|The Bike Doc
Joined: 08 May 2003
Location: Corpus Christi and Warda, Texas
|Posted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 1:17 pm GMT +0000 Post subject:
|Four things are all possible culprits here, and any or all may be involved.
1. Hydration: With temperatures that we typically race in Texas, an adult athlete will loose about 2 quarts an hour during strenuous exercise. You mentioned it occurred during the end of the race. If you had not consumed 1 1/2 to 2 quarts of fluids per hour since you started you were running on low and were likely dehydrated. How much is that in racer measurements? You should be drinking the equivalent of one 70-ounce CamelBak per hour. Hydration begins before the race including the few days before as well as the morning of. I recommend drinking at least 3 quarts of liquid a day when you are not working out plus at least 1-2 quarts an hour when working out depending on the heat. The morning of the race, drink at least 16 ounce of fluid within 30 minutes of starting. If you start to feel thirsty you are already about 5% dehydrated so you should drink before you feel thirst.
2. Drinking the wrong kind of fluid. If you drink just plain water and are not consuming enough electrolytes while racing, though you may not get water depleted, you will get electrolyte depleted. The electrolytes lost most in sweat correspond to the most common electrolyte maladies I see when riders come through La Grange on the MS 150: hyponatremia (low sodium) and hypokalemia (low potassium). These maladies can lead to muscle cramping, nausea, vomiting, and in severe cases of low sodium, seizures and death. In just one hour of strenuous exercise you can loose 3 1/2 grams of sodium. There are several sport drink mixes out there, many with their own "patented" blend of ingredients. The higher the hype, the higher the price. I believe in reaching the most for the least. I use and recommend Gatorade (no, I do not hold stock in Gatorade): it is inexpensive, readily available and now has several palatable flavors. If it taste good, more will be taken in. I do have some fine tuning tricks I do to the mix that anyone can do. If you will bear with me for a brief physiology lesson you will understand why what I do works. Full strength Gatorade has 60 grams of carbohydrate per liter. The adult body can digest about 100 grams of carbohydrate per hour before the excess carbohydrates get dumped into the large bowel where they get fermented by all those wonderful little bacteria, which can lead to gas and abdominal cramping. If I am racing on a cooler day, I will mix my Gatorade full strength as I will be drinking about a quart an hour (60 grams of carbohydrate per hour). When the temperatures go up and I increase my fluid intake to two quarts an hour to meet my body demands, I mix my Gatorade to 3/4 strength which will give me 90 grams of carbohydrate an hour keeping me below the threshold of abdominal cramping due to excess carbohydrates being dumped into the large intestines. I still get sufficient sodium and potassium to meet my body needs when I use the diluted Gatorade. I was part of a study at the Hotter than Hell 100 a few years ago and I was using this method of mixing my Gatorade and my sodium and potassium levels were in the normal range both before and after the event, my body weight before and after the event was unchanged (indicating I had sufficiently fluid hydrated). I was putting in an all out effort in the heat (temperature were in the 80s when I started and in the 90s when I finished), set my Personal Best record for a century and suffered no ill effects from my "custom mix".
3. Inadequate stretching of the muscles before racing: Runners and cyclist alike can be afflicted with "Charlie Horses": focal, painful muscle spasms. I had experienced these frequently whenever I pushed myself hard (on one race on a climb up a steep hill on my second lap as you did). I was already doing the hydration and electrolyte regimen I had outlined above. I started doing daily stretching exercises and stretching after I warmed up prior to each race and the cramps went away. If a cramp occurs, stretching the muscle that is cramping often breaks up the muscle spasm which is probably what happened when you started riding again. So if you will graciously pardon my long-winded answer, I hope this helps you and anyone else who is experiencing similar maladies.
4. Inadequate training for the intensity of the activity. If you crank the hammer way up before you have conditioned your muscles for that level of activity, you may likely cramp up. Build up your intensity gradually (10% per week), throw in some weight training to help build your strength. Add intervals to reflect the realities of racing which is a long series of multiple intervals. Be sure to stretch as noted above.
Paul K. Nolan, MD
Paul K. Nolan, MD
AKA: The Bike Doc