Cramping in race

Just did 50 mile gravel race cramped at mile 37 and got dropped after having to stop as cramp was so severe. Felt like I fueled well. Didn’t feel otherwise cooked. Wondering how to train to prevent in future as if I didn’t cramp could have challenged for a top 10. Long slow endurance rides of 3-4 hours ? More 20 min threshold intervals ? Advise appreciated

Cramps are probably the result of you going too hard. Your body just couldn’t handle the effort for that prolonged period. Get in better shape to be able to handle that same effort and the cramps go away. Maybe steady state at the power you want to hold.


Let me rephrase. How should I build sustained muscular endurance for 2+ hour racing near threshold.

My race cramps were almost always caused by poor hydration. During high intensity races I tend to forget to drink fluids enough - lot of things going on at the same time keeps me distracted.
Lately I’ve been using Garmin Edge notifications to keep the hydration on the spot.


A combination of Sweet Spot intervals at 3x20 or 3x30 and long rides 4+ hours.

Long Z2 rides alone weren’t enough for me. I needed those long SST intervals, even though I absolutely hate them.

How often have you cramped in the past? Were you going really hard, and just over did it? Is there certain instances that make you susceptible to cramping, such as hot weather, really hard efforts over a long distance, etc? I would try to figure out if there are certain “conditions” that lead to cramping, so you can address those “conditions.” I tend to cramp when it is really hot out and I am putting out hard efforts in a race. I’ve not been able to completely eliminate cramping in hot weather, but have a tried a few things that seem to help some. The night before a race I will use an electrolyte tablet in my water and same thing the morning before a race. I’ve used Hot Shots and the pickle juice shots. You can also take electrolyte capsules while racing. Also, try to use a hydration mix that has a lot of sodium in it such as Carbo Rocket, Maurten, or SIS Beta Fuel. From what I’ve read, it seems like research shows it’s really hard to pinpoint what causes cramping.

Thanks that’s what I was thinking I don’t think long zone 2 alone is going to do it unless it’s a couple times a week which isn’t really an option

I think I rode with you in race… dirty 30? We had a nice little group going.

I think I did go too hard in the beginning spending too much time on the front in first half of race. I cramped in a fast crosswind section that got strung out where you couldn’t not pedal hard, but after cramps subsided I was able to hold threshold watts for the last 13 miles so I don’t think I was just cooked. Will try some preloading with sodium and hydration tho as you suggest for next race.

Yes, Dirty 30. I was in Wave 2

@Nicschne You might listen to the two Flo podcasts with Steve Neal. He talks about a tempo / sweet spot progression with a heart rate cap of 82% of max.

He starts you off at 3x20min of SST but with the HR cap. If HR drifts up, power needs to come down. The goal is to get fitter to the point that HR doesn’t rise and power doesn’t need to come down. Once you can do 3 of those workouts a week separated by easy endurance, you move up to 4 per week, 2 blocked in a row, separated by easy endurance. Advanced athletes might even move up to 5 workouts per week or 4x20 or 3x30.

I thought the HR cap seemed like an interesting way to go rather than do the traditional way of increasing time of intervals.