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Leg cramping

Old 09-26-10, 09:54 AM
  #1  
Randallissimo
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Leg cramping

I rode the Seacoast Century yesterday in NH, MA, and ME. I felt great and would have a perfect for me ride if not for leg cramping. Nutritionally I think I got it right, I didn't bonk at all. Pasta the previous dinner, lunch, dinner and breakfast. A good night's sleep. Along the way I ate a 2 Cliff bars, 3 GUs, 6 shot blocks, a banana, and 10 fig newtons.

But I wonder about hydration. I drank about 40 oz in the morning. I drank a small water bottle for the first 15 mile leg that comes back to the parking lot, where I traded that for two large bottles and proceeded. A rest area was at mile 40, and I had drank only one bottle by then. I drank about half of the second bottle at the stop, and then filled them both and proceeded. The second rest stop was at mile 70. By this time I had drank 1 1/2 bottles. This time I filled one with Gatorade, and one with half water, half Gatorade. At mile 80 my calves started to twitch, and at mile 89 my inner thighs went into spams. No fun. I laid on my back and breathed deeply for about 5 minutes, finished off one bottle, rested for a while more, and set out. At miles 95 it happened again, only this time I locked up so I couldn't get my leg over the bike to get off, so I just stood there. I finished off what remained of my second bottle, and once I felt ready, gingerly set off in my lowest gears.

I made it the rest of the way OK, but does that sound like not nearly enough water? This happened to me once before on a 60 mile ride this summer, but it was 95 degrees and bright sun, and I overheated a few times that ride. But this ride was much milder weather.
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Old 09-26-10, 10:14 AM
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Hydration is important in avoiding cramping, but the major factor is overexertion. Maybe more water/electrolytes would have helped, but there's no magic bullet. You could try to shoot for a bottle an hour in fair/warm weather, adjust according to temp.
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Old 09-26-10, 10:39 AM
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did my first ever century yesterday and it had a lot of climbing in it. usually I consider myself a bit of a camel and don't drink a ton of water on my raining rides. I'm in NYC and it got to be pretty hot here yesterday compared to how it's been the last couple of weeks so I decided I wasn't going to take any chances. I drank so much water the night before that I woke up yesterday 6lbs heavier than I was the day before! Then I made it a point to basically go through 1 water bottle an hour. I carried 2 bottles and one bottle had perpetuem in it and the other would have either water or a water/gatorade mix depending on what was readily available at the rest stops. My rest stops were at mile 26, then a pseudo rest stop that happened to be a park along th eroute that had running water and bathrooms at mile 50, an official rest stop at mile 60 and the last one at mile 80. I refilled both bottles at the first stop, the psuedo stop I only refilled one because I knew I was close to the next rest stop. The mile 60 stop I refilled both, and did the same at mile 80. I only had a packet and a half of perpetuem but the rest stops were well stocked. I tried to keep it to about 300 calories an hour (I'm 235lbs) the rest stops were roughly 2 hours apart, so when i hit the rest stop I would eat something and then the next hour only drink water.

sorry to be so long winded but I guess the moral of the story is when in doubt, drink more water not less. Not to be gross but I only had to actually pee once and I didn't even really have to go very bad. I just went because it was at the peseudo rest stop and there weren't a lot of people there so i got in and out and I didn't pee a whole lot. The fact that I had already had 4 20 oz water bottles and peed so little told me that yes, I was sweating a lot of this water out and I had to be sure to keep on drinking it. fortunately the color of what did come out was good so I knew I was doing fine, it just served as a reminder to me to stay on top of it the last half.

I've heard stories of people beginning to get disoriented and not remember to drink water. At the last rest stop, I sucked down a bunch before I got back on the bike and I was really working hard to try to finish strong so I made it a point that every time the lap timer on my bike computer went off, I took a sip of water. I finished the ride strong and had no cramping issues and I feel great today.
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Old 09-26-10, 11:15 AM
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stretch more. drink more water (not sugary drinks as much). cut back on refined sugars.
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Old 09-26-10, 11:32 AM
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Originally Posted by dykim90 View Post
stretch more. drink more water (not sugary drinks as much). cut back on refined sugars.
+1

