Jason's March to the Marathon - Feb. 29: Cramping my style - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Jason's March to the Marathon - Feb. 29: Cramping my style

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - No pain, no gain. That being said, pain isn’t fun, especially in the middle of exercising or a race.

I was only half a mile away from the finish line, and a big knot tightened in my right quad. The cramp came after already completing nearly 13 miles on the treacherous terrain of Providence Canyon State Park, also known as Georgia’s “Little Grand Canyon.”

It was a brief scare, halfway through training for my first marathon, for which I ran 92 miles in February, my most ever in one month. We're now 2 months away from tackling 26.2 miles through the streets of Nashville, TN.

That training called for Jimmy Davis and I to run 14 miles last Saturday, so we figured this was a scenic way to get in those miles.

We crossed the finish line at the Flatlanders Canyon Crash trail half marathon in about 2 hours and 40 minutes.

It wasn’t the typical road race though, probably causing the cramping. At our first ever trail race, we ran in muddy creek beds and through the woods, and walked up those very steep and uneven hills.

That pain in my quad stopped me in my tracks, but I was able to walk and eventually jog it off.

Don’t be scared off by injuries. They happen to all athletes, at all levels, even amateur runners like myself. The key is to recover, and don’t let that be an excuse to give up on running for good.

Both my quads also tightened up bad at the end of my very first half marathon in January, 2015 at Callaway Gardens – with the finish line in sight. I still finished.

There were also some steeper hills at the Callaway race, but it was also my fault for not staying hydrated enough during that event. I’ve learned from my mistakes, how to avoid cramps or injuries.

A few weeks after my first half marathon in 2015, I started feeling a pain beside my knee. I tried to stretch more and run through the pain, but eventually it was too painful. It was my IT band.

I had to put my pride aside and make myself rest, with no running at all, for 6 weeks. That worked. One year later, I’ve had no problems with it.

Here are a few rules I’ve learned, sometimes the hard way, as a runner – to avoid getting injured:

Know my limits. Don’t do too much, too soon, and especially too fast.

Listen to your body. The red flags to look for may include aches, soreness, and pain that doesn’t go away. It’s atypical pain when the discomfort gets worse while you’re running.

RISE which stands for Rest, Ice, Stretch, and Eat. Just made that one up. You have to take time to recover and heal, before and after runs, and same for aches. Icing reduces inflammation. I make myself stretch my hamstrings, calf muscles, quads before and/or after any runs.

Finally, get proper running shoes, ones that fit.

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