How to Avoid Side Stitches When Running

1) What exactly are side stitches when you run? 2) What is the cause of them?

There isn't really any way to accurately identify exactly what a side stitch is, however, it can be caused by the pressure from the pumping of your legs pressing up on your diaphragm and the pressure from your rapid breathing in your lungs pressing down on your diaphragm. This causes uncomfortable pain in your abdomen because the pressure is squeezing your frame tighter and therefore cutting off blood and oxygen flow. 

Also, eating right before a run can cause side stitches too. 

3) Are certain people more likely to get them than others?

Yes, those who have improper breathing technique, poor posture, or a weak core. These people are more susceptible. I coach about this a lot during my runs, and I encourage my trainees to take huge deep "belly breathing" breathes even when you don't feel like you need to, every 3 minutes or so in a run. The more oxygen you can get to your body, the more efficiently you will run. Those who have shallow chest breathing are more likely to be affected by side stitches. 

4) If you're prone to them, can you do anything to minimize them?

Core exercises, practice proper breathing technique and improve V02 max (lung capacity) through speed work and hill repeats.  (i.e. do hill repeats, speed work, and metabolic conditioning with strength movements that incorporate your core and hip extension.)

5) Are there certain exercises you can do to minimize their frequency or pain?

Doing a few core exercises before your run can help with this- and like I said before, improving overall lung capacity through speed work and hill repeats will also help. 

6) Does food play a role in causing side stitches/ab cramps?

Yes, running on a full stomach will not be pleasant. All the pressure in your diaphragm from the pounding in your legs and rapid breathing in your lungs will smash your stomach and inevitably cause cramps from the body's lack of oxygen/blood flow. 

7) What do you recommend for battling side stitches mid-run or race?

Stop. And every 10 seconds take a huge deep breath (DEEP belly breathing). Fill lungs up to full capacity and exhale.  Do this for 60 seconds and progress back into race pace, starting at a light jog

The Treadmill Don'ts

By: @meg_Takacs - Remorca Fitness Trainer & Running Coach 

Whether you’re a beginner or you’ve been hitting the gym for years, approaching an unfamiliar piece of equipment is intimidating. That’s why we’re tackling “The Don’t List”—things you should never do while using certain pieces of gym equipment. We’re starting with the treadmill.

Treadmill workouts might seem simple on the surface—you hop on, crank up the speed, maybe try an incline—but appearances are deceiving. There’s a right way and a wrong way to get your treadmill workout in. 

Treadmill Workout Don’ts

1. Don’t hold the treadmill when you incline walk

Holding on while you walk on a treadmill defeats the purpose of using your own body weight to burn fat. The action of what is essentially pulling your body weight up a hill is essential to getting the most out of your treadmill workout.

2. Don’t put a towel over the numbers

You need to be mindful of pace and time when you run. There should never be a running workout wherein you are completely oblivious to your statistics. When you go into cruise control mode, it’s easy to lose sight of whether or not you’re improving week to week. Running is all about being mindful and aware.

3. Don’t let the treadmill pull you, you pull the treadmill

During any treadmill workout your mindset matters. Imagine pulling the treadmill with the balls of your feet and propelling yourself instead of the treadmill propelling you. Stay light on your feet and don’t strike the machine with your heels.

4. Don’t let the numbers you see intimidate you

When you increase the speed, immediately look up and allow your body to acclimate naturally. Let your physical body take over without mentally agonizing about the speed number you’ve chosen. Settle into the pace without freaking out.

5. Only use the treadmill for intervals and shorter workouts

Avoid the treadmill for long runs. This may seem counterintuitive (especially in the winter) but many treadmills are hard so it’s basically like you’re running on concrete.

6. Avoid watching TV during all workouts

You have the time you spend on the treadmill to unplug from life. Be mindful when you run and think about your body, the motion, and breathing. Watching TV isn’t going to give you any of that. Run because you want a mental release. It’s also all too easy to zone out to the TV and lose your footing.

Bodyweight Quick HIITS

Don’t have a whole lot of time to workout? Or maybe you don’t have access to weights because you are traveling? That doesn’t mean that you can’t get your heart rate up and get a quick calorie crusher in! #NOEXCUSES Here are some Quick HITTERS: 

AMRAP= As Many Rounds as Possible (You do as many rounds of the given circuit as you possibly can in the time given. This is a great way to train your metabolic threshold and spike your metabolism. 

