Life is full of miracles. These include coconut cream pie, nachos, and little Bugwhiskers The Cat.
Paws Hands down the most miraculous of all things running-related that I have yet to experience is…
THE ICE BATH!!!
My friend Loïc (http://epicroadendlesslife.wordpress.com/) conned me into trying this after I was whining about calf pain. The pain, at that time, was only the tip of the Noob-berg to come, so it was excellent advice.
To experience the ice bath for yourself, you’re gonna need ice. And a bath. Tub. Or a trash can, as I’ve utilized for a calves-and-feet-only bath or an I’d-like-to-watch-tv-while-I-do-this version.
There’s really no way to sugar-coat the ice bath. It sucks. As I’ve Loïc-ed others into trying the ice bath and recorded the results, I’ve learned that it sucks in different ways for different people. If you’re doing a full-leg submersion (ie sitting in the bathtub), and you happen to own a set of balls, well… it will basically freeze your balls off. Seriously, they’ll be floatin’ around the tub with the ice. Personally, the pain is most prominent in my feet. The good news is that within a minute or two, you’ll be numb! This is the perfect time to grab your iphone and take some icebath porn!
The Interwebnet tells me that 7-10 minutes is adequate for submersion time. If you’re doing a cold-hot-cold-hot-etc-etc-etc thing, you should begin and finish on cold and wait at least 30 minutes before taking that steamy wonderful shower.
I firstly tried using bags of ice cubes from my nearest gas station. These did the job pretty well, but they melted really fast, probably because I have an adrenaline dump and simultaneously pee myself each time I lower into the ice bath.
Eric, ever the innovator, filled our largest tupperwears with water and threw those in the freezer for me. These big blocks of ice bath pain are pretty awesome, except when they beach themselves on your calves. They seem to withstand the heat from my
pee (these crossouts are really making me giggle… anyone?) massive pulsating calf muscles much better than the cubes can.
Escaping from the ice bath is a relief, but don’t roll into your jazzercise tape until you’ve warmed back up. You can, however, play some mean dueling banjos on your achilles while you wait.
If you have an event in which you don’t want your legs to be bright red, I would also recommend waiting for a bit. Or wearing pants – it’s your call.
I used to hobble around in pain for a few days after my runs (especially as my feet and calves were on their first dates with a midfoot strike). For me, taking an ice bath usually results in NO PAIN the next day. NO PAIN! It’s truly amazing!
The next in the series of Bathtub Experiences from the Lab will likely involve some pretty intense chemicals. NO, I’m not making meth in the same tub I’m using for my ice baths! I’m thinkin’ a little mag sul. That’s what the kids are calling magnesium sulfate, or “EPSOM SALT.” SPOILER ALERT: THIS SHIT TASTES NOTHING LIKE SALT!