Unlike my hubby (see post below), who would prefer to run drenched in sweat on a 90-degree day with 90-percent humidity, I actually like to run in the cold. I'm not saying that I don't ever complain when I step outside at 5am on a morning when it's only 20 degrees, but generally I'll take 30 degrees over 80 degrees any day. So although yesterday morning's 14-mile long run was completed on a morning when it was 36 degrees with 13 mph W winds (with a 29-degree windchill), I wasn't too terribly upset. So let me tell you about REAL cold...
After my long runs, I've taken to a ritual of making myself a bottle of Endurox (fruit punch...yum) and dunking myself into an ice bath for about 10-15 minutes. Yep, that's right, an ice bath. Those of you triathletes that read this blog are well familiar with the good ole' ice bath, but for those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, let me explain.
I fill up the bathtub about halfway with the coldest tap water I can manage (the water doesn't run as cold at our new home as it did at the old one, which frustrates me). Then I take a bucket full of fresh ice cubes from the freezer and dump them in. I suit up in a fleece jacket, hat and gloves and step into the tub. I then proceed to scream every obscenity I know (this ritual must NOT be performed with guests around) while my ankles get numb. Once my ankles are numb, I sit down in the tub and hyperventilate for a couple of minutes while my body adjusts to the cold. After the quick adjustment period, you know what? It's not so bad. I read a magazine or look through my splits from the long run and before I know it, it's time to get out and jump into a warm shower....which feels even that much better after an ice cold bath.
So why this crazy ritual? The ice prevents the muscles from swelling and hastens recovery from a hard workout. I didn't used to believe it would work, but since I've been taking ice baths my legs have felt SO much better the day after long runs. Like, almost normal, better. It's amazing and well worth the few minutes of pain the ice causes. Plus, I kind of like the craziness factor of it all. Stay tuned to see if the ice baths help keep me injury free during the Phoenix Marathon training. I've yet to completely train for a marathon without getting injured, so fingers crossed.
Next up: 16 miles next Saturday! (and a couple of shorter runs this week)