Couch to 5K

Stitches - prevention and cure advice!

Hi all, I am a newbie and did W4R2 last night. Was a bit of a disaster; I got a stitch at the start of my first 5 min run and couldn't shake it for the rest of the workout. I did manage to finish but I wasn't paying attention to my pace or anything and ended up feeling very disappointed and sorry for myself.

Hilariously Laura mentioned in the next break that it was around this stage she started getting stitches - no kidding!

I tried deep breathing but it didn't help at all and the stitch was there until long after I was finished running.

I'm now a bit confused as I read these can be due to dehydration (it was very hot yesterday), but I've also read that they can be caused by drinking/eating within 2hrs before a run so I'm not sure how to balance the two. Does anyone have any magic cures or tips for preventing stitches? And is it true that you get less as you get fitter?

4 Replies

I had stitches a lot early on, from around week 2. I think it might have been partly to do with the cold weather for me, but I got one for a bit on Monday night, so it clearly isn't exclusively the case! I used to struggle with my breathing quite a lot, either over-thinking it or not thinking about it enough. On Monday, I was preoccupied and realised I hadn't been breathing properly. Over time, it worked itself out. I worked out a way of breathing evenly without really thinking about it. I definitely don't breathe in and out on certain steps like Laura suggests - that didn't work for me! I do get stitches a lot less now I have been running longer and am fitter though. Things I find helpful are:

- Making sure I drink quite a lot on run days so I have plenty of fluids on board already, rather than downing a few pints before running

- I then like to drink about half a pint of water immediately before setting out

- If I do get a stitch, breathing out really far (so my tummy sticks out) and breathing in really far, so my diaphragm is definitely moving up and down, seems to help, and I can sometimes cure it that way if I take action quickly

Fingers crossed they stop for you pretty soon - they can really ruin a run!


I agree 100% with the above, make sure you ar hydrated and the deep breathing is what sorted my stitches but you do need to push your belly out to make sure you really fill your lungs and then empty them too. I practiced this breathing technique when out walking, my hubby thought there was something wrong with me cos I forgot to tell him beforehand.

Hope it settles soon, I'm sure it will.


I find the deep breathing technique that Laura recommends really helps - I slow down a little and concentrate on making sure I push my belly in and out, as described above. By following this, I think I've always managed to run through the stitch. I'm not sure about the not eating for two hours before running - I usually run in the mornings and have a banana about half an hour beforehand. I think I tend to get a stitch when I am pushing myself hardest, perhaps when trying to keep up with someone better/quicker. I always have water with me while running - I don't always drink during the run but I need to know it's there if I need it !


Thanks guys, I went out again this morning and breathed as deeply as I could all the way around and although I could feel a stitch creeping in by the end of my final 5 min stint I was OK. Hope they don't keep happening, especially since I am starting the dreaded week 5!!


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