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Thread: Cramping

  1. #1
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    Cramping

    I suffer regularly from cramping in the calves in races. Recently at Wasdale I got initial cramps before and during the climb up Seatallen and at the weekend was cramping by mile 10 of the Lakeland 50 - both races were compromised by having to manage twinges and then full-on cramp attacks. It happens on far less initimidating races though - Winster Hill being a recent example.
    In the past I've put it down to lack of sufficient training - but I've prepared for and completed a BGR this year (and at no point suffered during that). I also take salt tablets and electrolytes.
    Any views on this and how to avoid?

  2. #2
    Senior Member RaceTheSweeper's Avatar
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    MrRTS suffered with cramps in his legs for the 1st time ever at Wasdale. One of the runners that was way ahead of him gave him a tip when he saw him later. He puts Indian tonic water (flat as you dont want to run fast and have an exploding soft flask) in his bladder pack or one of his soft flasks. MrRTS tried it at Snowdon and Holme moss and it worked. He also said it's really refreshing and gives you a bit of a boost. He mixes a scoop of Mountain Fuel Extreme Energy in with it too. Try it :-)

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    Senior Member Travs's Avatar
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    I'm of the opinion that cramp is more to do with extreme fatigue in the muscles, rather than dehydration or lack of salts. Although I realise everyone is different.

    I also manage long training runs (8-9 hours) without any hint of cramp, but in a racing situation where I'm pushing the pace constantly it's always a potential hazard. So for me, it's a case of pushing harder in training with hard reps and lots of strength work.

    As for getting rid of cramp in a race, the only thing I've found that works is a sit down and have a drink of water whilst you recover. Although once it gets past a certain level, all you can do really is manage and minimise it.
    Last edited by Travs; 01-08-2017 at 09:17 PM.

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    Cramp is your muscles telling you that you are doing something you have not trained them for, be it brute effort, endurance, adopting a particular position, temperature, or a combination of these. It is not felt to be associated with hydration or electrolyte status - but once you get into true ultra territory, it all becomes a bit anecdotal. The American ultra runners are keen on pickle juice, which contains a lot of salt, but as it "works" virtually instantly it is probably an awful tasting distraction rather than something truly therapeutic. I suspect the same applies to tonic water.

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    Senior Member RaceTheSweeper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T View Post
    Cramp is your muscles telling you that you are doing something you have not trained them for, be it brute effort, endurance, adopting a particular position, temperature, or a combination of these. It is not felt to be associated with hydration or electrolyte status - but once you get into true ultra territory, it all becomes a bit anecdotal. The American ultra runners are keen on pickle juice, which contains a lot of salt, but as it "works" virtually instantly it is probably an awful tasting distraction rather than something truly therapeutic. I suspect the same applies to tonic water.
    I have to admit the thought of tonic water without gin in is a little weird to me too!

  6. #6
    I also suffer with Cramp in the longer races normally after a couple of hours or so, don't think it is lack of salt as I have tried various things to be hydrated and to keep the salt level up including salt tablets and various drinks. As mentioned above I think it is more do with muscle fatigue and the fact that I race much faster than I train at for the long runs, so I have been trying to do longer tempo run at above race pace and then for my longer runs try and finish the last 30- 40% at Race pace or above, I have not really had chance to test it out yet in a longer race (I had been out injured for 5 months earlier this year but ramping up now) but here's hoping
    Last edited by Slaven; 02-08-2017 at 09:07 AM.

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    Thanks for the replies. My confusion is why it has impacted me so early in recent races. I started Wasdale at a steady pace but was cramping in the valley after 4 miles. At the weekend's LL50 I started cramping on the first major climb. I typically train at a decent lick.

    I do have somewhat oversized calves and they have only got bigger through BGR training. Wonder whether they are somewhat out of proportion of other key muscles like the glutes and get overworked and hence cramp? Dunno - annoying though. It's the only thing holding me back from being totally amazing and unstoppable

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    Senior Member Alan Lucker's Avatar
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    I've also suffered a few times. On Clough head descent (then all the way to the finish) on the "Lakes in a Day race" last year. Also the Lakeland 50 in 2015. Plus a few others. The common factors between all these bouts of cramp is not feeling great on the day, and setting off too fast. I'm starting to think it's an imbalance in the body's chemistry that triggers the brain which triggers the muscles to spasm. I think the pickle juice must resupply these imbalances, and so turns the brains signals to the muscles off, in terms of the spasms.

    Mitigating cramp I believe is best done by, training in a relevant way for the race (remember L100/50 + many others require a pack weighing appx 2.5KG), resting well and feeling good (hard to guarantee) prior to the race. Setting off at a relatively comfortable pace, especially when doing a long race without doing a warm up. Eating and drinking little and often with a decent bit of salt too. Strength training.

    I did the Lakeland 100 last weekend, trained with a 5kg weights vest + long hill runs + speed work, felt good before it (lucky me), set off very conservatively, ate and drank little and often used NUUNs. Never had any cramp at all, just extremely sore blistered feet after 70 miles and Finished in a decent time for me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Lucker View Post
    The common factors between all these bouts of cramp is not feeling great on the day ...I'm starting to think it's an imbalance in the body's chemistry that triggers the brain which triggers the muscles to spasm. I think the pickle juice must resupply these imbalances, and so turns the brains signals to the muscles off, in terms of the spasms
    Funnily enough, both Wasdale and LL50 in particular I'd felt pretty shitty and drained ahead of both of them.

    Congratulations on your run btw - 25 hrs is a great achievement
    Last edited by RichardB; 02-08-2017 at 10:33 PM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Alan Lucker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RichardB View Post
    Funnily enough, both Wasdale and LL50 in particular I'd felt pretty shitty and drained ahead of both of them.

    Congratulations on your run btw - 25 hrs is a great achievement
    It was nearer 26 than 25, but thanks.
    The longer the race, the more feeling good before it seams to matter. I suppose if not feeling great, maybe setting off extremely conservative and building in would be prudent.
    In the lead up to the Lakeland 100 I consumed a lot of full fat live yoghurt. On events like that, your digestive system needs to be working well. If there's such thing as a superfood IMO that's it.
    Last edited by Alan Lucker; 03-08-2017 at 10:00 PM.

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