Wednesday, September 10, 2008's COLD

I love ice baths. And yes, I realize that is a bizarre sentiment. But after running 10+ miles, there is absolutely NOTHING I'd rather do. I'll add to say that if I've done anything OTHER than run 10+ miles, an ice bath is the farthest thing from my mind.

And yes, this photo is of a birdbath, not a bathtub -- get over it.

Ah, but the ice bath. As much ice as you can possibly stand (or, in my case, as much ice as you have stored in the freezer or remember to buy the day before) + water as cold as you can get it from the tap = ice bath.

According to Runner's World, "Cryotherapy ('cold therapy') constricts blood vessels and decreases metabolic activity, which reduces swelling and tissue breakdown. Once the skin is no longer in contact with the cold source, the underlying tissues warm up, causing a return of faster blood flow, which helps return the byproducts of cellular breakdown to the lymph system for efficient recycling by the body. 'Ice baths don't only suppress inflammation, but help to flush harmful metabolic debris out of your muscles,' says David Terry, M.D., an ultrarunner who has finished both the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run and the Wasatch Front 100-Mile Endurance Run 10 consecutive times."

But forget science and technicalities -- all I know is that by some sort of miracle, ice baths WORK. 

My recovery routine:
*remove shoes
*refuel using low fat chocolate milk / recoverite / etc.
*ice bath while reading something to remind me why I run (Runner's World, latest running book, etc). I tend to soak at least 20 minutes.
*lay on my bed with my legs at a right angle against the headboard (with the rest of my wrapped up, because I am now FREEZING!) for about 20-30 minutes. 
*I typically don't want to move at this point. Nap and/or lying on couch = GOOD.
*TaDa! Energy returns AND I can move WITHOUT hurting! Magic!!

Oh yeah, I also take a legitimate shower somewhere in there (after the legs at right angle step...) and clean the sweaty grossness away... prior to that, I am always laying on a towel, not directly on my bed!

Tips to make ice baths more tolerable (which you may need unless you are insane and actually learn to like them, like me!):
down jackets, hot beverages, hat! Runner's World Nikki Kimball even wears neoprene booties so that only her legs actually get the full-on cold. 

All I know -- anything that means I can get up and down the stairs to my apartment without grimacing is fantastic!