Spontanious severe cramping...

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by Halfnote, Oct 3, 2012.

  1. Halfnote

    Halfnote New Member

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    I ride on average about 130-140 miles a week. Most of it is commuting, I have about 750' ascent each way.

    When I ride I usually ride hard. Zone 2 sometimes zone 1. every other day and recover ride between. I'm fit 6'1" 190 pounds. I hydrate really well, and take e-caps to supplement electrolyte loss.

    I stretch a lot. Yesterday afternoon when I got home, I stretched as I always do.

    Recently, I have had these terrible episodes of spontanious cramping in the middle of the night. Here it is now, 3:00am and I'm drinking water and taking endurolytes. I mean this is really severe. My quads and hamstrings woke me up cramped like a rock, jeez very painful. HELP!

    I mix up my riding as I said, but I'm not riding any different than I was over the past few months.

    Could it be that I'm over training?
     
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  2. GraceB

    GraceB New Member

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    I am not an expert, but I would speak with your doctor. Riding in zone 2 is not really riding hard (zone 2 is about 70-75% of Max HR and is often toted as a recommended level of exercise especially for beginners). What you are experiencing does not sound normal and I would have it checked out.
     
  3. Halfnote

    Halfnote New Member

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    Thanks Grace,

    I'm going to call her this morning.

    Actually I was wrong, I ride in Zone1 about 50-60% of my commute Zone 2 about 30% The rest is stops, or rolling in traffic. I have seen my doctor, who is a cyclist too. She says that she thinks I'm not hydrating enough because I'm as healthy and strong as can be. (Just had a full workup in July.) She kids me and says she wishes that her other patients would start riding too.

    I have been drinking a lot of water, but maybe not enough during recovery. As I write this, I just arrived at my office. I rode this morning 13miles in 39:27. Which is about average, maybe even a few seconds faster.

    I have not noticed any changes in my average HR, but I did feel sore this morning. I think that was from the cramps earlier though, not fatigue.
     
  4. Methodical

    Methodical Member

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    I'm following this thread because I'd like to know the result for future reference.

    Al
     
  5. An old Guy

    An old Guy Member

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    Your numbers don't make sense.

    Looks like your average speed is 20mph. Combined with the climb that seems to be a a bit harder than zone 1 & 2.

    ---

    I don't think dehydration is your issue.

    I think your peak torque is your issue. If so, raising your cadence (using a lower gear on the hard parts) will help.
     
  6. Halfnote

    Halfnote New Member

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    No I haven't been able to crack a 20mph avg speed for this ride...Yet

    According to my Polar HRM it paints a little different picture.

    Total Elapsed Time: 45:07
    63% Zone1
    28% Zone2
    6% Zone3
    2% Zone4
    1% Zone5

    That is if I'm reading that correctly. This is total elapsed time for the ride 12.6 Miles. 18.3mph average speed 645' total ascent.
    Average HR 157

    The data I related this morning was off my PB computer. It's wireless and I'm thinking it may be reading incorrectly or battery is low. It reads ride time only. I'm going to put a new battery in it and recheck tomorrow.

    You're pretty sharp though. I am a gear masher. I know that may be part of the problem, but that's the way I have always ridden this ride. The cramping may be a result of a few different factors;

    Colder mornings, because it's colder I may not be drinking as much as I did during the summer when it was 80 degrees in the mornings. Though it may be cooler, the humidity is higher. So while I'm riding I'm sweating more.

    I might need to supplement magnesium and calcium to help recover better.

    If I was riding above 175, my HRM would tell me that. My max is set at 175. I guess it could happen, but the HRM curves show a max of 174

    However, I did drink a lot more water today than I have been. I forced myself to drink more. "usual urinary indicator" tells me I'm not dehydrated as well.

    Would really like to hear more about peak torque. So if I ride a SS on this ride, should I back off on the climbs and focus on recovery while I'm on the ascent?
     
  7. gudujarlson

    gudujarlson New Member

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    Your heart rate numbers and zones aren't adding up for me. It sounds like your zones are based on a percentage of max heart rate as opposed to percentage of heart rate at lactate threshold (LTHR). I personally use the latter, so I am not as familiar with the former. In any case, if your max heart rate is 175, a heart rate of 157 (90% of max) is quite high. For comparison, my max heart rate is 190 and 90% of that is 171 which is zone 4 by the definition I use (171 is my LTHR). So it sounds like you are riding at your lactate threshold. 130-140 miles/week of threshold work is going to be taxing on your body. For comparison, I might spend 1 hour a week (this time a year) riding at threshold or about 22 miles/week. The rest of the time I am riding below that. Assuming all my assumptions are correct, I suggest cutting back on the intensity.
     
  8. Halfnote

    Halfnote New Member

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    It may not be adding up because I just used the old 220 - age theorem.

