Saturday, August 07, 2010

A perplexing long run

ORN:  22.0 miles, 4:12:07, R3/W1, 11:28/mile

Help me figure this one out, folks.

In getting set for the Chicago Marathon, the long runs are now on the schedule.  Today's 22 miler was the first.  We got a break in the weather and the early morning temperatures were in the (gasp!) mid-60s.  It was a joy to be out at 6:30am in the relative cool weather.  

The first 10 miles of the run were a joy.  The next 12 were on my familiar out and back winding down to Purdue's campus.   I had stashed 4 bananas along the route for calories during the run and they worked wonderfully, sitting well on my stomach.  I was on my way back home, with 20 miles in the bank when I started to feel the length of the run.  But, I knew right where I was and continued the 3/1 run/walk ratio comfortably.  I went through about 60oz of water and had taken four salt tabs as well during the entire run.  

The last mile was tough.  The temperatures had climbed to the upper 70s by then under full sun and it was hot when not in the shade.   I altered the pace to a 1/1 and that seemed to help, but I was truly done, like "put a fork in him" done.  I certainly did not feel like doing another 4.2.  

I got home and then things got interesting.  I immediately ran a bath tub of cool water as I usually do after long runs, had more water and some iced tea and climbed into the bath.  While the legs felt good in the water, my upper body was still hot and sweating.  Then, the weirdest thing happened.  I got a set of cramps in both my calves that I have never experienced.  It was very painful; I yelled out involuntarily with the pain.  The calf muscles just seized up, shortening and causing both toes to point.  There was seemingly nothing I could do.  I pressed on the pointed toes and gradually got the cramp to ease but it happened about six times.  It was questionable just how I was going to get myself out of the tub!!!  Eventually, I did but it was an effort.  I limped to the shower, cleaned up and had no more incidents.  But, boy, were both calves (particularly the right) were very, very sore, as were my feet.   The shower helped, as did some varied, healthy lunch offerings and plenty more fluids.

But, man, what happened??  I'm stumped.  When I encountered cramps before, I have always found taking electrolytes to really help.  But I did this Salt Stick each hour of my run.  I drank quite a bit, near the 20 oz/hour target I shoot for.  So where did the cramps come from?  

One possibility is simply a training explanation.  I looked at my log for the past four weeks, which read 18 miles, 4 miles, 25 miles and then 37 miles this week.  The effort I had in umpiring baseball clearly lessened my miles.  So, I'm really wondering if I simply ramped things up too quickly and the endurance conditioning of the vital calf muscles is not there yet.  But I don't know.  

So, I welcome any input you might have.  

Persevere...cramps happen.



Wes said...

I've gotten some debilitating cramps after some of my races, Augusta in particular. It was excruciating! Have you been behind the plate? Maybe your body has been sweating out more salt than you are used to?!?

I went back and looked at my Ironman nutrition plan, and I aimed to take in 900mg of sodium per hour or so. You have to adjust this based on how much you are sweating.

and I wouldn't read too much into this, as it sounds like it was a one off to me....

Darrell said...

sounds a little like what happened to you after Rocket City. I'm surprised that you are already doing 22 miles in prepartion for Chicago.

Were you behind the plate when you umped or standing up? Maybe that's part of the explanation for the cramps.

david said...

I had a similar experience after the Country Music Marathon one year. Did the cramps come on while in the water? or were you trying to stand up? When it happened to me, I was trying to stand up. Since then, I use my arms rather than my legs to push myself out of the tub. When it happened to me, my legs cramped up three times before I could stand up. It was not a pleasant experience.

Sarah said...

Hmmmm....not sure I have any good suggestions. It sounds like you did well with your electrolytes, but perhaps it wasn't enough. Darrell's comment in intriguing. Perhaps the umpiring had you working different muscles and the stress of that was exposed by your run.

Hope the next long run is better!