Cramping is one of those problems that can be very frustrating, and possible solutions are many. I have been subject to debilitating cramping in races from International distance on up, and on long training sessions for my entire tri career.
For me it was always a matter of when not if, and how bad. Add to that a tendency to bonk, and I don’t paint the picture of a model long course triathlete. For the first decade of competing in triathlons I mostly did short course, and the few long course events were all marred by some form of breakdown. I began to think that I was just not suited to longer events.
During my first race this year the cramping monster really nailed me. It was the Patriot 70.3, and I felt ready going in. It was a very humid, but not terribly hot morning. The swim went great and the bike was going well. I was way in front of my age group and as Lance would say, it felt as if someone had forgotten to install a chain on my bike – the pedals turned easily and I was matching the elites. And then, it happened again. 2/3rds through the bike, I felt that familiar twang in my vastus medialis – the usual first muscle to cramp. Then on a climb one leg locked up, and I knew it could get ugly. I finished the bike unable to climb out of the saddle. Aero position was ok, but I was losing time and dropped about 5 mins in the final 20 miles. When I dismounted, both legs cramped. I took a leisurely transition, still well in the lead, and began to run. After 400 yards. both legs went into full lockup and I collapsed onto a parked car. I could not bend either leg and man did it hurt. This went on for many minutes. I made several attempts to run, and something else would lock up each time. My race was over. More