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  1. #1
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    Side Stitch - PAINFUL slows race pace, help!

    During MTB races ONLY (never during training) I will get what are called side stitches. On my right side (always) right below my rib cage, and always around 20 minutes after the start, I get wicked pain that causes me to go from race pace to a much slower pace. The sensation is like someone inserted a hot knife under your ribs and into your right lung. It hurts to inhale (not good during a race). After 5-7 minutes of slower pace the pain starts to subside and I can return to hard effort. During the last few races the problem has held off until closer to the 50-55 minute mark. Perhaps I am getting better and pacing my starts. Have tried all sorts of hydration tricks (drinks lots, not drinking for 1 hour before race, etc..) no help.
    Seems to be all about going completely into the red zone at the start and my diaphragm getting kicked into a spasm. Never has happened on the road (but we always roll out at the starts). Bummer because my legs feel like they are ready to rip but these stitches are a huge limiter. I DO NOT get any type of leg cramps. The concept of starting slow is hard to come to terms with as the leaders are then long gone and its demoralizing.
    Been racing for 7 years - started happeing during last two years. I am faster/fitter now then ever.
    Any thoughts?????

  2. #2
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    Ive heard warm water helps side stiches, but it sucks to drink. Are you warmed up properly?

  3. #3
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    Have you tried changing your energy drink? I had very similar problems (although not quite as bad as yours sound) and it turned out that it was the High5 energy drink I was using that caused it. Changed drinks since and haven't had any problems.

  4. #4
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    Any other ideas??

    Not sure what is meant by warm water. You must mean like 120 degree warm - as my bottles are usually fairly warm from the hot weather. I would drink hot water with a smile if it could cure these stitches.

    I will also try and switch my drink. Have been using the !st Endurance E5 product.

  5. #5
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    very thorough warmup and stretch the intercostals and obliques on that side as well as the other by reaching one arm overhead straight up and leaning to opposing side. only lean above waist. dont let your hips drift to one side. very old school move but it works. good luck.

  6. #6
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    stretching

    Quote Originally Posted by pwrtrainer
    very thorough warmup and stretch the intercostals and obliques on that side as well as the other by reaching one arm overhead straight up and leaning to opposing side. only lean above waist. dont let your hips drift to one side. very old school move but it works. good luck.
    Thanks - I have read this but really need to remind myself to do these prior to the race start.

  7. #7
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    What class are you racing??

    Sounds like you just aren't as fit as you need to be to go out as fast as you want and are getting the stitches from this - I especially suspect this since the time frame has extended, there by indicating that you're getting fitter/better just keep training and try to get a good warm up and strecthing in before the race.
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  8. #8
    viva la v-brakes!
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    I get side stitches when I start running in the fall. Comes from my muscles and blood vessles not being tuned to operate the way they do when running. My cardiovascular system can go hard, but well, the part of it feeding the muscles can't and I get a side stitch, pretty bad some times. I have to start out slow and run for short periods of time.

    However, that does not sound like what is happening to you since it takes so long to occur and you say you are fit (doing a lot of riding, right?). It may be a fatigue injury to your muscles, so streching as suggested by pwrtrainer would be the first step. You could also try some mild strengthening exercises. You might consider going to see a doctor.
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  9. #9
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    I had that happen at a race in July.

    It was the first time for me in a race. I had to slow to a snail's pace for 6-8 minutes. A lot of dudes that I had passed caught me. It totally sucked. Very discouraging.

    I wasn't caused by a lack of fitness. At that point, I was way below 6% body fat and had been training ten hours a week on average for months. I'm still baffled.

  10. #10
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    That is exactly what happens

    Quote Originally Posted by Trail Punk
    It was the first time for me in a race. I had to slow to a snail's pace for 6-8 minutes. A lot of dudes that I had passed caught me. It totally sucked. Very discouraging.

    I wasn't caused by a lack of fitness. At that point, I was way below 6% body fat and had been training ten hours a week on average for months. I'm still baffled.

    This is exactly it!! Yes - people that were long gone come back and pass you - then you become demoralized and it adds up to a bad day. I am 6feet 1/2 inch tall and weigh 157. I ride 8-10 hours over VERY structured training rides a week. Oddly, peior years I was not as fast I did not get these. Could be I now have higher expectations and am going out very hard. It really could be about fitness - but I am the most fit I have ever been.
    I probably should see a Doc - I just doubt that your average General Practioner will have any truly useful advice.

    I finished 7th overall in my last race and I held myself back a little fearing that going harder during the first 30 minutes will bring the stitch roaring in. Without this pacing I think I could have been closer to top 3.

    I guess everyone has their limiters.

  11. #11
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    ouch

    a few years back, i had the exact same problem. even had to back off in a race i was winning... came in 9th of 10. that sucked. it was usually during short XC races, where the pace was very fast.

    from what i read in the past, is is more to do with breathing. i remember some advice about taking deeper breaths, and blowing the air out of your mouth harder. ever since I started doing this i have avoided a limiting stitch.

    have also heard it has something to do with the muscle holding some internal organ in place, being stretched due to the rough terrain.

    for me, changing my breathing has helped a lot.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by kevbikemad
    a few years back, i had the exact same problem. even had to back off in a race i was winning... came in 9th of 10. that sucked. it was usually during short XC races, where the pace was very fast.

    from what i read in the past, is is more to do with breathing. i remember some advice about taking deeper breaths, and blowing the air out of your mouth harder. ever since I started doing this i have avoided a limiting stitch.

    have also heard it has something to do with the muscle holding some internal organ in place, being stretched due to the rough terrain.

    for me, changing my breathing has helped a lot.
    Thanks! I need to focus on "belly" breathing. I think at the start of a race the pace is intense and the single track requires so much focus that I may be taking shallow breaths. There may not be a "silver bullet" on this one - rather many things that might help. I am a bit suprised that more people have not suffered from these.

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