Cramping alot - and HARD!

Hello guys,

I need help to get my cramps under focus. I cramp alot - and i should have the desired training and TSS to do, what i want in races - but late in the races i tend to cramp. I take in water and elektrolytes. I think i heard Chad mention something about Sodium? I have searched for tablets, but i cant seem to find some? Can anyone help? I sweat alot - and my jersey are often salted and white :stuck_out_tongue: - I live den denmark - IFY

I am no medical expert but have true Magnesium powder with some success when u was running ultra marathons. I have listened to podcasts that recommend pickle juice and even have a bottle of it that I am yet to use. The juice is supposed to be good for you. Others may have dinner better advice for you but either of these could be helpful

Got to have something in your local chemist for replacing salts. I use Dioralyte sachets . Basically it’s for replacing the water and salts lost from your body when you have diarrhoea, but I find it works equally as well for those who get thick tide marks of salts on there bibs from a hard days ride!

I match the flavours of Dioralyte to my powered ISO energy mix…all then goes in one bottle, last 22 hour ride I did, I didn’t suffer from any cramps…this was compared to the previous months 12 hour ride in which cramps had started some 10 hours in…

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Precision Hydration and Levelen are a couple of companies to look into although I’m not certain if Levelen ships to your area.

You need this

which contains Magnesium and potassium and maltodextrin

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I think much of it gets back to fitness rather than nutrition. There seems to be so many theories about miracle cramp cures, but my experience is that when I was starting to ride longer distances with faster guys, I would cramp near the end. Several years later after building a base and many such longer and faster rides, cramps are no longer an issue. I’m not saying don’t hydrate or don’t increase your sodium intake, but I would suggest that that may not be a miracle cure and it may take time to develop a level of fitness that can handle the races you are doing.


Agree, I don’t think there is any miracle cure but between my two long distance events separated by 4 weeks it made a vast difference.

I have had all base mid vol x2 this year before attending races, and sustrained power > climb road race - so i’ve have had about 200% more structured training than i use to, and i still cramp - so i dont think thats the problem to be honest. Ive ridding 7000km so far this year and im in better shape than ever fitnesswise


We’re all different, so that means what works for me will not work for you. I am in pretty good shape right now, but yesterday was a hard 125 miles in higher temperatures. I had some minor cramping that I controlled with electrolyte tablets.

I absolutely have to have electrolytes in any fluids I ingest or I get stomach upset. If I really let things get out of whack, I start to cramp. I suggest not drinking any plain water, always something with electrolytes in it. I carry electrolyte tablets (Saltstick) for if I start to feel crampy or I feel nauseous. I have also just used convenience store salt packets. I think I will probably switch to salt tablets (plain NaCl), because they work and potassium is not good for me. A potassium-rich electrolyte tablet can actually burn your stomach. I still carry some plain water, but I almost never drink it. I use it to rinse my mouth and dump down my back.
Last night after the ride I started cramping in weird places, like my shin. I feel confident there was no shin overuse during my ride. Grabbed some salt and it all went away instantly. I also find that if I start cramping, I can put an electrolyte tablet in my mount and the cramps disappear. This suggests to me that there is an autonomous body response that we can control through subterfuge and placebo.

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I’m a salty kit crusted cramper. Worse was showing up to a “friendly sportive” (ride attached) this spring on an 86 degree day planning to ride easy with friends and a group of grandparents pulling wagons passed us uphill. Ok it wasn’t that bad, but those words on your left coming from those wankers? It was on! However I wasn’t prepared and I didn’t do the following:

Before the ride.

  1. Increase my salt intake a week before.
  2. Start and end the my day with
  3. water bottles are full and 3 nuun tablets both bottles before the ride.

On the bike
4. During the ride I have my own skratch lab individual packets.
5. Block 3x salted margarita chews. 2 blocks every 250 calories. 250 is just a way for me to remember to take them.

Post ride:
Sunflower seeds
Hammer vegetarian recovery drink and vegetarian protein.

Nonetheless, I got a bunch of power PRs and tops on some climbs. All while cramping and needing to stop peddling to stretch. . The last mile, I body cramped. Like my whole body. Clearly lost the wheel. While trying to move over and get off the bike a young lady yelled I’m in this lane. Ha. I was like ahh can you help me get off my damn bike? I’m cramping. She obliged. Looking back, I probably didn’t have 3 bottles the whole ride not to lose the wheel in front of me. The bottles were full. I just drink. I was in the black RCC kit and specialized aero helmet. We stopped at the rest stops but regular ole hammer hydration will not work for me. Plus I wasn’t drinking anyway.

