Friday, February 6, 2009

Strategy gets some support

So as some may know my racing of Half Ironman races has been plagued by recurring calf cramps. It would always strike me on the run. IF you never had one, they are horrible, making me sometimes almost trip over myself as my calf would seize up.

The interesting thing of it was they would ONLY strike during a Half IM.

Not in an Oly distance or sprint.
NOT when running long distances, or even when training for a Half.
ONLY during a race.

This was particularly frustrating because without being able to reproduce the problem I could not really figure it out. The first time this happened was in the Tupper Lake HIM a few years ago. AT that time I assumed it was due to my having missed a big portion of my nutrition during the bike, thanks to a combination of technical failure and bonehead moves.

This again happened in my HIM in Singapore. Again I assumed it was the Major heat and Humidity. So last year I raced Tupper Lake again and made sure to drink plenty of fluids and have all the nutrition I needed. My cramps were actually WORSE! As Christine ( AKA Holistic Guru) can attest ( due to her being a superior Sherpa and was a witness during parts of my run since she was running with me) I actually came to complete sudden stops during the run.

This has had me baffled and concerned really going into a year where my main focus was an Ironman. Can you imaging having to run a marathon like this?

So I have been concerned. BUT with some thinking I was able to come up with a clue, and it had to do with my training and how I handled the race. First off my training last year sucked. I was traveling allot and it really was inconsistent. Second, when I hit the race in Tupper I went at it with one thing in mind...I wanted to CRUSH the bike course. So I definitely pushed above and beyond my limits. I in fact started to feel the cramps coming on near the end of the Bike.

So I suspected it had to do with a combination of pushing too hard on the bike and my training being short of Bike fitness. BUT so far this has only been a theory. Because as I said I have not been able to reproduce this outside of a race. However now Thanks to pal Kellie ( of "Finding your Limits") she did a little research on my behalf and found this article. Look at what they said:

"Calf cramping can occur if you're pedaling hard on a bicycle for a prolonged period, exceeding the time that you normally spend pedaling."


So this is yet more evidence that points to my training. or actually my strategy. I suspect that my problem is that in Races I push much harder than I do in training. So when doing Halfs this begins to affect me. So what I am doing now is changing up my training this year. In the past I tended to put a BIG focus on running since to be honest its the discipline I feel most comfortable in. This year I am switching to Cycling. LOTS of miles on the bike this year. Also I will implement the "planned pace" during a race. During an Ironman and apparently during a Half you cannot just wing it or go by feel. What I will do is establish my race pace during one of my race simulators, and do my damned best to stick to it. In this first IM I am not going to try an kill the race, I want to finish strong. The racing part can come in future attempts.

So overall I feel pretty good about this. It was especially nice to get some outside confirmation of my theory.

Not to justup to me to implement.

1 comment:

Kellie said...

I really think your theory is spot on! I can't wait to hear how successful your races are and HIMs and IMs are so critical to focus on pacing. You will do amazing!! ALSO, after a 70 mile bike Sat. I did a 4 mile t-run and guess what?? My calf cramped! I had to stop twice to rub it on the first mile and I think I only cursed your name 5 times :) JOKING! It was dehydration. You rock!!