How to Prevent Bonking

Bonking can be caused by a variety of reasons including dehydration, under-fueling, GI issues that prevent the absorption of calories, under training, inadequate recovery or lack of pre race taper. Bonking usually coincides with a drop in heart rate. You just can't make your body go. You have hit the wall.Prevent bonking while cycling. Don't let this happen to you!

To prevent bonking:

1. Hydrate properly by consuming a minimum of 24 ounces of fluid every hour. More on hot, humid or windy days. To be exact, determine you sweat loss rate, by weighing yourself naked before a 1-2 hour workout. Monitor your fluid intake and weigh yourself again immediately upon finishing. An ounce of water weighs 0.0652 pounds. (If you want to estimate it: a 24 ounce bottle is approximately 1.5 pounds)

(Pre-workout weight + weight of fluid consumption - post-workout weight) ÷ 0.0652 = sweat loss in ounces.

Make sure you adjust for the length of your workout to figure out how many ounces you should drink per hour.

2. Separate your hydration from calories. Source them separately. Follow the link for more details.

3. Consume adequate electrolytes with your fluids, endurance gels, or via electrolyte supplements. Most people consider cramp prevention to be the purpose of electrolytes but cramping is further down the line of electrolyte imbalance. Electrolytes are used by your body for proper communication between your nervous system and muscles and way before cramping occurs, muscle weakness and fatigue can set in.

4. You burn 3-5 times more calories per hour than you can assimilate per hour during exercise. If properly recovered, you only have 40 minutes of muscle glycogen stored in your muscles. Therefore you need to take in calories while training and racing. Under consumption can result in bonking, and over consumption can overload the digestive system and prevent the absorption of calories which can also lead to a bonk. Consume 200 calories per hour and split that into 100 calories every 30 minutes or 50 calories every 15 minutes. If you miss one, don't try to catch up, just keep to the schedule moving forward. (you can train your body to tolerate more calories per hour, but start with 200 and increase it gradually and not significantly)

5. Use a recovery drink to ensure adequate muscle repair and glycogen replenishment. I recommend using a recovery shake after your most intense workout of the week and after the longest effort of the week.

6. NOTHING NEW ON RACE DAY! Train with the nutrition strategy you intend to use during your race.


What is Cyclocross?

I am often asked this question by family and friends. My usual answer is that Cyclocross (CX) is like a Cross Country race but on bicycles instead of running. It is a Fall and Winter sport and the events are held at parks, farms or other off-road venues that include a combination of grass and trail riding. CX races are for time, not distance and consist of multiple laps of a loop course that includes forced dismounts, mud, hills, sand, switchbacks, logs, stairs or just about anything else that the terrain or race directors can add to make it a unique and challenging course. Riders race against others that are similar in experience and ability levels and the events are typically 30, 45 or 60 minutes long.

Next, I am inevitably asked what type of bike is ridden. A mountain bike can be used and many riders do use them, but due to their relatively high weight and low gearing, most use a Cyclocross specific bike. A CX bike resembles the frame geometry and drop handlebars of a road bike but has some important distinctions. First, the clearances in the front fork and rear triangle are bigger to accomodate a CX tire. A CX tire has more volume than a road tire but less than a mountain bike tire. For off-road traction, a CX tire has a tread profile that is akin to a mountain bike tire. Secondly, the gearing is also CX specific. Normal gearing falls inbetween typical road bike and mountain bike setups. Third, the wet and muddy conditions of cross riding combined with the descents, turns and dismounts require more braking power than Caliper brakes. Cyclocross bikes use eitherCenter-pull Cantilever or Disc brakes. In addition to more stopping power, these brake systems accumlate less mud and debris. Finally, CX bikes rarely have a waterbottle cage installed as it interferes with shouldering the bike when negotiating obstacles. CX riders can be handed bottles from friends, family, teammates or crew. These are called "Hand-ups" and I have seen everything from water, energy drink, and my favorite: Pabst Blue Ribbon.

After giving that primer to those that inquire, I still sense that I have not been able to adequately communicate the spectacle that is cross. So here is a view of the sport from the inside. This is my fourth year riding cross and this is my first CAT3 race. I got destroyed but I still had a blast! See you at the races, and please, we need more cowbell!

Stark Velo Cyclocross Race Sunday September 30, 2012 from Mike Cousino on Vimeo.




99% DNF at World's Toughest Mudder

More than 800 started this race and only 8 men and 2 women finished. That is amazing considering the athletes that lined up at the start were no sissies. In order to even be invited to compete in the World's Toughest Mudder Finals you had to finish in the top 5% of a normal Tough Mudder event during 2011. A "normal" tough mudder is a 10-12 mile circuit of military style obstacles and as the name implies, the course is muddy and the obstacles are, well, tough. The WTM24 is the same distance course with double the obstacles. Mudders attempt to complete as many circuits as possible. Each athlete has a designated camp site in a transition area located near the starting line where they can stash food, dry clothes, and other gear. Many took breaks between laps, with many opting to sleep several hours during the middle of the night. Others trudged on non-stop for the full 24+ hours. The "+" is very important. See, the first person to cross the finish line closest to the 24 hour mark without exceeding it sets the bar for the number of circuits required to be an official finisher. If the the winner posts 6 laps at 24 hours, and you have only done 5, then you have an additional 4 hours to match that number of laps else it is considered a DNF. Wowzers!

