A little retro chill from 2011 for this hot August morning...
In the 18 or so months since Run Like a Mother was published, Dimity and I have become known for a few things, including purposely peeing in capris (SBS), going commando (both of us), wearing running skirts (DMD + SBS) and taking ice baths (SBS again). I was reminded of this over the weekend when several fans posted on our Facebook wall that they’d done an icy plunge after a long run. Heather, who took an ice bath after a 12-mile run, wrote, “it was not as terrible” as she thought it would be.
So this week I decided I’d give the 411 on how—and when—to take an ice bath. You should try to chill out after longer or more demanding runs, like ones that last two hours or more or involve a bundle of intervals or hills. Since this isn’t a perfect world (like I had to tell you that?), don’t sweat that you can’t go cold after every extra-hard workout. But when you can fit in an ice bath, here’s how:
Take a hot drink, like tea, chai, or cocoa, into the bathroom with you. Not only is hot chocolate the warm version of our favorite post-run recovery drink, chocolate milk, but holding onto the mug of steaming liquid a tasty way to keep my mitts warm.
Strip naked from the waist down, but bundle up on top. I favor a wool hoodie layered under a fleece jacket, while Dim tells me she doesn’t soak without adding a hat to her ensemble.
Run the cold water, then dump in roughly the equivalent of two bags of ice. (Works especially nicely when staying at a hotel for an out-of-town race. Helllllllo, ice machine!) Some of my wimpier friends, ahem, like to sit in empty tub, then start filling it with water, but I prefer to take the plunge once tub is about half-full. Yes, it huts the lady-bits, but the first few moments are the worst, I promise.
Be covered up to your hips. The cold therapy doesn’t do your quads any good if they aren’t covered. When my toes can’t take the torture any longer, I let them climb out of the water, but otherwise I keep my entire leg, ankle, glutes, and lower core submerged.
Stay in for 10 to 20 minutes. It helps time pass to have entertainment. Distractions of choice: I read the New York Times online while holding my iPhone in a death grip, while Corrina told us on Facebook about being entertained by her kids dropping toys into the bath. “It helped me laugh instead of shiver,” she wrote.
Get out and take a hot shower—your beet-red legs will thank you as toxins get flushed out and small micro-tears speed to healing.
Now you tell us: How do you like your ice baths?