Swimming cramps plagues a lot of people, and they can be very frustrating. Unfortunately, I’m among those who suffer with them at times. They’re painful, usually start in one of my calves, and sometimes get into my arches and second toe. Depending on the severity, the leg discomfort can last for a couple days.
Buying a Garmin Forerunner 910XT pretty early in the year has been helping with my training and I can look through my training logs (since I make comments about the workouts) to see whether I cramped on certain swim days. I know there have been a couple times where I cramped on the treadmill, especially on a brick day. It looks as though from my logs, especially in early February, I had typically done an intense running or cycling workout the day before my swims where I would get pretty bad cramps around 600m\yds.
The first time I managed to do anything greater that 650m\yds was on February 10, 2013 with a 700yd swim that day, and without cramping. I decided to quit while I was ahead assuming they might creep up on me. A small one did as I stepped up into my truck but after the calves have been worked up like that, a sudden force can cause a minor one. That personal record was broke when I managed 1,050 yds on February 24, 2013. I was astonished and felt excited. I felt like I could have kept on going. The kicker is – I didn’t work out for 3 days beforehand.
Even when I started a potassium increase in my diet earlier on, I was getting the cramps. Although I’m still making sure to have a banana or some other potassium-rich food before swimming, it seems that taking a rest is a pretty important part of avoiding the cramps. The question that comes out of this is, “How do you gear your training to avoid swim cramps?”
For two summers I was physically inactive. The first due to an ankle injury (which I’m sure will come back if I don’t get a new pair of running shoes soon), and the next due to a part time job at a grocery store that killed any motivation to do anything with life due to exhaustion. Running is not a strong suit for me right now. So how do I manage to improve my run performance, and avoid cramps, and also manage to improve my swim performance? How long is it going to take to finally recondition my body to endurance sports so that the cramps stay away for good?
As you can see, I don’t exactly have a very good balance in my training. I’ve been winging it for the most part because I never am able to get up early in the morning to stick to a specific plan that allows me to do strength training in the evenings. Mornings aren’t exactly my thing. Since the NJ State Triathlon is about 12 weeks away, perhaps it’s time to take up a good 12 week sprint triathlon training program from the start? I’m not sure if that will help with the cramps or if I should just balance things out more somehow and keep going on with what I’m doing?
All that said, today’s swim workout consisted of no cramps. I did have a banana around 2:45pm and did some leg stretches at work and also before the workout.
You can follow my training on my Garmin Connect profile and I also plan on posting a weekly training log on Saturdays. I’ve made sure all my Garmin workouts are public so they can be accessed by anyone and commented on by any Garmin Connect members. Please chime in with your comments here regarding my questions or if you want to friend me on Garmin Connect and offer some words of wisdom on particular workouts it would be very much appreciated!
Have you tried a massage? Last summer I found that after my swim I would cramp in the calf while transitioning to the bike. I had made sure I was hydrated and getting enough potassium. When I brought it up with the coach he suggested a massage. I couldn’t believe how tight my calf were, went out and got a massager and now after long activities I massage them and haven’t gotten a cramp since.
I haven’t yet. I did find the tight spot in my calf just after one of my worst cramps ever had subsided, I put a little bit of pressure on it with my thumb to try massaging just that part and it immediately contracted pretty painfully, so I never thought about a massage. Did you go to a professional at first before buying a massage gadget?
I had gone to a professional before but with this I just got the gadget. The massage initially caused a lot of pain, but after about 7-10 min of light massage the pain subsided.
Ah ok. Any suggestions on a decent priced massage gadget that would be good for this kind of thing and where (storewebsite) I could find them?
Cramps do suck. I found that mine was not potassium but magnesium. I take Hammer Endurolytes before each swim and if it is over an hour I take two more at the hour. I am sure there are other things out there but this worked for me.
I’ve heard of a supplement called SportLegs that can be taken an hour before exercise that’s all natural with the stuff you need to prevent cramps and other similar issues. I haven’t checked my local GNCs or anything to see if they have it. I prefer to get my important nutrients like that from foods like the skins from baked potatos, dried apricots, figs, bananas, etc. I never ordered anything from Hammer before. The swag bag at the expo I went to included a Hammer cashew coconut chocolate chip energy bar so that would be the first thing I ever tried from them. I have to read up on their stuff. The only products I really know anything about is HEED and Hammer Gels. Thanks very much for the tip Ann!!