I DNF my first century attempt due to cramping. However, I managed to complete 75 miles and 7500ft of climbing before I stopped. My 2nd century attempt is at the end of October in Death Valley, CA. I've been routinely using a foam roller to deeply stretch the muscles where my cramps start. I do this several times a week, including rest days. In the past 4 months I have not experienced any cramping.
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Old 09-26-10, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by dykim90 View Post
stretch more. drink more water (not sugary drinks as much). cut back on refined sugars.
the 50/50 gatorade water mix is a good idea. the amount of salt that was covering my body when I finished yesterday was amazing, you got to make sure you have something with electrolytes to allow the body to absorb and use the water you are taking in but I agree you don't want a sugary spike in energy either.
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Old 09-26-10, 11:40 AM
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I love how it's okay to eat 5000 calories of pasta in the 24 hours before a bike ride, but "sugary" drinks are the work of the devil.

You're doing it wrong.
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Old 09-26-10, 11:51 AM
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electrolytes. more salt. drink a can of coke. it does wonders for me around the final 1/3
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Old 09-26-10, 11:52 AM
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Calories on the bike are good. Sugar on the bike can be good too. Fructose, however, takes about 4 hours for your body to turn into useful energy, so gatorade is essentially useless for energy content. Then watering it down makes it less useful as an electrolyte replenishment.

GU, Shot Blocks, Cytomax, Hammer Products, etc are all acceptable places to get electrolytes and energy, and most are predominantly sugar. There are different types of sugars out there, and your body uses them differently. To the OP, cramping sucks, and the first response was the most correct. Hydration and electrolytes can help, but overexertion is the main culprit. The answer is always "train harder/better/more". And no need to eat pasta/carbs for days before the event. A decent breakfast on rested legs is the best thing you can do.
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Old 09-26-10, 12:00 PM
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Does Gatorade include High Fructose Corn Syrup? Why or Why not?

Currently, G2 does not contain HFCS, and the remaining products from The Gatorade Company will soon be following suit. We are changing the source of carbohydrate in Gatorade Thirst Quencher in 2010 to a sucrose-dextrose blend, which still serves the important functional purpose of providing energy to fuel athletes’ working muscles during activity. What’s important to note is that from a scientific efficacy standpoint nothing will change, and our research shows the taste with the sucrose-dextrose blend is actually preferred by many athletes.
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Old 09-26-10, 12:58 PM
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1, okay well it depends on what muscles are being used and how long you ride. you want to build your glycogen stores by eating the day before, that way you can ride a lot longer. energy drinks, bars, candy, soda, sport drinks are all good when you need a "pick me up" because you body can easily break down the simple sugars in the foods into energy. if youre going out on long rides you predominately use your slow-twitch type I muscle fibers. these muscles use energy from proteins, fats, and carbohydrates (glycogen). the other muscle fibers are called fast-twitch and they use more of the simple sugars because they need big bursts of energy quickly. these muscles are being used for mostly fast weight lifting and things of that matter.

2, basically if you do not have much energy left due to heavy exertion your body cannot uncontract your muscles. you body needs electrolytes to carry out a contraction but then it also needs energy (ATP) to release the contraction. if you have low levels of ATP due to low levels of energy stores (due to exhaustion) then your muscles will have a harder and longer time of contracting and uncontracting (cause of charlie horses, cramps). and too much electrolytes can be bad as well. thats why you need to drink a lot of water as well.

