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“I did not think it was possible for me to get through a marathon without cramping”

Guest Post: Matthew Gonnella

My name is Matthew Gonnella and I ran throughout high school and college, but I was never a superstar runner.  Currently, I am a full-time law student in Boston and run because I love it.  Once I finished my collegiate career and settled into law school, I set my sights on a new challenge: a sub 3-hour marathon and qualifying for the 2018 Boston Marathon.

When I ran my first marathon, I had never run a race longer than the dreaded college cross country 10k. In training, I only did three 18 mile runs (not the smartest idea, I know), and I had no idea how my body would respond when and if I hit the proverbial “wall.” 

It was at mile 23 of my first marathon when I encountered the wall, suffering from muscle cramps in my calves even though I was well hydrated and fueled.  Up until this point I was comfortably on pace to run a sub 3-hour marathon, but I hobbled through the last 3 miles and ran just a couple of minutes over 3 hours.  I was happy with the result as it was a solid marathon debut, but I was unsure how to address this cramping issue.

Eight months later and determined to hit my goal, I went for another sub 3-hour attempt. This time I was better trained, I ran multiple 20+ milers, and I knew what expect going into the race.  I spent time researching proper hydration and fueling and experimented during longs runs so that cramping wouldn’t be an issue.  I was confident this would be the race.

It wasn’t.

This time, I had collapsed twice and was attended to by race medical staff at roughly mile 23 (again).  The cramps were much worse as my calf, hamstring, and quad all cramped up at the same time.  Even though I was well hydrated and coherent, my legs just could not withstand the work I was putting them through.  It was clear this issue wasn’t because of heat, hydration or fueling, and I did not think it was possible for me to get through a marathon without cramping up.

Despite my fear, the drive to hit 3 hours was even stronger, and I was actively looking for ways to address my cramping issue.  That is when a friend (an experienced marathoner, who has run a marathon on all seven continents) told me about HOTSHOT and I immediately incorporated it into my next marathon training cycle.  Throughout training, I had no issues with cramps at any point after using HOTSHOT.  On the last weekend to qualify for Boston 2018 and my third attempt in 11 months, I finally reached my goal of a sub 3-hour marathon.  I had no cramps whatsoever and I did not hit any wall.  In fact, my fastest and second fastest mile splits were mile 26 (6:28) and mile 25 (6:34) respectively.

I can honestly say that if it was not for HOTSHOT, I would have never broken the sub 3-hour barrier.  I now cannot recommend HOTSHOT enough to any of my friends training for marathons or triathlons.  Muscle cramps deterred me from hitting my race day goal that I envisioned for so long, but with HOTSHOT my goal finally became a reality.


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