Leg CrampsGetting a leg cramp mid-stride is akin to blowing a tire in the last lap of the big race. It’s frustrating and painful. Cramps have the ability to immobilize even the best athletes. If you develop a leg cramp, stop running and walk gently. Once it’s loosened a bit do some gently stretching before you start running again.
Most leg cramps are caused by dehydration or not warming up slowly. As the weather gets colder we sometimes drink less water, and shorten our stretching and warmup because we are cold and want to get moving. This is actually the time of year when you should spend more time on these two important components. Luckily, most leg cramps go away quickly, but if you are getting them too often talk to your doctor.
The Dreaded Side StitchMost runners have dealt with the stabbing pain of a side stitch at one time or another. Not only does it hurt, but it can turn a great morning run into debilitating trial. Side stitches actually the diaphragm muscles having a spasm. In most cases this is because you are pushing yourself too early in your workout, didn’t warm-up, or have taken some time off.
If you feel a side stitch coming on the first thing you need to do is start breathing deeply focusing on the area affected. You want to keep moving, but slow down, and breathe deeply, making sure you fully exhale with each breath. Many of us were also taught to raise our hands above our head while running. This actually helps straighten you alignment and allows you to breathe more freely. You can also bend at the waste with your arms above you head during more severe episodes as this will help you exhale more air. While many think this was just a way for our gym teachers to have fun, it can help shorten the duration of the stitch.
Here's a helpful video as well that provides some additional information and tips: