GTN talks with Former Member of SEAL Team Six, Don Mann, about the benefits and dangers of bonking.
What is bonking?
Bonking is bringing yourself to full muscular failure, full spiritual failure, full mental failure; you have given everything you can and you can’t go another step. Bonking’s really bad for you, and I’d never tell anybody they should bonk. I think the secret is reaching up to the line where you are almost going to bonk and then back off. Then you get so much more done in your life, you can fill this big, big void that doesn’t get filled. If you just did the basic, minimum requirements that you needed to do to get through the day you don’t really get anything accompanied. If you push yourself a little bit harder you get more accomplished; it’s uncomfortable, it hurts, and you’re out of your comfort zone. In SEAL training, in these adventure races or these ultra-endurance events we’d say “bring on the pain”, if it got too painful we’d simply pass out. If it wasn’t painful enough for us to pass out we’d keep going, that’s how we got so much accomplished in these events and in SEAL training.
If bonking was your mindset, were you just pushing yourself all the time?
As a SEAL you really couldn’t look at the beginning SEAL training and think “Oh my God, I have a million pushups to do before the end of this training, a hundred miles of swimming to do, a hundred miles of running.” You can’t look at it that way. We had to set it up little by little, ”I’m going to finish this gut wrenching work out, it’s got to be done, we’ll finish before lunch time and we’ll deal with the next thing after lunch.” You had to look at the day little by little. Micro goal, micro goal, the end of the day might be the macro goal. The end of the six month course was the macro goal brought down to a micro level.
Is that thinking how you accomplished so many endurance events?
The Hawaii Iron Man, 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and 26.2 mile run is a macro goal. A micro goal would be getting some swims in, getting some long bike rides in and getting some marathons in. Achieve those micro goals and then achieve the macro goal of the Iron Man. What I’m talking about is taking that Iron Man now, taking it from a macro goal and making it a micro goal. Now you accomplish the Iron Man, you accomplish another Iron Man because the macro goal now is to do two in one day.
What’s your approach to your personal life?
Push, push, push, push but don’t push when something’s going to break and it’s irreparable. I think for business, for banking, for anything but sports and military keep pushing, get a lot more accomplished but don’t let something break. Don’t let your family be neglected at home. Don’t let something break that’s not repairable.