As a strength and conditioning coach that specializes in cycling and a competitive MTB racer in South Florida, Robert Smith has been struggling with muscle cramps his entire life. The athlete, who has a grueling workout schedule that includes what he affectionately refers to as “Throw Up Thursday,” has truly put HOTSHOT (originally codenamed #ITSTHENERVE) to the test. Here, he recaps how he not only trains and competes without cramps, but happily enjoys challenging himself on torturous courses with HOTSHOT by his side.
I can honestly say that I have truly challenged #ITSTHENERVE in events that had previously resulted in cramps — and it has passed. I can’t tell you how excited I am about the possibilities for my training and future competitions.
I do weekly climbing workouts, including “Throw Up Thursday,” with my team, ID Angel-McCarty Racing. We train at a county recreation park that was built on a retired landfill mound consisting of all sorts of lines cut in the hill, going up and down short and steep inclines. Although the climbs are only 30-60 seconds long, we routinely get over 2,000 feet of climbing into an hour-long session. This was the first test for the product. I purposely threw the normal pacing strategy out the window and absolutely charged up each climb with abandon. My legs cracked around the 45-minute mark and I crawled through the rest of the workout. Not a single twitch resulted. In fact, I haven’t experienced a muscle cramp during this workout since.
The next testing ground was in the SERC XC race at Hailes Trail in Newberry, Florida. Hailes trails are on private property that is only open twice a year for XC races. It is regarded as the hardest climbing course in the state, located around an old limestone quarry (descend first, then climb your way out). I have raced this course seven times in the past five years and experienced cramps every time. Because I was not competing in the entire series, I again allowed myself to push at a harder pace at the start than normal. I experienced one twitch on the fourth (last) lap going up the hardest climb for the last time. I had another bottle with me, but chose not to drink it because my position in the race was pretty much set and the finish was not far away. Had I been racing someone I probably would have drank it. Not only did I finish the race without cramping, but I felt so good after the race I did another lap for fun. Previously, I would always be dead at the end of a race at Hailes!
The final significant test for #ITSTHENERVE was at the Big Frog 65 Mountain Bike race in Tennessee. Big Frog is a 65-mile course with about 7,700 feet of climbing — a significant test for a Clydesdale from the flatlands of Florida. My goal was a sub 6-hour finishing time. During this race, I consumed a total of four bottles. I did one before the start, one at 1:45 in, one at 3:15 in, and one at 4:15 into the race. I may have been over cautious, but I really wanted to stay on top of it and preempt any cramping when I felt the slightest twinge. I paced and fueled well, and was able to pass 16 people in the final 20 miles of the race. I ended up finishing in 5:18 with no muscle spasms, and, again, feeling better than I have felt after events like this in the past.
Keep an eye out for HOTSHOT at Leadville MTB this weekend!
MORE ON THE HOTSHOT BLOG
Heading to the Summer Games: Read about Steeplechase champions Evan Jager and Colleen Quigley.
HOTSHOT Science: What causes a muscle cramp? Read here.
The Nerve is the Boss of the Muscle: Take control with HOTSHOT. Here’s how.