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Monday, April 6, 2015

Motivational Monday 3/30 - 4/5 and how to prevent side stitches/cramps

Happy Monday friends!  

I hope you all had a fantastic Easter with friends, family, and a ton of chocolate.  One thing about moving 2,200 miles away from your friends and families, is that on the holidays, you sort of get to make.. new traditions.  Instead of an Easter dinner at my parents, or a trip to Massachusetts to see the whole family, this Easter was a little different. 

I met my friend Lauren, and we set out for a 14 mile run.  It was a gorgeous spring day in Salt Lake City with temperatures in the high 60's to 70's (the weather in Utah is amazing friends).  I am not a religious person so instead of celebrating Easter for its "true meaning" I sort of embrace it as the official sign of spring, and a time to appreciate the outdoors, all the gorgeous flowers, warm weather, and lots of chocolate.  I did this with a 14 mile run through this beautiful city, and then a BBQ at the park with friends.

I'll recap my 14 mile run at a later date, 
and dedicate Tuesday's post to gorgeous pictures of Spring in the Salty City.
I shall leave you with a teaser

Weekly Recap 3/30 to 4/5: 
Monday:             3 miles with Rachel and Tabata
Tuesday:            45 minute Spin class

Wednesday:      3 miles with Rachel and Tabata 

Thursday:          30 minute Tabata practice teach

Friday:               Off
Saturday:          Mountain Biking Bonneville Shoreline Trail
Sunday:             14 mile run.  
TOTAL:  20 miles 

My mid week mileage was pretty weak and I didn't get to do my Friday run in the trails (I had to work 9-7:30 that day).  That aside, I did get a lot of cross training in including my normal strength training, spin class, and some time on my mountain bike.  

For my weekly dose of running advice, I am going to talk about to prevent side stitches.  I have been getting a ton of them lately, and they really turned my 12 mile run into a miserable one.  Feeling like someone is stabbing you in your side is not an enjoyable way to spend your weekend.  Then again some may argue neither is running.  I digress.  If you find yourself running on the weekends and want to find out how to prevent side stitches, read on. 

There are all sort of methods.  I did a ton of research and found a ton of causes for this inconvenient pain.  They ranged form dehydration, stretching, breathing, eating, you name it.  Everyone had a reason and everyone had a different strategy on how to deal. 

According to Libby Birk at SkinnyMom.Com:  "A side stitch or cramp is a muscle spasm of the diaphragm, which is instrumental in breathing and can get fatigued. The cramp affects the diaphragm muscle, the supporting ligaments, tendons and surrounding connective tissue. According to WebMD, side cramps are a result of shallow breathing, and are a little alarm letting you know that you’re not taking deep enough breaths. It could also be the result of an imbalance of blood electrolytes (mainly calcium, potassium and sodium)"

To avoid side stitches, first put your hands on your stomach and take deep breaths. If you’re breathing from your lower lungs, your stomach should rise and fall. After a while, if that doesn’t work, stop running and press two fingers in and slightly upward directly where you feel the pain. Hold that for about ten seconds while breathing deeply. Move your fingers all around the edge of your ribs up to the sternum. You could also try stretching to relieve the cramp. If the cramp is on your right side, raise your right hand and lean to your left. Do the opposite if the cramp is on your left side. When the pain subsides, slowly begin to run again and gradually pick up the pace. Side stitches often originate because your running pace is too fast in the beginning of your run.
Another helpful tip to remember is to avoid eating one to two hours before running. You’ll also want to increase your water intake throughout the day to ensure that your body is properly hydrated, and don’t forget about warming up and stretching! A good warmup could separate a solid run from a solid waste of time and energy".

There were some great tips, but in case that doesn't work, here is a collection I put together of Real Runners with real solutions.  I pulled these off a Running World thread -- T
here are some simple ones, and some whacky ones, and my advice is to just keep going through them until you find one that works for you. 

These are in no particular order, but solutions by real runners on how they deal with the problem. 

  • Ab twists before you run 
  • Exhale when the foot on the opposite side of the cramp lands (my track coach also suggested this, never works for me)-  Not every step, but every exhale. 
  • Switch your stride pattern to the opposite side your stitch is on, a quick foot shuffle does this
  • I find being properly hydrated really helps, I always try drink at least 2 pints of water before setting off, if I do get one on a run I find deep breaths through the nose and slowly out through the mouth really help! But I always run through them!
  • The one thing that always works for me is visualizing breathing through the spot that has the stitch. Somehow your brain knows that's were the O2 needs to go.
  • Here is a quick, easy way to make a stitch go away that I learned from my track coach 30 years ago and it works for everyone I have ever used it on. Find a tree, fence or a friend and do a head or hand stand for 20 to 30 seconds. It goes away almost immediately and doesn't come back for the rest of your race. It is amazing!
  • Exhale and empty your lungs as much as possible. Really push that exhale as long as you can. I usually have to do this twice and the pain is 100% gone.
  • If I get a side stitch, I force myself to belch and it seems to go away....odd but it works.
  • I've gotten them during races several times due to eating too close to race time. jabbing and holding my fingers underneath and up into my ribs where the pain is has almost always helped. Holding it there for a while has helped me get over it fairly quickly without having to slow down my pace by much.
Well folks, there you have it.  Real runners with real solutions.  Belching, headstands, and ab work.  What has been working for me is better hydration and more focused breathing (fully exhaling and fully inhaling a few deep breaths also helped).   I hope one of these tricks works for you or if you have your own trick, please share!


  1. Thank you for the helpful article Katie! I never knew what caused side stitches. It will be nice to be able to do something about it when I get them now.and I also realized that I'm horrible at staying hydrated during the day, so I'm off to grab a bottle of water now. Thanks again

    1. I am glad you enjoyed it! I always forget to research it until I am 5 miles into a run and in so much pain. Now we know how to deal with it :)


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