With the continued growth of swimrun races on UK shores the swimrun format is becoming recognised as the most engaging way to journey across our landscape.
There’s swimruns on dramatic coastlines (Anglesey, The Gower, Jersey, Isles of Scilly), inspiring lakes (Snowdonia, The Lake District and the Lochs of Scotland). There’s even a swimrun version of the Bob Graham Round (the Frog Graham). So with all these challenges there's lots of scope for cramp to set in...
Avoiding Leg Cramp
One simple practical measure you can take to reduce the chance of getting calf cramp is to use a pull buoy (standard practise on swimruns), or just don’t kick your legs as much.
General advice is to eat foods that contain potassium, a mineral that helps your body break down carbohydrates and build muscle. Suggestions: dried fruits; tomato juice, citrus juice, milk; melon, an orange, or a banana. Drink a lot of water too: It maintains circulation and helps flush cramp-causing waste products from your muscles. It’s definitely worth testing which foods work for you in your training schedule. Also think about which of these foods you can eat just after a 5k run and just before a 1k swim.
During races the aid stations are normally sufficiently stocked with enough of the right stuff to see you through to the end. On longer training swimruns I would carry some jelly-babies/gel, some salted nuts and an electrolyte drink.
It’s a good idea to spruce up your water bottle with some electrolyte replacement. The major electrolytes in the body include: sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, bicarbonate, phosphate and sulfate. You can make your own or buy some dissolvable electrolyte tablets - I can recommend High 5, tube of 20 for £2.79 from wiggle.
Make Your Own
Or the simple version - mix water, sugar (or cordial) and salt in your water bottle.
Why Are Electrolytes Important?
Electrolytes are important because cells use them to transmit electrical impulses across their membranes and to other cells throughout the body. These electrical charges regulate nerve impulses, heart functions and muscle contractions.
Leg cramps can be really debilitating, follow the advice above and hopefully you'll avoid them.