Do You Ice Bath?

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.

  1. Wear Clothes. I always wear shorts and a t-shirt in an ice bath. Believe me this will make a world of difference.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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).
  7. 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)

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