Ok, The Portland Marathon is only 8 weeks away and I’m still not sure if my legs will hold out for a 26 mile walk. For the first time in my short walking career, I’m more concerned about the muscle cramps , than I am about my breathing. At least with my lungs, I know that if I’m not breathing well on a particular day, that I just wont race that day. No DNF and no real loss ( except the entry fee and some pride) .
It’s a different story with the leg cramps though , because they don’t effect my performance until I’m already out 10- 12 miles on the course. That’s OK for a 13 mile race, but not for a 26 miler. Since I’ve yet to walk more than 13 miles, I can’t tell if this is going to be a problem in the longer distances.
During my last two half marathon , I developed severe muscle cramps towards the end of the race. In both those instances, I started developing severe calve and thigh cramps as I entered the last mile of the events. In particular, the Kaiser Permanente half marathon which I did last February , I developed a leg cramp as I was entering the finishing shoot ! The muscle spasms actually progressed into a “full body” cramp that keeled me over right there in the chute just short of the finish line. It was so bad that they sent the paramedics over to massage my legs and stand me back up, so I could cross the finish line.
Now I know that in at least one of those instances, I was totally to blame. I obviously didn’t do enough distance training and I certainly didn’t hydrate. I believe I did a slightly better job of hydrating at the SFM, but still I had severe cramps at the finish line. I’m beginning to wonder if my racewalking is part of the problem. You definitely overuse your calve and shin muscles when you racewalk. Could this have anything to do with it? I do stretching exercises religiously .
Regardless of whats causing these cramps, my question for the Pros is this.. How do you treat leg cramps when they occur DURING the race? Can you continue to walk/run after the spasms stop or is it too late at that point?
I always know when a cramp is imminent because I can feel the muscle start to wiggle and twitch. By that time there’s usually nothing I can do except to prepare for a full blow cramp and get away from people so they don’t see me scream. What do you do when this happens? Do you just call it quits or do you try to massage it out and keep plugging away? Sorry, to be such a wus , but thats some painful shit.
I will of course, re-evaluate this whole cramp business after I do my 18 and 20 mile LSDs in a couple of weeks. Perhaps a combination of SLOW walking and proper hydration will make a difference. I guess I’ll wait till then to make the final decision on Portland.