As a runner, I demand a lot from my body. I do my best to train smart, do my research, run with proper form, and all that good stuff. But the truth of the matter is, I am tough on my body… and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Before I started marathon training, I used to try and ice my knees and ankles after my long runs (which prior to marathon training were between 10 – 13 miles), but once I got my long runs up over 15 miles, I knew I needed a more hefty recovery. Enter the ice bath. I am a complete convert…. swear by the ice bath.
Picture Found HERE
This being my first marathon, every long run I did (beyond 13 miles) was the longest I had ever run. I did an ice bath after every single one and I was never sore, not once. Prior to marathon training, I only ever felt like I needed to ice my joints. But marathon runs were fatiguing my hips, my calves, my quads / hamstrings, AND all my joints. Not to mention… my feet were KILLING me after long runs. At one point I was actually a little concerned about getting a stress fracture, but that’s a story for another day. Anyways, I digress. Ice baths were the perfect solution to icing down my entire lower half, and allowing me to train for the entire marathon with no soreness. In fact, I took an ice bath after the marathon and I was only moderately sore for one day after. I woke up on Monday morning with nothing… a miracle!
This all being said… ice baths are literally like hell on earth. They SUCK… at least initially. Today I thought I’d share a couple tips that I use for a better ice bath experience.
- Wear Clothes. I always wear shorts and a t-shirt in an ice bath. Believe me this will make a world of difference.
- Get in the tub first, then start the water. For me personally, it was nearly impossible to dunk my body into a giant tub filled with freezing cold water and ice. If I got in the tub first and then started filling up, I was able to adjust more gradually to the cold.
- Water first, then ice. Along the same lines as my above comment, cold water is startling enough. Let your body adjust to the cold water first, then add ice.
- Stay in at least 10 minutes, no more than 20 minutes. I actually find sometimes I want to stay in longer because once my body adjusts to the cold it feels so darn good on your muscles after a long run. Less than 10 minutes and you won’t totally get the benefit of the ice bath. Longer than 20 minutes and you risk negative consequences. I set a timer on my phone usually.
- Drink a warm beverage. I usually make a cup of coffee or tea to take into the ice bath with me. It’s just a nice treat after a long run and helps a little bit with the cold. It’s probably more mental than anything… but I don’t see an issue there.
- Distract yourself. Don’t sit in the bath and think about how cold it is. Get a buddy to keep you company or bring it a book / magazine. Mike and my kitty Fig usually keep me company, or I bring my kindle or iPhone in to keep me occupied (just don’t drop them in the tub… yikes).
- Relax! The beginning is going to feel really, really, really cold but your body will adjust after only a few minutes so just hang in there. If you start to shiver or shake, just focus on taking slow, measured breaths. You’re going to love it in just a few minutes!
Ok… it might not be a warm beverage, but I like this guy’s idea.
(Picture from HERE)