The male and female winners, Junyong Pak and Juliana Sproles crossed the finish line together at the 24 hour and 8 minute mark. Pak was on his 7th circuit while Juliana was on her 6th. Unofficially, 520 completed the first circuit, two circuits: 240, three circuits: 107, 4 circuits: 42, five circuits: 14, and 6 circuits: 10. (Because Pak and Sproles completed their last lap after the 24 hour mark, they were officially credited with just 6 and 5 circuits respectivley.)

I will let the pictures of the obstacles speak for themselves. Be sure to check out all the pictures in the World's Toughest Mudder Photo Gallery.


Pictures from the 36th Fall Classic Half Marathon

We are happy to provide these pictures for free to all the participants of Cleveland West Road Runners Club 36th Annual Fall Classic Half Marathon. We really enjoyed sharing the day with you under great weather conditions for the 13.1 miles. We hope everyone had a Great Race.

Don't miss any of the photos. There are 8 pages of images. Navigate through the pages by clicking on the numbered squares at the top of the gallery. To download your picutres, click on the thumbnail and then right click the large image and then "Save Picture As . . ."

Special thanks to Michelle Cousino, Tim Hanchin and Mike Briehl for volunteering their time, talent and equipment. Enjoy the pictures!


Indoor Training Strategy for Cyclocross Racing

What's that you say?

It may seem antithetical to the roots of cyclocross to recommend indoor training for cyclocross racing. But it can be a winning formula when combined with adequate outdoor skills practice.

Mud, sand, run-ups and barriers aside, the fitness needed to succeed in cyclocross can be achieved largely through indoor training. But as with most good things, there are trade-offs...

On the plus side: 1) You can train no matter the weather. 2) You will (likely) avoid injury associated with trail running and riding. 3) You can be very specific with your efforts.

On the negative: Well, I can only see one real negative to doing the bulk of your cyclocross training indoors – you may  miss out on the “acclimation” effects of being outside in all conditions.

But even this negative can be a plus as many top athletes report “weather fatigue” from training and racing in bad conditions all the time. By not worrying about the weather for your training sessions (thus mentally preparing for anything race day can throw at you) I believe this consideration is minor at best.

So what would a good indoor cyclocross routine look like? Here is my recommendation based on a four week build/recovery cycle.

 Weeks 1-3

Monday – Rest (assuming a weekend race or long ride)

Tuesday AM – 60 min run intervals

Using a good treadmill, alternate moderate running pace for 2 minutes @ 6-7mph with sprinting for one minute @ 8-10mph. You may need to build up to these paces and times.

Tuesday PM – 60 min weight circuit or core strength

A moderately stressful full-body weight circuit (with rapid switches between exercises and enough exertion to work up a sweat), TRX, P90X or a similar “boot camp” routine is good.

Wednesday – 60-90 min outdoor CX practice or indoor threshold intervals

20 min warmup, 6x6 min intervals at zone 4/5, 3 min easy spin between intervals, 20 min cooldown.

Thursday AM – 60 min run hill intervals

Using a good treadmill at a moderate pace of 6-7mph, alternate moderate running with no incline for 2 minutes and at the maximum incline for one minute. You may need to build up to these paces and times.

Thursday PM – 90 min bike “jumps”

Using your indoor trainer, warm up 20 minutes then complete 3 sets of the following: In gear that you can spin up (but not spin out) do 5x – 15 second all-out sprints. Spin easy one minute between sprints, 5 minutes between sets. Cool down 20 minutes.

Friday – 60 min “cross starts”

Using your indoor trainer, warm up 20 minutes then complete 5 sets of the following: Shift to a moderate gear and stop pedaling, waiting for your trainer to spin down. Practice a sprint start (make sure there is enough resistance on your trainer tire) and shift through the gears until 60 seconds. Rest 3 minutes between starts. Cool down 20 minutes.

Saturday – 60 min singletrack, run-up and/or barrier practice (outdoor)

OK, so getting out and “doing” cyclocross is a good thing too. Spend an hour carving singletrack, managing surface transitions, dismounting/mounting, running barriers and hauling your bike up hills. Even with the great fitness you've cultivated indoors, you'll need these skills to master cyclocross racing.

Sunday – RACE or 2 hour endurance ride (outdoor or indoor)

Week 4 (recovery)

Remove Tuesday AM, Thursday PM and Friday workouts along with reducing the intensity of the Wednesday session, whether it is indoor or outdoor.

Several top cyclocross stars report using indoor training as the major thrust of their training once the weather turns gnarly. There is no reason you can achieve the same benefits by getting in quality training no matter what Mother Nature throws at you.

Predictable. Quantifiable. Intense. Just what training should be.