We all tremble in horror at just the thought of them!! I am going to share with you how to take control and stop living fear of them!
First, let’s find the problem and then address it with the solution. Let’s do this by looking at the most common situations that people find themselves in getting cramps ins.
1. “I do endurance training and high intensity training, but I am still cramping when I go out and compete with others.”
Problem: You are probably using a different pedal stroke following the accelerations of others in the group. Cramps can come from doing too much of a movement or more effort than you normally do. This can be riding in a zone you don’t normally train enough in, to pedaling in a body position you don’t use in training. This can also come from a change in bike position.
Solution: Train the zones, movements, and body positions in the ways in which you will need to use them for your target cycling efforts.
2. “I felt great today and then all of a sudden, boom, my hamstring just seized up.”
Problem: Cramps can come from depletion of fuel source glycogen.
Solution: Properly fuel WELL IN ADVANCE with enough carbohydrates to support your effort’s needs. This means eating the proper amounts of carbohydrates the day before and the morning prior to the ride. In addition, keep replenishing the carbohydrate storages while on the bike. Figure out what zones and how much time you will be in them before your event and then make sure your composition and timing of your nutrition is on point with that.
3. "I drank an electrolyte drink and took salt tablets during my effort, but I ended up cramping with salt caked all over my jersey.”
Problem: Cramps can come from dehydration. This can be from not hydrating well the days before the target effort as well as not hydrating well during (especially the first part) of the target event. Poor hydration can also come from not getting enough electrolytes.
Solution: Make a hydration plan before and during your target effort. This plan should include proactively hydrating with eating electrolytes and drinking fluids days before. We recommend eating your electrolytes in the pre ride meals over just drinking them during the effort. Relying on electrolyte drinks is very risky as the amount of sodium is low as well as the drinks actually interfere with you ability to take on enough fluids because of gut distress. You should drink at minimum one bottle each hour including the first hour of your event.