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I am a novice runner and ran my 2nd marathon (both Edinburgh) at the weekend where I hoped to knock 15-20 minutes off the my time from last year, where I didn't really prepare as well as I could have.
I followed an 18 week training program and didn’t experience any cramp, or even feel that I was close to cramping, during any of the training runs of up to and including 20 miles. During the race however I began to experience twinges in my calves from mile 10 before cramping severely in my quads after only 14 miles, with my calves going completely when I tried to stretch the quads. Gutted.
I didn't do anything differently than before or during my training runs - same breakfast, same clothes, a starting pace (8.45 min/mile) that I had ran comfortably before many times, same gels, same consumption pattern, similar water intake, temperature not any higher than experienced during training.
So why did I cramp up completely after only 14 miles when I had run further than this in training on many occasions with no issues?
Could the early onset of cramp be due to the course? I have only experienced quad cramps twice in my life, both during the Edinburgh marathon. Last years cramps were much later on however I had already slowed considerably due to a stitch and a generally poorer level of fitness.
The only other thing I did differently was to go for a sports massage after my longest run of 20 miles (3 weeks before the marathon) and again a week before at the recommendation of the masseur. Both sessions were pretty sore and I could feel it in my legs for a couple of days after so could these sessions actually have done me more harm than good?
Any thoughts or advice would be very welcome as I'm at a loss to explain why I cramped so early. I expected cramp but after 20 miles, not 14. 18 weeks of effort for a gain of less than 3 minutes is hard to take!