Tuesday, September 24, 2013

My TMBT Post-Race

Post-race Analysis of my bad leg cramps problem - after getting tips from Dr Pui San who was running in the same TMBT event, I finally figure out the reasons that hindered me in completing the TMBT race. I encountered terrible cramps in both my legs – the inner thigh, quadriceps, calf muscle and even my toes – all happened at the same time!

On race day, it was very hot and humid initially causing us to sweat profusely; then it became wet and cold when crossing river and streams, tricking our thirst centres that we do not need to drink that much.

Yours truly (kC, left) at the starting line ... photo courtesy of Vivien Tay

I realized on that day, I drank much less water compare to my normal training. I am using hydration bladder type and drinking from this method has one disadvantage as one could not assess or see how much has been finished (as compared to those two plastic bottles hanging in front of the chest type). I was not able to assess the remaining amount of water in the backpack by feeling the weight as it was packed to the brim with other mandatory survival items and food. 

When the sign of cramps surfaced at about 12:30 p.m., I went to pee (since 7:00 a.m.); with much less output, that reaffirmed the reasoning.

Yours truly (KC) after crossing the river and admiring the smooth rocks 
(photo courtesy of Weng)

What was obvious is the crossing of river and streams with the hot-cold, expand-contract of veins conditions which was not tested during training time. The actual reason that triggered the complete shutdown of body system in provoking muscle cramp of two legs was the DEHYDRATION problem. 

I do not think the leg muscles cramp was due to my fitness level as I have trained enough in the local hills and Gunung Nuang, Kuala Lumpur, in preparing for this event.

Backpack with pockets for two bottles ... photo courtesy of TMBT website

If I were to take the challenge again next year – I think I will – for the unfinished mission, one of the things I need to do is to change the hydration backpack system. I begin to appreciate the two-bottle system where each bottle can store different type of energy drinks appropriate for each unique mission.

I went to The Gardens, Mid-Valley to check: Salomon Trail Running backpack is selling at RM 639. It comes with two front bottle pockets (note: bottle not inclusive), a 1.5 litre bladder and intake tube for drinking; next to the bladder compartment is another compartment for storing other stuff.

Do click here for my first TMBT DNF story.

Posted by KC Leong

1 comment:

Cornelius said...

If you're convinced that you've trained sufficiently for the hill challenge, then yes, dehydration stands out as the most probable culprit that can result in cramps.

We have ridiculous hills here in Sabah, of course, but there are also other possible causes of cramps. This is not intended to be an attempt to discount the advice given by the good doctor; rather, perhaps a complement to her advice.

There have been studies suggesting that the intensity or speed of the workout may have a bearing on the eventual onset of cramps. It is interesting that in the majority of cases, if one were to run the race at say 70%-80% of max heart rate, cramps can usually be put at bay, at least until very late in the race when the muscles become fatigued. But this is of course provided that the runner has trained sufficiently for the feat.

Depletion of salt, or more specifically, electrolytes, had been singled out as a possible cause of cramps in the past. But this has recently been challenged. Apparently studies have found that the body can store enough salt to last for the entire duration of the endurance event. And at any rate, replenishment can quite often come from sports drinks, energy gels and the likes.

I personally believe that other factors such as insufficient taper; or rest/sleep in the days leading up to the race may be significant ingredients for cramps too.

Finally, my contention is that we are all slightly different physiologically and react differently to numerous elements. As an example, I suffered a nasty sprain due to stepping onto a loose gravel in the TMBT 2011. It gave me quite a bit of anxiety for a while. But when I waded in the waist deep river, the cold water had the effect of soothing my ankle as well as my tired quads and calves.

In contrast, a friend running the same race had quite the opposite effect of the cold water. The sudden change in temperature caused his muscles to seize up, thus resulting in severe cramps in both legs, eventually forcing him to throw in the towel after enduring the pain for a good 10km to CP4.