Have just gotten over some horrible leg cramps that I suffered during a 36k, +2000mD trail run last Sunday here in France. Thought I would share the experience and my thoughts on why I suffered so badly for the first time after years of running and races of much longer distances. Any similar experiences, solutions or preventions concerning cramp, pre-race diet and nutrition during races would be greatly received and appreciated.
I have put this post under the "nutrition" category as I beleive the cramps were mostly due to an improper pre race diet and a badly managed food/liquid intake during the race.
I started feeling a tenseness in my muscle calves after around 10k and by about 25k I had full on cramp going from ALL my toes right up to the tops of my thighs. At one put I was literally unable to move and had to practically walk the remaining 10k back to the finish, 5 hours after the start.
I had my family staying with me the week leading up to the race and practically every night (including the night before the race) was spent dining out and drinking beer and wine. Although I rarely drink excessively and will often have a glass of red wine with diner (difficult not to living in France), 2 - 5 glasses every night for a week is probably not very good for the body.
The weather on the day of the race was very unusual for this region. It had been very hot all week (typical Southern France summer) and it had rained a lot the day before the race. The morning of the race was extremely humid and storm rain started falling about 1 and a half hours into the race. It was so humid at the beginning that I was just as wet with sweat as when the rain began to come down later! I don't think I adapted my liquid intake to how much liquid I was actually losing.
My feet were swimming in my shoes - if this could be linked to toe cramp or not, I'm not sure?
For a 5 hour race I downed only 3 energy gels and 2 or 3 pieces of banana. Even though half of my liquid intake was with sports drink maybe I needed to eat more?
I propbably started out too fast without having warmed up enough. I was a little late for the race and didn't have time to warm up. I went out fast so as not to get stuck in a queue when the race hit the first narrow trail paths. I don't think the leg muscles appreciated this sudden excertion especially with all the climbing they then had to do during the race.
So in summary, probably the worst accumulation of all things not to do before and during a race. It's funny how even with quite a bit of experience we still make silly mistakes to be learnt from.