Age and Bonking

How do you prepare for the rigorous physical requirements of high elevation adventure? Strength and endurance are key, but are only part of a more complex equation. How do you prepare for changes in altitude, exposure, diet, etc.? How do you mentally prepare? Learn from others and share what you know about training in advance for outdoor adventures.
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Re: Age and Bonking

Post by maverick » Tue Aug 02, 2016 7:22 am


Read this article:
See if any of these issues can be applied to your case, most folks violate several of these because they have never researched the sience on the effects of long endurance sports activities on their bodies, they just do it, and sooner or later they hit a wall, either by bonking or worse, by injury. Backpacking needs to be taken as a serious endurance sport, not as some leisurely activity, carrying 20-50 lbs on your back for numerous hours, extreme elevation gains/losses, grueling heat/cold, and diverse/challenging terrains all tax our bodies to their limits.

Professional Sierra Landscape Photographer

I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member:

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Re: Age and Bonking

Post by AlmostThere » Tue Aug 02, 2016 8:14 am

I had a year of bonks (I'm not old, but I'm getting there) and came back from it. It took a lot of blood work and some exploring to figure out I needed a little bit of help. I'd do a trip I had done before without issues and crash/burn. It wasn't consistent -- a short trip would have me hitting a wall, a longer harder one would be fine. I'm working my way back up to speed now that things have stabilized.

And now, my unhusband is bonking. He just saw his 62nd birthday. We're working on it. Probably a combination of slowing down due to a job change, stress, and some unknown thing we'll figure out.

I saw a bunch of older retired folks head out to Goddard as we were returning to the trailhead -- they were taking it nice and slow, cutting daily mileages to manageable. I've seen 70+ folks who do 3-4 miles per day. Slowing down sucks, but sometimes, you just do it, because you don't like the idea of stopping....

Keep at it. Throw in some GU packets or some extra granola bars. I take Emergen-C packets and have them hot at some point in the day, because I don't like them cold.

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Re: Age and Bonking

Post by oldranger » Thu Aug 04, 2016 2:33 pm

Just short of 70 and I have adjusted significantly. With full pack I try to keep my days down to less than 6 trail miles and 2000 ft. of vertical. Off trail over nasty terrain more like 1500 ft. and 4 miles. With less than 15 lbs I could probably handle nearly 2 times that. But would require a couple of days recovery. I'm also down to not more than 2 days with pack to one layover with a strong preference for 1 and 1. and for most east side passes the first day is usually on a horse or mule.

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!

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Re: Age and Bonking

Post by Wandering Daisy » Sun Aug 07, 2016 5:00 pm

Do you know how to do the "rest step"? It is all about pace- and keeping a steady reasonable heart beat. Like gears on a car. Let your breathing determine the pace. Big hill? gear down- slow and easy. Do not stop and go- steady. Never get totally out of breath.

I have occasionally "bonked" at all ages. No more now that I am 67 than when I was 22. It happens when I go harder than my body wants to. Stay in tune with your body. I agree that do not just say it is old age. All sorts of causes - poor sleep, dehydration, illness, heat, too heavy of a pack, poor acclimation. One thing that has been a boon to me is lightening my pack weight. Used to carry 50-60 pounds; now 20-30 and am just as well fed and comfortable. Thank goodness for the new lighter gear!

What slows me down more nowadays is consciously throttling back to save my joints. I no longer do 12-hour days. A 7-8 hour day, regardless of mileage is best for me. When I push that, I hurt! I can do a 12-hour 20 mile day but pay for it the next week.

If really worried, get a workup by a good doctor - perhaps a heart specialist. My husband bonked and it turned out to be an irregular heart beat. He went two years without seeing a doctor, quit a lot of activity and gained 20 pounds. Condition was treated but it has been an uphill battle to regain strength. If there is a problem, the earlier the treatment the better.

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Re: Age and Bonking

Post by balance » Tue Aug 09, 2016 2:40 am

Greetings tisharb

If you've experienced sciatic problems, see the post just before yours: "Safe, effective method to increase flexibility." I've seen well over a hundred people get relief from sciatic pain with trigger point release therapy. It will cost you $20 for a foam roll at Google: "trigger point release" and "tight piriformis". Better yet, get the Claire Davies book.

If you look at your feet, you'll see that your foot externally rotates (turns out) on the side where you experience sciatic pain. Quick summary: Sciatic nerve runs through piriformis muscle (abductor muscle within gluteus medius). Tight piriformis muscle puts pressure on sciatic nerve. Pain and other bad things happen.

No need for pills or surgery. Trigger point release every day for 3-4 weeks. No more pain. More efficient hiking. Life is good.


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Re: Age and Bonking

Post by Cross Country » Fri Aug 12, 2016 2:55 pm

I did a trip to kid lakes when I was 60 and thought - wow is this is a lot more difficult than when I was 34. At 65 I took my last trip (bad heart decision). It was considerable more difficult than at 60. Now at 73 this is only a memory and - yes age does a number on almost everyone.

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