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2013-09-10 4:40 PM

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Subject: First DNF due to cramps
OK - I am just venting. I wanted to scream on Sunday when I had to DNF at the Pumpkinman HIM due to calf cramps during the swim. This was not my first HIM. I was about 3/4 through the swim and had been feeling good, calm and pace was solid. I can't beleive this, I said to myself, as my right calf and shin suddenly cramped sending my foot into a complete contorted painful mess. After trying to massage the calf and stretch the foot for almost ten minutes holding on to a kayak I had to throw in the towel. I actually tried to start up again 3-4 times to try and make it through but had to stop after about 20 strokes. Then while he was towing me back in my other foot cramped. It was the most painful 10 min ride back to shore I have ever had. I am baffled and very frustrated. I have been swimming better this summer, maxing at 2600 yards per session with no problems. Not really a strong kicker so I just try and kick relaxed to keep my legs afloat. I tend to do more pool swimming than OWS.

Since I have had some cramping before in the pool I was extra careful in my race prep.

Here are the steps I took:
1) Was properly hydrated, drinking coconut water the day before and all leading up to race
2) Took potassium, magnesium and calcium supps 24 hours and the morning of the race
3) Massaged my legs with massage stick and made sure my ankles were properly stretch out
4) Actually took a sip of pickle juice before my wave just in case

Obviously nothing helped. I was wearing calf compression sleeves under my wetsuit which I am speculating could have altered my circulation but I may be overthinking this. I have worn compression sleeves before with no problem.

Any thoughts out there ?


2013-09-10 4:47 PM
in reply to: mjnam

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Subject: RE: First DNF due to cramps

Originally posted by mjnam OK - I am just venting. I wanted to scream on Sunday when I had to DNF at the Pumpkinman HIM due to calf cramps during the swim. This was not my first HIM. I was about 3/4 through the swim and had been feeling good, calm and pace was solid. I can't beleive this, I said to myself, as my right calf and shin suddenly cramped sending my foot into a complete contorted painful mess. After trying to massage the calf and stretch the foot for almost ten minutes holding on to a kayak I had to throw in the towel. I actually tried to start up again 3-4 times to try and make it through but had to stop after about 20 strokes. Then while he was towing me back in my other foot cramped. It was the most painful 10 min ride back to shore I have ever had. I am baffled and very frustrated. I have been swimming better this summer, maxing at 2600 yards per session with no problems. Not really a strong kicker so I just try and kick relaxed to keep my legs afloat. I tend to do more pool swimming than OWS. Since I have had some cramping before in the pool I was extra careful in my race prep. Here are the steps I took: 1) Was properly hydrated, drinking coconut water the day before and all leading up to race 2) Took potassium, magnesium and calcium supps 24 hours and the morning of the race 3) Massaged my legs with massage stick and made sure my ankles were properly stretch out 4) Actually took a sip of pickle juice before my wave just in case Obviously nothing helped. I was wearing calf compression sleeves under my wetsuit which I am speculating could have altered my circulation but I may be overthinking this. I have worn compression sleeves before with no problem. Any thoughts out there ?

But have you worn them under your wetsuit before?  #1 Rule-Don't do anything new on race day.

2013-09-10 4:52 PM
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Subject: RE: First DNF due to cramps
This happens to me in almost every OWS over a mile, but never in a pool. I have tried all of your remedies, except for pickle juice. Have yet to find the culprit, but I have found that, for me at least, stopping makes it worse. I continue on pulling with my arms and stretching my leg as I move along and eventually they subside. If I run into someone and pull up and stop for any reason they come back with a vengeance. Once out of the water and on the bike, no more problems.

Edited by joncolby 2013-09-10 5:03 PM
2013-09-10 5:01 PM
in reply to: joncolby

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Subject: RE: First DNF due to cramps
Originally posted by joncolby

This happens to me in almost every OWS swim over a mile never in a pool. I have tried all of your remedies, except for pickle juice. Have yet to find the culprit, but I have found that, for me at least, stopping makes it worse. I continue on pulling with my arms and stretching my leg as I move along and eventually they subside. If I run into someone and pull up and stop for any reason they come back with a vengeance. Once out of the water and on the bike, no more problems.


I get it every once in awhile on long swims as well, and like you, stopping makes it worse. I've found that stretching the calf by pulling your toes toward your shins and not kicking helps it go away in a minute or two. Not very hydrodynamic, but it gets me back in business.
2013-09-10 5:08 PM
in reply to: VGT

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Subject: RE: First DNF due to cramps

Sounds like it could just be one of the rare things.  Unless it happens a lot, I wold just chalk it up to something off that day.

Many times if you just let the cramp do it's thing and don't try to stretch it out (hurts like hell though), it will finally "release" - at least for me.  I find that sometimes I extend my toes too much instead of letting my ankles be loose, especially when I'm trying to go fast (race) - which causes the cramps.

