After my long runs in preparation for the Swiss Alpine marathon with Project Davos I’ve gone from the sticky Genevan heat immediately into the famous runner’s ice bath. I plan on doing the same on Saturday night after negotiating possibly the most difficult terrain of my running life. Ice baths are an easy method to offset the risks inherent with longer taxing runs. It is thought that they help constrict blood vessels and decrease metabolic activity to reduce swelling and promote faster blood flow return on warming up again. In any case I always feel better afterwards despite the tricky entrance of the first minute or so (in tandem with a boat load of swearing). The discomfort associated with sitting in a bath full of ice water puts off some athletes. I admit that after my longer runs I’d rather reward myself with a nice hot shower and a creamy pint of Boddingtons – especially in the winter months. However, I have been running ‘serious injury-free’ for 18 months now and I reckon ice baths have really helped along with more sensible training schedules.
Here are my tips if you fancy joining me (not literally) in the ice bath ritual:
1: Don’t get too naked – keep your shorts on as it helps reduce the shock (especially for us blokes). I always put an old pair of trainers as well to reduce the foot and ankle pain.
2: Put the kettle on – whilst running the bath make a nice cuppa to enjoy during the ice dip.
3: The ‘ideal temperature’ is around to 12–15º range; remember that the temperature will rise steadily with your body heat.
4: Don’t go overboard on adding the ice – a few ice packs out of the freezer should do. It is thought that significantly colder baths offer no additional perks and can lead to cold-induced muscle damage or fainting. It might be a good idea therefore to have a someone knocking around to keep an eye on you!
5: 10 to 15 mins is an ideal time in order for the ice bath to serve its purpose.
6: Dry off but don’t go immediately into a warm shower or bath until around 30 mins after.
7: Pop a pair of recovery socks on for the rest of day.
Anyway, I’m off to Davos at the crack of dawn on Friday and will be joining up with the team in the afternoon. Looking forward to meeting everyone and learning a lot from their vast collective experience on the thing we all love so much – running. Hopefully we’ll all kick some alpine backside in our own ways come Saturday. If you’re of a betting disposition, I’d put a few quid on the Nepalese lads! Or better still, you could help them continue to develop their immense talent and access to competing in other ultra races by chipping in here :-)