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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had the worst cramping I have ever had in my race yesterday. About half way through we had to carry our bikes up 50+/- steps (for the second time) and I had to stop half way up and stretch because my quads and hamstings were locking up. Pushing the bike up anything was almost impossible. Standing climbs were slow and painful. I had to go slower to avoid the massive cramps that I could feel coming. Seated climbs were ok, but still much slower. Somehow I was still able to pull out a 2nd place finish (sport).

I'm trying to figure out it my cramps were fitness or nutrition related and what I should do to improve. It was probably the hottest and most humid race I have ever done. Here is what I did nutrition wise.

Oatmeal with banana and a glass of oj for breakfast
water throughout the morning
cliff bar 1.5 hours before race
16 oz bottle with 2 scoops of HEED with 2 endurolytes mixed in the hour before the race
5 sportlegs 1 hour before
4 endurolytes 30 min before
1 hammer gel 15 min before
3 sportlegs right before the start
2 16 oz bottle with 2 scoops of HEED with 2 endurolytes mixed in each bottle during race
3 hammer gels during race

On the fitness side I think I may be lacking some endurance. I have not had much time since March to do many rides longer than 2 hours. I've probaly only averaged 5 hrs per week on the bike. I also suck at climbing. I'm pretty good at LT or slightly over, but climbing at the much higher race pace kills me. This course had a 3 - 4 mile section that was steep up and down without any time to recover between climbs. I know I was redlining through the whole section right on the verge of losing my breakfast. After this section my speed was way down for the rest of the race.

I know I need to work on climbing and probably some muscular endurance. Any suggestions on specific intervals/training or nutrition ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Sorry for the long post.
 

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not sure if any of this will help.

how long (timewise) was the race?

how was your nutritions and hydration for the 2 or 3 days leading up to the race?

getting off the bike to walk to climb up a steep climb later in a race is where I am most vulnerable to get a calf cramp - VERY painful.


just some comments - you are taking more supplements and sports drink than I take in an entire season (racing expert for 2 hours plus). it seems like you may be overdoing it... don't sportlegs and endurolytes basically do the same thing? 5 sportlegs at 1 hour - do you weight 250 lbs? and 3 more right at the start... I know they say you can't overdose, but that seems like enough for a small horse. plus all the other stuff...

you need to have your glycogen and electrolites topped up... not overflowing.
 

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So, I cramped badly several times last year. This winter and spring I've built my fitness, and suddenly my "hot humid" nutrition works! I'd think it's more fitness related since I can't imagine you need any more endurolytes with all that you took.
 

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I'd say double the hours on the bike, throw in a 4 hour ride on sunday, add anaerobic and threshold intervals or race simulation (2 hours) on saturday. Forget about the sports drinks for now....you're doing fine with nutrition.
 

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EBbiker said:
Here is what I did nutrition wise.

cliff bar 1.5 hours before race
16 oz bottle with 2 scoops of HEED with 2 endurolytes mixed in the hour before the race
5 sportlegs 1 hour before
4 endurolytes 30 min before
1 hammer gel 15 min before
3 sportlegs right before the start
2 16 oz bottle with 2 scoops of HEED with 2 endurolytes mixed in each bottle during race
3 hammer gels during race
How much did that cost?!

I cramped badly yesterday too. I think I screwed up my nutrition as the race went from 10:30 to 1:40, meaning that breakfast plus sports nutritiion just wasn't enough.

There is always a third component to these discussions, which is pacing. I probably got that wrong too. I saw 194 on my HRM, but it didn't feel like 194 (race day spike, adrenaline and all that), so I didn't back off as soon or as much as I should have.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
As I was writing my post I realized that the amount of crap I used was a bit extreme. Being very hot and humid I thought too much would be better than not enough. I only use supplements for races, so the supply lasts the season.

The race was not very long. It only took me 1 hr 24 min.

I have changed my pacing. Last year I started in the middle of the pack and tried to slowly reel people in. I realized that I would never win a race that way, so this year (1st full year racing, but this was only my 2nd race of the year because I missed some due to a car accident) I try to be about the 3rd - 5th person in and hang on as long as I can. I have placed better in the 2 races I have done so far. When I tried the slower approach I still had some cramping.

I'm definitly thinking it is more of a fitness issue.
 

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Sounds like it is a bit of lack of fitness/endurance (if your race was 1.5 hours long you should probably be training for at least 2 hours 1-2 a week; if not, at least 1 hour intervals 1-2?) and nutrition possibly.

