Leg Cramps


Experience From - Jay Hodde , Nick Williams , Andy Holak ,

Jay Hodde

Mack says:

"No question I was dehydrated, but should not have been this severe. 40oz of fluid in a 2 hour period should be Pretty close to OK."
In this case, I don't believe that it was. American College of Sports Medicine guidelines call for 8-12 ounces every 15 minutes during endurance exercise. That equates to 32-48 ounces EVERY HOUR. Given the conditions outside last weekend (hot and humid), I would think that your fluid intake was really low.

The Western States training guide says 1 bottle for every 2 miles of the run. This amount is 40-60 ounces an hour, depending on your pace.

"What else could cause cramping like this? Is there a deficiency, I'm overlooking? What, if anything can be taken to relieve cramping like this once it sets in?"
Unfortunately, the physiology of cramping is not that well understood. Basic ideas include dehydration, fatigue, and electrolyte imbalance.

Even though I am a big supporter of electrolyte capsules, there is a possibility that sodium OVERLOAD (meaning, in excess of what you need -- fairly extreme excesses) can influence cramping. I would suggest that in certain people prone to sodium-induced high blood pressure, a reduction in blood flow to the working muscles (as a result of vasoconstriction exacerbated by the sodium) may prevent adequate oxygenation and waste removal from them. Theoretically, this could lead to cramps.

What does this mean for the use of capsules? Take what is needed, but limit intake to 1 an hour (to begin with). One SUCCEED! buffered electrolyte cap every 90 minutes works for me. And be sure to take it with water!

Treatment of cramps: Gentle stretching, fluid replacement, rest, and light massage are normal ways of attempting to deal with them.

Nick Williams

I agree with Jay. The first 2 times I took the !SUCCEED Electrolyte Pills my stomach got very upset. I then read from someone on the list who said maybe more than 1 every two hours was to much for them. I tried taking pills that way and immediately felt better taking them. This past weekend we ran 28 miles in hot and humid weather. I combined the electrolyte pills with !SUCCEED Ultra sports Drink. I really had a nice run with no problems until I lost my pills somewhere on the run and had to go the last 2 hours without pills or rock salt (which I normally use). After I finished I had some cramps in my legs. I did some figuring and I had drank at least 120 ounces of SUCCEED Ultra and water and ended up loosing 4 pounds.

Obviously I did not drink enough.

Andy Holak

Mack, I've had problems similar to yours with cramping in my calves primarily. I thought they were probably caused by lack of hydration or lack of salt. Cramping in the calves can also be caused by lack of conditioning (i.e. running too few miles, or too few hills, etc.). I think in my case, it is probably a combination of these conditions (dehydration and lack of conditioning).

Generally, severe cramping only occurs during races, when I'm running longer than in training, and harder. Not too much can be done, but I usually try to run through the cramp, and try to drink more water. Stretching doesn't usually work for me, as the cramp seems to tighten up even more, but stopping and giving the leg a little massage or short rub sometimes helps a little. Usually, the cramping subsides after a while, and I'm able to continue on relatively cramp-free.

I'm happy to report that I had very little (almost none) cramping during the Ice Age 50, due mostly to adequate hydration and the use of electrolyte tablets (1 every hour). My training (conditioning) wasn't any better than other ultras where I've had problems with cramping. Hope this helps a little, and good luck staying cramp-free!