We all hate getting stitch but it is a common occurrence for all runners. Here are some ideas that may prevent the problem and a strategy to stop a stitch during your beach run or coastal run at the Harcourts Beach Series.

  • Eat mindfully pre-run.
    There are many theories as to why stitches occur, and one of those factors is what and when you eat pre-run.  Consider what you are eating one to two hours before a run and maybe experiment with a variety of foods pre-run, eat lightly, and give yourself plenty of time to digest. Practice with these foods before you train through the week so that you know come Tuesday that you have your formula right!
  • Pre Race- warm up.
    Going from sitting to running speed may save you time on the watch, but it can create irregular, rapid-fire breathing patterns, which can translate to getting stitch. Start with some light jogging, gradually work into 4-6x100m race pace efforts. By doing this you will decrease the risk of stitch that arise from driving race pace intensity from nothing.
  • Regulate your breathing.
    Develop a relaxed and efficient breathing pattern that is in sync with your body. You could do this by matching your breathing to your strides—inhaling for two to four strides and exhaling for the same. The faster the pace, the shorter the sequence (fast pace = one or two strides per breath, slower = three or four strides per breath). This can not only prevent stitches, but also improve your oxygen efficiency.
  • Slow down and exhale to release the stitch.
    If you still find that you get stitch then try this:  Slow your pace and exhale as the foot on the opposite side of the stitch strikes the ground (not every time your foot strikes the ground). When this happens in unison with your foot striking the ground, the impact forces travel up the body and through your core and exacerbate the muscles in spasm creating that stitch. When you change the side of the landing forces to the opposite side, the tension causing the stitch releases. For example, your stitch is in your right side. You slow your pace, and exhale as your left foot is hitting the ground.

Good luck with your running and if you do experience stitch, it will go away – often it is only a short term frustration but feels like it’s there for a long time.

 

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