EMOM= Every Minute on the Minute - you do an exercise every minute on the minute and when you are done, the time remaining is your rest time until you go onto the next minute

15 minute AMRAP: 

15 butterfly sit ups, 20 squat walks (get into an air squat and walk to the side 10 steps and back 10 steps holding the squat position at the same level the whole time), 12 curtsey lunges, 12 pulse lunges each leg (get into lunge stance and pulse up and down- back leg comes straight and front leg stays a bit bent- both feet stay in place 

12 minute EMOM:

Min 1: 20 second split lunges each side (jump into lunge stance then back to the center) 

Min 2: 40 second side A skips 

Min 3: 25 second air squats & 5 burpees

20 minute AMRAP: 

400 meter run, 20 walking lunges, and 10 push ups

21 minute AB EMOM: 

Min 1: 20 second flutter kicks/20 second crunches with feet up 

Min 2: 45 second plank 

Min 3: 10 hollow rocks and 6 butterfly sit ups

25 minute AMRAP: 

10 bear crawls to a push up, 1 minute run, 20 alternating back lunges, and 12 jump squats 

30 minute EMOM: 

Min 1:  30 shoulder taps - in plank position on palms of hands and bring one hand up to opposite shoulder (alternate sides for 30 reps) 

Min 2: 10 high knee reps and 2 burpees (repeat X3) 

Min 3: 25 air squats 

Min 4: 20 alternating back lunges 

Min 5: 15 push ups

12 AMRAP: 

60 second plank, 45 second flutter kicks, and 50 crunches

30 minute AMRAP: 

400 meter run, 12 push ups, 20 shoulder taps, and 7 burpees

What is the Best Time of Day to Run?

By Meg: 

Can't figure out when the best time to run is? Try all three of these times to understand why each could be beneficial, and figure out which one is best for you. Having a good run makes you run again.  

In the Morning: Body temperature is at its lowest. Some people take well to this, and are able to perform more efficiently and more comfortably in the early hours of the morning. Some people also say they perform better in the morning because they have a "clear head. " In my opinion, I would rather wake my body up (see above) and back it with the science. Early morning runs are actually the worst for your body from a scientific standpoint because your bodily functions are not awake, so you'll spend half the run doing that. 

Mid-morning/afternoon: My absolute favorite time to run! Your physical functions have woken up and you've only had to deal with the good kind of stress in the morning: that morning productivity high.  In the morning we all work well. We're riding the wake up high, and loving life. I ride off the momentum of accomplishing things in the morning on my runs. So mid-day is best for me physically and mentally. Also, your lung performance and body temperature are both at an optimal level of efficiency. If you have a good high-protein breakfast, your body will also have had time to get it's energy levels up. There are virtually no negatives associated with running in the afternoon. 

In the Evening/Night: A lot of runners run better in the evening because of the psychology behind it. Think about it; in the morning, we're all feeling like "wow, this is awful."  So, in my opinion it can be better to run later in the day, because you have had time to gather yourself, and perhaps even discover a reason to run. It's better to wake up your body and brain, after you wake up, to give yourself a mental and physical warmup. 

You also run better during the latter part of the day, because you have already had hours of fluctuation in the performance of your body's functions. By fluctuation in body functions, I mean the rhythmic patterns of brain sending signals to your body to do things like eat, walk and think. Now, since your body has had hours of carrying these functions out, you are more geared up and primed to run. In other works, you are ready to neurologically and physically operate more efficiently.  


41 of the Hardest Ab Exercises

Check out Livestrong's website for "The 41 Hardest Ab Exercises" 

When it comes to core, make sure you target it in multiple ways. It doesn't just come from doing crunches. It comes from functional, total-body movement too. Deadlifts and movements involving full hip-extension also work your core. 

Make sure when you do just core, you do it as a warmup before lifting, or running/cardio. Core serves to correct your posture and support your spine. So it's good to activate the abs before you run or do strength training because it will help wake up your stabilizers and entire core and in turn, support you through functional movement patterns. Think of the core as the body's powerhouse- the mitochondria of the body. 

You can't out-crunch a bad diet. The secret to abs is to lower your body fat. And you should never  have just an "ab workout," always incorporate it into routines with strength, running. Work it from all angles! 


Try This Fresh Approach To Half Marathon Training

*This originally appeared in part on Women's Running - Written by: Meghan Takacs, Remorca Fitness Trainer, and Aaptiv Running coach

Stop running so much. It’s not as good for you as you think it is. And it’s probably not going to make you any faster.

I’m not trying to take it to an extreme here and saying that running is bad for you. Do not use this as an excuse to not run! However, what is bad for you is running too much. I used to log in about 30 to 35 miles per week and ended up qualifying for the Boston Marathon on my first marathon. But I never went on to do a second one.

My body physically hurt. I was constantly dealing with injury.

So here’s what happened: I thought to myself, I miss the speed work from running the 800 in college. So I started doing more speed work. I started doing stadiums and hill sprints. I was doing 16×200 sprints for a workout, instead of a 6-mile run. And then I started Olympic weightlifting. I was getting the same intensity out of doing this, getting injured less, and I was actually loving the fact that I was toning up, and leaning out. And I was seeing major changes in my speed and body. And yes, at first I was apprehensive about shying away from running and turning to lifting more, but it was too awesome to stop.

My answer to becoming a better, more well-rounded, powerful runner and athlete was cross-training.

Noun: training in two or more sports in order to improve fitness and performance, especially in a main sport.

I like the mixture of my workouts. My surroundings are constantly changing. One day I’m at the track, the next I’m lifting at Crossfit, and the next day I’m running around Central Park. It’s awesome. I absolutely love the weightlifting element of training. These multi-joint, compound, power movements are absolutely necessary to improve your running economy. Now, running is actually easier, I’m faster, and it’s more enjoyable than ever before because i’m not doing it so much, but when I do, it feels good. My body isn’t heavy.

