Well, since my training is over and I am officially in a taper zone, I figured I'd talk a little about various thoughts I had - or people had to me - about fueling, cramping, salt intake and that "weird leg sensation".
This forum on Whole30 website, started by no other but my own husband, had described some questions and answers about weird pain sensation not related to usual cramps while running long distance on Paleo and reduced simple carb consumption. I first experienced it in October during my first intro to Whole30, 7 days in, in a 3 hr run. The pain was extreme with some kind of tingling needles and almost seizing but not quite, was most once you stop and try to rest (and after the workout ended, it was to the point I had cried), yet not cramping. I had two other, milder, bouts of that pain during October.
When I came back to Whole30 on January 1st, I didn't have said pains, for whatever reasons (may be because I was slowly getting miles up, not trying to continue on high training), but Larry did, and so he freaked out and posted that thread. No much help or explanation was offered. I was one who's thoughts were "It is fat getting used to being metabolized while exercising", as in: simple glycogen pathway is being replaced now for energy production.
So, months gone by, I am sticking to Paleo life style (unless it's a party day, and I have a drink and a slice of bread or two), and Larry is on "80/20" wagon, meaning if I cook, he is good, but when he cooks for his son, or takes him out, it's pancakes and burritos, but it happens twice a week, so not bad at all. Neither had really have any pain returns, and then I did my 5 thousand hill repeats (ok, only 20) one day, and by the end had that very leg feeling...not tired, not cramping, but painful tingling...and it lasted about 30 minutes after I was done too. And the following weekend I did my last run, which was a mere 15 miles with little to no elevation gain, and very slow (!), yet the tingling were back in the last hour.
That made me think...there is no more "getting fat metabolism started" as I'd hope it's already turned on, and I don't have nearly as much fat to "shake off and burn", on my legs anyway (one other explanation I had was that fat cells get "jiggled" and hurt while breaking down, I know, what kind of scientist am I?). What hit me then (since those 2 cases were so recent and fresh) was that both times the evenings (and actually all full day) prior those 2 runs I hardly had any carbs. I had eggs with spinach, sausages, and lots of chicken for dinner with a few slices of eggplant, but nothing that would fill up my glycogen stores. There is a reason for carbo-loading after all, even if it doesn't mean pasta! And that Paleo for Endurance suggest Sweet Potatoes before the long run/race!
This blog post discussing race strategy and fueling pre- and post and mentions similar findings.
Now, speaking of (just normal) cramping. As you know (if you follow my race reports), I had severe (and I mean SEVERE) cramping issues during Cheaha 50k in February (so did Larry, we ran it on day 45 of Whole30/Paleo eating, but did use gels during a race). I had fantastic (no problem on that part) races at Syllamo 50M and Freestate 100km, and though that was solved - just to get hit with cramps again in the last 10 miles of a McDonalds Forest 50k. Now, I belong to the camp that cramps are not a single-cause issue, but rather a combination of EITHER/OR:
-low salt intake for replacement
-not firing up enough muscle fibers or fast enough (basically, not trained for either elevation change or speed you're trying to go at)
For the first race Salt seemed to have been a biggest pointer - we were deprived of packaged foods thus not consuming Sodium in large quantities anymore, and we were taking salt tabs at low rate even though the day was warm and humid. PLUS the 50k at Cheaha had 6700 feet of elevation gain, what we were not ready for (not from Texas, and not 4 weeks into training cycle). We adapted that - and next 2 races went well (even though Syllamo had 11,000 feet of gain in the 50M). So, when Mac50 came with pain (and oh, what a glorious pain it was with locking down 10 feet away from the finish line!), I knew I was consuming salt enough, BUT felt a little less on water (ran with 1 bottle and it was 80F) AND race still had 7,300 feet of elevation gain, which, while I was better trained by May, still not THAT good coming from Texas with hills lasting half a mile!
So, what's the girl to do, when she has a 100M race coming like a freight train in just over a week??
That post linked above had a comment:
Just a few thoughts on what may cause muscle cramping/soreness during a race:
- Magnesium depletion. There is a clear connection between magnesium and muscle cramps, and during times of stress and exercise, there is an increased use of magnesium, and therefore a higher chance of running low. For many athletes, and especially those that participate in long-duration activities, I would usually recommend a magnesium supplement. It's both cheap and safe, and should yield noticeable benefits for performance. Magnesium is vital for cellular energy production, and a deficiency can definitely reduce metabolic efficiency
- Going harder than you did in training. Asking muscle fibers to do a job that you didn't prepare them for can result in cramping and excessive soreness. For example, the climbing of hills will likely require the recruitment of more powerful muscle fibers than running flat, but if you hadn't trained in a way that allowed you to build these muscles to perform such a task, you could have cramping as a result. (Not saying that you didn't train properly, just offering some thoughts).
