 26.2 mile marathons.
I'm here to tell you that I ain't that fella anymore!
Today while taking my weekly long training walk in my beloved state park full of flora, fauna and PUDS (pointless ups and downs). I ran completely out of gas and I wasn't even in my truck.
Don't get me wrong about the PUDS, I love 'em. They are what I go there for, to get the hill work before my upcoming AT hike. I've walked doubles of the hiking trail in the park before with no incident. This time however I was reduced to shedding my pack, sitting on a rock on the side of the trail and drinking water while trying to cool down and recover my get up and go. This time my get up and go had got up and went.;-)
Here are some of the particulars. I started at 7:am with a temp of 76 degrees. I took a break at the water playground in the park at 9:45 am. I topped off my water bottles at the water playground. I walked under the sprinklers to aid evaporative cooling and even wet my hat. I was careful to keep my electrolytes in balance. I wasn't short on salt or sugar. I'd had a "slight pinch" of salt at the water playground and I eat mints for the sugar every so often while I walk. I've learned over the years how my body reacts to physical exertion.
I walked for approximately 5 hours and change all totaled up. This was the longest mileage that I had done in a while. The kicker was the rise in temperature. When I left the park the temp had risen to 94 degrees. The relative humidity was no higher than 43%.
I was carrying my full pack load as I always do when training. My full pack load is approximately 23 pounds with food and fuel for 1 week. I was carrying two liters of water and I had "cameled up" on the way to the state park.
I wasn't dehydrated I just ran out of gas in my legs! More than likely I should not have skipped breakfast in favor of a trail bar on the drive to the park.
To end this tale of woe I'll tell all that I accepted a ride on an ATV from a park employee back to where my truck was parked. Distance back to my truck by trail was maybe a little over a mile. The ride in the ATV took all of 5 minutes through the park roads.
I had described myself as fat and old when that park employee asked if I was all right. When the ride back to my truck was offered I described myself as fat, old and embarrassed but not too embarrassed. ;-)
My face is normally pretty red since I am fair skinned so my embarrassment won't show too badly on me. I'm not shy about writing of this incident for one very good reason.
If you aren't at your best on the trail or training and you are offered help think twice before letting your pride get in the way. Also keep an eye open for those on the trail who you might be able to help.
I intend to pay this forward if I ever can and this thread is simply the beginning of that ideal.
NewtonAug 27, 2011 at 2:18 pm #1773492
There are other important electrolytes besides salt and sugar: potassium, magnesium, calcium. Try a commercial electrolyte mix next time.
The same thing happened to me a few weeks ago (although the temps were in the mid-80's instead of 90's, but we've had a really cool summer here in the PNW so I wasn't acclimatized to the heat). I finally remembered that I had some Hydralite in the outside pocket of my pack, mixed it in my water and drank it. In about 45 minutes I was feeling just fine. I had been sure I'd never be able to drive home, but by the time I reached the trailhead I was feeling quite perky again!Aug 27, 2011 at 3:45 pm #1773508
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
Maybe you bonked, or maybe your metabolism is changing. I didn't see where you mentioned your age, but there are all kinds of things that can kick in as you get older. I would see the GP and get a basic physical and a fasting blood test— of course telling the doctor what happened.Aug 27, 2011 at 6:07 pm #1773534
"Try a commercial electrolyte mix next time."
I actually thought of that before I went out this morning but I left home at 5:30 am to get to the trailhead for 7:am. I need to stock up on the electrolyte replacement mix at home the next time I head for the store.
I always like to read your posts because my mother was a Mary D. also.;-)
I get a basic physical with a fasting blood test every year. I just had one recently and everything was fine. It was a very good suggestion. FYI my age is 57 years young. My body is 57 but mentally I never want to grow up.;-)
Yes I do believe I bonked. I was a runner back in my late 20's and early 30's. I am familiar with hitting the wall. I kind of figured that this is what happened this morning.
