my guilty pleasure: freezing.

I am curled up on the couch right now, getting smart by watching Jeopardy, toasty warm and very relaxed.  But all I want in the world is an ice bath.

I crave ice baths like most people crave massages.  The minute I submerge my legs into the freezing water a feeling of relief comes over me.  I know it sounds weird–who WANTS to sit in 33 degree water for 10 minutes?!–but I honestly relish the idea of relinquishing control of my muscles to the wondrous icy liquid.

After years of grueling swim workouts, I learned that there was nothing I could physically do to help my muscles recover quick enough to be ready for the next practice.  No amount of power gel, sugary cereal, stretching, hot showers, or rub-downs helped me ease the pain of persistent soreness.  So at one training camp in Colorado Springs, I was immediately intrigued when I met a girl who sat in the cold tub after practices.  She told me it helped her feel better in the mornings–and that was all I needed to get, literally, my feet wet.  I hopped in and OH MY GOD IT WAS COLDD!!!!  I think I practically had to tie myself to the wall so my body didn’t subconsciously jump out.  But once I got through the first minute, I started to lose feeling in my legs.  Numbness took over, and it was bliss.  Not being able to feel my sore leg muscles for a full 10 minutes was totally worth the 1 minute of icy pain.

I was addicted.  I discovered ready-made ice baths at most national level meets, and I was in them all the time.  If there wasn’t one, I would spend an hour schlepping ice from ice makers in hotels to my bathtub to make one.

I don’t swim anymore, so one would think that I wouldn’t need ice baths anymore either.  Wrong.  Now I’ve transitioned to running (I’m “training” for the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in April–did I tell you that?) and a new world of soreness has opened up.  I love running for myself; when I have a lot on my mind or had a rough day at work, it’s great to just run and run and run and get away from everything.  I always think of that Nike ad from the movie What Women Want: the road never lets you down.

But running until I’ve cleared my head usually means I’ve gone farther than I was ready for.  Today I ran down Connecticut (key word: DOWN.  As in DOWNHILL.)  until I had a better perspective on life.  But then I had to turn around and run back up (UPHILL!) Connecticut.  And when you’re not thinking about running as you run, you don’t notice how far you’ve gone.  (Or that the street you’re running on is rather steep.  Perhaps vertical, even.)  So I was one of those people whose breathing you can hear from a block away–one of those people you want to hand a pair of crutches to and tell them they’ll be thankful for them later.  Thus, via one long, steep, torturous Connecticut Avenue, I’ve returned to that unforgettable soreness.  So I’m sitting on the couch thinking about the miserable irony of it all.

I run to forget about the unpleasantries of life, and then want an ice bath to forget about the unpleasantries of running. Hmmmm.  I think I need a new strategy.

BRRRRR--ncaa 2010 icebath

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2 Responses

  1. OMG–I had to jump into my hot tub after reading this! I could not live without my hot tub…

  2. I need an ice bath after the 30 Day Shred. Clearly I’ve been away from strenuous activity for FAR TOO LONG.

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