A few of you asked yesterday what causes side stitches (I'd mentioned they'd been plaguing my recent runs), and like you, I wasn't entirely sure. I was pretty sure it was from shallow breathing, and this makes sense in my case because I am still really congested from the cold I had earlier in the week. And I can tell when I run that my breathing is really affected by the congestion, and I certainly haven't felt as though I have been able to draw really effective, deep breaths while I run.
Anyway, that was my personal conclusion this morning when I ran my 6 miler and again was plagued by side stitches in miles 2-3. I ran through them, as I did in the previous days, and I tried to just focus on slowing down, breathing as deeply and evenly as possible, and I was able to run through the discomfort and finish my full 6 miles. Still, they were slow miles.
For me, this kind of congestion almost always follows even a mild cold, like the one I had earlier in the week. I may only be sick for a day or two, but then, typically, I have massive mucus for a week or two following. I always figure I just have to allow it to run it's course, but perhaps I should be taking something to help thin the mucus -- anyone ever used products like Mussinex? If so, helpful?
Anyhoo...back to my theory on side stitches...so, after my run, I investigated side stitches as any self-respecting academic would: I Googled it. Turns out, my theory was correct! Side stitches while running typically are caused by shallow breathing because side stitches are the result of spasmed contractions of the diaphram. So, to avoid them, you should always aim to breath deeply and evenly while running -- which I do. When I don't have a head full of boogers.