Race recap – a newbie’s perspective, a question, and a thank you to the TR team

Relevant background info:

  • November 2017 – Ran marathon – fractured knee

  • Wrote off running decided to get in to cycling – found TrainerRoad – WOOT!

  • May 2018 – Surgery – Plica excision – boo… down for the count again

  • Road to recovery Nov 2018-Feb 2019 – felt absolutely amazing. Was following Wendler 531 strength program AND TR plans. As expected (learning the hard way) I ended up over training and was slapped in the face. Didn’t realize overtraining could knock someone out for so long. Steady, slow, and consistent training officially started for my “A” race in June of this year.

Race day:

  • Cycling 57 mile portion of a relay (never did explain why they added an extra mile). Love the atmosphere, conditions were perfect. According to Best Bike Split, I need to hit a goal of 170w for the duration to be sub 3 hours. I was nervous, had nutrition dialed in and prepped as best I could with all the info I had. Long story short, I obliterated my goal… 184w steady @ 21.6mph for a time of 2.38. Excitement is legit. I’m so hooked on cycling it’s crazy. Between the podcast voices in my head giving me tidbits of info (no headphones, just mental notes), the few delusions (that was fun), the ride was a journey that was worth all the effort.

Question:

  • I find on the longer rides (group rides I’ve done a few) my right leg wants to cramp up. This race was no different. I was so paranoid about this happening for my event, I did my best to ensure it wouldn’t happen again.

My riding nutrition plan was:

  • Every 5 minutes, take a ultra tiny sip of beta fuel from the bta

  • Every 30 minutes, take eGel from cranksports (this was electrolyte and carb)

  • Every hour, take egcg pill (100mg) for caffeine to mask pain.

  • By the end, I could feel my right leg wanting to lock up (re-adjusting myself on the seat would give signs that I was on the edge of lock up). What was frustrating was that I wanted to push harder b/c I had more HR left in me as far as those metrics but that leg REALLY just didn’t want to cooperate.

  • Would anyone have any ideas to why this is? My diet is relatively clean (could be better I’ll admit) and I thought for sure I would’ve had this issue pinned. Never had this issue with running but it’s soooo frustrating. I’m open to any/all ideas.


Finally, special thank you to the entire TR team. From the continual development, massive database of knowledge (that’s searchable!), and the podcast, I never been left shy of information on being able to work on things. I’m an all-out advocate of TR and have no doubt the team will push forward to be innovative and focused on their goal of making cyclists faster. Thank you!

edit - no idea why that stuff was in bold… lol

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I fixed the formatting. It was from your original paragraph separators. You want to use spaces between dashes when making bullets or paragraph line separators. I also placed this in the “Results” category.

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Well done on crunching your goals, a great achievement!

As for your cramping, most of the time its just down to increased effort, you mention longer group rides and in the event riding at a higher effort.
Realistically you’ve only been training for 10 months so if the cramps are when you are going a bit harder then it shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

From a nutrition point of view

Beta fuel is 500ml/hour by itself or 250ml/hour if supplementing other carb and water intake and primarily meant for longer events, it does have a small amount of electrolyte IIRC.
Were you consuming enough liquid? You may want to try a sweat test to gauge how much sweat and thus water you lose in an hour - google how to do it.
Try training rides with different drink but ensure you have an electrolyte.
If you were drinking 500ml/hour, taking a gel every 30 minutes could have been too much, you need water to absorb the carbs, if you consume too much your body needs to pull the water from somewhere.
That’s a lot of caffeine! If you are in a lot of pain, or even any pain you likely need a proper bike fit, especially if you need to take into account previous injuries.

Is it always your right leg that is cramping? That sounds a bit odd, maybe its shorter or longer than your left leg? A physio should be able to tell you. If it is, that’s something that can easily be fixed with insoles or cleat spacers.

Holy smokes… never even considered that. Yes it is always the right leg! I’ll definitely get checked out. Thanks!

I also just realised that you got into cycling after fracturing your knee… I’m not a physio or doc, but I do find it likely that that created some sort of imbalance between your legs. Maybe you’re subconciously protecting it, or it simply isn’t as strong or doesn’t move as well as your other leg. Physio should be able to help!

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Good details here. I’ve gone from “I got this” in on-board nutrition to “newly confused” real quick.

So further detail, with nutrition I’m certain I’m missing something. I emptied the bottle probably around the 2 hour mark. Fair to say that’s around 250ml/hour with the gel. I guess I may need to try a sightly different strategy with what’s in the BTA vs behind me.

Attached are the nutritional values. 1 is of the gel, the other is beta fuel

Now I think I went overboard with no specific water intake plan because I was too focused on preventing my leg from acting up.
Regarding the caffeine, the pain was predominantly from my lower back. I rarely ever ride on the road (I don’t trust the drivers around here) so the majority of my rides are indoor plans from Wendler forever and of course, TR (blessed to have an awesome home gym). Because of the lack of outdoor rides, I’m guessing I suffer some in the endurance muscles.

Thank you for the input. Definitely gives me a lot to think about. All input is very welcome

Lower back pain is very indicative of bike fit.
A too high saddle often causes a sore back bending over to the bars, it would also leave you rocking side to side putting added strain on legs, hips, core etc

And drink more! 250ml is a very small amount

Are you training indoors in the same position that you’re racing in? If so the muscular endurance needed to sustain that position shouldn’t be an issue unless the race has a load of climbing where the slope can emphasise different muscles. If not, then you need to get that TT bike on the trainer. I know a lot of people who do 90% of their training in a road position and then wonder why they struggle to hold a TT position on race day…

Figuring out hydration can be tricky if you do most of your training indoors since sweat rates outdoors can be very different. I suspect over a 3 hour race at steady power that hydration and electrolytes is more likely to be an issue than getting enough calories. Not wanting to get too graphic, but simplest measure for me is how much I need to drink after a race before needing to pee, and how much until said pee is relatively clear. If it takes 2-3 litres of water before producing a dark yellow pee then I clearly needed to drink a lot more…

Agree with others above that seeing a physio to check out leg length, strength and flexibility discrepancies is your best bet, particularly with your injury history.

The majority of the training indoors has been on the TT bike. Just for entertainment, here are a couple of shots I took while working out the finer adjustments after my basic fit (maybe I should spend the big money for the fit with all the numbers?)

Screenshot_20190902-093641_Coach's%20Eye

Screenshot_20190902-093708_Coach's%20Eye

I think I remember a podcast where the guys mention something about urine strips. Guess that’ll be a route I consider taking. Gotta get this nipped as I really… really… enjoy this cycling thing :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: