Don’t let running cramp your style

Advise on cramp for those considering a long run before a long swim

Isaac Wendland

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.

With the swimrun version of the Bob Graham Round (the Frog Graham) becoming more popular, and the introduction of running to an Outdoor Swimming Society event (the Hurly Burly) the “swimrun” format is booming.

Avoiding Cramp

If you enter the HURLY BURLY “Run-Swim” event then you will be running 10km and then swimming 10km. This won’t be broken down into several different runs and swims, it’s a straight 10km run followed by a straight 10km swim. It’s a new concept so just before you go hell for leather it’s worth considering the issue of cramp.

One simple practical measure you can take to reduce the chance of getting calf cramp on the HURLY BURLY “Run-Swim” is to not kick your legs as much (think of yourself having an imaginary pull buoy). 

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 your 10k run and just before your 10k swim.

Unfortunately I can’t do the HURLY BURLY this year but if I was I would probably just have some jelly-babies, some nuts and an electrolyte drink between the run and the swim….

Electrolyte Drinks

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

  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice.
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice.
  • 2 cups of water or coconut water.
  • 2 tbsp honey or maple syrup.
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

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.

The HURLY BURLY Run-Swim is a fantastic opportunity to make the most of your time in the beautiful Mawwddach Estuary, the contrast in perspectives from running to swimming is a very attractive concept. Follow the advice above and you won’t let running cramp your style.

Mike Alexander

Mike has raced in the ÖtillÖ World Series since 2014, competing in Sweden, Switzerland, Croatia and the Isles of Scilly, along with several other debut swimrun races in the UK. He is founder of WESWIMRUN.ORG.

(Editors note: he is also an early adopter of great things and was seen at OSS courses and events from the start!)

Mike Alexander
Isaac Wendland