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Advise on Trail Running/Hiking

Joined: 06 Jan 2011
Posts: 2
Hong Kong
Posted: Thu 06 Jan 2011 05:53 am GMT   topTop

I will be entering a 50km hike/trail-run in 3 weeks time and wanted advice on the best way to prevent problems on the day. I have done this event twice before. The event is in Hong Kong and is over hills/mountains with a combination of stone steps, shady forest and road. The first time I walked quite leisurely and it took around 12 hours. The second time I walked more briskly with some light jogging on the easy parts and reduced my time to 9.5 hours. However at the half way point I experienced the most excruciating calf/leg cramps and had to sit down for 10 minutes while massaging my legs.

I am hoping to improve on my time yet again this year which will mean more jogging/running than last time. However I really want to avoid any pain/injuries if they can be prevented. My biggest worries are the leg/calf cramps and the pain in my knees which usually starts about 25km into the event. It is much worse when descending down stone steps from one of the mountains. Any bending of the knees is pretty painful... Would a brace help?

So I am looking for general advice on preparation and any specific gear I might need to help me.

Thanks in advance,
Joined: 28 Nov 2006
Posts: 35
Arkansas, United States
Posted: Thu 06 Jan 2011 01:34 pm GMT   topTop
Since almost every athlete has to deal with cramping at one time or another, it's funny that the cause of cramping remains so mysterious. We heard for ages that it was dehydration. Electrolyte imbalance is the popular explanation now (maybe another side of the same coin.) But people who are well-hydrated and on top of their electrolytes continue to get cramps. Perhaps there are many different causes.

I recently read a chapter about cramping in a "running" book that said essentially this: "Cramping results when muscles are asked to do something for which they've not been adequately trained."

Your post suggests that this race is something you enjoy as an adventurous challenge, but that you've not trained for it seriously. If this "reading between the lines" is unfair, I apologize. It's just that serious, prolonged training tends to give you a pretty good idea of what your body will and will not do. I'd suggest this: Keep fueled and hydrated by taking small sips of fluid and a bite or two of nourishment right along, from the very start of the event, say every 20 minutes. Then, try to set a pace which will allow you to negative-split...do the second half faster than the first. Don't worry about what time that produces, and don't be crushed if you don't do it. Just set a goal of a negative split. This will necessarily require you to go "out" very easily while planning to pick up the pace just a little bit at halfway. But not before. You might be surprised at the finishing time and this plan may keep you from over-stressing the legs early. But, it's a cinch you're not going to get any important "preparation" done in just three weeks. Be realistic, be careful, do what you can, and up your training over the next year, based on what you learn. Give us a report. And have fun.
Good luck.
Joined: 06 Jan 2011
Posts: 2
Hong Kong
Posted: Fri 07 Jan 2011 09:15 am GMT   topTop
Thanks Ajj. Actually, you're right in that I probably have not prepared as much as I should have for this event so I have left things kind of late. I'll take your advice though. I had not heard of this technique of the negative split before...
Joined: 10 Jan 2007
Posts: 16
Colorado, United States
Posted: Sat 22 Jan 2011 10:02 pm GMT   topTop
General rule of thumb is 20oz of fluid per hour! Also the human body under physical stress can burn around 600 cals. per hour but will only absorb around 300 cals. per hours. So eat early & often in small amounts, if you wait till you sense the need......because you are always at a lose, it is nearly impossible to catch up. Also if you stuff yourself at the opportunity to feast, anything over the 300 cals. will likely cause intestinal distress. Good Luck! Jeff

[edited: Sat 22 Jan 2011 10:03 pm]