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Training & Nutrition Learn how to develop a training schedule that's good for you. What should you eat and drink on your ride? Learn everything you need to know about training and nutrition here.

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Old 04-12-05, 09:00 PM   #1
geneman
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owww ... cramps!

I had the same problem last year ... cramps in the legs during a hard effort. This year it was during my last race. The calves were screaming at the top of the last climb. Knowing that this was potential problem, I spent the last week consuming 2 potassium pills per day (99mg each). Unfortunately, this represents only 6% of RDA. I eat very well and have a freshly prepared salad for lunch almost every day.

My working hypothesis is that I'm drinking too much water. I must consume 3 liters of water per day and go the bathroom once per hour on average. Is it possible that I'm simply diluting out the effective concentration of potassium in my blood through drinking soo much water?

Mark
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Old 04-12-05, 09:05 PM   #2
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Cramping is normally caused by the following factors:

- dehydration
- lack of electrolytes: sodium and potassium
- lack of experience (not enough riding)
- too much riding (serious overtraining)
- poor bicycle setup
- lack of stretching
- lack of other minerals (i.e. calcium)


"The calves were screaming at the top of the last climb"

Did you really cramp - leg muscle in tight knots which didn't go away for hours after the race and had you hobbling around for some time . . . or were your muscles just working more than you were used to?


If that's you on the little, tiny bicycle there ... perhaps you might want to try a larger one ... might be easier on your muscles! No wonder you're cramping!!!

Last edited by Machka; 04-12-05 at 09:15 PM.
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Old 04-12-05, 09:14 PM   #3
geneman
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Machka
Cramping is normally caused by the following factors:

- dehydration
- lack of electrolytes: sodium and potassium
- lack of experience (not enough riding)
- too much riding (serious overtraining)
- poor bicycle setup
- lack of stretching
- lack of other minerals (i.e. calcium)


"The calves were screaming at the top of the last climb"

Did you really cramp - leg muscle in tight knots which didn't go away for hours after the race and had you hobbling around for some time . . . or were your muscles just working more than you were used to?
When I typed that, I knew it was going to cause some confusion. Sorry. Yes, they were cramps to be sure. Not full blown one's, but they hurt nonetheless.

Thanks for the info. Let me analyze further.

dehydration ... definitely not a problem
lack of electrolytes: sodium and potassium ... surely this is a contributing factor
lack of experience (not enough riding) ... possibly, but considering it happend last year at mile 2500, I'm going to rule this out.
too much riding (serious overtraining) ... again possibly, but I'm currently putting in less than 100 miles per week most of which is base training, so I'm going to rule this out as well.
poor bicycle setup ... I have been professionally fitted to my bike and feel very comfortable on it, so I'll rule this out.
lack of stretching ... a definite possibility. I DON'T strech as much as I should.
lack of other minerals (i.e. calcium) ... another possibility. However, as I said, I eat very well and take a multi-vitamin every day, so I'll rule this out as well.

Mark
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Old 04-12-05, 09:20 PM   #4
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Well then I would strongly suggest adding dried apricots to your diet. Those are absolutely LOADED with potassium (higher than potatoes and way higher than bananas).

I would also suggest making sure you're consuming enough salt. Most people do if they eat a "typical" diet, but if you've been trying to cut back on your fast food intake or whatever, you might not be consuming enough salt. Have a bag of potato chips an hour or so before your ride - that'll give you enough potassium and sodium to last you throughout the race! (I eat potato chips at about the 300K point of most of my brevets -- and what a difference! )
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Old 04-12-05, 09:23 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Machka
Well then I would strongly suggest adding dried apricots to your diet. Those are absolutely LOADED with potassium (higher than potatoes and way higher than bananas).

I would also suggest making sure you're consuming enough salt. Most people do if they eat a "typical" diet, but if you've been trying to cut back on your fast food intake or whatever, you might not be consuming enough salt. Have a bag of potato chips an hour or so before your ride - that'll give you enough potassium and sodium to last you throughout the race! (I eat potato chips at about the 300K point of most of my brevets -- and what a difference! )

Thanks for the recommendation. I've actually tried to cut down on my salt intake if only because I didn't want to retain too much water. I will definitely try the ol' bag of chips before the race next week and get back to you.

Mark
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Old 04-12-05, 09:30 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by geneman
Thanks for the recommendation. I've actually tried to cut down on my salt intake if only because I didn't want to retain too much water. I will definitely try the ol' bag of chips before the race next week and get back to you.

Mark
Go with a small bag! I don't want to go on record here recommending the jumbo size bag of Lays or something!!

Sodium actually helps you process the water. Have a look over these articles:

http://www.ultracycling.com/nutritio...natremia2.html
http://www.ultracycling.com/nutrition/electrolytes.html
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Old 04-12-05, 10:35 PM   #7
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I had a weird cramp in two of my toes last weekend, after an 11 mile warmup. It started when I stopped to stretch. I think I can attribute it to having my shoe just a little too loose - I switched from thick winter socks to thin summerweight socks. It took about 10 minutes to get the knots out of my toes, and then they were fine for the rest of the ride. Muscles throughout my legs felt like they were on the verge of cramping a few times during the ride, but whenever I felt it, I drank a bunch of water and Powerade.
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Old 04-13-05, 07:31 AM   #8
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If you feel that twinge of a cramp (coming on, but not seizing up), try take some Tums and a lot of water. I know it will be hard to do in a race but it does work for us (we're not racing though). Takes at least 5 min to start working. Best.
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Old 04-13-05, 08:34 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Machka
Well then I would strongly suggest adding dried apricots to your diet. Those are absolutely LOADED with potassium (higher than potatoes and way higher than bananas).

I would also suggest making sure you're consuming enough salt. Most people do if they eat a "typical" diet, but if you've been trying to cut back on your fast food intake or whatever, you might not be consuming enough salt. Have a bag of potato chips an hour or so before your ride - that'll give you enough potassium and sodium to last you throughout the race! (I eat potato chips at about the 300K point of most of my brevets -- and what a difference! )

Apricots, oranges, bananas, potatoes; all high in potassium, if I remember correctly.

Remember to try to get alot of your potassium from your food, not from pills, unless you are doing so under the direction of a Doctor. It is possible to o.d. on potassium via pills/supplements.

And I think, since you have cut down on your salt intake and you are drinking alot of water and riding hard, you may want to cut back on your water intake a little and see if you avoid the cramps.
Even if it is cold when you are riding, you will still sweat and the sweating with the high water intake may be flushing too much out of your system. Maybe to the point where you are urinating every hour and a half instead of every hour?
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Old 04-13-05, 10:57 AM   #10
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OJ and V-8 juice are good potassium sources, too. I've read that potassium isn't absorbed into the cells easily, like sodium... you have to incorporate it into your diet. In other words, supplements and good sources taken right before or during rides won't particularly help.

Cramps following extreme efforts are the most common to just about everyone. Eating right and hydrating is important, but if you're doing a decent job with that, on-going conditioning and training will probably help the most.
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