That is way too many supplements. I probably took about that much in for my entire 12 hour endurance race on Saturday in 95-100F heat (5-6 Sport Legs capsules, and probably about 6-8 Endurolyte capsules). I definitely drank more, but still ;)

You should be able to get by with a healthy breakfast, a gel, 2-3 Sport Legs before, and plenty of water (if your race is before 9:30 am ~).

Definitely try riding more often, even if on a spin bike or trainer if that is all you have time for. If time just isn't there, try doing intervals a few times a week (with rest in between).

Look at your normal daily nutrition and make sure you are eating pretty healthy/clean. I'm also a proponent of a daily vitamin and calcium pill. I don't use anything fancy. I buy Target brand when they are on sale and take one a day of each. Hubby hasn't had any bad leg cramps since I made him start on calcium everyday! He used to cramp up like crazy.
 

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Errrr.... it seems like you threw in a lot of junk into your stomach right before racetime. And you're surprised you cramped? Supplements are nice but your list looks like you have OCD or something! None of that is going to make you ride any better if you didn't:

Eat healthy throughout the week.
Train train train! In all hours and conditions (including heat/humidity).
Eat a somewhat generous breakfast with enough time to get it (mostly) out of your stomach.

Everybody's different but that's what works for me. The gels and crap I take only when I feel a bonk coming on. Well into any ride or race, but well before the bonk actually happens. There's a lot of marketing BS in sports supplements and it's very easy to get caught up in what you consume as opposed to how much you trained. If you weren't ready for the race weeks ago nothing you can do on race day! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the responses and criticism. I need to get smacked around every now and then. I eat healthy and balanced, so I think my normal nutrition is fine. I probably don't get enough sleep, but my wife is done working for the summer (teacher) so I can sleep an extra hour since I don't have to get my son ready to go in the morning.

Does anyone have any suggestions on what I should change in my training? I know I need to increase my time on the bike. During an average week I usually do 1 recovery ride, 2 interval days, 1 training crit race, and 1 2 - 3 hour mountain bike ride.


I try to commute to work as often as I can. Usually ends up being only once per week.
 

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Jam Econo
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First off, congratulations on your second place.
I think you just need to spend a little more time on the bike.
I tend to eat about the same breakfast as you, but after that I take in a lot less.
I'll be hydrating continually with good ol' H2O, maybe 30-45 minutes before the race I'll have a well proven, easily digestible energy bar, and then for a Sport length race I'd drink just water.
Afterward, I'll take in some protein rich calories, be it a yogurt, Endurox, PB&J, or all of the above.
Knock wood, but I've never had a cramp (I hope I didn't just jinx myself:eekster: )
 

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try more liquids!

I'm no pro on anything - except me - and I have been a chronic race cramper for as long as I can remember. This year however, I have been more dedicated to the race schedule and have been forced into scientifically figuring out my cramping problem. I do all the long rides and interval training and eat super smart & healthy all the time. Then I got all mixed up into spending lots-o-dough on the same hammer stuff your using. I've gone by the book with those things and into the land of overdose trying to figure it all out.
In the end it turned out to just be not enough water. Now I carry, two bottles and stash one or two more at the start finish - depending on the number of laps. and I make sure at the very least that one bottle is empty at the end of each lap. I know this is probably common sense to the more seasoned racers, but it has been hard for me to be disciplined about drinking all thru the race... I just forget and then......... CRAMPS
You mentioned it was a hot day, so it sounds to me like you just didn't hydrate enough during the race.
Of course I take the gels and a few endurolytes plus a bit of heed in my water but I no longer stress about which ones and how many etc
 

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How long into the race was it before the cramps hit?

you took sport legs 1hr before and also right before the start. These will stay in your system through the 1:50-2hrs. Without another dose taken at 0:50-1hr into the race I start to cramp at around 1:50-2:10 into a race.

This is just based on my personal experience.
 

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Too much space food! Your race is really short, you don't need all that extra stuff. Forget the gels. A banana and water should be fine.

For cramping, I had an interesting experience this weekend at a 24 hr relay. I was seriously cramping when I was in bed, resting, after my first lap, even though I had taken 2 electrolyte tablets and was sure to drink lots of water.

A teammate said that he experienced serious cramping that was caused by a calcium deficiency. I had some chocolate soy milk handy, so I chugged down a glass an hour before my next lap. No cramps! Chugged another glass after the lap, still no cramps! For me, it was a lack of calcium. Milk products are tough on my stomach, so I don't get much calcium in my diet. That's gonna change.

