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Old 01-07-2005, 09:04 PM   #1
Troy Archie
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I'm having a tough time getting over stomach cramps while running. I've always been under the impression that they are just something you have to fight through and eventually your body will adapt and they will go away but this doesn't seem to be happening. Any tips on how I can get through this?
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Old 01-07-2005, 10:39 PM   #2
Eugene R. Allen
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Specifically stomach cramps?...sort of centered in your belly...or further over to the side in the form of a side stich?

If it is your stomach I'm going to guess that you are reasonably careful about not eating anywhere near the time you go off for your run. Generally speaking stomach cramps are the result of what you eat prior to your run, how soon you eat before you run and how hard you go out and run. You may have some sort of digestive sensitivity to something in your diet that does not digest properly and scoot on through your system before you go out and hammer. What you have to do is experiment with what you can and cannot eat before your run. Take notes. You are likely to have better luck with some carbs before you run rather than protein. If you use sports drinks be careful with how concentrated they are. Unless you run for more than an hour or so, you can stick to water. If you eat a gel or Powerbar be sure to suck down plenty of water.

I have the good fortune of being very tolerant of not only eating before I run but while I run as well. Granted, I don't run along with a Big Mac but I can choke down a Powerbar during a long run without any problem.

Be sure to ease into your run to get your body into the swing of things. Spend at least 10 minutes running slowly to let your body heat up and accomodate itself to the run effort. Ease the blood flow out to the working muscles rather than making a sudden demand.

You may have gastric emptying issues. Drink cold water, it stimulates the flow of water out of your stomach. I caution against just sipping. If you just take tiny little sissy sips of water you don't signal your stomach to open the pyloric valve to let the water exit. Don't suck down the whole bottle but don't drink it like it's brandy either.

If it further to the side as a side stich, jam your fingers into the stich and when the opposite side foot hits the ground breath out very sharply through pursed lips. Not sure at all why this helps but it works for me.

Hope this helps you. Running is miserable enough without the additional torture of your guts in revolt.

Happy miles.

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Old 01-08-2005, 09:31 AM   #3
Robert Wolf
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Not wanting to get get overly personal here, but any gas or "odd" bowel movements aftr the run?

There may be some issues with what you are eating prior to running.

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Old 01-08-2005, 10:17 AM   #4
Troy Archie
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Well It often starts on the lower right side and from there it feels like it will move to the middle of my stomach but that usually won't be until well into the run.

Yeah actually when I do run there's times when I'm extremely gassy and my *** feels like it's going to explode. I’d love to rip a big fart off but I’m unfortunately on a treadmill in a gym.

Sometimes after my run I have to run to the toilet and my stool is pretty loose. I've had this happen to me for quite sometime though, even when I used to get up and run on a completely empty stomach (no food or water). This didn't happen yesterday or has it happened for a while.

How's that for personal?

I ate about +2 hours before yesterday's run, my regular meal of chicken, tuna, veggies and a handful of almonds. I'd ask how soon I should keep my running and eating apart but I know that's going to be a per person thing.

I'm thinking that a good run after the WOD might be in order just to try and break through this. Something along the time of 20 minutes at a steady pace around a 10 minute mile. My mind set with this is that I’m just not running long distances consistently enough to notice any changes. When doing a 800m or 1 mile run during the WOD I’m fine but it seems like whenever I get around the 20 minute mark the cramps really start to set in.
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Old 01-08-2005, 01:43 PM   #5
Kelly Moore
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I wish I had some words of wisdom for you. I have a somewhat similiar problem, especially during running workouts when I try to put out a lot of effort. I suffer from IBS and when it decides to strike getting through a WOD is sheer misery. It starts with severe gut cramps and eventually ends with a visit from Pukie's equally evil twin "Poopie". Very painful and unpleasant. It makes my 2005 goal of a 23 minute 5k more difficult to achieve than a triple bodyweight deadlift.

Anything beyond a bit of Power Butter and 16 oz of water before I run is a recipe for certain disaster - and that gives me a roughly 50/50 chance of finishing standing upright and walking normal. I've tried just drinking water; that seems to work only a little better.

