How to Survive the Cold / Ice Bath

Ugh. The ice bath. It is NOT fun, but it’s a great way to recover after a long run. I did ice bath and cold water baths all summer long as I was training but I haven’t done them this training cycle because it’s been SO COLD I couldn’t stomach the idea (read more here about the benefits of ice baths).

ice bath

So, how do you deal with submerging yourself in cold water? Well, here are my tips:

  1. Dress the part. I can’t stomach an ice bath without shorts and a hoodie. And obvi,
  2. Get your supporting cast. I always make a cup of hot tea and either grab something good to read or put on some music. Usually both. This is not a pleasant thing, so do what you can to make it tolerable!
  3. Keep it short! 10-15 minutes is plenty to start. Now I usually go for 15-20 minutes, but start small!

Of course, the fact is cold water baths and ice baths suck. Regardless what you do, chances are you’ll still make this face…



Do you do ice baths? In the winter?

18 Comments on How to Survive the Cold / Ice Bath

      January 21, 2014 at 10:45 am (8 months ago)

      It’s not a MUST – but it definitely can help your recovery!

      • Kyle Kranz
        January 21, 2014 at 7:26 pm (8 months ago)

        I disagree about it “helping recovery”.

        They are only needed if you have a second event very close to the first one (say, within 48 hours) and are not looking to gain fitness, but to race well.

        If you feel you need an ice bath, you likely trained too hard during the previous workout OR are simply doing key workouts too close together.

        The research hints towards ice bathing hindering adaptation, which is the point of a long run or speed workout. By using cryotherapy you are simply getting less bang for your buck from hard workouts. You might as well just run one less mile or two a couple less reps and NOT be sore.
        Kyle Kranz recently posted…Training Jan 13-19My Profile

          January 21, 2014 at 7:38 pm (8 months ago)

          Kyle, thanks for sharing your opinion. We can agree to disagree. Most runners I know are running at a minimum 4-5 times a week. Which means that a second activity is occurring within 48 hours of a prior. I don’t think ice baths (or cold water baths, which I actually do more often) are a necessity but they can help recovery.

          • Kyle Kranz
            January 21, 2014 at 7:48 pm (8 months ago)

            Yes, but I’m talking max effort runs within 48 hours of each other (such as the Goofy Challenge). If you’re doing two key workouts that close together and the first is hindering the second, you’re making a mistake, and it’s not not taking an ice bath. You’re scheduling hard runs too close together or doing them too hard.

            Simply put, ice bathing is cutting the athlete short.

            I do agree that it cuts down on inflammation, but…that’s where the adaptation comes from ;)
            Kyle Kranz recently posted…Training Jan 13-19My Profile

      January 21, 2014 at 10:50 am (8 months ago)

      Yes, the hot bev is a must!

      January 21, 2014 at 10:39 am (8 months ago)

      It ain’t fun, I’ll tell you that. But it does help!

  1. Cynthia @ You Signed Up For What?!
    January 21, 2014 at 11:10 am (8 months ago)

    I’ve never done an ice bath, and don’t know that I could start in the winter. But I’m also not the one training for a marathon right now – I’ll let you know when I start hard core mileage again!
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  2. Kristy
    January 21, 2014 at 1:50 pm (8 months ago)

    The one and only perk of having Raynaud’s, is that I can’t do ice baths! Yay me. LOL.

    I can’t believe you set in ice for 20 minutes. No way.

    • Kristy
      January 21, 2014 at 1:51 pm (8 months ago)

      Hi again. I meant sit, not set. :)
      Kristy recently posted…Weekly RecapMy Profile

  3. Betsy
    January 21, 2014 at 2:22 pm (8 months ago)

    I don’t know that I could handle it. :/ I’m kind of a wuss!!
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  4. Sarah
    January 21, 2014 at 3:45 pm (8 months ago)

    I started taking ice baths this past fall after my first 18-miler and it made a huge difference! Really cold and uncomfortable, but my legs weren’t sore at all the next day (and other parts of my body that weren’t in the water were sore)!
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      January 21, 2014 at 7:40 pm (8 months ago)

      Yes, I think they are a good tool for preventing that soreness.

  5. Kristen
    January 21, 2014 at 7:12 pm (8 months ago)

    Haha I was just saying to my husband that I am never ever going to do this! But I did mention that I will be using his uncle’s pool right after the Disney Princess Half Marathon…that’s kind of the same thing right?
    Kristen recently posted…Try New Things Tuesday!My Profile

      January 21, 2014 at 7:41 pm (8 months ago)

      Um, yes that totally counts!!

  6. Debbie @ Deb Runs
    January 22, 2014 at 8:16 pm (8 months ago)

    I’m in a love/hate relationship with ice baths! they help so much with recovery, but it’s the longest 20 minutes in the world! I’ve never taken one during the winter thought… I’m too much of a wimp!
    Debbie @ Deb Runs recently posted…Ten Things To Do On A Snow DayMy Profile


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