Thursday, May 19, 2011

Revisiting the Dreaded Ice Bath, and Recovery

My knees have been hurting. And getting worse. At first I was like, "Eh, its just a phase." Then I squatted down to lift a pot out of my bottom cupboard. I couldn't get back up without bracing myself with my arms.

Uh oh....

Walking down stairs hurts.

Uh oh....

After my 15+ mile run on Tuesday, I suddenly got a craving mid run to take an ice bath. Its like my body just KNEW it NEEDED an ice bath. Its kind of like the first time I tried an Olive and almost puked my guts up. Then two years later I suddenly NEEDED to eat an olive. Now Olives are one of my favorite foods.

Seems like Ice Baths are now my new favorite recovery tool?

So did this Ice Bath work? YEP! It didn't so much cure the sore muscles but rather soothed my achy knees. My knees have actually felt better after this ice bath than they have in about three weeks.

I wrote a post on Recovery over a year ago. It was all experimentation back then, but unfortunately I didn't have a "control" to compare my results to. Has anyone figured out how to clone oneself yet?

Here are my recovery steps from a hard workout.
#1 EAT
- it doesn't matter, just get food into you! Protein, carbs, fat. Make it taste good! But really, more carbs. Gotta replace those Glycogen stores! I usually make a chocolate whey protein shake with 40 grams of chocolate whey, 2 cups of milk, and a banana and blend! So yummy! This way I am getting sugars, proteins, and fats all in one.

#2 Stretch
- you know what to do!

#3 Foam Roll
- Gonna Quote Matty-O here: "There is no crying in foam rolling!"

#4 Ice Bath
- here are my tips.
- wear clothes - this helps sooooo much! Your legs will still be frozen by the end of the bath. You just won't get that deep chill. I wear a long sleave top with my under running wear.
- get into an empty tub - you are wearing your clothes, now hop in and THEN fill up the tub with cold water. NOW add the ice. This basically takes any sort of shock out of the equation. You don't throw a frog into a boiling pot of water, right?
- drink something warm! Thank you Lauren @ Train, Tri Tri Again for the recommendation! If the best way to cool your body is by ingesting cold liquids, heating your body is best by ingesting hot liquids.

For the 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000th time. I did NOT pee in the tub! ;) Its the ice cube shadows! haha!

#5 Eat some more, or, get your legs warmed back up
- my legs are literally iced when done. So I let them warm up

#6 stretch again
- because my legs have gotten stiff from the ice bath, I restretch them out

#7 shower
- ok, now you can get unsmelly!

#8 get horizontal
- pretty simple. Rest those legs!

The above steps have basically saved my legs this week. I am doing another long run on Sunday, possibly a 19 miler (after 112 miles of the Lake Placid course on Saturday). May only do 13. Regardless, I am going to need another dose of cold on the knees! Fortunately Mirror Lake's water temp is still south of 50 degrees. Full body ice bath anyone?

Of course, I have found the Brownie Sunday Recovery Method to work just as well ;)


  1. I will most def be doing all of these steps this weekend when I hit a PDR on my bike and have a long run. My knees always ache so badly!

    also- I totally thought you were going a different direction with the "get horizontal" tip.

  2. That Brownie Sunday looks awesome. I might have to have one of those tonight! Thanks for the tips on the ice baths. I've never done one, but I know how to do it now...

  3. I normally go with this routine in the same order except steps 4 thru 6. Sometimes I'll go to the local frozen yogurt shop and load it up with fresh fruit, almonds, and some chocolate chips ..... though I love brownie sundaes.

  4. While the brownie sundae recovery is nice, I think you are better off with your 8 step program. Gotta come up with 4 more steps so that you can have an official 12 step recovery program and then you can start TA (triathletes anonymous).

    Go get that 19 miles!

  5. I vote for the Brownie sundae method...that sounds much more enjoyable. Actually the get in the tub and fill it up is a brilliant idea..seems pretty basic and smart, but I wouldn't have thought about it.

  6. agreed on the ice bath technique
    worked well for me

    that brownie.....

    enjoy LP!

  7. I use the same ice bath method only I also wear socks. Most of the pain and discomfort I was having was from my feet going numb, socks solve that. And I shower immediately after and my legs are still ice cold when I get out. I also stretch before the ice bath, works beautifully!

  8. The ice bath saved me after NOLA70.3. The med tent had the baby pools all ready and bc of that my recovery was expedited I'm convinced.

    They didn't have any sundaes which would have been waaaaay more enjoyable.

  9. brownie sundaes are the key ingredient to recovery... or anything chocolate/sugary for that matter.

    butttt i'm pretty sure i've made it quite clear that no one should ever follow my advice.

    nice try on blaming the ice.

  10. always takes me some time to get into the shower b/c my legs need to defrost at that point but those are all perfect ways to do it.

  11. You can shower right after your ice bath, it doesnt negate the recover process.

  12. I always have a hard time prioritizing what to do for recovery -- do I shower first or eat or what? I like this well-ordered plan though, and will definitely be using it for my long rides/runs through IM training.

    Also, I used to always get a Frosty after my long runs, but I like the brownie sundae idea better...

  13. I swear by my ice baths! I am a cold wuss, but I still do them b/c I honestly believe that they work! Now, that brownie recovery sundae is something I HAVE to try next time! :)

  14. Ice baths are creeping into my thoughts as the mileage is getting longer!!! I get in with my Bathing suit on a under armour shirt and a towel over my head and upper body with a coffeeor hot cocoa!!! Thats the way to go!! :)

  15. I just this minute got out of my ice bath after an 18 miler. I am in Florida and it is HOT, HOT, HOT. The ice bath felt fab. How long do you guys typically stay in? Also my achilles/ankles ache like holy h*** when I get out. After 18 minutes today I could not stand a minute longer. They typically do not hurt pre ice bath. Thanks for the tips! Happy trials and happy recovery!!


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