I definitely understand what you are going through.
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Old 01-08-2005, 02:29 PM   #6
Mike Yukish
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I had similar a few year's back. From a Running FAQ

The Latest Word on Stitches

In the May-June 1992 issue of Running Research News there is an article by
Dr. Gordon Quick about the causes of and cures for stitches. To summarize:

1) Stitches are a muscle spasm of the diaphragm. The cause of the spasm is
that the organs below it are jouncing up and down and pulling down as it
wants to pull up. The liver being the largest organ is the biggest culprit
which is why most stitches are on the right side. A stomach full of food
may also contribute to the problem for the same reason. Stitches also occur
more often when running downhill or in cold weather.

2) The cure seems almost too simple. Breathe out when your left foot
strikes the ground instead of when the right foot strikes so that the
organs on the right side of the abdomen are jouncing up when the diaphragm
is going up. The organs attached to the bottom of the diaphragm on the left
aren't as big, so exert less downward pulling strain. If this is not enough
to get rid of it, stop and raise you arms above your head until the pain
goes away and when you resume, be a left foot breather. (Conversely, if
your stitch occurs on the left side, switch your breathing to exhale on the
right foot.)

3) Do not eat anything for an hour before running if you are prone to
stitches, BUT PLEASE DO DRINK WATER. Water empties from the stomach faster
than solids and the risk of complications from dehydration far exceed the
problems one may have with a stitch.

4) In the long term, exercises to strengthen the abdominal muscles will
help prevent stitches because tighter abs will allow less movement of those
internal organs. Practice belly breathing instead of chest breathing as
recommended by Noakes. For the most part, stitches diminish over time.
While they are not strictly a novice runner's problem (about 1/3 of all
runners get them from time to time) they usually will go away after a few
weeks of conditioning.


By Tim Noakes Oxford Uni. Press, 1985. Quoted from "Lore of Running"

Proper breathing prevents the development of the `stitch'. The stitch is a
condition that occurs only during exercise and which causes severe pain
usually on the right side of the abdomen, immediately below the rib margin.
Frequently the pain is also perceived in the right shoulder joint, where it
feels as if an ice-pick were being driven into the joint. The pain is
exacerbated by down-hill running and by fast, sustained running as in a
short road race or time trial. For various complex anatomical reasons, the
fact that the stitch causes pain to be felt in the shoulder joint suggests
that the diaphragm is the source of the pain.

It has been suggested that when breathing with the chest too much air is
drawn into the lungs, and not all is exhaled. This causes a gradual and
progressive accumulation of air in the lungs, causing them to expand which
in turn causes the diaphragm to be stretched and to encroach on the
abdominal contents below it. During running, the over-stretched diaphragm
becomes sandwiched between an over-expanded chest above, and a jolting
intestine pounding it from below. It revolts by going into spasm, and the
pain of this spasm is recognized as the stitch.

Although there is really not a shred of scientific evidence for this
belief, I have found that diaphragm spasm is almost certainly involved in
the stitch and that belly-breathing can frequently relieve the pain.

The runner who wishes to learn how to belly-breath should lie on the floor
and place one or more large books on his stomach. He should concentrate on
making the books rise when he breathes in and fall when he exhales. As it
takes about two months to learn to do the movement whilst running fast, it
is important to start practicing well before an important race.

A change in breathing pattern may help relieve the stitch. Within a short
period of starting running, breathing becomes synchronized with footfall.
Thus one automatically breaths in on one leg and out when landing either on
the same leg - that is 2, 3 or 4 full strides later - or on the opposite
leg - that is 1 1/2, 2 1/2, or 3 1/2 strides later. Thus the ratio of
stride to breathing may be 2:1, 3:1, 4:1; or 1.5:1, 2.5:1, 3.5:1.

