Evening runners, I have run a few marathons and sometimes get cramp towards the end of the race. I am careful to eat bananas and some salty food before and even during the run.
Has anyone some suggestions? Are salt tablets a daft idea?
The role of electrolytes has been challenged more recently, but many swear by increased Na, K and Mg in various forms. Recently a disconnect between the nervous system and the muscle activity has been described and it may be possible to fool this by stimulating receptors in the oesophagus (hence fast acting) and lower gastrointestinal tract using things containing acetic acid or wasabi for instance. Both things that could make you vomit easily in a tough race.
There have been few articles recently in the running press and web - each with a slightly different view. For me it is a sign of going a little too hard and a little too long (often when hot), and taking a walking break usually means I can get through it. A very interesting subject in which you are likely to get a legion of opinion.
OK, some anecdotal 'evidence' - I tended to get calf cramp late in ultras, particularly when coming from a climb into a steep descent. One year I tried some of those naff calf compression things from Decathlon and they seemed to delay the onset of cramp significantly. Might be worth trying?
Still get it occasionally but I am guilty of pushing for longer things off too little training.
Had an interesting one last night, I'd done a steep, sweaty fell race Wed and then bouldered last night. Got the last hard move on something I'd been trying and agonising calf cramp as a stretched up from the good foothold. Didn't want to fall off and was on good enough holds to let it ease after 5-10 seconds. Touch and go for a bit though and it'd taken me a couple of visits to get that far
Anecdotal (I think you won't find much else) evidence from me. I get cramp in marathons at the end. I used to get it in ultras. I did a 100 miler last weekend and didn't get cramp once. No calf guards/compression, no electrolyte tabs - just ate real food and drank water, tea, chocolate milkshake, Coke, soup.
I think it boils down to going too fast. Either slow down or train to be stronger. There's a load of guff about salt etc but as Steve said this is being challenged.
I still get cramps in marathons but then I run a pace that aims for a sub 3 (and never get it, always end up limping in around 3:05). If I ran a 3:30 pace I wouldn't get cramp.
I've suffered with this for years, keep thinking I've found the cause/solution but have always turned out to be wrong. So drinking more, electrolytes, and compression socks have all been tried, have all seemed to help, but it's then back to business as usual.
A couple of months ago after a particular bad attack (still painful a week later) my physio told me it's because I don't stretch enough, so I've been following a regime of pre-and post-race stretching since then. I've only done a couple of long races since then - on one I got cramp but not as bad as usual, on the other (the LAMM) I didn't get any. But it's still too soon to draw any firm conclusions...
I read a really interesting piece about pickle juice (also garlic, chilli and ginger). From what the article was saying it was something to do with resetting of the brain to some extent. Worth googling and reading I'd say, although I have no evidence it works as I (touch wood) haven't had bad cramp since about a year ago, and that was from heel hooking a sloper in my mates garage....
I get cramps whose cause is, I've discovered, bio-mechanical. I am very grateful to the expertise of the particularly sharp-eyed physio who - after I'd visited several - enabled me to get (more or less) on top of my proneness to cramping, by means of regular stretching, focussed on my tight ham strings.
Although I am old enough for anno Domini also to be a factor and my symptoms may be different from yours, I set a lot of store by a good physio. Maybe worth a try?
I think you get cramp when you’re pushing too hard - I’m prone to cramp in my calves, and it’s always after a really intense effort such as last lap of a race it trying to break Strava PBs. The fitter I am the less cramp I get. Also, I think it can/does happen around the site of old injuries.
> I think you get cramp when you’re pushing too hard ...
Or perhaps more generally when you do something your muscles aren't used to. Running a 20miler when you rarely do >5, racing when you normally just jog round, long sustained efforts when you train short sprints...
You’re probably right.
> You’re probably right.
Actually, I forgot my favourite: Racing downhill, when you usually just jog down to recover from the previous uphill. Oh those quads!
Thank you for your generous, detailed and informed opinions.
A friend of mine used to struggle very badly with cramp, magnesium tablets taken daily seems to have solved it completely.
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