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Monday, May 05, 2008

Cramps suffered while running the Rotorua Marathon

Hi Gary.
Yesterday I completed my first Rotorua marathon. I'm one of these guys who reached 50 last year and decided to set myself a goal. In hind site I probably should have started with something a bit shorter but ignorance is bliss and at the end of the day I achieved my goal and am not suffering too badly today as a result. In fact I really want to do it again next year because I know I can improve on my time. Although I finished I had a couple problems during the race which I would appreciate your advice on.
I completed the first 25k really comfortably, had paced myself well, was feeling really good and felt that I would be able to complete the second half slightly quicker than first. However just after the 30k mark I began to feel a little light headed and then shortly after that began to cramp in my right hamstring. I slowed to a walk and the cramping eased within 50 to 100 m. When I resumed running within a aprox 1km I cramped again. I resumed walking and repeated this scenario several times. As my goal was to finish in whatever time and I was walking comfortably at pace I completed the last 8 to 10 km in this manner.
I drank well before and during the race including the Leppin Enduro Boost so wouldn't think dehydration was the cause. However while training I never went much beyond 3hrs so was pushing into "uncharted waters" at this point on race day. Perhaps the wind was a factor but I wasn't feeling chilled by it.

I'd be interested in your thoughts.
Gary Moller comments:
There is no single cause of cramp. Successfully overcoming the problem requires attacking every possibility. Here's a list of suggestions:
  • Practice running 2-3 hours once a week, building up gradually over 8-12 weeks, on an empty stomach. Drink only water. Best done in the morning before breakfast. Build up very gradually, stopping each time shortly after you hit that light-headed and wobbly leg stage. You should find that the time and distance extends as the weeks tick by.
  • Run 5km as either races or fast time trials each week to condition your body to working at high levels of intensity. Best done about 2 days of rest after your 2-3 hour run.
  • Get your body electrolyte balance right. Taking an electrolyte drink that replaces just a handful of the electrolytes lost can make things much worse over the long term. Complete the Active Elements assessment here and I will help you balance your body salts. This can make a huge difference.
  • It is very likely that you have burned your muscles deficient in several key amino acids such as alanine, carnitine and glutamine. Supplementing with these can bring about a performance boost if deficient. I can assist with working out which may work for you.
  • Get a deep tissue massage once a week on all of the leg and butt muscles. Concentrate on the sore parts first, including the hamstring that seized up.
  • Stretch the legs and back on a regular basis. The exercises in my book on Back Pain are perfect for runners.

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