Monday, March 23, 2009

Forget Lourdes: I Have Ice Baths


Even though I’ve run regularly for fitness (and sanity!) for more than 20 years, I sometimes still feel like a poser. As if someone is going to blow the whistle on me and reveal me for the brainiac, non-athletic child I used to be. Sometimes, to bolster my self-image, I do things that smack of hardcore athlete. Every so often, I become a teetotaler, acting as if serious athletes steer clear of all alcohol. Or, back in my green-and-salad (and single!) days, I got weekly massages.

My latest ploy? Every Sunday after my long run, I take an ice bath. And, let me tell you: It has cemented my reputation as an authentic jock. All I need to do is mention “ice bath” in my Facebook status update, and the comments come flying in. (Dare I say that ice baths are a “hot-button” issue on FB? Ha, ha: Sorry, couldn’t resist.) Yup, within minutes of finishing my run and chugging a Nalgene bottle full of Carnation Instant Breakfast (my new drink of choice for immediate refueling), I sit up to my waist in our clawfoot tub with ice cubes floating in the frigid water. (First I snuggle into a wool Sugoi pullover and a fleece hoodie to trap some body heat.)

If you feel life is passing you by too quickly, just hop in an ice bath. I swear time stands still while I’m in there! Yesterday I lasted 13.5 minutes, but it felt like an eternity. Don’t know how I’d survive without iPhone to fiddle with (thus the photo above).

All jokes aside, ice baths work wonders. Yesterday was my first 20-miler for my marathon, and it included 10 miles at marathon pace (from miles 5-10 and again from 15-20). My mileage had been a bit “off” the week before because of illness and life-stress, so the threat level was at orange for muscle soreness today. But, nope, my legs feel fresh without any tweaks or strains. So after your next long run, hop in—the water’s fine!

-SBS

8 comments:

Michelle said...

In addition to the fleece, I think a hot beverage is key to surviving an ice bath. I absolutely love your blog!

Jennifer said...

I love your blog as well. I've never done an ice bath and I don't know if I will ever have long runs long enough to even consider one....we'll see

Tish said...

Too funny. My mom used to end her showers by turning off the hot and standing under the cold for as long as she could stand it. She was inspired by something she read about western Indians ducking in cold streams to prove their manhood. This is especially torturous because it leaves you with sopping wet COLD hair. I'm a wimp--love, love, love my hot jacuzzi bath every night. If I start having problems with sore muscles after long runs, I'll try to remember this, though!

Carolina John said...

that is hard core. i can't take the ice baths.

Lynn Jennings said...

Sarah has been taking the ice baths after her long runs like a champ. I told her that although the exercise physiologists can't say for sure whether ice baths help with recovery, the anecodotal evidence from runners is strong.

Especially after a long run, an ice bath can help a runner be ready for the next arduous training session. Whether you are an elite runner or a recreational runner, ice baths are a free and easy way to hasten recovery. When I lived in San Luis Obispo, CA I used to stand waist-deep in the Pacific Ocean after my long runs. It made me feel strong and powerful and my legs felt like a million bucks the next day on the track.

PaperCourt said...

I just found your blog and I love it. I just read your post about getting faster. It's happened to me recently and I'm shocked.

silly aunt sarah said...

you are hard core! part of my foot rehab has been "ice massage" NOT fun but it helps!

marybob143@aol.com said...

My earlier post just wouldn't post...anywho, I love the pic! You should use it in your book, Sarah!!! Love the ideas - I could definitely handle fleece & a beer to keep me occupied in my future ice baths!!!