My name is Leslie and I have just recently started getting into running. I have been running 2 miles for a little over a month now and I am starting to increase the distance of my runs. No one in my family runs, so I don't really have anyone to ask questions to regarding my form and things I should be doing. My first question would be, what can I eat or drink in the mornings to avoid stitch cramps or cramps in my side? I notice sometimes I have them and sometimes I don't and I just run through it once I have them, but it's painful to do so.
My next question is, how do I know I am in the right form? I have read articles and each one says a little of the same thing and some say stuff completely different. I don't have problems with my legs cramping or anything of that nature. When I run, I feel like I don't run as fast as others and I'm not really sure why. When I played sports, I was able to run fast at times with no problem, but when I'm actually running to get better to compete and or to train for a road race, I feel like I am the slowest person out there. I feel like my stride is not long, I'm 5'6" so I don't have long legs per se, but I feel like my stride should be better than it is. Not really sure what I should be doing with my arms as well as my upper body. Do I run straight up, should I be leaning forward into my run? How should I hold my head?
My third question in, and I think this has to do with poor technique so I have not went to the doctor yet, but in my right foot in my big toe, I am feeling a little bit of pain. Sometimes when I put my foot down and bend it like I am going to walk and that joint presses to the ground, there is some pain there. I don't really feel it when I run, but I feel it a lot after I am done with my runs. I can feel it when I stretch my foot by flexing it as well. It's directly underneath my big toe in that first joint connecting my phalange to the first metatarsal. Is this something I should have checked out by a doctor, or is it something I can correct and will go away?
Any advice on running would be great. I am looking to really get into running a lot of races and eventually some marathons and triathlons.
Congrats on your progress and desire to do more. I'll offer some thoughts:
Re: Side stitches / cramps
I don't have much to offer on this topic, but I wouldn't assume it's a result of anything you do or don't eat. In fact - I would assume it has nothing to do with anything you do or don't eat. You might do some Googling to get some ideas. But - resolving this issue may be related to the other topics you bring up............
Re: Form, Speed and Stride Length
I really wouldn't worry too much about form right now. Maybe focus on trying to keep your body erect and to take short strides, but beyond that I would recommend not getting too caught up in the many details that are often found in form conversations. I don't think those things are bad. But if someone is starting out I think the most important thing is to work on getting into a routine and just being able to certain distances consistently. Now - of course - if you have problem establishing a basic routine because of pain or injury then that might be a reason to work on form. I guess what I'm saying is "If it ain't broke don't fix it." I say DO NOT WORRY AT ALL about speed. Unless you think you're going to win a race - every time you run you're running against yourself. So I say focus more on what you can do and then see if you can improve over time. And regarding stride length that, IMHO, is NOT the key to getting faster. In fact - I think that's the key to more injury and troubles with running. In general the form folks say short strides with high cadence/foot turnover.
Re: Pain in your toe
In kind of sounds like Sesamoiditis. Give it a Google and see what it says. If that is indeed what you have it is an inflamation of one or both of the Sesamoid bones, which are two very little bones right by the ball of your foot at the big toe. If you do shorten your stride that might help. If you're pushing off a lot with your rear foot - and you reduce that (think "pull your rear leg forward" rather than "push off with rear foot with lots of force") that might help. I'm not terribly familiar with it enough to offer a whole lot of help on that one.
"Kick off your high heel sneakers, it's party time."
-- From the song FM by Steely Dan