How to Ice-Bath

This year I became quite aware at how many people don’t ice bath. Talk to the pros, and they will tell you how they sit on a cold creek after every run or something weird like that. Still, I know many-times-over marathoners who don’t. Probably because they just never started. You need to. Post long run recovery takes half the time. I wish I could do it after every long run, speed workout, race or any hard effort, but I don’t ever have the time, but it’s worth it.
 
Yes, it’s COLD. And I feared it too. But I promise it all fades out after the first couple of times. Just like marathoning, you have to jump right in and it’ll get easier. Seriously. I used to be deadly afraid of ice baths and swore I’d never do them. I swear by them. I look forward to them (mostly in the summer) and wish I could do them every day. Crazy, yes.
 
So, there’s a few different approaches. This is MY personal procedure. Twist it as you may.
 
After long runs, there are many URGENT things to do:
  • Nap/Rest
  • Eat/Refuel/Drink
  • Shower
  • Stretch
Every time I come back from a 20+ miler I need to reorganize those priorities in my head as they all seem deadly urgent but I am too tired to make any smart decisions.
I’ve settled on a process that seems to work the best.
 
I decide on a quick bite before I leave, and I leave it ready for when I come back, so I can eat while I stretch. Whether that’s chocolate milk and a power bar, or a protein shake, or whatever, it’s there ready for me. I then stretch while I drink/eat. The stretching can take up to 30 minutes, and I am still not showered, it’s pretty gross. But I found that I will probably not stretch after I shower, with the excuse that I lotioned and I’d be slipping all over, or any other random reason. Also, after the ice bath, I will be too stiff to stretch.
 
So, fueling and stretching go first, together.
 
Once I am stretched and semi-nourished, I set up process #3: the shower+icebath.
 
I leave by the shower:
– nuun bottle or drink of your choice (seriously, if you run 20, you earned it all!)
– fleece top
– magazine, usually RW, of course
– phone, and headset
– towels
– Lots of ice. As for this, I have my freezer full of those 32 oz plastic yogurt containers filled of ice.  I usually bring at least 6. You can use any tupperware you have around for that.
 
I shower first, I need to get the salt and bridle path dirt off me (and scream a little if I chafed!). Then, I stand there, and start filling the tub with the cold water. As my feet get cold (and won’t have to suffer getting in the water later!) I dry off, and put the fleece on, a deep conditioner in my hair, and face mask, why not go the whole way, right? Boys, you don’t have to this part, but I recommend layering up on top ALWAYS. If your chest and neck and warm you can stand frozen legs! I usually put a towel around my neck for my dripping hair. By the time I am ready to sit, I should have enough cold water and my feet/legs are already acclimated. You only need the water up to your hips so no need to feel the tub up to your knees!!! Then the tough second comes, you have to sit. I usually scream a little, but it lasts a second! Then, just grab the magazine, sip up, and call a friend to tell them how BA you are that your sitting in a tub full of ice. I usually sit there for 5 minutes without the ice. But soon the water will be warmish, so, throw all the ice IN. I save two containers for the last 5 minutes, as I seem to warm up the water pretty quickly. Or I get adjusted to cold water soon, not sure. They say 15, 20 minutes is good. I’ve stood there for 40-50 minutes without even noticing, and I didn’t freeze. 
 
Once I’m bored with it, I let the water drip out until there’s like 4-5 inches of water left, and turn the warm (not hot!) shower back on, so my feet can still be in the cold water. Rinse the hair, wash the face stuff off, and wake up the muscles with some warm water. The feet will stay cold until the last minute!
 
And that’s how I do it. Time to nap!

How to Ice-Bath

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8 thoughts on “How to Ice-Bath

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