Great result sabotaged by cramps...



curby

New Member
May 9, 2006
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130km race: at about 70km I was having my best ride of the year but I could feel cramps coming on in both legs deep & just above the knees, I drank an electrolyte replacement drink asap and started to use a pulling technique on the hills, kept pretty good speed/power like that for a while but at about 100km both quads and both hamstrings seized up! has anyone had this type of cramp? I found one paper on something very similar which refers to this as 'exertional heat cramps'

help welcomed!
 

daveryanwyoming

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Oct 3, 2006
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curby said:
... has anyone had this type of cramp? ...
Yeah, they're pretty common at the end of hot or hard road races. Had my legs do the same thing in the final miles of a very fast and difficult race just a few days ago. Basically you can cramp up if you get too low on fluids or electrolytes but it's also common to cramp when you simply go harder and longer than your fitness will support. Given it was your best race of the season to date I'm guessing just plain riding hard for extended periods was partly responsible even if your electrolytes and fluids were in pretty good shape which they probably weren't again given you were setting a seasons best at the time.

All you can really do is pay attention to fueling and hydration with electrolyte drinks, perhaps take additional electrolyte tabs on hotter days or longer rides and keep training so it happens less frequently. But it does happen to most riders from time to time and IME you can't completely eliminate it even with attention to hydration and electrolytes because when the race is hard enough and long enough we all get pushed past what we can handle and our bodies have a lot of ways of complaining, leg cramps are just one of them.

Good luck,
-Dave
 

curby

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May 9, 2006
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tnx Dave,

did you actually have 4 cramps at once as I described? I havent talked to anyone else who has had this extensive of symptoms... I was standing on the pedals, unable to sit, unable to pedal forward or back, just coasting that way, the ambulance actually spotted me and followed me for several hundred meters until I was able to sit again and started to soft-pedal. I was drinking electrolyte drink all the way thru, so next time I will try some salt tablets. You are right, this hasnt happened on any training rides, only in hard races... ugh

thanks again,

curby
 

RichG

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Apr 26, 2010
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Hi Curby and Dave ,

I'm unfortunately fairly experienced with this kind of cramping and have tried all sorts of fixes . Nobody seems very clear on the exact causes although going harder than your conditioning will allow seems to be one .

I've recently read and heard of a possible mental limiter link to cramping and athletes using natural mood enhancers and anti-depressants to address this problem by extending the time to when the limiter which causes/initiates the muscles to cramp kicks in .

I've also been advised by sports masseurs of trigger points in ones calf muscles which release leg cramps when pressed hard with a thumb and this does seem to work on the whole leg , or all the cramping muscles in the leg , not just the calf .

RichG
 

curby

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May 9, 2006
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RichG,

thanks for your response, some riders can 'rise to the occassion' so to speak and race quite a bit harder than they train, but maybe I am not one of those.. can you offer any more details about: supplements or trigger points I might try to use to delay/remedy this problem? thanks again,

curby.
 

RichG

New Member
Apr 26, 2010
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Hi Curby ,

The mood-enhancer/anti-depressants I referred to are DL-Phenylalanine and L-Tyrosine and you can just mix them in your race drink/bottles . The trigger points in are located in the middle of the widest point of each calf-muscle ; these seem to work both when you only feel a cramp coming on or when you have already cramped up suddenly.

Good luck !

RichG