- Perhaps a lack of protein intake during the run could have contributed. Protein-containing foods are harder to eat while running, though, and will use up more energy to digest, AND will potentially contribute to GI distress, which is not something that you want to have happen in the middle of a 50 mile run. Maybe you'd benefit from adding some BCAA to your home-made fuel mix?
So, that made me question my choice of taking Succeed! caps.
After a consultation with Meredith Terranova, our local nutritional guru, we decided on Thermolyte MetaSalt as they have that suggested Magnesium. For references, I had combined the information in a table below.
1 tablet in water bottle
Rice Flour, Dicalcium Phosphate, Vegetable Capsules (plant cellulose and water), and Magnesium Stearate
Citric Acid, Natural Flavors, Sorbitol, Stevia, Wheat Germ Oil*, 10 calories, <1g data-blogger-escaped-carbs="" data-blogger-escaped-of="" data-blogger-escaped-p="">
Phosphorus 15mg, Vit D3 220IU, Zinc 1mg, Selenium 10mg, Lipoic Acid 20mg, Black Pepper Extract, Licorice Extract, Ginger Extract. Peppermint Oil Powder, Silicon Dioxide, Cellulose
|BRANCHED-CHAIN AMINO ACID COMPLEX:|
6g of BCAAs per serving:
ENDURANCE/RECOVERY AMINO ACID COMPLEX:
L-Glutamine and L-Arginine
2,000mg Citrulline Malate
Vitamins C and E
MENTAL PERFORMANCE COMPLEX:
Caffeine (low dose)
Glycine 50 mg
L-Carnosine 60 mg
L-Glutamine 3 g
Tyrosine 17 mg
Ingredients:Maltodextrin, Whey Protein Isolate, L-Glutamine, Cocoa, Natural Flavor, Calcium Chelate, Xylitol, Magnesium Chelate, Stevia, Potassium Chelate, L-Carnosine, Glycine, Salt, L-Tyrosine, Manganese Chelate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Chromium Polynicotinate.
Contains: Milk, Soy
BCAA total 4.5g
Aspartic Acid 1817mg
Contains Whey Protein Isolate, Milk Protein Isolate, Hydrolyzed Whey Protein
Iron 0.4mg, Chromium 41mg
P 105mg, Zn 7.5mg
Extra: Citric Acid, Sucralose, Nat.Flavors
Vitamin A (beta-carotene) 2,500 IU Vitamin C (ascorbic acid and calcium ascorbate) 400mg
Vitamin D (Cholecalciferol) 200 IU
Vitamin E (d-alpha tocopherol) 400 IU
Vitamin B1 (thiamin mononitrate) 8 mg
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) 8.5 mg
Niacin (niacinimide) 20 mg
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine HCl) 8 mg
Folate (folic acid) 200 mcg
Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin) 6 mcg
Biotin 150 mcg
That said, if BCAA is not enough when one goes 100 miles long, and I can't/won't chew on "real food" (personal preferences, you go ahead, but nothing unless it's liquid-y goes in me when I race, and that cuts it to soups only if they have them), what do I do?
That very guy had his own post discussing need for protein intake during longer efforts.
Go ahead and read it, but here is a paragraph:
“Consequently, it has been debated whether dietary protein administration prior to and/or during exercise can also stimulate muscle protein synthesis rates during continuous endurance type exercise activities. Prior work has clearly shown that protein co-ingestion during prolonged endurance type exercise improves whole-body protein balance. Moreover, whereas whole-body protein balance remained negative when only carbohydrates were ingested, dietary protein co-ingestion was shown to improve whole-body protein balance by increasing protein synthesis as well as decreasing protein breakdown, resulting in a positive protein balance during 5 h of prolonged endurance exercise.”
Meredith also suggested to add protein at least at mile 80 (if not earlier) - and I am thinking between a cup of bullion and a packet of Recoverite at mile 80, I should be able to cover it, plus 4 servings of BRL Sports with BCAA throughout the race.
The rest of the day? My trusted gels, baby, a combination of Power Gels and V-fuel gels. Thermolyte MetaSalt tabs on the hour. Extra bottles picked up at certain point prior to longer sections for hydration. V8 juice for some acidity and extra Potassium.
And havign an Eye on a Tiger...