I've been digging and digging at this and am finding all the information completely overwhelming. I want to get to the point where I can dependably run 3-4x per week, for about 6-8km. Since starting about 2 months ago, I've been bonking (maxing out) at about 3km every second or third run. We're not talking about marathon training here — I'm bonking about 3km! I ran twice this week, one 6km and one bonk at 3km, under extremely similar conditions. Let's look at the differences:


Good run:

  1. Supper: big salad + chicken/mozza ravioli
  2. Pace between 5:35-6min/km (great for me)
  3. Run at 9pm 4. Almost all downhill till about 4km

Awful run:

  1. Supper: fish tacos with rice and beans and avocado
  2. Pace between 5:35-6 to start
  3. Run at 9pm
  4. Slight hill at 1.5km
  5. Complete bonko at 3km.

These runs are so frustratingly similar I can't get to the bottom of it. My current thought is the extra exertion on the hill does me in? That's the only real variable between each day. My next few runs, I'm going to see if I can avoid all hills and stick religiously to a 6min/km pace.

Any other ideas? This is getting really frustrating. My goal was to do 6km last night, but at 3km I thought I was going to have to lie down on the ground ( and die ). Thanks all!


Hey all!

Turns out the advice given below is pretty good. I was doing a few things way wrong: I was running fast as much as possible, I was not being careful on hills, and I wasn't watching my breath/heart rate...etc...

My current plan:

Since I figured out that my NikeWatch does intervals, I've set my watch to 3:1 walk:run. I'm going to stick to that for a few weeks, then move to 4:1, then 5:1 etc etc...I'm being ultra careful on hills (often I'll just walk rather than let my heart rate jump up too high), and I'm also being really careful about my pace overall. I'm generally trying to stick to above 6min/km.

In short, I'm trying to just go slow. In doing that, I haven't had a single bonk in about 2 weeks now. Thanks a lot for the replies here, really appreciate the time!

  • Kindly define "bonking".
    – rrirower
    Aug 26, 2016 at 16:06
  • Oops! Sorry — bonking = hitting the wall. Maxing yourself out.
    – saltcod
    Aug 26, 2016 at 18:05
  • Running isn't an exact science. What works for me, might not work for you. But if we're going to help we'll need more information. Do you take a rest day between run 1 & 2? How well trained are you to start with?
    – User999999
    Aug 29, 2016 at 13:28
  • @saltcod that isn't what it means where I'm from oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/bonk_2 ;)
    – greenglass
    Sep 5, 2016 at 5:37
  • Just as a point of clarification - true bonking doesn't mean "run out of energy and feel tired", true bonking is failry serious.
    – JohnP
    Oct 5, 2016 at 17:46

2 Answers 2


First of all you have to build your speed up.

With this I intend that you have to slowly adapt to a certain speed you consider ideal:

Pace between 5:35-6min/km (great for me)

To do this you have to run in sets at that speed increasing the volume of training. Instead of doing straight 3Km, try and do 3x 1.x Km ( where the x stand for a certain amounts of meters that you will decide ).

That x will be your incremental each time you feel your comfortable at that pace and that time.

You have to take in account that going uphill or downhill will be a variable that you must take in consideration ( so if you can avoid, do it ). On top fo that, try to be on point nutritionwise ( cannot give you any advice because largely depends on you nutritonal habits ).

Once you have done that you will find that your maximal anaerobic lactic speed will go up and eventually you will end up being capable of running more.

In between sets try active rest ( reduce your pace trying to stay around 50% HRmax ).


I think its pretty likely that your trying to run fast every time you go out for a run. Most people run fast in the middle of the week Tuesday or Wednesday and usually on a track for more serious runners. On the weekend its a long slow run 2-3 hours long. Some also do a second fast day during the week or tempo type runs.

That would be 1-2 days per week at a fast pace. Its not the fast workouts that will help you get past 3km going fast in a predictable way. Its the long slow runs that will give you a good gas tank for pushing through a fast run.

Now this is for a normal runner in my view, but from what you say your just building up. There is a huge difference in energy level for me from the first 15 minutes to anything greater than 30 minutes. For long runs I try to ignore pace until after this initial time to avoid starting out too fast which is something that you may be doing.

Since your just starting to build up consider a run/walk plan like 3min run/ 30 sec walk when you realize your about to hit the wall.

Alternatively you could hit the wall on purpose then plan to keep jogging for some pre-determined amount of time. This would be a more extreme method and should be done with care and some study.

For run/walk strategies see Jeff Galloway and for purposely hitting the way see Greg McMillian's 2-3 hour long run without any gels or any calories during or before the run (no breakfast).

Lots of ways to hit your goal. Mainly its just about selecting the method that fits you best. That can be difficult and so usually to get a good answer from someone else you will have relate a short biography and training history to get a good answer. Join a running club or hire a coach for the best answers.

Hope this helps some. Enjoy your running :)

  • Thanks Jason — this is a great answer. It's exactly what I was doing wrong I think. Slow and steady. Will look up Jeff Galloway for sure. Thank you!!
    – saltcod
    Oct 7, 2016 at 15:18

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