Supper last night was some melon and peaches. You already know what I had for breakfast. Tonight my wife and I went out for some Italian food a.k.a. pasta. There is plenty of fuel in the tank now. I had an experience like this once before when I was running and my wife snapped me out of it with some orange juice and chocolate chip cookies. In her professional life she was an RN with a BSN so she has been keeping pretty close tabs on my health for over 35 years now.
And yes I told her what happened when I got home form the state park.LOL
Thank you both for your suggestions and advice.
No more training for me unless I've been to the training table before the trail.
NewtonAug 27, 2011 at 6:29 pm #1773537
What I am about to state is not a total solution to everything here, but I've found it helps to guarantee my own trail performance. When I leave home for the mountains, I always have a number of cans of fruit juice in my car. One can gets consumed with breakfast an hour before I hit the trail. Then typically a second can gets consumed immediately before. Since the juice is liquid, it gets through my stomach very quickly, so I am not fighting a bloated stomach. The natural sugars give me the necessary energy for the first half-day of trail, and the electrolytes help bind some of the water in my muscles. The advantage of canned fruit juice is that it requires no refrigeration, and I can leave unopened cans in the trunk of my car even in black bear country. There will be a can left when I return to my car, and it is typically appreciated the most.
–B.G.–Aug 27, 2011 at 6:40 pm #1773541
I really like the canned juice idea especially since my wife used it in a fashion to help me once before as stated earlier.
I'll let you know how it works for me.
NewtonAug 27, 2011 at 6:46 pm #1773542
The trick is in purchasing a variety of fruit juices to suit your mood. Some of mine are in 12-oz cans and some in 8-oz cans. Some flavors are a little more wholesome than others, but they are all good.
–B.G.–Aug 27, 2011 at 7:06 pm #1773546
"The advantage of canned fruit juice is that it requires no refrigeration, and I can leave unopened cans in the trunk of my car even in black bear country. There will be a can left when I return to my car, and it is typically appreciated the most."
Do you consume these juices warm to hot depending on the weather?
I can appreciate the no refrigeration needed for storage but in 94 degree temps do you use maybe an ice chest or such for storage when you return to your car?
NewtonAug 27, 2011 at 7:23 pm #1773549
W I S N E R !Participant
From everything I've read, you did 5 hours of hard, hot weather hiking with a 23 pound pack on nothing but a trail bar (~200 calories at best) and no carbs the night before.
Not enough. Coming from ultrarunning, ultracycling, and now triathlon, in my experience this isn't nearly enough if you're working hard. If I knew I was going for 5 hours, after the first 2 hours or so I would be taking in at least 100 calories every half hour to hour (depending how I felt) in the form of gels or other easy to digest food, be they commercial or homemade. Your hydration sounds fine; BONK…I think you just went out too hard/too long on empty.Aug 27, 2011 at 7:50 pm #1773554
"Do you consume these juices warm to hot depending on the weather?"
I consume them at the ambient temperature.
I do the vast majority of my trips at elevations of 8000-14,000 feet, so my car tends to be parked somewhere with the ambient mid-day temperature around 70 F. If the cans are insulated in a bag and hidden in the car trunk, they will stay a bit cooler than that, and that is a good temperature for guzzling.
–B.G.–Aug 27, 2011 at 10:37 pm #1773578
Sounds like me today on my bike. I ate, had enough water, and forgot my S-Caps. Hsd to call the wife to come get me, but by the time she got there, I had limped the last 5 miles back to my truck. I need to start earlier, it was 88 when I started, and probably 100 when I bonked. I probably should have had her take me to the hospital, but I'm not that smart.Aug 28, 2011 at 6:14 am #1773608
"… too hard/too long on empty."
160 calories, Sodium 150mg, Carbs 22g, Sugars 12g, Protein 3g in the trail bar. It's safe to say that I dummied up. I'm just happy that I didn't go belly up.;-)
"… 8000-14,000 feet, so my car tends to be parked somewhere with the ambient mid-day temperature around 70 F."