Also, be careful mixing hammer heed with any simple sugars. this isn't necessarily a cramping issue, but you could cause stomach upset. Take a look at this link:

http://www.hammernutrition.com/za/HNT?PAGE=ARTICLE&ARTICLE.ID=2890

congrats on your podium!

paul
 

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Shut up and ride
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I do a weekly race which normally lasts 1 hour, starts at 6:30pm so its normally warm. 1 gu & 1 bottle w/1 scoop heed - if its crazy hot&humid 2 endurolytes beforehand & cramping is never an issue

my point, you took way too much - more training, less pills/scoops/gu's/etc

And use the stuff when training, to figure out what works & what doesnt.
 

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EBbiker said:
As I was writing my post I realized that the amount of crap I used was a bit extreme. Being very hot and humid I thought too much would be better than not enough. I only use supplements for races, so the supply lasts the season.

The race was not very long. It only took me 1 hr 24 min.

I have changed my pacing. Last year I started in the middle of the pack and tried to slowly reel people in. I realized that I would never win a race that way, so this year (1st full year racing, but this was only my 2nd race of the year because I missed some due to a car accident) I try to be about the 3rd - 5th person in and hang on as long as I can. I have placed better in the 2 races I have done so far. When I tried the slower approach I still had some cramping.

I'm definitly hinking it is more of a fitness issue.
And that is what the research tells us. The electrolyte depletion theory to explain cramping is being seriously questioned.

You answered you question yourself by admitting you haven't trained adequately for the demands you're putting on your body.

http://scienceofsport.blogspot.com/2007/11/muscle-cramp-part-iii.html
 

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I agree with the others - for a 1hr 24 minute race, you need nothing but water - if you are hydrated, ate correctly the night before, slept well, and ate correctly 2-3 hours prior (oatmeal and banana sounds good if the oatmeal is complex carbs and not the instant stuff). To account for a 30 minute warmup, you'd need some gel or powerbar or heed, but not much.

What I think might have happened is you ate so much your stomach shut down. Sometimes, it can be way worse than bonking or near bonking from not eating enough. If you bonk from not eating or drinking enough, the solution is simple: eat and drink. And wait. If your stomach stopped letting anything through, you can't do a thing about it until it starts up again. Hydration and simple sugars are processed beyond the stomach in the small intestine mostly - so if your stomach doesn't let it pass, your legs and body are completely starved of fluids and glycogen. I did this once during the first lap of the firecracker 50, with a lot less gu/bars than you are listing, and had the first leg cramps biking ever for me (15+ years). It was all stuff that I trained with on longer rides than 50 miles even, but add a race pace to the mix and the stomach tolerates way less. I could not drink a thing on the second lap, and eating was way out of the question - stomach just bloated. The cramps in my legs were so severe I could feel the damage from them over a month later in my right leg still. Added 30 minutes to the second lap (a death march compared to the first, which I purposely held off by at least 5 minutes to be sure I could hold pace).

Oh, and if you are running stairs in a race, better be practicing that during training rides - stairs are a wicked differentiator and if you are not used to them your legs will get hammered into mush.

Just sharing an experience, maybe it will help,
jon
 

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I've got a friend who is a PhD'd Exercise Physiologist who specializes in what you're asking. She has worked with guys from the Tour, Olympic athletes, NFL teams and the Stanford Athletic Dept.

I'd be more than happy to put you in touch with her if you are interested in getting some science based information on you question.
 

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Yes Please!

bikerbert said:
I've got a friend who is a PhD'd Exercise Physiologist who specializes in what you're asking. She has worked with guys from the Tour, Olympic athletes, NFL teams and the Stanford Athletic Dept.

I'd be more than happy to put you in touch with her if you are interested in getting some science based information on you question.
Please put me in contact with her

Thanks
 

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bikerbert
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Her name is Stacy Sims, PhD, [email protected]. I spoke with her today, and she said she'd be more than happy to answer any questions that you have.

I've had the same problems with cramping before Stacy's help. Uber hydrate, tons of rest, dosing the race efforts and every time. Last year I took three DNF's because of bonks. Turns out there was a neuromuscular issue in my legs that was causing the cramping.

She helped me with that, and boom, bye bye cramps. I still get them, but they are now manageable, and I can get around them in my races now.
 
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