Last night, C25k (Couch to 5k) Week 5 Day 3 got the best of me. It was my first time in the program where I was supposed to jog for 20 minutes without stopping, so I was somewhat apprehensive before beginning my time of exercise. However, two days earlier, I surpassed the 8 minute mark without stopping, then walked for 5 minutes before running another 8 minutes without stopping, so I believed that I could probably pull it off.
I was wrong.
After 9.5 minutes of running, I felt a terrible stitch in my side so I slowed to a walk. A stitch is sometimes called a side cramp. It’s an intense stabbing pain under the lower edge of the ribcage that occurs during exercise. After 4 minutes of walking, I ran for another 8.5 minutes. I finished the workout, but felt terrible because I didn’t meet my goal of running 20 minutes without stopping.
I wanted to just give up and resign myself to being an out of shape fat guy. That’s not such a bad thing, is it?
Today, however, I decided not to let it get the best of me, so I googled stitches during exercise. According to my online friends, here are three causes:
1. Running too soon after eating. (Waiting two to three hours after eating is best)
2. Drinking high sugar beverages right before or during exercise.
3. Shallow or Irregular breathing during exercise.
I also looked for ways to prevent a stitch during exercise. Here are three options:
1. Stop running (or at least slow down)
2. Raise your right arm over your head. (The stretching sometimes helps relieve the stitch)
3. Try to exhale as your left foot is moving forward. (This basically helps to set a pattern for your breathing, extremely important in all exercise)
I started running to Michael Jackson’s Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough. Before the song was over, a stitch was already forming in my side. I started slowing down and considered quitting before I even reached 5 minutes. However, slowing down helped, so I continued. Around the 10 minute mark, the stitch returned, so I started watching my breathing, ensuring that I was exhaling as my left leg moved forward. That seemed to help, so once I continued. Finally, it returned around the 14 minute mark and I wanted to quit, but since I had already come so far I pressed on. I slowed my running, focused once again on my breathing, and raised my right arm over my head. The three items together helped and before I knew it, I had run for 20 minutes without stopping.
As I reached the 20 minute mark, Michael Jackson was singing Bad. That’s exactly how I felt.