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How To Beat Marathon Muscle Cramps

  • By Jeff Gaudette
  • Published Sep. 27, 2013
Muscle cramps can be debilitating and can ruin your race. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

How Running Form Changes Late In The Race

To answer this question, let’s first look at an interesting study conducted by Pete Larson at the 2009 Manchester City Marathon. Using a high speed camera, Larson filmed runners at the 10K and 32K points of the race, and later classified them according to their foot strike.

At the 10K mark, his results for 936 runners were as follows: Heel strike: 88.9 percent; midfoot: 3.4 percent; forefoot: 1.8 percent; and asymmetrical: 5.9 percent.

At the 32K (20-mile) mark, Larson identified 286 runners of the above runners, displaying the following: Heel strike: 93 percent (87.8 percent were also heel striking at 10K.). Forefoot: 0 percent.

This brief study showed just how common it is to see a runner’s form change as he or she gets tired later in a race. I doubt this data is surprising if you’ve ever watched a friend push through the final 10K of a marathon. Compared to their normal running technique, their form at the end of a race can look pretty ugly.

While I contend that footstrike itself is not the real issue, this study does confirm that our running form changes late in a race. But how does this relate to cramping?

RELATED: 5 Common Running Form Mistakes

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Jeff Gaudette

Jeff Gaudette

Jeff has been running for 13 years, at all levels of the sport. He was a two time Division-I All-American in Cross Country while at Brown University and competed professionally for 4 years after college for the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project. Jeff's writing has been featured in Running Times magazine, Endurance Magazine, as well as numerous local magazine fitness columns.

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