Run recovery: ice bath

I had my first ice bath today.

It’s less than 40 degrees outside and trying to snow. Something just doesn’t seem right about that. Not to mention, it wasn’t even a long run this morning. I was at Veteran Acres for 5.6 today with a couple MUDD runners and only joined them for an hour. But it was the most painful run I’ve had in nine years. I am SO thankful especially in the past year to be completely injury-free after a knee scare that I thought would mean taking a break from running altogether. But this, what I can only figure to be achilles tendonitis, is giving me pause.

So, to show how serious I am about doing what I can to calm this down and prevent it from getting worse as I prepare for my first ever ultramarathon NEXT weekend, I decided I better try an ice bath instead of localized ice packs.

10 minutes. I can do 10 minutes. :}

So, I filled the tub with barely enough water to cover the hips. While that was filling, I emptied the ice tray in our freezer (probably good to get some new ice in there anyway!) into my Tupperware That’s A Bowl and heated up some hot chocolate in the microwave.

I left on my thermal top and sweatshirt (as well as a hat) to keep warm but exchanged my semi-fit pants for running shorts, which would be easier to remove when my teeth are chattering and everything is wet.

I braced myself, closed my eyes and stepped into the tub. AH. That’s cold. And it was only up to my toes. And I haven’t even put the ice in yet. Slowly, I lowered myself to sit while controlling the urge to cry out for help. When I finally was able to sit down, I dumped the ice in the water. I think I went through the first 3 stages of ice therapy in the first 30 seconds: cold, burning/pricking and aching. Then I gripped my hot chocolate and tried to flip through a Prevention magazine we keep getting in the mail even though I didn’t order it (that and US Weekly and Working Mother. Weird).

After a few minutes, it wasn’t so bad … As long as I didn’t make any waves! I even went a little over my goal, surviving 12 minutes before the ice melted and I decided I had adapted to the cold enough to have completed stage four of therapy: numbness.

Then I REALLY bundled up (with running pants AND sweats) and two pairs of socks. And I am not sure I’ll be able to put on real clothes for the day. We’ll see, it’s only half over. But as I understand it’s not considered wise to jump straight into a hot shower after an ice bath because it undoes some of the therapy. It’s better for the body to warm up on its own. I’m thinking that shouldn’t take more than 24 hours, right?

Not my favorite post-run activity, but I do think it was good for my muscles. And though I joke, it actually wasn’t so bad afterward. Probably should have thought of this two days ago when I ran 17 in the cold wet rain (and is when the tendonitis started) instead of the warm shower that was probably just as painful and really did leave me chattering for a while afterward … live and learn.


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