Archive | 5:17 AM

The Mystery Cramp

25 Jun

Lately, I have been attempting to run an 8 minute mile–something I have never achieved (at least that I remember) in all my years of participating in track & field, PE class, and an assortment of 5 and 8 K run/walks.  I was a sprinter, then pole vaulter back then.  As such, I have been pushing myself as never before.  See, I ran a lot, and felt like I was going as fast as I could, but when I passed the end point I would recover almost immediately.  Which is a sign that I could have gone faster/farther.  So I never (OK, rarely) mindfully slacked off, but I also didn’t push myself until it hurt either.

Running is pain.  Without it, you’re just jogging.  And without the pain, you won’t get better at it.  Running is SUPPOSED to make you out of breath until your lungs scream, your core muscles burn, and your legs super-tired.  You’re not really pushing yourself if you feel 100% fine and normal after a run and the next day.

This is not to say I’m going out and pushing too hard or too fast to the point of injury.  I’m no dummy–and have the opposite problem as most people do.  I need to increase my mental endurance, because it’s the mental battle that is the most difficult thing to overcome when running.  More on that in a later post.

This post is about a weird cramp I get toward the end of my first mile or maybe after I’m finished running and am walking my cool down laps.  And before I get into detail I should mention I don’t think I have any female-type reproductive anomalies, because I JUST donated my eggs as late as 2009 and those people go over you with a fine tooth comb.  In addition, this is mere curiosity I have absolutely NO intention of seeing a doctor about this.

The description:  Sudden onset of pain in the center of my lower abdomen.  Very reminiscent of menstrual cramps–but at the wrong time in my cycle.  The pain is crippling, making my respiration increase, sweat increase, and surrounding muscles go tense–a typical response to any pain, I think.  This pain will come and go in waves, also like period cramps.  It feels sort of like a side ache, but not in the side, and sharper.  Raising my arms does not help.  Nor does any attempt to control my breaths.  It doesn’t feel like any sort of GI upset (and [TMI alert] I’ve felt like vomiting AND having diarrhea during runs before) that is common with 40-50% of marathoners.

It is not the type of pain that would prompt me to take an Ibuprofen–which I would (and do) if I even have a HINT of a headache or shinsplints or any type of menstrual cramp.  But this pain does not feel like it will stay in the same way you know a side-ache will go away soon.  The only thing that gives any sort of relief to this weird cramp is pressing on it with my fingers (very little relief) or sitting down.  Then, the pain disappears as suddenly as it came on.  I sometimes even run another mile as if nothing happened.

I looked online and saw that a lot of women have experienced this mystery pain.  I didn’t see a post by a dude, but I didn’t search every corner of the WWW either.  No diagnosis and therefore no definitive solution were ever presented.  Theories of dehydration, some sort of fiber/nutritional thing, and lack of adequate warm-up were on discussion boards. 

So I’m not sure what it is or what to do.  I’m pretty sure I’m having it every time I run because this is the first time I’m pushing myself.  And I’m still going to continue running with or without the freakish cramp.  Maybe someone out there can provide answers. . .