i’ve been a little worried about having taken so much time off of running due to my stress fracture to just jump back in and continue on with my marathon training. i’ve spent all this time trying to recover from an injury and am really hoping to not cause another one by upping my mileage so quickly.
i’ve been pretty sore after all of my runs since starting back. it’s pretty unusual for me to get so sore and it’s had me a little concerned. what to do about it? well, keith has been following this one triathlete’s blog who just swears by ice baths to help her recover. of course i’ve known about ice baths forever but never, in a million years, thought i would ever need to do one. i have always equated ice baths with athletes. i have never considered myself an athlete so i never thought i would do one. i also never thought i would train to run a marathon- this was NOT something that was on my bucket list! well, suddenly i’m training for a marathon and with the extreme increase in my mileage, extreme measures must be taken!
so, what’s the point of ice baths? cryotherapy (aka 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.
i don’t know if you can tell from the picture above but they’re not fun! as soon as i got home from my long run, i headed to the bath. i started with a tub of cold water up to my hips and keith added a bucket of ice. fortunately, the ice melts pretty quickly; i think this makes it seem less cold when you aren’t actually staring at the ice. i read some tips on how to make it more tolerable- sweatshirt, hat, warm tea, etc. i thought this probably wouldn’t make that much of a difference but tried anyway. the bike shorts definitely helped the sitting in the cold water a little less awful. the sweatshirt kept my upper body warm which meant i could breathe rather than just sit and hold my breath. the hat really helped to keep some heat in my body. i thought about getting some hot chocolate but that would’ve meant i couldn’t clutch the sides of the tub! after all the preparations, i lasted about 11 minutes. anything between 10 and 20 minutes is pretty good.
you could use ice packs but cold water immersion produces a greater and longer lasting change in deep tissues and is a more efficient way of cooling large muscle groups at once. i’m tired of the days of coming home and having to get numerous ice packs out and sitting on the couch and freezing. this is certainly more miserable but at least it’s a quick misery! i’m feeling pretty good after a grueling 14 mile run so i’m thinking i owe some of that to my ice bath.
try one after your next long run and let me know what you think 🙂