09 June 2005

My Runner's Curse

I was rudely awakened at about 4am, by a bad calf muscle cramp, that was so bad that I was still limping in the office come morning.

Guess what? This is nothing new to me as I have been having these midnight attacks since I was 15. Strangely, it would always be the calf muscles. So used to these attacks that it has gotten to a point where I am able, with sheer will power, to extend the offending muscle to stretch in the opposite direction of the muscular spasmodic contractions, then go back to sleep once the spasms subsided. No hands, no pressing against the wall, no standing at the edge of the step, nothing. Just sheer will power. A case of mind over matter as some would like to call it.

Last night's attack, however was a rare one in the sense that the intensity was beyond me as I was jolted wide awake in pain. My fight against it was futile as the pain was so excruciating that I waved the white flag after only 10 seconds. I was able to relieve the cramp eventually but not after struggling to get out of bed and stumbling to the nearest wall to pressed myself against it, stretching the calf muscle behind me.

So what happened when I was 15? I started running. Before that, I was a fat round kid, standing at 1.4m and weighing 40 kgs. According to the charts, I was borderline overweight (115% over). To add insult to injury, it was common for me to score zeros in all events of the physical fitness tests. I also faint a lot as I was mildly anaemic.

Then it all changed when I entered Sec 3. I was beginning to feel better as I started, on my doctor's advice to take iron supplements (which also included the bizarre recommendation of chewing up and swallowing the bones when I eat chicken). As for running, it was my own idea. I signed up for my school's cross-country running that year was originally for the simple reason of wanting to escape doing medic duty. The first few practices went absolutely horrible as I find myself close to the brink of death inside MacRitchie forest each time. However, as slow and steady as each practice went, training started to feel easier and I was starting to improve on my time significantly.

My first stab at the school cross country run was nothing to shout about as I finished under 25 minutes with a placing in the hundreds. Not too shabby for fat kid. I guess 15 was the time, I really shot up in height and by year's end, I was 1.6m but still 40kg. From 15% overweight to 20% underweight in a matter of months.

I felt healthier and fainting spells were a thing of the past as I continued to run on my own, after the cross-country event. Funny how, all of a sudden, I started to be interested in keeping fit. Girls perhaps? For what it was worth, I clocked in at 8:45 for my 2.4km and amassed a total of 26 out of a possible 30 points for that year's physical fitness test.

Sec 4 was a better year as I managed to do a sub-20 minute MacRitchie that year and was placed in the low 60s. Not bad for a guy who was just running for the fun of it. The following year's 2.4km fared ok as I clocked 9:12. Not as fast as the year before but I made it up by scoring the full 30 points overall. My stats at the end of Sec 4? 1.65m and still 40kg (30% underweight). I was beginning to look like a refugee.

During the period of these two year worth of growth spurts and running, the calf muscle cramps came often and frequently. Noticeably, they only occurred in the middle of the night which I thought perhaps was due to the cooler temperatures. I didn't really think much into it as I thought it was the price I had to pay for a rigorous training regime. Besides, the painful cramps would go ahead after a few minutes. So not much harm done there.

The midnight cramps became less frequent as I got older from secondary school to junior college to NS to university to present day. These days, the cramps come once every blue moon and I am blogging this wondering what triggered last night's attack?

I did some googling around and this is what I've got. Click here, if you have the same nocturnal cramp problem like I do.
- Voxeros

1. anna left...
Thursday, 9 June 2005 5:25 am
I get frequent calf cramps too and it may be hereditary. It could be due to running. My Dad and I are the only two in the family that are plagued by it. And we run.

I can't safely point my toes downwards when sleeping. When temperature drops, I get it too. Haha, so much for sleeping in the buff.
2. JayWalk left...
Thursday, 9 June 2005 8:48 am :: 
Really? No way!!! We have sooo much in common! 

Oh yes, and the cramps too... :P

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