    To be honest, I've never really paid the HR much attention. I've always been more interested in accent climbed, average speed etc.

    Now you have got me thinking....and a little worried. So I went to talk to a friend who is a trainer, (weight training) and he laughed at me, and said "well ya dummy, that's not your max HR."

    He reminded me that 220-age is a ballpark starting point, and is very conservative IHHO.

    There are two ways I can know what that number is for sure. 1st way would be to take the HRM fitness test. He again reminded me that even that was still ballpark, but it should get me closer to the actual number. The 2nd way would be to go to a cardiologist and have a proper stress/fitness test done. That way they would be certain.

    He said in my case, knowing me and how much I ride, it could very well be 10 points better...but the doctor would have to let me know for sure.

    He also told me it was very unlikely I could ride for 40+ minutes twice a day at lactic threshold. He said, " I love you brother, but I know you're not that strong..."

    Whatever that means.

    So I still plan to go see my doctor, and she said that she can easily schedule me to go to a cardiologist for a stress test.

    Man I hope everything is okay. Other than some cramping the other night...which has only happened once or twice before...I've never felt better.
     
  9. gudujarlson

    gudujarlson New Member

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    I personally don't think a accurate measurement of your max heart rate is important. My stated value of 190 is just an estimate based on many hours of recorded HR monitor data and I don't use it for anything. I actually use a power meter to manage my training, but when that is not available I use heart rate zones based on my heart rate at lactate threshold (LTHR) which again is simply based off a lot of hours logged; not a rigorous lab test.

    http://www.joefrielsblog.com/2011/04/determining-your-lthr.html
     
  10. Halfnote

    Halfnote New Member

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    Many thanks to you for this info though, good stuff.

    You have helped me to realize that to accurately monitor effort and intensity, I should be watching these things. Not only for a training tool but as a way to monitor the health aspect of what the training is doing [SIZE=12.0pt]to you physiologically[/SIZE].

    I would like to have a powertap or something similar, but all I have is the HRM for now.

    I downloaded the manual to my HRM to look into some of these questions you pose. I also downloaded it to find out more about the fitness test that can be run to target my max HRM better.
     
  11. dhk2

    dhk2 Active Member

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    I think you're riding too hard, too often, and not giving your legs a chance to fully recover. If you're 45 years old (guesing from 220-175?), and averaging 20 mph on commute rides every day, that's hard riding....unless you're a Cat I or pro racer. You don't need a doctor to tell you your max HR; you can easily learn your max HR just by going out and doing a hard effort after a good rest, uphill is best. Your doctor likely recommended a lab stress test because it's safer in event you have some abnormality in EKG or heart function. Based on the people I know, it's likely your true max HR is closer to 185-190 than 175. Even so, if your commute ride is showing 174 max HR out of 190, that's 92% of max.

    Why not try slowing down for a week? Just relax, and ride easy, averaging 15 mph or less. My guess is your cramps will go away. If you want to ride harder for a couple of days a week, fine, but get at least two days of easier riding in between. Don't "test" for speed every couple of weeks with an all-out effort, the rest of the time don't worry about speed. Leave your bike computer at home if that's what it takes to stop focusing on your speed and intensity all the time.
     
  12. Halfnote

    Halfnote New Member

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    I agree.

    I am going to go to a M-W-F recovery ride where I will back off the effort, especially in the climbs. There's only two of them that actually brings my heart rate up into the 170's

    Tuesday I'm going to do a little interval sprinting and on Thursday I will TT for speed.

    I didn't ride Thursday, Friday or Saturday this week to give my body a little recovery time.

    I will be getting my SS this week it will be set up with a 46/18 ratio. I'll more than likely ride that bike on my M-W-F rides. I'm sure that will naturally slow me up a bit. As it begins to get cooler, I'll shorten my ride back to 8-10 miles each way. That will bypass 2 nice climbs as well.

    "You don't need a doctor to tell you your max HR; you can easily learn your max HR just by going out and doing a hard effort after a good rest, uphill is best."

    Well, I'm rested and I was planning to get out tomorrow. So if I wanted to get a picture of my max, what is your suggestion?..

    Should I find a good hill and blast off until I'm exhausted? Is there a good method for this? I have one not to far from home, after about a 2 mile warm up.

    Thanks!
     
  13. dhk2

    dhk2 Active Member

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    Yep, get in a good warmup, 20 mins would be good. A moderate hill is best, so you can keep the cadence up in low gear. Start the climb at a good HR, say 130-140, and then crank up the effort smoothly to a steady level that you can hold for at least 2-3 minutes without blowing up. After you start breathing hard, around 170?, keep the effort going until you see your HR level out at max. No need to continue past that point, you'll know when you're near the top. In competition you might get a little bit higher, but if you're under by a few bpm that's not a big deal.

    Note, if you've never done all-out efforts before, or you have any concerns about of heart problems, you'll be safer doing this test in a controlled environment monitored by a sports physician or cardiologist.
     