I could only hope for such conditions here in SE Louisiana. My state park that I frequent has many ups and downs in elevation on the trails but the elevation above sea level is only +154 feet in the nearest town of Franklinton, LA. If I remember correctly you posted on another thread that you did your basic training in SE LA. I believe you know the conditions here very well. ;-)
"Had to call the wife to come get me…"
You're a brave man! What was that conversation like back at the house.;-)
"…but I'm not that smart."
Hey, I resemble that remark! LOL
Seriously I'm glad you made it back to your truck and that you had the ability to communicate with your wife for help. It sounds like you were in a much more deserted area than I was and the potential was much greater for problems to escalate. Stay safe. I really appreciate your input.
FWIW I carry my cell phone with me when I hike / train. I have the phone number of the state park's front gate in case of emergency. I'll probably put it in speed dial from now on! I also wear a military style dog tag with my ICE information on it and my whistle. In my cell phone contact list under the contact name ICE is my wife's contact info.
In the future no more running on empty for me. Breakfast in the morning and a break for "trail food" during training or hiking from now on.
NewtonAug 28, 2011 at 6:46 pm #1773775
I can relate to some extent. My body consumes 3500+ calories a day when Dayhiking and cycling. On a recent big multiple-day trip with a large group, I was restricted to only 1200 to 1900 calories a day. We were carrying 35-40lb packs in thick bush with no trails. By mid-day I was burned out but still had to keep going. I lost what little extra body mass I had and needed a week to recover. That is the last time I let a trip planner/organizer control my food! SAR would have had to come get me if I had not pushed myself to extremes prepping beforehand.Aug 29, 2011 at 4:18 pm #1774033
@sbhikesLocale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
I find tomato juice (well, V8) is really refreshing and a great pick-me up. I personally do not like sweet fruit juices.
Sounds like it was just too dang hot and you handn't eaten enough the night and morning before.
Sometimes wetting down your hat, hair, shirt or entire body can help, too.Aug 29, 2011 at 6:58 pm #1774106
"Sometimes wetting down your hat, hair, shirt or entire body can help, too.
Wetting down the hat, shirt and body is do-able. The hair may be a problem.;-)
;-)” height=”413″ src=”https://dpcr19kltm61a.cloudfront.net/backpackinglight/user_uploads/1314669296_48102.jpg” width=”550″ />
+1 for too hot and not having eaten enough.
NewtonAug 29, 2011 at 7:45 pm #1774122
For summer, I often freeze those cardboard packs of orange juice. They last several hours or longer, depending on air temperature.Aug 29, 2011 at 7:51 pm #1774126
By the time I "bonked" one of those frozen cardboard packs of orange juice would probably have been defrosted and still cold enough to really hit the spot and do me a world of good.
Thanks for the tip. ;-)
NewtonAug 29, 2011 at 8:46 pm #1774147
Jeremy and AngelaParticipant
@requiemLocale: Northern California
Was there any potassium in your trail bar? As it's the complement to sodium in the body, and a pretty big culprit in "running out of energy", I was mildly surprised to not see it in the listed ingredients.
JeremyAug 29, 2011 at 9:13 pm #1774160
Orange juice has potassium. Other potassium sources include tomatoes, bananas and the lowly potato. One of the things I like about Hydralite (formerly Gookinaid) is that it has plenty of potassium and not as much sugar as many electrolyte drinks, plus a mild tart citrus flavor. Things that are too sweet tend to turn my stomach. Of course you can make your own electrolyte mix using, among other things, "lite" salt (potassium chloride) (recipes on the internet), or use medical hydration salts, but it really helps to have some flavoring! To me, the flavoring is more important than the "spoonful of sugar [that] makes the medicine go down."