If you are a runner, and this is coming from a truly, passionate runner, I highly recommend taking some time off the mileage, and start cross training. Get faster. Instead of running marathons, race half marathons. The training for it will be way more enjoyable, and your body will thank you later. If you have been running for 10+ years, the mileage is there. It’s not like a major concern of yours is if you are going to finish or not. But it’s time to stop focusing so much on mileage and distance, and it’s time to get strong and fast.

Here is how you train for your next half marathon:

Know Your Pace

Just like you need to know what your 1-rep max weight is when you weight lift in order to scale your volume and create your rep scheme for weightlifting variations, you also need to know what your mile pace is in order to scale your mileage and gauge your pace for speed intervals and training runs.

I want you to remember that running long distances and having high mileage doesn’t necessarily make you a Boston Marathon Qualifier. Yes, accumulating mileage will help you complete the race. But in what condition? I, like many runners, have hit “the wall.” You don’t want to hit this wall, and I want to help you to not do that.

For me, when I run, I have three different types of “speed work” I use:

Tempo Running: Tempo running, I would suggest, is about 70 percent to 80 percent of your max speed for an all out mile time. So if your fastest mile time is 6:30, you would be running the “tempo” part of the run at roughly 7:00 minute mile pace.

Sprints: This is your 400M pace – If your fastest mile time is 6:30, your sprint speed is a 5:15-5:30 mile pace.

X percent effort: Whenever I say “80 percent effort” or “60 percent effort” This is based off your average mile time. So if I say “I want you to give me 3 minutes at 80 percent effort” and you run an 8-minute mile on average, I would want your pace to be around a 7:00 to 6:30-minute mile pace.

Incorporate Strength Training:

Incorporating a strength training program, or cross training, into your existing running schedule is critical if you have plans on becoming an injury-free, fast runner.

You have to have a comprehensive plan when it comes to training for anything over 13.1 miles. This also means, that in terms of running, you have to switch up the elevation, the intensity and the speed.

Adding a lifting or strength training cycle to an existing running regiment will make you a better runner. This type of cross training makes you more powerful and more efficient. It will also decrease the amount of time spent running and make your muscles stronger, limiting your risk of injury.

This explosive extension of the knee, hip and ankle is triple extension, and this is the key to athletic power or explosiveness. Improving your ability to move powerfully and explosively is a necessity when it comes to improving your race pace. Think about runners who don’t lift. Their muscles are being used in the same fashion, in the same way almost every day. On the other hand, runners who have stronger muscles have more of a safety net when it comes to protecting their bones and joints from the impact of running.

By using weightlifting movements such as the power clean and power snatch, you can begin to unlock explosive power that can help propel you forward better and more efficiently. Movements like deadlifts and squats will also improve how your posterior chain, which I referred to in point two, moves as well.

For example, shin splints come from putting too much pressure on your tibia bone. Although, the reason you are getting shin splints isn’t necessarily because you run too much, it’s because the muscles around your bone aren’t strong enough to withstand the pressure put on your tibia.

Bones grow stronger in response to muscles growing stronger. It goes hand-in-hand.

Improving range of motion through hip joint flexion, hip joint extension, and ankle mobility exercises will make your runs smoother and effortless.

If you want to get faster, you need to start doing joint-specific strength exercises or lifts that use the same neuromuscular pathways as running. Incorporating a strength conditioning program into your existing running regiment that duplicates the neuromuscular usage of the aerobic and anaerobic pathways is how you become a better, more efficient athlete.

Start Doing: Cleans, back squats, deadlifts and snatches.

Other Training Tips:

Eliminate your heel-to-toe strike—Usually a heel to toe strike indicates an over-stride, which usually means that you are landing with your heel in front of your hips, virtually pulling your entire body weight with your foot instead of using the ground as a spring-board to naturally propel yourself forward. Landing with a midfoot/ball of your foot strike, means you are landing under your hips, which naturally leans your forward, creating a more efficient form of movement. Think: less time on the ground, means less impact, which means less injury.

Increase your cadence—Increase your strides per minute. This will also decrease the time you spend on the ground. Decreasing your risk of injury. Intermediate runners will usually run about 160 strides per minute, while more advanced runners will hit around 180 strides per minute.

Do hill work—Hill repeats or sprints are like resistance training for runners. Training hills will improve your v02 max. Another interesting component about training hills is that it improves your posterior chain, which for runners, is pretty weak. Your posterior chain consists of your biceps femoris, gluteus maximus, erector spinae muscle group, trapezius and posterior deltoids, which is weak for about 95 percent of runners. Strengthening these muscles and the tendons that connect them, will help you to maintain your race pace on the hills.

Low-key endurance—Only 1-2 distance runs per week (something over 8 miles). Endurance runs are essential to marathon and half-marathon training since they help your body get used to the duration of exercise and acclimate your mind to the mental toughness these races require.