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Cramping

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Cramping

Postby Ron » Tue Nov 23, 2010 8:53 pm

I just completed my first mtb race. It was a 6 hour race endurance race where I completed 61 miles. I had thought I had dialed in my nutrition/supplements. I weigh 160 lbs and here is what I used:

The night before I ate a meal of pasta and veggies. I made sure I was well hydrated at least 3 days before the race.

I woke up about 3 1/2 hours before the race and drank about 8 ounces of plain water per hour and stopped drinking 30 minutes before the race.

An hour before the race I took 3 anti fatigue caps.
Right before the start of the race I took 2 endurance aminos and 1 anti-fatigue cap and 1 endurolyte.
Every hour I took 1 anti fatigue, 1 endurance amino and 1 endurolyte.

During the summer/fall training I took 1 -2 endurolytes/hour depending on the temp and never had a cramp. Since the temp at the start of the race was 42 degrees and it didn't go above 52 degrees I was hardly sweating and I felt 1 endurolyte would be sufficient.

First 3 laps (31 miles) I used a 3 hour bottle of Perpetuem with 5 scoops/675 total calories for 225 calories/per hour. I supplemented this with plain water in a camelback taking in between the 3 hour bottle and the camelback about 18 oz/hours.

The second 3 laps (30 miles) I had a fresh 3 hour bottle with the same amount of Perpetuem supplemented with the same amount of plain water.

Right after I started the second lap I started cramping badly. It started in the upper inner thighs and forced me numerous times to stop and get off the bike. I swallowed an extra endurolyte which didn't help. By the third lap I was adding an extra endurolyte each lap with no results. Then the cramps spread to my quads right above the knees.
The only thing that kept the cramps at bay was for me was to reduce my effort and slow my pace but I was fighting them for the next 5 hours.

I was totally caught off guard by this. My race pace was not very different from my training pace. I didn't go out very hard in the first lap. My nutrition and supplements were pretty much identical to what I used during training where I almost never cramped except the rare cramp in my calf.

Any ideas on what I did wrong if anything and how to prevent this in the future?

Ron
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Re: Cramping

Postby steve-born » Wed Nov 24, 2010 12:37 pm

Hello Ron -

Congratulations on the completion of your first MTB race. Doing a 6-hour MTB ride or race and/or doing 61 miles on a mountain bike is a pretty excellent accomplishment.

There are many theories as to why cramping occurs, though science has never really come to a 100% consensus. Dr. Misner's article, "Muscle Cramps," (http://www.hammernutrition.com/knowledg ... s.777.html) explains this is more detail. From my experience, the majority of the cramping issues have to do with either:

1) Too much or too little fluid
2) Too much sodium (salt) in the diet and/or during exercise, causing an imbalance of other electrolytes
3) Not being acclimated to the weather conditions
4) Muscular fatigue, meaning that at some point during a workout or race the muscles are not sufficiently ready to meet the demands of a particular bout of exercise, be they duration-specific or terrain-specific.

Based on all of the information you've provided, I'd say that you had everything pretty well dialed in... your fluid, calorie, and electrolyte intake - for your size and for the weather conditions - looks good to me.

So I don't think the culprit for your cramping would have been #1, 2, or 3. Instead, I would lean more towards #4. Please know that I'm not suggesting you're not in excellent condition; however, I would suggest that #4 is more likely the reason for the cramping issues you were experiencing.

That area in the inner thighs (I believe it's the gracilis muscle) is a real annoyance in terms of cramping and I believe (and I say this from my own personal experience) that this is one area of the body that oftentimes is the most susceptible to cramping. My theory as to why this is so is that this particular muscle (or sets of muscles) rarely gets stretched out consistently, and especially so during a workout. Add to that the repetitive motion and continual contraction/relaxation of this muscle/muscle group throughout a long-duration workout or race and it's a very real possibility that cramping can occur.

So I don't think it's a fluid or electrolyte issue, but more of a muscular-related one. Sometimes I get these for no reason whatsoever no matter what my Endurolytes intake is so it's kind of a mystery (to me anyway) as to why this occurs.

Again, I think that your fueling/supplement plan looked pretty spot on so this could simply be one of those "strange things that happen for no obvious reason." That it happened so early in the race makes it even more unusual (I have found that cramping in this area of the body usually occurs later on in a long-duration workout/race and even more so when the weather is hot).

The best suggestion I can offer is to simply do a little more stretching so that the gracilis and adductor muscles aren't tight going into a workout or race, and that you continue to gradually increase your mileage so that your body is even better prepared to handle the demands you're putting on it.

I don't know if this will be helpful to you, Ron, but I hope it is.

Sincerely -

Steve
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Re: Cramping

Postby Ron » Thu Nov 25, 2010 7:15 pm

steve-born wrote:Hello Ron -

Congratulations on the completion of your first MTB race. Doing a 6-hour MTB ride or race and/or doing 61 miles on a mountain bike is a pretty excellent accomplishment.

There are many theories as to why cramping occurs, though science has never really come to a 100% consensus. Dr. Misner's article, "Muscle Cramps," (http://www.hammernutrition.com/knowledg ... s.777.html) explains this is more detail. From my experience, the majority of the cramping issues have to do with either:

1) Too much or too little fluid
2) Too much sodium (salt) in the diet and/or during exercise, causing an imbalance of other electrolytes
3) Not being acclimated to the weather conditions
4) Muscular fatigue, meaning that at some point during a workout or race the muscles are not sufficiently ready to meet the demands of a particular bout of exercise, be they duration-specific or terrain-specific.

Based on all of the information you've provided, I'd say that you had everything pretty well dialed in... your fluid, calorie, and electrolyte intake - for your size and for the weather conditions - looks good to me.

So I don't think the culprit for your cramping would have been #1, 2, or 3. Instead, I would lean more towards #4. Please know that I'm not suggesting you're not in excellent condition; however, I would suggest that #4 is more likely the reason for the cramping issues you were experiencing.

That area in the inner thighs (I believe it's the gracilis muscle) is a real annoyance in terms of cramping and I believe (and I say this from my own personal experience) that this is one area of the body that oftentimes is the most susceptible to cramping. My theory as to why this is so is that this particular muscle (or sets of muscles) rarely gets stretched out consistently, and especially so during a workout. Add to that the repetitive motion and continual contraction/relaxation of this muscle/muscle group throughout a long-duration workout or race and it's a very real possibility that cramping can occur.

So I don't think it's a fluid or electrolyte issue, but more of a muscular-related one. Sometimes I get these for no reason whatsoever no matter what my Endurolytes intake is so it's kind of a mystery (to me anyway) as to why this occurs.

Again, I think that your fueling/supplement plan looked pretty spot on so this could simply be one of those "strange things that happen for no obvious reason." That it happened so early in the race makes it even more unusual (I have found that cramping in this area of the body usually occurs later on in a long-duration workout/race and even more so when the weather is hot).

The best suggestion I can offer is to simply do a little more stretching so that the gracilis and adductor muscles aren't tight going into a workout or race, and that you continue to gradually increase your mileage so that your body is even better prepared to handle the demands you're putting on it.

I don't know if this will be helpful to you, Ron, but I hope it is.

Sincerely -

Steve


Steve:

Thanks for the detailed reply. I think i was ready mileage wise. I usually try to do a 30 - 40 mile training ride once a week and I've ridden 50 several times, even on that course so I think I was prepared for the mileage and terrain.

I guess I will have to chalk it up to one of those mysteries; something out of my control.

I will take your advise on the stretching though. Maybe try and add some gracilus specific weight exercise to strengthen them.

Thanks again.

Ron
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