I've seen people bonk using sugar for energy. Climbing up 3,000 feet to a pass on a west-facing open slope on a hot afternoon, the 6-foot long-legged guy who was using candy for energy kept having to stop for more. I'm usually the slowest (by far) in a group. In fact, the only "hiker" slower than me is one of our Oregon slugs! On this stretch though, I passed him every time he bonked; about 20 minutes later he'd pass me; in another 20 minutes I'd pass him again. The mechanism, of course, is that the excess blood sugar from the candy kicked off the insulin glands in his pancreas, and the resulting rush of insulin lowered his blood sugar. I've been told this is a really good way to bring on Type 2 diabetes. I mention this phenomenon, Newton, because you said you'd been eating mints during your workout. Consider more complex carbohydrates, which release sugar more slowly and generally more evenly.
In your case, Newton, like the others here, I also suspect not enough calories plus electrolyte (other than salt) deficiency. You mentioned that your dinner the night before was mostly fruit–just remember that what you eat for dinner the night before is what is most available to your body during morning exercise!Aug 29, 2011 at 9:35 pm #1774167
I agree with Craig, you simply didn't have enough fuel. But you learned an important lesson that you can keep from repeating. When I started pushing my mileage north of 30 on my PCT training hikes I dialed in my hourly caloric intake to about 300 calories per hour. As I pushed above 40 I started to have problems with electrolytes and I made my own capsules containing a mix of low sodium salt and a calcium magnesium complex. I just finished fastpacking the PCT with most of my days being 30+ miles per day. I followed the 300 calorie/ hour and only bonked once when I ran low on food on a 42 mile day. Try a similar hike again and add a certain number of calories per hour. Keep testing and adjusting and you will get it dialed in. You will then find the next weak point that you will need to solve.Aug 30, 2011 at 10:35 am #1774310
It was more of cereal / granola / snack bar and I rechecked the label, 0% potassium.
@ Mary D,
It occurs to me from reading your latest post that my mints would only boost me up for twenty minutes or so and then crash me down due to the insulin reaction harder and harder each time. As I think back to the events of my training day I didn't just bonk, I bonked myself by the methods I was using to avoid this phenomenon. ;-(
The adjustment has been and is being made. More complex carbs are being added to the diet and there will be no more long training days or hikes on an empty tank.
FWIW We've been enduring an extreme bout of heat in our weather pattern recently. My less than voracious appetite the night before was more than likely due to a desire to stay cool and comfortable.
I have learned a lot from this experience and all of your posts. I am elctrolyte replacement mix shopping right now and will be adding this to my hydration / nutrition plan for my upcoming hike. I will be using it as a supplement to my H2O and not as a constant part of my hydration. I realize that it can be overdone.
NewtonAug 30, 2011 at 10:55 am #1774319
"It occurs to me from reading your latest post that my mints would only boost me up for twenty minutes or so and then crash me down due to the insulin reaction harder and harder each time."
If you are hiking hard enough to be breathing hard you are working hard enough to suppress the insulin response typically experienced in "couch potato mode."
Read Here, 2nd to the last paragraph.Aug 30, 2011 at 11:06 am #1774326
I was defintely not in couch potato mode. ;-)
Yes I was hiking hard enough to be breathing hard.
Thanks for the link and the information that it provided. The sugar is probably a good emergency boost and OK in that respect. I am working on fueling up with the complex carbs, keeping the electrolytes in balance and the fuel tank full.
My little "bonk" and these posts has given me a real education in hydration and nutrition.
NewtonAug 30, 2011 at 11:52 am #1774347
"The sugar is probably a good emergency boost and OK in that respect."
Eating a lot (enough to provide more than a token boost) of straight sucrose – Jelly Bellys, hard candy, etc. can overwhelm the gut and upset the osmolality balance required to transport the sugars into the blood stream. See paragraph 2 in the link above. One responses not mentioned in that article is that the "dilution" of the gut contents can get out of hand and lead to massive diarrhea.
Complex foods are the way to go.Aug 30, 2011 at 1:55 pm #1774397
Thanks for calling my attention to that point. I wasn't really all that crazy about carrying a pound of mints in my cargo pocket anyway. Believe me I do not want to get back into runing in that way! ;-) LOL
I will read the information in that link very carefully this evening.
Thanks for your diligence.
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