There's a freeze up comin' (maybe)
May 19, 2008 11:29 AM   Subscribe

Post-marathon advice: I'm running my second marathon this weekend; I was very sore after my first and am convinced that an ice bath is probably my best bet post-race to combat soreness. Problem is, I'm more scared about the bath than the race.

Does any one have any practical insights into how to make the ice bath a positive experience? Advice on how not to make a big mess, when/how much ice, what it takes to get in and out of the bath would be appreciated. I'd also love to hear some "my first ice bath" stories, even if they end in heartbreak.
posted by activitystory to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: We do ice baths at swim meets to keep our legs fresh day to day. One of my teammates did the research and found that it only has to be down to around 50F, so as long as it is vaguely painful, you should be fine. And yes, it hurts. Here is how we normally do it:

1. Run cold water into the bath high enough to cover your legs completely, but no higher.

2. Add ice. Usually we do 1 or 2 small wastebaskets' worth, so I think a bag of ice from the store should cover it.

3. Bring iPod and magazines into bathroom to distract you. Get a friend to time so you don't have to look. We usually stay in 10 minutes.

4. THIS IS THE IMPORTANT STEP. When getting in do the cat thing, holding yourself above the tub. Hold your breath, drop yourself in, but leave your feet out. Your feet hurt the most and there is little benefit to putting them in. So don't.

It will probably hurt when you get in. I like to make gasping sounds that are very popular with my friends. Another girl I know is much less of a wuss. After two minutes or so, your legs will be numb and it won't matter. When you get out, the towel will feel odd and your legs will be pins and needles. Stumble over to your bed and get in, putting the covers over your legs. Stay there till the burning subsides (the burning means it's working). And that's it. It does hurt, yes, have I mentioned that?, but probably less than a marathon.
posted by dame at 11:47 AM on May 19, 2008 [3 favorites]

Best answer: By all means try the ice bath, I've done it after races and training runs and I think it does help.

You'll be significantly less sore, however, after your second marathon, even if you are running harder. This has been true for everyone I know, and seems to hold for going up distances in general. The first race at the new distance is always the worst.
posted by OmieWise at 11:59 AM on May 19, 2008

Dame, are you face down or face up? I'm kinda missing the exact position you're in (an dhave wondered about this for years).

Don't this kinda hurt the privates, too?
posted by notsnot at 12:03 PM on May 19, 2008

Face up. Cannot comment on the pain man parts may face, being of the lady type.
posted by dame at 12:47 PM on May 19, 2008

You want to be kind of in a pike position, with both your feet and your upper torso out. The man bits actually go numb the quickest. So no worries.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 12:56 PM on May 19, 2008

Response by poster: This is precisely the type of info I was looking for... thanks folks.

Here's hoping for rapid numbness!
posted by activitystory at 1:09 PM on May 19, 2008

I always just sat on the edge of the bathtub and poured cold water over my legs (using a plastic cup or similar). Never went the whole ice bath route. I'd have been scared of that too. My issues were more with knees and shins, though, so no need for submersion.
posted by pyjammy at 1:32 PM on May 19, 2008

In one of the running books I read - maybe Galloway? - the author says that he knows of a really good marathon runner who stands in his yard after a race and sprays his legs down with cold water from the garden hose. Might be an alternative if the bath really freaks you out.
posted by web-goddess at 1:47 PM on May 19, 2008

Best answer: I take a cup of tea (or something else hot) in with me to drink. I'm not sure if it helps me stay warmer, but it FEELS like it does.
posted by dolface at 2:19 PM on May 19, 2008

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