Triathlon Spotlight: Personal Trainer Shares Her First Triathlon Experience and Some Helpful Tips

Orthopedic Institute of NJ

My name is Kara and I am a personal trainer for the Orthopedic Institute 
of New Jersey. As a participant of over 3 dozen triathlons, I wanted to share an experience I had and a wonderful tip to for triathlon athletes, especially those who may be trying their first triathlon.
 
It was my first triathlon and I was so excited. I had been biking and swimming and running and doing everything possible to prepare myself mentally and physically for the challenge. I was given advice from everyone I talked to. I listened and absorbed all I could before the big day.
 
The morning of the race, I was ready. With my family cheering me on, off I went into the water. I gave it everything I had. When I made it back to shore I glanced over my shoulder and was thrilled that I was not the last one out of the lake! Off to the bike.  I rode as fast and hard as I could. At the last transition area I threw on my sneakers and off I ran. I had this!  I noticed soon in the run that my legs felt heavy and I was tired. I figured this was just part of what one’s body goes through in such a race. However, I became dizzy and a little bit disoriented.  It began to rain heavily and lightning flashed in the sky. I began to have anxiety and was not myself. I barely made it to the finish line. 
 
I later learned that I had bonked!
 
Yep, that is the term: bonking. Simply put, I hit my wall. Bonking is unmistakable; it is something that every athlete will encounter at some 
 point in their triathlon career. Bonking results from low blood sugar. Your body  and brain simply run out of fuel. Everyone needs a continuous supply of glucose to keep their muscles contracting and brain clear. Your body naturally stores glucose in different ways. When you are at rest you have plenty of glucose to keep your body and mind functioning 
properly. But when you begin doing extreme workouts, the glucose stored is burned up quickly. When this happens, you have bonked!
Signs of bonking or hitting the wall are feeling weak and your legs feel heavy. You become tired and may have feelings of extreme hunger. When the brain becomes affected an athlete will feel dizzy or disoriented.

You may have feelings of anxiety and confusion. Don’t panic!

 

Here are some simple tips to prevent hitting the wall.

Eat! But eat at regular intervals, every 20 minutes. Start with water and fruit, like a banana before the race begins. Have goo packs taped to the handle bars of your bike. As you begin your ride slurp a goo pack down. At the transition station have some pretzels or nuts in your bag and grab a handful!

Avoid the wall, drink lots and track your eating.  If you have any questions as you prepare for this great event, feel free to email us at oinj.atc@hotmail.com .   Good luck, have a great race and no bonking!

 

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