This phenomenon was first reported by Bramble and Carrier (1983). Of
particular interest was their finding that most runners are `footed', that
is the beginning and end of a respiratory cycle occurs on the same foot,
usually in a stride to breathing ratio of either 4:1 whilst jogging or 2:1
whilst running faster. Runners then become habituated to breathing out on
the same let, day after day. This produces asymmetrical stresses on the
body and could be a factor in both the stitch and in certain running
injuries. I am `left-footed' and have also suffered my major running
injuries only on my left side. If changes in breathing patterns do not
prevent the stitch then the last step is to increase abdominal muscle
strength. The correct way to strengthen the abdominal muscles is to do
bent-knee sit ups with the feet unsupported.


EDITORS NOTE: Readers response to "Belly Breathing" definition above.
"Belly Breathing" (Lamont Granquist

While I wasn't breathing with my chest, I wasn't really "Belly Breathing".
When I exhaled, what I was doing was pulling my stomach muscles in. I found
out that this is *not* the way to "Belly Breathe". The idea is to throw
your gut out as much as possible -- try and look as fat & ugly as you can
when you run. For the suggestion in the FAQ of lying on your back and
lifting a book, it should probably be noted that when exhaling you want to
try to keep the book lifted up (of course naturally, you don't want to try
to do this all so hard that it becomes difficult to exhale -- the idea is
that breathing this way should be comfortable).

Stitches continued (Sunil Dixit

1. Since it is a cramp, I try not to drink or eat too soon before my runs,
and I try to limit my intake during runs.

2. I stretch my abs extensively before a run. Putting my arm over my head
and leaning to the opposite side until I'm pulling on the side of my
abdominals works well.

3. I regulate my breathing by breathing in through my nose, and out through
my mouth. This sounds like zen-crap, but believe me, it works amazingly
well in eliminating all types of cramping. When you first do it, it'll feel
like you're not getting enough oxygen, but if you persist the technique
will become very comfortable.

4. I run with my back fairly straight, even up hills. This keeps the lungs
from bending over in my body, and makes it much easier to breathe.

5. If none of these work, I keep going anyway. After about 3 miles, it
usually goes away . . . if you're lucky.
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Old 01-08-2005, 03:19 PM   #7
Troy Archie
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Great post Mike, that definitely opens up a lot of options for me.
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Old 01-10-2005, 08:47 PM   #8
Troy Archie
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Well I've been trying those tips and things have worked pretty good so far. Even doing the exhale breathing thing when you step down works great.
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Old 01-12-2005, 02:13 PM   #9
Yves Beauchamp
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My $0.02 for what it's worth. First eating two hours prior to running can be a problem if it is the wrong foods or too much. Some things that may help is to try to exhale when your left foot strikes the ground. This increases intaabdominal pressure and the thoery of exhaling on the left footstrike is that your right sided organs ie: liver head of pancreas ect are on the right and by exhaling on the left foot strike you help equalize the pressure. It also helps you get into a nice rhythm. I also know that a lot of folks slow down when starting to cramp up. I have found that either breathing less or speeding up and not changing your breathing pattern seems to help. Back to the food. I have not yet changed onto paleo or multiple small meals (baby steps as I think I may actually be a buttercup in disguise) but I Hate to run with any real food in my belly. I usually run 1-1&1/2 hours a few times per week and I do it first thing in the am. I have tried to run later in the day with food in me and get more cramping. Hope this helps
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Old 01-12-2005, 08:56 PM   #10
Joshua F Hillis
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This may seem way too simple, but this has been my experience. I ran Cross Country and Track all four years in high school, and every single season I'd get side stiches in the pre-season, esepecially on the back side (down side) of long hill runs. After about two or three weeks (running 3-6 times per week) my body would adapt and I wouldn't get them anymore for the rest of the season.

In the mean time, I would walk it off. Kind of like when I'm doing pullups in the WOD, after about ten I need to start taking breaks.

Now I'm totally hypothesising, but if you've been having this problem for any length of time, it could be that the WOD doesn't give you running often enough for your body to really adapt, so you might want to throw a run around the block into your warmup so you get the running stimulus more often.
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