Running along peacefully giving yourself little pep talks as the kilometers pile up, then all of a sudden out the blue you know what is going to happen next.
For most runners something we have all experienced at one point or another is a cramp. That sudden involuntary muscle contraction that makes you jump on one leg and come to a halt because it can be a lot of pain. After some reading I realized there are a lot of different kinds of cramps. For my purpose we will be looking at muscular cramps during running.
With my recent runs I have noticed this happening close the end, somewhere between the 18km mark and the end. It was boggling my brain about why this could be happening as I have been trying to take preventative measures to make sure this not happen but like clockwork I can anticipate it to come at any point during those finishing 3kms.
One point that made sense to me was more experienced athletes won’t have this problem as frequently as novice runners, due to the fact their muscles are old pros and don’t fatigue as quickly as us noobs. So something I would definitely being working on is the mileage on my legs to make sure my muscles are on par with the distance I want them to cover. Increase distance gradually to make it less of a shock to the system, this I think will also be helpful to avoid cramps and injury.
Water intake was my thought when I experienced my first set of serious cramping. I decided it was extreme heat conditions and lack of water intake that was the reason. This all flew out the window with the next race and the same thing happened only difference was I made sure I hydrated. I felt like I was carrying little weights around with having a sachet in each hand ready to sip when needed but still got the same result.
Now one thing I have never really thought about that can cause this kind of havoc was salt. Good old sodium when low in your system from sweating a lot can cause cramps. During runs I have always noticed things like sweets and the tables but never really anything salty to help with the loss of sodium during endurance runs, unless I just never paid attention which is also possible. So for extra precaution I will be looking for sachets that have electrolytes and sodium on top of the normal energy giving gels.
Some of the general things I think we all tend to forget from time to time it’s a marathon and not a sprint. Going out first few kilometers guns blazing will cause you to burn out and you got it get another cramp. Stretching is another one of those non essentials to some, but can be very beneficial to performance and avoiding injury.
Before race day there are some other things you can also do to help with cramping. One thing I will be doing is making I am fueling correct to make sure what I eat before can help me push through. I have been against eating a lot before cause I am worried about stomach cramps and some other horror related stories I have heard from eating a lot before an event. Researching better meal choices will improve how I use my energy as well stop any unexpected problem.
One thing I can say for sure is the magnesium tablets I have been taking have really been helping with that, not only with events but also during the night my legs use to cramp a lot. So will continue taking them and see how my new found knowledge will help me with my next half marathon. I have realized I am definitely very uneducated when it comes to certain aspects of this sport but the fun thing is learning about it as you run along.