|Poses I'd like to avoid during my next race!|
I also had a close call with a side stitch during a 5 mile tempo run. I started to notice the pain creeping in about 3.5 miles into the tempo. I really, really wanted to make it through all 5 miles without stopping so instead of letting the pain get worse, I immediately started working on my breathing exercises.
I've noticed that when running my breathing tends to be a bit shallow. I don't think I am utilizing my diaphragm correctly. So I try to focus on taking a slow, steady breath in while expanding my diaphragm, then I sort of forcefully exhale. This was a tip suggested to me by Dolly. I also have been timing my breathing so that I am landing on my left foot when I begin to inhale/exhale. The combination of these two things seems to do a pretty good job at keeping the stitches at bay. During my tempo run I only saw my pace slip a tiny bit during mile 4 and I was even able to pick up the pace for the remaining mile (mile splits for that run were 7:49, 7:43, 7:45, 7:54, 7:13!!!).
Unfortunately it takes a lot of concentration since I seem to naturally want to inhale/exhale with my right foot striking the ground. I do worry that at mile 12 of a half marathon I won't have the capacity to really focus that closely on synchronizing breathing and left foot landing. I have been trying to practice these two breathing exercises during most of my runs so hopefully by the time my next race gets here it will be a little more intuitive.
In a race I would like to think that I will utilize the second method described here for as long as I can. My goal of course would be to run as much as possible without needing to take walk breaks. But, I can't guarantee that the breathing techniques would be able to fight off a stitch, so I guess it is good to have the run/walk intervals as a back up plan.