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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Since Sept. of last year, I have experienced three very painful calf cramps - the kind you fell on the ground in an extreme pain. 1st one was during a cool down after 10K. 2nd one, in Oct, the first hint of a cramp hit at about 12 miles into a half marathon, so I stopped and massaged and made it to the finish line, but right after that, boom, the real cramp hit hard and my calf was like a hard rock. The last one, yesterday, lead me to DNF the marathon (my 3rd) - first sign, again at 12th mile, and real one hit at 15th.<br><br>
I read quite a bit about what causes a muscle cramp and there seems to be lots of theories out there. Some more background about my training/experiences<br>
- Never happened during a training run, nor races until last Setp. I have done many 5K's/10k's, 2 halves and 2 marathons (one of them Boston). 2~3 20 milers before each marathon.<br>
- Hydration - I tend to be on the lighter side during a training. I really paid attention, however, during yesterday's marathon.<br>
- Nutrion during a long run/race - I usually take gaterade/water alternatively every mile or 2 miles. Take a gu for every hour<br>
- Coincidentally or this having something to do with it or not, all three cramps happend when I was wearing shorts in 30's (quiet low '30'sF day or windy upper '30'sF). I don't wear shorts in '30s during a training run<br>
- I have run a quite few tempo, speedwork, 5K's/10K's in much colder weather than 30F without any issues. Again, I wore tights, though.<br>
- I have never taken salt tablets<br>
- I have experienced a light cramp on my foot during a swim a few times. That is nowhere near the pain I get from the calf cramp.<br>
- Currently I do have some tightness around my Left piriformis, glutes med/min area. Same side as this calf cramp.<br>
- I do stretch often. Though I wasn't particularly paying special attention to calves.<br>
- Run too hard during a race, compared to a training pace? - I don't think so. I follow Pfitzinger's plan. My training pace fit well with the actual race results and target MP.<br><br><br>
Any theories/suggestions as to what causes my calf cramp and what I should do differently for a next long distance race? I will certainly start taking a salt tablet of some sort (any recommendations? Is the one with pottasium and magnesium better than the one without them?) and will wear long tights for cooler race day weather.<br><br>
Thanks for your advice.<br><br>
Yoshiko
 

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Hi Yoshiko,<br><br>
Sorry to hear about the cramps, and especially about the DNF.<br><br>
I also get calf cramps only in races, never in training. But for me it's only in marathons, and only past 20 miles, with hills and/or heat a factor, so I'm not sure I can be much help. Cramping as early as you have, while Pfitzinger trained, is hard to understand.<br><br>
I'm also looking for salt-tablet recommendations. I've used Endurolytes the past couple of marathons, but I need to experiment more. Also there are <a href="http://www.enlytenstrips.com/" target="_blank">Enlyten strips</a>. The idea with these is you put them in your mouth against a cheek, and the electrolytes are absorbed directly into your bloodstream, without having to pass through the digestive system first. I've used these as well.<br><br>
I think cramps are still poorly understood, unfortunately. One piece of advice I did get, while sitting in the med tent at mile 20 at my first Boston, was that I needed to do more calf-strengthening exercises.<br><br>
There is something to specificity of training. Unfortunately you normally can't replicate the full race experience during training. But last fall, I ran 4 marathons in 5 weeks, and the last two of them I had no calf issues whatsoever. I was very surprised, but I guess by that point I had accustomed my calves to the experience.<br><br>
Re shorts vs. tights, I wouldn't think that would have anything to do with it, but who knows?<br><br>
Good luck,<br>
Bob
 

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Yoshiko, I'm sorry things did not go as planned. I can only offer my experience, but everyone is different.<br><br>
I get cold easily. Everyone in my training group laughs at the get ups I wear when I come to a group run, but if I get cold I go through fuel really quickly and bonk and my right IT band and hip flexor will lock up. No fun. It happened to me once in a cold, damp marathon where I was wearing shorts on a day where I went back and forth with what to wear. It's happened to me enough times that I really don't even race in the winter if I'm in a marathon training cycle cause the waiting around before and after has caused problems.<br><br>
So, I'm a cold weenie <img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/smile.gif"> I've learned that I need to overdress a bit and start a little slower for the first couple of miles. That has helped a lot. I've also found that longer compression shorts are a nice alternative to the shorts/tights dilemma on a chilly day. They keep me just warm enough so that the IT/hip don't tighten up, but are fine if the sun comes out and it warms up. However, the finish line picture is not a pretty sight <img alt="sad2.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/sad2.gif"><img alt="biggrin.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/biggrin.gif"> (I am coveting one of those running skirts with built in compression shorts).<br><br>
Hope you figure things out - everyone is different but it sounds like the cold weather may have had something to do with it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I am really puzzled myself. During this training cycle, I did only one MP run - 15 miles total including 12 at MP (MP was 8;10, but I did this one 8:01 ave.) No problem. Calf strengthening exercises - that is something I need to do for sure. Luckily, hip has been holding up really well.<br>
If you are interested in reading about my agony, you can find my RR under multisport forum. Thanks Bob.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks, hawk, for your input. I am in Michigan so I am ok running in single digit (windchill in negative), though my hands/feet are always very very cold. My friend and I went back and forth about what to wear Sunday morning... I am not sure if the shorts in '30s was the issue, but that is the only thing I can think of I did differently from the training. Glad to hear you found what works/what doesn't work for you.
 

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I'm gonna vote for the cold. The two other women I was standing with and I got to talking. We figured that your cramping most likely wasn't from dehydration. I suspected that with the water stop every mile, you were getting plenty of water/gatorade. I suggested the cold, and they both agreed that that could cause cramping.<br><br>
I brought clothing in case you wanted me to help you finish it out, although, really there was no way I could have after I took that nasty fall in the morning. What I had planned on wearing was heavy tights, tri top, LS tech shirt, fleece jacket and wind breaker. Shorts in that weather--NO WAY!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
4bm - I agree - there is no way dehydration is the reason. I had plent of long runs with much less drink.<br>
In addition to the shorts in '30s, I realized another thing I did differently. Warm up. I did a few minutes of running around in rain before the marathon, and stretched but that was it. I have never run sub 8:00 pace without a few miles of warm up. Of course dilenma is how much warm up you do vs. minimize any glycogen depletion before a start. I need to start much slower next time.
 
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