Monday, August 10, 2009

Leg Cramp Solutions... AKA What will Stephanie ingest?!?

Problem: Severe Leg Cramps (specifically hamstrings)
Timing: Last 20%-25% of my marathons or intense long workouts

Last week I asked for Bloggie Input on late race leg cramps and any and all suggestions for alleviating the pain. I've compiled the list and it the response looks closer to a list of "what can we make Stephanie ingest???" I said I'd do it and I plan to attempt to try all of these. Well, here we go....

1) Source:
BB of Slow Runnings Comment sent in
~ Solution: Hydration Vitamins (Electrolyte Tablets) to take DURING the marathon.
~ Product Info: You take 1 every hour for light sweating, 2 an hour for heavier sweating. It adds salt as well as electrolytes.
... Purchase Price: $16 for a bottle of 100 capsules.

Race Plan: I've purchased the pills. I'll take 2 before the race and carry 6-8 with me on the course in my new water bottle with pouch. I finally found a smallish hand held water bottle that has a pouch and comfy hand strap! Who's excited?? ME!!!

2) Source: MB, also supported by Greg.
~ Solution: Pickle Juice... Taken before the marathon
~ Product Info: Garry-- a co-worker, actually jars pickles and has some extra pickle juice lying around. How convenient!!! As yummy as that sounds, I may throw a little splenda in and some seltzer-- make in Majito-esque?? Gross. Bonus!!!... Kyle's roommate is unbelievably afraid of pickles. Folks you cannot make this stuff up! He's absurdly afraid of pickles, pickle juice, pickle smell. Bonus? I can chase him around with my cup o' pickle juice!!!
~ WOW: They make pickle juice as a product!!! And sell it.. for money!!!! I'm shocked.
... Purchase Price: ~$3.00

Race Plan: During the week I'll drink a cup a night and try to come up with some better tasting concoctions. I won't be able to carry pickle juice onto the plane so as soon as I land in Rapid City I'll have to swing by a store and get some pickles. Ill drink a cup the night before and a cup the morning of. GAG!

3) Source: Runner Dude-- unknowingly posted on the subject
~Solution: Coconut Water ... taken before, during, or after
~Product Info: One of the latest running craze's. I've tried this before and 1 out of the 4 of us liked it... fortunately that 1 was me! I did not try it before or during a race so that will be new. The taste isn't bad. Since I crave salt all the time I think its a nice post race drink. We'll see how it does before.
... Purchase Price: $2-$3- depending on how many you purchase at once.

Race Plan: We have a nice long bus ride out to the start so I'll be taking along a coconut water. I'll also have to pick some up when I get to rapid city. If I can find a way to drop some along the course I will!

4) Source: Mel- Tall Mom comment sent in
~ Solution: Mustard Packet... exqueeze me??? Apparently taken upon the first signs of leg cramps. Oh boy, here we go...
~Product Info: Mustard packet, containing... well, mustard. The hard part... I HATE mustard. But, I did say I'll try anything. I'm hoping the above solutions will work so well I won't NEED to try this, but if need be... sigh
... purchase price: Free (grab some at any work cafe or any place that you can grab condiments to go)

Race Plan: Along with my Gel packs I'll be carrying a packet or mustard. Oh that's just going to look like I lost my mind... oh wait, I'm running 20 marathons this year-- THAT may make me look like I'm losing my mind already. Damn

5) Source: Marlene Comment sent in
~ Solution: Quad strength training... obviously prior to the race. Although it would be kind of funny to see somebody doing squats on the side of the road.
~ Info: The idea is to strengthen the quad to help the hamstring. A lot of pain is caused by a weaker opposite muscle. Strength training is also great for injury prevention!
... Purchase Price: There are a lot of leg strengthening exercises that can be done with or without weights. Unfortunately I go to an overpriced gym so I'll be attempting to get my moneys worth and use their weights!

Race Plan: Unfortunately I won't get a lot of strength training in prior to the race (this weekend) but I definitely have to pick up on my strength training. I'll do 1 or 2 days of LIGHT leg strength training to get them stretched and race ready.
Other items to try...
~ Multi Vitamins... WITHOUT iron. Apparently iron can be difficult to take in mineral form, causing people to feel sick and/or vomit. I'm one of these people. Fortunately they make a multi vitamin sans iron!
~ Stretching!!!! All week before
~ Leg rollers... also all week before
~ I'll also be trying a little swimming to try and stay loose without overexerting myself.
~ Hope! I believe in hope and if you want me to stop complaining about never hitting my BQ time you will too!


  1. Hehehe if you don't like mustard I say pass...but you are right it is FREE!! Best of luck this weekend.. With all those tries BQ is yours..


  2. Hoping to read your results from any experiments you do. I have same problem with terrible calf cramps in marathons. I was considering trying the electrolyte tablets. I dont think I could choke down pickle juice, cannt stand pickles.

    My uncle recently suggested drinking quinine water, tonic water has it. Like a gin and tonic without the gin. Says he doesnt have muscle cramps if he drinks a glass of it a day. I have no clue why this might help. Some one suggested to him and he says it helps.

  3. I've experience the exact same issue late in marathons. Very helpful post! Thanks

  4. Stepahnie, thanks so much for the IT Bank exercise! I will give it a try today!

    good luck with your leg cramps and your experiment!

  5. eeek, i'd have a hard time with the mustard too! good luck with the leg cramps, hope you find something that works for ya soon!