What does it feel like to run out of matches?



quenya

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Jan 14, 2010
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I'm not 100% convinced the 'matchbook' analogy is particularly accurate but, it conveys the idea I'm asking about. So who has burnt all their matches and what did it feel like when you were out? I ask because recently I had my output plummet compared to rpe, felt like a TT but was in L1 or low L2 speeds, and I'm all but certain that it wasn't a calorie issue.
 

An old Guy

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Feb 12, 2011
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I heard this tale about a runner: He was out a good ways in a 50 mile foot race in England. His wife pulled up next to him in a car and suggested that it might be time to quit. He responded No, he was doing good. She asked him again 10 minutes later. He responded No, he was doing good. Then she pointed out that he had not moved for the last 10 minutes.

Usually running out of matches refers to being unable to do what you are attempting to do.
 

64Paramount

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Jul 25, 2009
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Originally Posted by An old Guy .

I heard this tale about a runner: He was out a good ways in a 50 mile foot race in England. His wife pulled up next to him in a car and suggested that it might be time to quit. He responded No, he was doing good. She asked him again 10 minutes later. He responded No, he was doing good. Then she pointed out that he had not moved for the last 10 minutes.

Usually running out of matches refers to being unable to do what you are attempting to do.

/img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif Good story...
 

smaryka

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Aug 18, 2009
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For me burning matches means depleting my sprint/anaerobic resources. Totally different to what what you've described (which would be more like bonking for me, though I know you said it wasn't a fueling issue).

If I've done a tough road race or group ride where I'm continually surging and "withdrawing" from my bank of limited high wattage outputs, it'll be some huge motivated effort that sees my final match burnt. Winning a sprint finish, desperately trying not to get dropped, that kind of thing.

I can literally feel my legs "go", in the sense that if I were standing up they would give way. That's how I would describe it anyway. What it means is that I have no more big effort left in them. I can still ride on at a usual sub-threshold power but any out of the saddle sprinty efforts will be weak and useless.

YMMV of course. And I'm not a sprinter at all fwiw.
 

daveryanwyoming

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Oct 3, 2006
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Originally Posted by smaryka .

For me burning matches means depleting my sprint/anaerobic resources. ..
+1, that's the way I look at it. I've overspent my matchbook when the legs just won't respond to one more attack, I can't rapidly close a gap or can't contest the sprint but otherwise can still plug along at decent steady power.

FWIW, I've always looked at 'bonking' and 'hitting the wall' as pretty much the same thing and both coming down to running out of glycogen. During my wife's grad work towards her RD her sports nutrition profs defined the terms a bit more precisely and a bit differently. IIRC, bonking was the rapid depletion of available blood sugar that basically starves the brain and leads to the tunnel vision, feelings of despair in some folks and basically the mental aspects of running out of steam regardless of how much stored muscle glycogen might still be available to the working muscles. Hitting the wall was defined as the depletion of stored muscle glycogen that makes that basically makes it impossible to sustain hard efforts in the muscles themselves. The two might or might not happen simultaneously depending on things like recent fueling vs. longer term glycogen depletion during things like stage races or periods of heavy training.

I've never seen the two defined exactly like that but it's an interesting thought that it might be possible to have trouble in one area related to sugar stores but not necessarily another depending on what led up to the sugar shortage.

-Dave
 

tonyzackery

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when I have to accelerate and it feels like both of my tires are flat, but when I look down, unfortunately, they're not...
 

quenya

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Jan 14, 2010
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Thanks for your input everyone.

Dave, you've got me thinking maybe this was a calorie issue after all. I think I've always 'bonked' and 'hit the wall' together in the past, but perhaps after two races Saturday I didn't fully refill my glycogen stores so while I had a clear(ish) head and plenty of blood glucose, and ended up 'hitting the wall.'

If your wife's former professor was right I think I'd prefer to 'hit the wall' rather than 'bonk.'
 

tonyzackery

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'Burning matches' refers to accelerations and isn't as greatly influenced by glycogen stores as being on a true "bonk" condition. Matches are more related to AWC and the speed of its regeneration - all of which, the size of your "book", the duration of your "matches", and your ability to light another match when necessary, can be increased with a proper training regimen. Bonking is directly related to glycogen availability, and/or lack thereof.

I've burned through my matchbook in a race (whereby getting dropped), but knew that I wasn't on a "bonk". Totally different sensations. When I bonk I can feel it throughout my entire body. Burnt-up matchbook is only felt in the legs. ymmv...
 

swampy1970

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Feb 3, 2008
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Originally Posted by quenya .

Thanks for your input everyone.

Dave, you've got me thinking maybe this was a calorie issue after all. I think I've always 'bonked' and 'hit the wall' together in the past, but perhaps after two races Saturday I didn't fully refill my glycogen stores so while I had a clear(ish) head and plenty of blood glucose, and ended up 'hitting the wall.'

If your wife's former professor was right I think I'd prefer to 'hit the wall' rather than 'bonk.'
Can you clarrify what kind of time frame we're talking about here with regards to degraded performances? Is it just limited to a couple of events on one day or several events over the course of a couple of weeks?

If you have two road races on the same day then refueling for the second starts during the first event, unless you have a couple of hours in between or that first event is a sub 20 mile TT, in which case you'll be heading for the car and the cooler with the carbo drinks in it right after crossing the finish line - win or no win.

Despite 'hitting the wall" or "bonking" have two different characteristics according to the afore mentioned prof, the end result in a competitive environment is the same. End result = no chance of win unless everyone else falls off.
 

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