There must be some sort of invisible force that ruins my runs on Tuesdays. Either I am out with River, and she freaks out upon seeing a deer or gets sick, or I get sick and run at the pace of snail.
Last week, the heat and humidity sucked all my energy. This week, I was hit with horrible side cramps about halfway through my 4.5 mile run, slowing my pace by like 1:30 per mile. I even stopped to try to get them to go away! I try as hard as I can to avoid stopping when I am running – it always makes me feel like my run “counts” less (even though I know it doesn’t) so the fact that I stopped should really show how bad these cramps were! I also started to feel kind of lightheaded and woozy, probably because I was pushing myself despite the cramp pain.
Whenever I get side cramps, they are always EXACTLY the same. I have a small, concentrated pain right below my rib about halfway between my belly button and the very edge of my body. It gets better if I stop to walk or push on it while flexing the muscle (usually accomplished by breathing deeply so that my diaphragm moves and pushes against it). They occur more often when I am cold.
These cramps really baffle me. From what I understand, there are a two main reasons for side cramps:
- Improper nutrition/hydration (not enough or too much)
- Shallow breathing
I really can’t seem to pinpoint what I am doing here that causes the cramps, though. I usually drink about 8 oz of water before heading out to run and I never run on a full stomach (and rarely on an empty one). Drinking water (like 1 oz at a time) while running does not seem to make the cramps worse, either. I know I said that breathing deeply seems to help, so it *could* be shallow breathing, but I feel like deep breathing helps more because of the muscle movement than because I am actually getting more oxygen in my body (like it loosens the cramped muscle). So mostly I’m just confused and frustrated. I even asked a doctor about it once, and he said just to make sure I warmed up more (though it usually happens later in my runs, when I should be warmed up, even if it is chilly out).
I have one weird potential explanation left: my loose skin. I have probably my largest amount of it chilling out right around my belly button. My (admittedly far-fetched) theory is that the jostling of it pulls on my stomach and make the underlying muscle cramp up. This theory stems from the pain I feel in my thighs from my skin bouncing around – there is loose skin all over my thighs, though, so the pain is more diffuse (I only really have one spot of VERY loose skin on my tummy). I know I should just buy some compression wear and see if that helps, but I can’t seem to like compression wear. Like, I tried on these leggings the other day and I hated that I had trouble getting my foot through them. Then I felt all constricted. How am I supposed to run feeling all constricted?
I’ve also noticed this year as the weather cools that I am getting drier skin and chapped lips. I don’t seem to recall these problems last fall! I like the cool weather (it makes me feel much faster!) but I am finding new annoyances with it, I guess.
Any recommendations on side cramps or compression wear would be appreciated 🙂