sorry that was long and i apologize for mechanics and grammar. i go to pharmacy school and i am surrounded by this **** everyday.
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Old 09-26-10, 02:26 PM
  #12  
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The thing is, I didn't feel all that overexerted. And the muscles that were spasmodic were my inner thighs. I would have expected my quads or calves, but inner thighs? I had thought munching down lime shot blocks was giving me the electrolytes I needed. To the poster suggesting cutting down on refined sugars and sugar drinks: I already avoid both like the plague. Unless red wine counts, which I drink daily, and don't ask me to give that up! For the record, I'm 50 years old, 160 lbs, I spun the small ring all day at an average 16 mph before cramping. I urinated 2 or 3 times during the ride.
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Old 09-26-10, 03:09 PM
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It is from over exertion. Fuss with whatever electrolyte and nutritional supplements you want, and some may help, but it won't change the cause. Cramps during a ride are a bummer, but if you ever have your legs sieze up three hours after a ride you will know real pain. That's what I fear the most. A vigorous ride where I feel great at the end, and few hours later my whole lower body goes into tetany. The more I ride, and the harder I ride, the less this happens, so you can condition your way out of it. I found nuun tablets helped, but conditioning is the cure.
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Old 09-26-10, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Hot Potato View Post
It is from over exertion. Fuss with whatever electrolyte and nutritional supplements you want, and some may help, but it won't change the cause. Cramps during a ride are a bummer, but if you ever have your legs sieze up three hours after a ride you will know real pain. That's what I fear the most. A vigorous ride where I feel great at the end, and few hours later my whole lower body goes into tetany. The more I ride, and the harder I ride, the less this happens, so you can condition your way out of it. I found nuun tablets helped, but conditioning is the cure.
After one ride I was fine but later when I went to bed, the act of climbing aboard the bed caused my hamstring to cramp. Oh boy was that painful and hard to stretch out. A big muscle cramping is torture.
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Old 09-26-10, 03:37 PM
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I've been using Endurolytes on longer rides, and they do seem to help. Yesterday, when i started having some cramping in my inner thigh, I just "pushed" more instead of more circular strokes, also downshifted more and went up some hills real slow.
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Old 09-26-10, 05:26 PM
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was plagued by upper leg cramps this summer while trail running. 90+ degrees, humid and no wind. they shut me down. potassium supplements did nothing. but magnesium and calcium prevented them
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Old 09-26-10, 05:28 PM
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I had leg cramps for a while from my seat being just a tad bit low. Something to keep in mind.
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Old 09-26-10, 07:01 PM
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Originally Posted by StephenH View Post
I've been using Endurolytes on longer rides, and they do seem to help. Yesterday, when i started having some cramping in my inner thigh, I just "pushed" more instead of more circular strokes, also downshifted more and went up some hills real slow.
+1 for electrolyte solutions. After two bad instances of cramping, I started using "elete" water additive in both water bottles for all rides over 30 miles. I've never had full cramping while using it. That's saying something since I'm doing metric centuries every Saturday in August in the North Carolina heat.
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Old 09-26-10, 08:55 PM
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As someone above mentioned, make sure you're getting enough Magnesium - it's not the only cause but it was for me. I got to a point where I was getting sometimes as many as 2-3 a week so I did some research and realized that I wasn't getting enough. I added 500mg a day to my vitamin regimen and after about 2 weeks I noticed a big difference. Now I get 2-3 a year and it's only when I really overdue it on hot humid day, and I just drink water. I think I'm going to take the advice from these other posts and add electrolytes when the probability is high and see if I can eliminate them completely.
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Old 09-26-10, 10:31 PM
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My favorite century is the Santa Fe Century. There are 6 feed stations and by the time you are done, you will have gained 6 pounds in chex mix, bananas, peanut batter sandwiches, fig newtons and I think they hire a water tank and fill it with gatorade. It is possible to take a gatorade bath if you wanted to. They also serve breakfast, eggs and blue corn pancakes and bananas maybe even sausages but I am veggie so I don't remember. Not to mention the big pot of pasta you ate the night before, the 4 clif bars you ate driving to Santa Fe and the big enchilada plate you eat for dinner after the century. I think in this century your digestive system is the one that gets beat. No wonder 90% walk their bikes up heart break hill. It is IMO the most food stocked century.

When I ride it now I stop only for water. I get a tube of agave sweetener mixed with some ground coffee or GU. I carry about 6 packs of Emergen-C, and maybe at feed station 3 and 6 I grab a banana or PBJ. No cramping.
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Old 09-26-10, 10:58 PM
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I do a lot of solo centuries, self supported and stop usually only to refill water. For me unless ti is just pure climbing, I need 3-4 bottles of water, some sugar based boost (GU or whatever) and then electrolytes to combat the heat. I need food on the go past mile 60 if I had breakfast maybe sooner if not. When you are struggling for the finish something caffeine based is good and I take that at about mile 80 or so.

Before I ride, I do stock up on a lot of water and electrolytes by doing a hydrating protocol, usually helped by drinking a lot of green tea as well. When I used to XC ski race, we actually would down and entire container of frozen OJ. You can't really drink just water in the winter.

I also do rehydrate after. If you ride a lot it gets easier. I think if it is all flat and cool and I do not need to hammer it, probably do not need the complications of the other supplements. Just water and a couple of salty cliff bars.

I do know the feeling of cramping that you cannot even unclip or pedal and you just keel over. It hurts but as has been said you are just not used to it. Happened to me last in 1996.
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