Hello all, was hoping for some advice from some more seasoned triathletes here on the club. Did the DC Triathlon (Olympic) yesterday, had a good swim (22 min) and bike (1:15) right on pace with what I did at Nation's last year, but had a rough go of it in the run.
At Mile 1 my left quad cramped up big time, I slowed down a bit but it only got worse, then at Mile 2 my right quad cramped, and the same, got worse as I went. Miles 3-4 I managed to push through (maybe got used to the pain) but then at Mile 4.5 the pain gave in, could barely walk and my right hamstring cramped up to add to my quads, so basically the last 2 miles was a run/limp/walk combo, not pretty. I stopped to try and stretch a few times but didn't help, only tightened me up more. So, I went like 8 minutes slower then my pace at Nation's, so definitely hit me hard.
Has this happened to anyone else? My two theories are either dehydration (but I thought I did a good job of water, sports drink, gels) or not really doing much training on the bike ahead of time, and feeling it on the run. The weird thing is that running is what I have been working on the most so when I saw I was right on pace with Nation's I was encouraged, did not expect the run to hit me like it did, I expected the bike to be my downfall.
Is it possible that the lack of biking (only like 3 long rides leading up to it) just caught up to me on the run? Any advice on how to combat leg cramps? I have never gotten them during training (except maybe a foot cramp while swimming) so kind of came out of nowhere, definitely discouraging because energy wise I felt like I had a lot left at the end, my legs just wouldn't cooperate.
I appreciate any thoughts/suggestions/advice you veterans (or newbies) may have so I can get better prepared for my next race, and hopefully not have this happen at Nation's. Thanks!
You could be low on electrolytes and/or salt. I add salt to my gatorade, water, and sometimes bananas (sounds weird but it works for me). I lose a lot of salt when its hot out and I sweat a ton. I'll usually have salt on my face and arms etc when I finish hard workouts. They have salt pills/tablets etc but I just use the litle packs from plastic utensil packets or from fast food places.
You probably took in more than enough fluids and electrolytes (gels + sports drink) for two hours worth of exercise. I think that you hit it on the head with your lack of biking. Many people will attribute cramps to dehydration and electrolytes but truth be told, most of the time it's due to lack of conditioning for the effort that was put forth. That's not to say that electrolytes and hydration are not part of the equation but most likely it was due to your lack of conditioning relative to the effort that you put forth.
As a pretty strong runner (not fast ... just strong) myself, I will tell you that strength in running doesn't not help much if you have pushed yourself to place that you have never been to before on the bike.
I had the same situation, I started getting cramps in my last two races and I thought it had to do with the hot weather. I took saltstick capsules at eagleman and I had no problems at all. Over six hours pushing it in that brutal weather and no cramps. They work for me.
Good self analysis and you are on the right track narrowing it down. Unless you have a physical condition (injury, etc.), it's likely electrolytes or lack of prep on the bike. I'd have to agree with Tuan on this one. I'd like to say electrolytes, but your indication of only 3 long bikes indicates lack of bike prep. You can remedy that by doing the club bikes on weekends, the Contes ride, and another easy solution is spin class, which works the biking muscles pretty well. It was a decently devastating heat day, so the recommendations for endurolytes or something similar may prove helpful. Great times by the way. Good luck and well done.