Hi guys - just completed my first 1/2 IM and am stoked to achieve my goal time (6h) even through I had major cramps going on. Have no ideas what might have caused them so any advice would be appreciated:
In training I was completely fine. Peaked at 16h training then started into 3 week taper. Week 1 was fine, but then after about 10 mins of my first run of week 2 I felf one quad tighten up, and a few minutes later it cramped. As soon as I stopped to stretch it the hamstring and calf of that leg also cramped, and the other leg felt twitchy. I managed to stretch out the cramps but could then only just hobble around and had to get picked up and taken home. Had 2 days off, then went for a walk top test it out. Coming down some stairs the quad started to clench (tighten, then release when I took the pressure off) so I took it easy for a couple more days with some light riding and swimming. By the end of the week completed an easy 1 hour run with no problems so thought it was solved.
Initially put the problem down to a bad food day (too many easter eggs), but then in my final week of taper I was getting cramps in other places after relatively easy workouts.
On race day about 1/3 way though the ride both quads (at the point just above the knee) started to cramp when I stood up to attack a hill. This happened repeatedly so spent the rest of the tide in the seat and that was ok.
About 1/2 way though the ride got a real sore stomach just below the belt line. It didn't go away until 1/2 way though the run when I switched to water only.
As soon as I started running both quads (just above the knee again) were clenching and releasing with every step. This stayed for first 1/3 of the run. Second 1/3 of the run got better (perhaps because of the switch to water?) and I was running much faster and freeer. Third 1/3 of the run think I ran out of energy and both quads and 1 hamstring completely cramped. I stretched it out then hobbled to a drink station, got some drink into me, then managed to just plod to the end of the run.
At the end I couldn't even lift either leg to stretch the quad so I got a 15 min massage which freed them a little. The next couple of days I had just no strength to get up and down off chairs or stairs, and plenty of pain any time I tried. Today I just got another small cramp on the side of one leg for no apparent reason walking up a short path to the house.
I was pretty gutted to have all this go on out of nowhere. This is what I've worked out so far:
- Stomach may have been caused by water / gel imbalance. I drank a bit less on the ride than planned so possibly might have not had enough water with the gel just before I got the problem
- Run course drink was changed so I ended up having something that I'd never tried in training, and out of cups I couldn't really measure how much I was drinking or what strength it was (tasted weak)
- Best ride time I did in training was 3.5 hours for the distance, (but this was not hammering it) so the race time of 3.25 hours doesn't seem too out of line
- My riding technique sucks. No idea what rpm I do, but it's definitely a downward mash and not much else
- Had the same quad cramping problem on hills in a 160km race I did last year, but completely fine in an Olympic distance tri this year
Was I just fatigued from all the training? Or is it likely to be something else? My diet was REALLY good apart from the 1 easter egg binge that I thought might have triggered it, and I've had absolutely no other history of cramps during training.
Basically I stumped and don't know where to go next (apart from a lot of rest). I really want to work out how to get over / avoid this problem again so I can get on with my dream of completing a full IM. Any thoughts appreciated!