Breaking the Bonk (or ‘How To Avoid Hitting the Wall’)

Left to right, David Lacy, Christina Kadinger, me, and my husband, Tim

Left to right, David Lacy, Christina Kadinger, me, and my husband, Tim

I run. Or rather, I try to run a few times a week these days, as my schedule permits. Morning networking meetings, lunches and dinners with clients and referral sources, and time with my family all compete with running for the same “free” time around my workday. But OK – I’m still a runner, and every runner has experienced the bonk.

According to Runner’s World, when your body stalls mid-run, it’s called bonking. It’s also called “hitting a wall.” You just plain run out of energy, and you wonder how the heck you are going to finish the race or, if it’s a late-evening run after a long day at the office, you wonder how the heck you are going to get home. I will admit to  calling my husband to come pick me up after bonking mid-run, more than once.

The last race I ran, I experienced the bonk, big time. It was a 10K that I ran with my friends David and Christina. I went out too fast, ran inconsistently, and by the time we reached the five-mile marker, I was done. Completely bonked, ready to go home. David ran beside me the entire race, encouraging, needling, asking me if I was OK. He practically dragged me, wheezing and complaining, across the finish line. My husband, who walked the course, actually finished a few minutes faster than we did. Our friend Christina, recovering from ankle surgery, left us in the dust. David plodded along next to me, bonk and all, and kept me moving. He deserves more than a finisher’s medal for keeping me in the race.

I have experienced the bonk in my practice more than once, too. Only instead of your body giving out, it’s your brain that just shuts down. Ever reach a point of just staring at the computer, not knowing what you just wrote or understanding what you just read? Yeah. That’s the bonk.

There are days when I reach the point of being mentally non-functional, but with so much left on my plate to get done it’s ridiculous. Just last week, I had a day where I looked at my paralegal and said (in my best caveman impression), “Ug. Brain not braining anymore today.” But there isn’t anyone a solo attorney can call to just come pick you up if you bonk at work, and you have to keep slogging through the meetings on your calendar, and keep being an effective lawyer, in order finally to get to the end of the day. I am just thankful I have never bonked in court. Yet.

Ironically, my best weapon in breaking the bonk at work is to make time for running. It makes me focus on the pain in my legs and the burning in my lungs instead of work. Anything that gets that you out of your own head and takes your focus off of your law practice and running the business would work, though. I also love to cook and bake, so getting busy in the kitchen can be a good bonk breaker.

Sometimes, your best weapon is having someone to walk you through the bonk, like David did for me on race day. A friend to listen and encourage. A spouse to tell you that it’s OK, they’re making dinner tonight. A legal assistant who cancels the rest of your calendar for the day. Your dog insisting it’s time to go for a walk.

Or a friend nagging you that you aren’t running enough lately. (Thanks, David!)

How do you ‘break the bonk’?

All opinions, advice, and experiences of guest bloggers/columnists are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, practices or experiences of Solo Practice University®.

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