I think I may have gone over the edge. After my long run on Sunday, I woke up from my nap and started perusing the latest edition of Runner's World (Sept. '08). I kept stumbling upon "ice baths." How great they are for recovery, how to do them, etc, etc. It was a sign. Ignoring the voice of reason in my head, I dumped the entire ice tray in my tub and filled it up a third of the way with cold water. Then, donning a heavy sweatshirt and armed with music, some reading material (Runner's World and Bicycling) and a stopwatch, I slowly lowered myself into the icy cold water. Yeeeeooooow!!!! That's COLD!!! The first three minutes were excruciating but if Deena Kastor and Dean Karnazes can do it, then I can too. I relied on my music and reading material to distract me. After the first few minutes, my legs adjusted (actually, they just went kind of numb), and the rest of my 15 minutes was, believe it or not, quite pleasurable. Who would've thought? Ice baths really aren't that bad! Compared to all the other masochistic things I do to myself (foam roller anyone?), ice baths are cake! The verdict? No soreness or tightness the next day. Much less puffiness and swelling! Muscle fatigue and weakness? Still there, of course. Guess I still need a recovery day but at least I'm putting myself at less risk for injury! All I can say is...I'm a convert; I've joined the ice side.
How To Ice Bath:
1. Dump an entire ice tray (from the automatic ice dispenser) or 2 bags of ice (from the grocery store or gas station) into the tub.
2. Fill the tub 1/3 of the way with cold water--enough to cover your entire lower body, from hip to heel.
3. Put on a sweatshirt to keep yourself warm.
4. Bring music and reading material, especially for the first few minutes.
5. Slowly lower yourself down. Start the stopwatch.
6. Brace yourself for the first few minutes; it's not that pleasant (but knowing so makes it more bearable).
7. After the first few minutes, relax and enjoy!
8. Once 15-20 minutes have elapsed, you're done. Time for a nap!