I’ve always assumed that when I get a stitch in my side while running it’s because I’m going too fast–basically pushing my body too hard and the stitch is my body’s way of saying, “Whoa, slow down there, partner!” Because slowing down would always seem to make the stitch go away.
It turns out that apparently no one really knows what causes these stitches because they haven’t been studied much. The consensus seems to be they’re relatively innocuous, not a sign of impending doom, and that even pro athletes get them. I have to admit, on one of my last runs I got a stitch and didn’t feel like I was pushing hard at the time, so my own theory may be so much hooey.
I’ll probably still slow down when I get them, though, partly because it still feels logical (to my mind) and also because running hard with a stitch is, in fact, hard.