I did Goode in a hot hotel on a crappy Peloton. No fan. Just water on the bike (pouring sweat a lady brought me water. I looked like death). Flew home the next day and I’m cramping like a mug. Hamstrings. Calves. Abs. Cramping sucks.

Have a routine that works. Stay hydrated and find an electrolyte that works for you.

If you’re taking on proper nutrition, then it’s probably more of a fatigue issue. I had similar issues threw me for a loop for a while because I was taking on good nutrition before, during, and after events and rides. I had the same issue earlier in the season. I moved up a category, so that meant longer faster races. As the season has gone along, I’ve gotten more adapted to the higher demand and the cramps have diminished. Getting proper rest, using a foam roller, and some light stretching a few times a week have helped me combat my cramps. Too much of all these anti cramping supplements can be bad for you and I remember in one of the more recent podcasts Chad said something along the lines of your muscle cramping is a safety mechanism that your body utilizes, after your muscles are too fatigued, to prevent further damage to the muscle.

What do you make of hammer nutrition’s crusade against salt? Seems like a minority opinion, but they are vehement in their literature that heavy salt sweat means you’re over salted, expelling the excess, that salt intake is a vicious cycle, athletes are overconsuming it, etc. It seems contrary to 95% of what I read, but they have quite a following.

I like their endurolyte fizz tablets which aren’t super high salt. But I sweat a ton, very salty and still have had a couple hydration related cramp issues this year and wonder if I should increase salt more.

I sweat a ton of salt… Also have board line hypertension, (Have some medication for that) so I do watch my blood pressure and don’t add any unnecessary salt to my intake.

First I’ve heard of this over-salted thing causing heavy salted sweats… personally I don’t believe it as adding salts/dioralyte to my long rides have helped me and if anything post this method I was probably well undersalted!

As I recall, one of the arguments is that if you are overloading salt, your body sweats excessively to remove and regulate it, then you see a lot of salt on you, so you consume more, etc.

This is just one of many - the catalogs they send are full of arguments of caution on salt intake.

For me, the electrolytes definitely help - yet I also sweat really heavily and seem to need a lot more water than some people get by on. I’m just skeptical about cutting salt dramatically enough to see if that water intake and sweat loss can actually be reduced on a long hot ride. It would certainly be nice to not constantly be worrying about carrying a ton of water up every hill :frowning:

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ps - in the name of science, I’m eating a pile of extra salt pretzels ahead of a near-90 deg/humid long ride tomorrow - let’s see how it goes :laughing:

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I used to cramp at almost every CX race, mtb race, even hard workouts. Didn’t matter if was hot or cold. I tried a lot of different things but the cause was simply taking in too much water beforehand. I limit the liquid intake now and all is good - I haven’t cramped in a long time.

Hi, I used to suffer from calf cramps right at the pointy end of races (less than an hour in duration) and I’m now convinced this wasn’t related to dehydration or fuelling, I believe it was down to simply pushing over my physical limit.

I’ve no proof of this but having gone through a longer period of consistent training I’ve not cramped once in the last 18 months. In that time I’ve gone way harder than before.

My advice is keep fuelling well, always have more than you think but really focus on your training and wherever possible replicate the demands in terms of intensity AND technique.

I am a heavy sweater and former heavy cramper. Thankfully, cramping is quite infrequent now. The two key elements of my solution have been training and proper electrolyte intake.

In my experience, cramping has been driven by substantial ramp in volume and/or intensity. Some folks can tolerate a ramp rate of 5-10 TSS/day each week (volume). Others like me, are closer to 2-4. Similarly, progressive ramps of Time in Zone - how many minutes you spend in each of the upper levels of intensity (sweet spot, threshold, VO2, NM) as compared to prior weeks can effect cramping. As fitness improves episodes of cramping decreases.

Also, making sure I have taken in sufficient electrolytes is particular helpful, especially on hot days or where the effort is going to be particularly hard (e.g. 350-450 TSS endurance day or large # of VO2Max+ intervals). Prior to the start of a workout I will typically start with 2x Hammer Endurolyte Extremes and later take 2-6 more depending on length of workout, intensity and heat. Through experience I have dialed it in.

FWIW: Pickle juice has been found to stimulate the TRP gland in the rear of the your mouth known. I have found it to be effective. However, it is quite inconvenient (you need to carry around Hammer flasks in your jersey pocket). Training and electrolytes have become better long term solutions for me.