|WOO HOO ice baths!!!|
But before I give ice baths too great of a sell (ha), here's the recipe:
- Buy A LOT of ice. We go with two 20 lb bags and that's proved to be plenty.
- Fill the tub with cool water. We've found that it doesn't have to be freezing cold yet and if you make it cool water as opposed to straight up cold water, it's infinitely easier for the victim, ahem (cough, cough), I mean athlete to get into the tub and keep the process moving along. I try to chug water (or whatever recovery liquid is your fav) and eat something...perhaps a banana, isn't that right @SkyHighTrails? :)
- Get into the tub and get ready! This actually isn't bad because you're still nice and sweaty from the run. As a quick side note, I've read that not everyone does the ice bath immediately after a run, but I do for a couple reasons. Mainly I just want to get the ordeal over with, but also I find myself thinking about the ice bath for the last couple miles of the run...and more astonishing still, actually looking forward to it. Crazy. Also, at the end of a run drenched in sweat, I want to get the ice bath over with so I can get in the shower and go to town with the body wash.
- Add the ice! Yeah, not going to lie, this is the sh*tty part. I've found that if you adequately fill the tub - so that the water level is significantly above the top of your thighs when you relax them - it greatly lessens the discomfort of actually adding all the ice. The first ice bath we did didn't have quite enough water in it, so the ice was basically just heaped on top of my legs, which felt as terrible as it sounds. So make sure the water level is nice and high and don't worry, it will still get cold enough! :)
Also, I've found that keeping my socks on for the bath helps tremendously; I kept them on this last Sunday and voilà, no toes threatening to explode with cold AND no crying. I also read that some people like to sip on hot drinks while in the tub, but I haven't tried it yet; it stands to reason and sounds lovely!
- Try to relax :) I know, I know, sounds impossible, which is exactly what I fussed to Graham. But if you can convince yourself to relax into it, even a little, it's way less painful.
- Sit tight for 10 minutes. I force Graham to stay in the bathroom and entertain me (aka, please god, just distract me!) for those long ten minutes. The last ice bath included G hand feeding me tortilla chips out of the deliciously greasy paper bag from my favorite taqueria - a good preview of the burrito to come - a pretty well established post long run routine now.
- CAREFULLY get out of the tub. I almost did a face plant getting out of the tub the first time. You're pretty much numb from your waist down, so take it nice and slow.
- Shower and stretch/roll. I do a little stretching in the shower, then get out and get to pounding that burrito I might have mentioned earlier. Once I'm fed, I stretch a little more and try to do a thorough job of the foam roller on my legs. For an interesting and informative article on foam rolling (instructions how to as well as the reasons why), check this out.
All in all, I have to say that ice baths rock. I've read a few articles that advise that ice baths shouldn't become a routine after every long run as sometimes you should allow your body to restore itself - essentially forcing your body to recover from your training and ensuring the continued efficacy of that training. That makes sense, but as I prepare for Boston, I'm absolutely allowing myself to take an ice bath on any run 20 miles or longer because it feels good...okay, fine and because I like all the attention and praise from G during the process.