The Dreaded Ice Bath

Not too long ago I posted about maybe training for another full marathon.  Well here I am, a few weeks and several long runs later, finding myself in the midst of training for those 26.2 miles of glory once again.

TheDreadedIceBathSaturday morning I woke up nice and early (but a little late for me considering I typically get up at 4:45 am on work days) and braved the cold for 22 miles.  I actually placed my run perfectly – right in between two rainstorms.  And the cold wasn’t all that bad.

At least not when you compare it to the dreaded ice bath that was waiting for me when I walked through the door of my house, courtesy of my amazing husband.  I’m not sure if every distance runner endures an ice bath at the end of a particularly long/brutal run, but in my experience, the pain is worth it (wow I can’t believe I just said that).

During my cool down walk to my house, I’ll text the hubby to let him know I’m going to need a dip in the torture tub.  He gets up from his cozy recliner and fills our guest bathtub with cold water.  As soon as I come in from my run, I brace myself and sink into the cold.  The hubby comes in with an entire bin full of ice and slowly pours it into the already freezing cold water.  I immediately turn the stopwatch on my phone to make sure I’m not in there a second more than I have to be (10 minutes).

Sometimes there are tears, sometimes not, and for someone that is not a fan of the cold, this feels like the longest, most unpleasant 10 minutes EVER!  I have heard some mixed reviews about the ice bath.

Some pros:

  • It reduces swelling (duh).
  • It takes care of your entire lower body so you don’t have to get a hundred ice packs to cover specific spots on your legs.
  • It helps your legs recover and heal faster from all the damage you just did on your long run.
  • It reduces muscle soreness later in the day (Note that I said it reduces, not diminishes).

Now, some cons:

  • I have heard that unless you have a race or something coming up that you want to be in tip-top shape for, you need to allow your body to try to heal itself without any help of the ice bath.
  • It SUCKS.

Does anyone else use an ice bath after long runs?  Any tips to making it a little more bearable?

5 thoughts on “The Dreaded Ice Bath

  1. addictedrunner says:

    Yes!! I hate them but the numbness afterwards helps me sooo much with the Tendonitis I’m battling right now. I always put a space heater next to the tub and turn on some music or watch YouTube videos so that my top half is warm and I’m distracted. In the end, it’s relaxing but at first I’m practically in tears, too.

    • wholefoodrunner says:

      Ugh, I hate tendinitis, I’m sorry to hear you’re battling that right now! And I just read your post from last Thursday. I read “Born to Run” as well and LOVED it! However, it inspired me so much that I switched to Vibram Five Fingers and that ended up being a mistake – developed tendinitis in my foot in the middle of Marathon training last year – so proceed with caution if you decide to ditch those cushy shoes! Now I use NB Minimus shoes and I LOVE them! Good luck with your rest period and I hope you get back up to tip-top shape in no time 🙂

  2. Laura says:

    I love slash hate ice baths, but they work! I do one after every long run, and I always keep a hoodie on and drink a hot beverage. I know when I stop feeling cold that it’s time to get out!

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