I have muscle cramps…

I have muscle cramps… I know that seems like a fairly general statement to make but trust me when I tell you that underneath that statement is plenty of frustration. I’ve done four marathons and out of the four muscle cramps affected my ability to finish strongly in two. I’ve encountered severe cramping within the last 5-7 km of finishing the race.

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@Singapore Marathon 2013

My first marathon I was just happy to finish and I was able to finish under 5 hours which was fine by me. Once the “Finishing my first marathon,” euphoria wore off and I started doing my post race analysis I determined I should have finished that race 15 to 20 minutes faster if it weren’t for my cramps. My second marathon was in Singapore and it was by far the worst marathon/running experience I’ve had. I had to deal with the heat, humidity, a severely inflamed tendon, ganglion cyst and partially torn ligament (all in the same foot). All of which came to a head in that race. I managed to finish it after being forced to walk almost half of it due to injury. The only good thing was I didn’t have to deal with muscle cramps. The next marathon was Berlin and the goal in training for Berlin was to stay away from injury and stick to the training plan. Both goals I achieved but what should have been a perfect race with a projected finish of just under 4h:15m ended up being extended once again due to my dreaded race nemesis, calf cramps. I had done all the things that I thought would help me prior to the race. Well rested and hydrated. I stuck with a steady nutrition plan and even had anti-cramp tablets. I finished in 4h:40m which was a personal best but at this point I was pissed because I knew I should have been doing better. Jacky smashed her personnel best and finished in 4h:09m… We should have finished that race together. The next marathon was a month later in Korea. The Chuncheon race was hilly and to be honest I just wanted to finish it standing. Surprisingly I had my best time of 4h:33m. It was also the race where I went the longest without cramping.

Now it’s the off-season and as Jacky and I plan our race schedule for next year I turn my focus to training that will overcome my cramps. To do this I’m going to focus more of my efforts in two categories for the off season; diet and strength training. To be honest we really haven’t done any strength training since we started endurance sports. My weight loss while ok needs to be better because if I was 10-15 kg lighter I would be much faster and there would be less strain on my body. When I was in my early 30s I loved strength training and weight lifting. I would literally do 3 workouts a day. Cross fit in the morning, Weight training at noon and cardio in the evening. Now I feel like for all the effort I’ve put into my endurance training I should be seeing more return on my investment… The reality is I am older and I haven’t really put as much effort into the areas that would benefit me the most. Well for 2015 that all changes. After some online research and consulting associates I’ve decided to try an off-season plan consisting of Strength Training using the following guidelines and a Plan I found on the Endurance Corner.

The recommended protocol they use to maximize your return:

  • Start slowly – the prep phase is fundamental
  • Use perfect technique and controlled speed of movement
  • Start embarrassingly light – the goal is improvement, not competing with the powerlifters!
  • You get the greatest return from your FIRST session of the week – one session per week offers a huge improvement over nothing.