  14. Halfnote

    Halfnote New Member

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    Still here!

    Did like you said. Took a ride toward the climb I was speaking of. Took some different routes than I normally do because of the hills and the wind is pretty steady at around 10-15mph. Most of the time in my face too.

    So I tooled along at a easy warm up pace. Even the small hills I had to climb I tried my best not to get to hard on them and kept my heart rate between 120-130 max. Tried my best to hover around 120-125.

    Doubled back to the climb, started the hill at 125, peaked at 182 and that was all I had at the time. Don't really know how accurate it will be but I could only maintain that HR for about a minute at best. Wind was gusting...Low gear...cadence around 80. Climbing up and out of the saddle.

    No pain at all, not even tired when I got back to my house.

    I'm going to try it again maybe on Thursday to see if there is any difference.
     
  15. An old Guy

    An old Guy Member

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    You make commenting very difficult for anyone. You leave out so much.

    You have 750' of climb but is seems that your "hill" is much less than that. If you are planning on riding a SS with a 46/18 the hill cannot be very steep or else not very long. Yet your heart rate rises from 125 to 182 (near your max) using a low gear on the hill. That seems to conflict with your 18mph average speed.


    Torque is equivalent to the amount of pressure you apply to the pedals. Go to your hill, try climbing the hill in each of your gears - you have about 20 of them. See which gear feels best. If is not aomething close to your 46/18, you should use a different set of gears on your SS..
     
  16. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

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    Gosh darnit, you are gonna get yerself a Nobel Prize for how is re-writin' physics and all. Knowing that torque was equal to pressure would have simplified a lot of things in physics classes. So by your new physics, all a guy has to do to produce more torque is buy smaller pedals. After all pressure, p=force/area, so if you reduce the area of the pedal and force stays constant (which it should), the pressure goes up. So torque, T, goes up since you said T= p. FYI, the thing betwixt the T and the p is a sign indicating equivalence. Hmmmm. Speedplay is on to something big.....
     
  17. Halfnote

    Halfnote New Member

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    Sorry, I didn't mean to "leave out so much" there old timer.

    First off, go back and read...try to keep up with the conversation before you start throwing stones.

    Completely different route, totally different hill, completely different objective. I rode a little more than 11 miles. Most of which was just a warm up to try to get a fix on max heart rate, as dhk2 suggested. So it wasn't like I was pushing hard at all. I didn't want to tire before I got to the hill where I gradually cranked as hard as I could to reach a max heart rate.

    My heart rate went from 125 to 182 on a climb that's not too steep but it is about a mile long. In doing this I believe my max heart rate is on or just below 182.

    I'm well aware of what torque is, and I can climb any hill on my commute in any gear. (not that I would want to) I have been doing exactly what you are talking about for the past month or so trying to choose which gearing will be the best. Once I get a feel for the ride, then I may have to change that too.

    In your fervor to try to prove me wrong, or paint me as a novice because I'm asking questions about my HR, I think you are completely wrong about your whole peak torque theory.

    The problem is, I probably am riding a bit hard too often and not giving myself a adequate rest. My commute is 12 miles each way. I like attacking the hills and riding at a decent clip. I just had a couple nights in the past month or so where I was awakened by cramps in my quads and hamstrings.
     
  18. dhk2

    dhk2 Active Member

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    halfnote, your max "test" sounds like it went fine. Bet you'll find you're close to 182 when you repeat it. I was guessing your max HR closer to 190, but we all vary.

    Believe you'll find that the easier recovery rides will fix your night cramping issue and actually help you to progress faster. On those recovery days, suggest you forget about speed and use your HRM to keep HR under say 140 bpm at all times. It may be hard for you to do at first, and feel "too easy", but stay with the plan,. IMO, two hard days a week is plenty for a middle-age guy commuting to the office. Lance follows a different plan at age 40, but we're not him......

    Note, there are plenty of smarter guys here than me, and certainly faster as well, who can add infinite details to the best training plan. You can get as scientific as you want in monitoring your power output and training stress over time. Like HR though, it's an individual thing. I'd say learn to monitor how you feel, in terms of legs, overall energy levels, sleep and even mood. You'll soon know when you're overdoing it.
     
  19. An old Guy

    An old Guy Member

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    I guess you must be right. Perhaps you should have used the phrase: "Took a ride toward the climb I was speaking of."

    I guess you have resolved your issue. That is all that is important.
     
  20. Squint

    Squint New Member

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    I had ridiculous cramping problems. More recovery and electrolytes didn't seem to help though I take the latter during races. What nearly eliminated all the cramping was to stretch thoroughly before each ride. My knee pain also went away whereas before I would stretch only enough to reduce it to tolerable levels. I never thought I could eliminate it altogether due to some freaky biomechanics.
     
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