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Cramping in an Ironman 70.3 Race

Many triathletes experience painful and annoying cramping in an Ironman 70.3 race. Commonly, not long after the second transition. Or, some triathletes get cramps during the swim or bike leg.

It’s also common for triathletes to experience cramps during all of their races or just some of their races! Everybody is different! Cramping can occur during any of the Ironman 70.3 race stages.

That is why having a ‘get out of jail card’ can be useful. When a cramp strikes it can be hard to get rid of quickly. So carrying a cramp specific product that you know will work fast can be a very wise decision!

What about using Salt Tablets?

Traditionally triathletes have used salt tablets to help keep cramps away. This is very much old school. By the time the salt tablet makes it’s way through your digestive system you’ve already lost the race! Science is now telling us the fastest and safest way to get rid of muscle cramps is by activating sensory nerves in the mouth. This triggers a very quick reaction to get the overactive nerve signals under control and release the cramp. If you can activate the sensory nerves, the cramp will be gone much quicker.

Following a strict nutritional plan is also a wise option. There are tons of wonderful hydration and energy products on the market and as long as you have trained with these you could get through your race without experiencing any cramps.

The reality is though that some people will still cramp. There are just so many variables that can throw any race plan off course. Maybe the weather is warmer, more humid or perhaps your energy levels are not as you anticipated.

If you have never raced an Ironman 70.3 and are after some tips, read this detailed Race Report by Ash Hunter, Ironman World Champ qualifier. Cramping has always been a huge concern for Ash during an Ironman 70.3 and full Ironman race. Ash commonly experiences bad quad cramps during the bike leg.

Ironman 70.3 Port Macquarie Race Report, by Ash Hunter

I was a little unsure about how the body would be feeling going into this race, considering I was halfway through my final build leading into my first Ironman (Ironman Cairns).

 Warm Up Swim

Due to it being low-tide we weren’t able to do a quick warm-up swim so I decided to go for a 5-10 minute run in my wet-suit (barefoot) including an upper-body dynamic warm-up halfway.

In hindsight, it wasn’t the best idea to go for a run without shoes because my feet went numb and I wore the material between my thighs on my wetsuit… oops! I felt warm and ready to go after this so I’m glad I did it.

While lining up in zone 1 ready for the rolling start to get to me, Pete Murray was doing an awesome job at pumping the crowd up, for some reason, it made me reflect on the journey over the past 6 months on my comeback from surgery with a fractured collarbone.

The competitor next to me said something like, “This is the worst part of the day, I just can’t wait to start.” I could barely reply as I was all choked up with emotion thinking about the journey to get to the start line.

Swim Leg

OK it was GO time, the line was moving quite quickly and I only had a dozen people in front of me. All of a sudden, I was emotionless and only focusing on the task at hand.

Thinking about my swim plan with the words of my coach running through my head from our phone call the previous night. I managed to follow my plan throughout the swim focusing on a couple of aspects of my technique which I tend to forget when I’m under pressure and was able to find some feet after the first turn-around and settle into a nice rhythm. Soon enough I was at the northern turn-around point when I could hear cheering… on a swim course! Shout out to the people who were out on their yachts giving support.

With about 300m left I could hear the voice of Ironman as well as the wonderful Pete Murray’s voice getting louder. As I was running up the ramp I could see Korupt Vision laying on the ground in his wet-suit doing what he does best, I managed a quick “Hi Glen!” while running past placing my goggles on top of my forehead.

 

Bike Leg

The BEST part of the day! I looked down at my watch and realised I came out of the swim with a PB! This gave me a boost of confidence as I knew that I wouldn’t have lost too much time to the girls up ahead. Keeping within the present moment by consistently thinking about my present power, rpm, position on the bike and getting nutrition/hydration in. I find focusing on these few things helped me stay within the moment.

My nutrition on the bike included two bottles each with 2 x CLIF Shot Gels + 1 x Nuun tablet. One bottle with Razz Raspberry CLIF Shot Gel and the other with Lemon Lime CLIF Shot Gel.

I had 1 x CrampFix sachet at the 65km mark for prevention purposes and sodium intake.

Even though I found this ride extremely bumpy and hard to stay super aero all the time, I seriously couldn’t stop smiling the entire ride and was just SO happy to be out there. Racing into T2 with my power plan on point I also learned that I was 5th female overall and first in my age group posting the second fastest female bike split of the day. I scoffed down 3 x strawberry Clif Bloks and got out of T2 as fast as I could with a huge smile on my face.

 

 Run Leg

I seriously had zero expectations for my run considering the block of training we were in. My goal was to run a faster time for the first lap than my second lap. A male age grouper “Deano” and I left T2 together, he seemed to be running at a very consistent pace so I asked kindly if he didn’t mind if I sat behind him, offering him any Clif Bloks or CrampFix if he needed it. At the 8km mark he let me know he was going to start to slow down now and wished me all the best with the rest of the run. Thanks for the company Deano!

I was able to keep a consistent pace throughout the first lap and then dropped the pace back roughly 10 sec per km for the second lap. I didn’t have any issues on the run until I got to the 17km mark where I could hear my stomach slugging up and down due to drinking too much water which gave me a stitch in my stomach. It took me about 1km to breathe it out, finally I could pick up the pace again for the final few kilometers.

My Nutrition Over the Run Course

4 x strawberry Clif Bloks,

a few cups of alternating cola and electrolytes

3 x CrampFix Sachets:

I had the CrampFix sachet’s at the 8km, 12km and 16km mark, rinsed them down with water but in hindsight I think using only cola to wash it down would have worked better than drinking both water and cola.

It was great to trial CrampFix as a preventative in a race situation and a replacement to salt tablets.
One sachet of CrampFix has roughly the same amount of sodium as one salt tablet.

A massive shout out to another male age grouper “Dave Walsh” who pushed me along for the final 1km (which turned out to be 1.5km… we got more than we bargained for searching for that finish line feeling). I love that there is a comradery like spirit out on race day, even though this is an individual sport. 

I was over the moon to be able to place 1st in the female 25-29 AG and third female amateur overall.

My splits for the day: Swim – 00:30:19  Bike – 02:36:350  Run – 1:38:430  Overall time – 4:49:29.

 

 A massive thank you to the following for all your support leading into this race: CrampFixT:zero Multisport and my amazing coach Richard Thompson, my swim coach – Lisa Spink, Team Clif Bar Australia, Unique Health Products , 17 Hours Tri Clothing and Di’s Fitness & Massage.

Back to work for me for the final build leading into my first Ironman! See you all at Cairns.

Read more about Ash Hunter and her training for Ironman.

 

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