Just ran my 10th marathon, I'm a 49 yr old male and I consistently get nasty hamstring cramps around mile 18-20. Brings me to a halt. In NYC a week ago got quad cramps too for the first time. I stretch for a sec and then manage to run thru it, fearing the loss of time. What causes the cramps? I drink at each stop and take in fuel each hour or more. I don't stretch enough during training...culprit? Trying to get a PR this year but the cramps are always there like a troll under the bridge. Thanks for any advice!
Perhaps you're staying well enough hydrated but your electrolytes are out of whack? Salt depletion can sometimes contribute to cramping. Also some researchers have theorized that cramping in races is due to muscle fatigue. Perhaps working on hip and hamstring strength in a weight bearing environment (i.e. NOT the hamstring curl machine) would help? The stronger your muscles, the less likely they are to fatigue in the later stages of a race and the less likely they are to have a Golgi tendon reflex-induced muscle cramp.
A couple of other suggestions to help with the cramps is to start eating 2 bananas each day. If you still seem to have the problem continue to run just breath into the area that is cramping. Breath in an out with your mouth closed and focus on where you are taking that breath and that would be the area that is cramping. Hope that helps.