Painful Side Stitch

by Andrew

I want to join the British army as a soldier and need to build up my fitness. But I have recently gone to a physiotherapist about how often and painful my stitches are. On a good day I can run 3 miles before pain starts on a bad day I can run half a mile. Recently I have run 3k in a 14kph pace in 14 minutes 15 sec and no pain, although I used to run 6 miles a day with my running mate. I am 16.

What do I do, as in how far do I run for starts and how far should I be able to run in a couple of months, how much should I drink, before/during/after as well as eating and any extra information would be great. Also I weigh 10 stone, my height is 5ft7.

It's a lot of info but I have been looking for answers for more than a year and I just want to become a soldier ASAP so I can serve my country and my Queen.


side stitch
Answer by Anissa:
Hi Andy,

Thanks for your questions about wanting to build up your fitness & also regarding the painful side stitches you've been experiencing.

Let's begin with your side stitches.

Every runner has likely experienced these at one time or another and they are no doubt, very painful.

The pain is usually caused by a spasm of the diaphragm muscle as the result of shallow breathing.

But it can also be caused by gas in the intestines or food in the stomach.

Here are some effective ways of dealing with side stitches, which your physiotherapist may have also recommended to you:

Deep breathing: Avoid shallow chest breathing and focus on deep belly breathing while running. Deep belly breathing allows for more oxygen intake which helps prevent side stitches from occurring.

Start slowly: Running at too high of an intensity too soon can cause shallow breathing which in turn will cause the dreaded side stitch. Increase your intensity gradually and always begin your workout with a warm up (5 to 10 minutes of brisk walking or easy running is adequate).

Time your meals: Try to avoid eating the hour before your run. Also avoid sugary, carbonated drinks before running, as they commonly cause side stitches as well.

With regards to building up your fitness for joining the British Army, it's always best to slowly build up over time. Too much, too soon, too intensely (the terrible "too's”) will surely result in an injury or just plain old burn-out.

You're already dealing with painful side stitches as it is, so you don't want to add an injury on top of that. It looks like you've got some good running experience, so I would suggest building on that.

Running at 14kph is a fair speed, but most likely too fast at the current time. Work on your endurance and build up a solid, consistent base running routine. This will be helpful in building on your current fitness level. Consistency is key because it gets your body used to running regularly, it builds up your endurance & will allow you to safely increase your distance and speed when your body is ready for it.

With regards to your eating questions: check out the runner's diet area of this website, which will hopefully provide sufficient information regarding a healthy diet.

Best of luck to you on your wish to join the British Army.

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Running Injury Helpline.

Like this page:

Share this page:

Like this site:

[?] Subscribe To This Site

follow us in feedly
Add to My Yahoo!


  • Beginner Running Tips

    Are you a beginning runner? Then this is your best starting point. Many tips and running programs on offer, dedicated to you.

  • Running for Weight Loss

    Aiming to lose a few pounds? Get into the Running for Weight Loss section for tips and advice.

  • Running Training

    The Running Training section of the site has got the most articles. It is constantly getting updated with new tips and information. A must-visit if you are serious about improving your running performance.

  • 5k Running Tips

    The 5k is a great distance to run and train for. The great thing is that you can do it quite often and see big improvements.

  • 10k Running Tips

    The 10k is a real challenge. You need to run fast for an uncomfortably long time! Check out this section if you are strong of mind and legs!

  • Marathon Running Tips

    The marathon is a massive challenge. Proper training is so important! Make sure to check out this section if you have got your mind set on the marathon!

What's New?

  1. Heart Rate Monitor Training - The Zoladz Method

    Every running pace has its own heart rate zone. The heart rate monitor training zones according to Zoladz are explained in this section.

    Read more

  2. Yasso 800 :: The Marathon Pace Workout with a Twist

    The Yasso 800 is supposed to be a predictor of marathon performance. It is a marathon pace workout with a twist. Learn more about the Yasso 800 on this page.

    Read more

  3. Running for Weight Loss - Injured...

    I started a run-walk program 3 weeks ago to help me lose 80 lbs. I was up to running 3 min / walk 3 min 3 days a week on my treadmill. Last week after

    Read more

  4. What Can I Do To Improve My Half Marathon Time?

    I am a 53 yo male 5'11, 165lbs. I have been running for about 8 years. I have run 7 marathons and have never broken the 4hr mark even though all my

    Read more

  5. Daniels Running Formula Book Review - The Running Training Book You Have Got to Have

    If I had to recommend you to get one running book only, then it would have to be Daniels Running Formula by running coach Jack Daniels.

    Read more