2013-09-10 5:34 PM
in reply to: VGT

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Subject: RE: First DNF due to cramps

Originally posted by VGT
Originally posted by joncolby This happens to me in almost every OWS swim over a mile never in a pool. I have tried all of your remedies, except for pickle juice. Have yet to find the culprit, but I have found that, for me at least, stopping makes it worse. I continue on pulling with my arms and stretching my leg as I move along and eventually they subside. If I run into someone and pull up and stop for any reason they come back with a vengeance. Once out of the water and on the bike, no more problems.
I get it every once in awhile on long swims as well, and like you, stopping makes it worse. I've found that stretching the calf by pulling your toes toward your shins and not kicking helps it go away in a minute or two. Not very hydrodynamic, but it gets me back in business.

I used to get them as I increased my swim workouts to build up to IM. I tried many of the same things you did.

Fitness was a key one and the other was as I felt the cramp coming on, move my foot toward my shin and move my foot around.

For me pushing off the wall in pool also brought it on.

For me I only would get cramps in the pool not in open water.



2013-09-10 7:43 PM
in reply to: mjnam

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Subject: RE: First DNF due to cramps
Originally posted by mjnam

Here are the steps I took:

2) Took potassium, magnesium and calcium supps 24 hours and the morning of the race



How about "Na" ?
2013-09-10 7:57 PM
in reply to: #4852220

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Subject: RE: First DNF due to cramps
I had both my legs cramp in my HIM swim under my wetsuit. I streched them out and started to kick hard to get blood into my legs. I normally kick very little and think as the swim goes on I didnt have enough blood in the legs because of the compression effect of the wetsuit. So now I kick more on the swim. As soon as I started to kick hard cramps went away.
2013-09-10 8:00 PM
in reply to: jeffnboise

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Subject: RE: First DNF due to cramps
Last HIM I worn sleeves under wetsuit with no problem. I did have some cramping issues exiting the water running up the huge hill to transition but once I was on bike it subsided.
2013-09-10 8:06 PM
in reply to: joncolby

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Subject: RE: First DNF due to cramps
I think it must be that our legs have more tension when we pull up and stop. Come to think of it - when I was rounding the bouy I did pull up a bit and re-started to gain some speed and that was when it happened. It surprised me and I stopped completely to rub it and then it was too late - wham!!! Once the spasm set in I couldn't release it.
2013-09-11 7:06 AM
in reply to: berndog

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Subject: RE: First DNF due to cramps
Originally posted by berndog

I had both my legs cramp in my HIM swim under my wetsuit. I streched them out and started to kick hard to get blood into my legs. I normally kick very little and think as the swim goes on I didnt have enough blood in the legs because of the compression effect of the wetsuit. So now I kick more on the swim. As soon as I started to kick hard cramps went away.


This. This happened to me before at St. George 70.3 and I chose to simply not move my legs. This was a mistake and I essentially raced with a cramp for the rest of the race. I just did an IM a couple of weeks ago and my legs once again cramped close to the finish of the first 1.2 mile loop. However this time I kicked my legs rapidly and the cramps went away. I do believe that it's a blood flow issue.


2013-09-11 1:34 PM
in reply to: Lock_N_Load

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Subject: RE: First DNF due to cramps
Maybe not kicking enough is the culprit. Good suggestion. With a wetsuit on it is easy not to move your legs much since you have more buoyancy but this could have the opposite effect with cramping. Will try the fast kick to stimulate blood flow and clear out tension.

2013-09-11 2:25 PM
in reply to: mjnam

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Subject: RE: First DNF due to cramps

Originally posted by mjnam Maybe not kicking enough is the culprit. Good suggestion. With a wetsuit on it is easy not to move your legs much since you have more buoyancy but this could have the opposite effect with cramping. Will try the fast kick to stimulate blood flow and clear out tension.

I've had cramps in OWS with a wetsuit and yes, kicking more helped. 

I have to ask - why compression wear under a wetsuit?  I've never heard of that before.  My wetsuit feels like compression wear all by itself.  What benefit are you hoping to gain?  Do you do this often?

2013-09-11 2:52 PM
in reply to: joncolby

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Subject: RE: First DNF due to cramps

Originally posted by joncolby This happens to me in almost every OWS over a mile, but never in a pool. I have tried all of your remedies, except for pickle juice. Have yet to find the culprit, but I have found that, for me at least, stopping makes it worse. I continue on pulling with my arms and stretching my leg as I move along and eventually they subside. If I run into someone and pull up and stop for any reason they come back with a vengeance. Once out of the water and on the bike, no more problems.

Glad that I'm in the same company as you, but we really need to get this figured out.

2013-09-12 1:06 PM
in reply to: brucemorgan

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Subject: RE: First DNF due to cramps
Compression sleeves just to save time in transition. Why have to fight pulling on sleeves in transition? I have raced with them before with no problem.
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