Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Surviving an Urban Legend

There's an urban legend (and many variations thereof) where a traveler's drink is drugged and he wakes up the next morning in a strange hotel room immersed in a bathtub full of ice. Next to him is a telephone and a note that says, "Dial 911 immediately." Turns out his kidneys had been removed cleanly and professionally to be sold on the black market. Gasp! (cue ominous music)

It's absolute rubbish, of course. No one has ever come forward to say they were a victim. So let me be the first .... IT'S HAPPENED TO ME!!

Minus the travel. And the drink. And the drug. And the phone. And the note. And I still have two kidneys. But darn if I didn't sit in a bathtub full of ice!

Yes, my friends. It's called an ice bath. And given my latest IT Band troubles, it's become a necessary evil for me after long runs. The idea is to reduce swelling, stiffness, soreness and to create "fresh" legs. I call it torture. How does one properly take an ice bath? Read on.


  • Run. Cycle. Whatever. Do something to completely wipe out your legs. This is imperative because otherwise you are in an ice bath just for fun. Which is insane.

  • Buy ice. Lots of it. In the average tub you'll want four to six bags. Seriously.     
  • Before beginning, I would advise putting on some sort of undergarment. This is ice water in the Nether Regions after all. That's all I'm going to say about that! And you might want a mug of hot chocolate or coffee to try and fool your brain into thinking you are warm.

  • Get in the empty tub. I've tried the whole plunge-directly-into-ice-water bit and I couldn't get my ankles in much less the rest of my body! This way, you're more likely to actually do it AND you'll get the benefit of the ice water without the extreme shock to your system. 
  • Fill tub with cold water. Turn it all the way to the coldest setting. I have to admit I'm somewhat glad I don't live in, say, Vermont, where the water coming from the tap is beyond frigid. Since Florida is just a big swamp, the water is only about 10 feet underground and is nowhere as cold as my northern neighbors.

  • Once it gets just about to the top of your thighs, turn off the water. Here comes the good stuff.

  • Dump the ice in. All of it. Every last bag you bought. If you have kids, or a significant other is mad at you, let them dump it in. They will enjoy hearing you say, "Holy crap that's cold!", and seeing you squirm and shiver.

  • Don't worry. Your toes are supposed to feel like that. Aren't you glad you're wearing undies? And don't you wish you had a duck to keep you company?

  • Now sit. Yep. That's it. For ten long, long minutes. The shivering will go away after about 1.5 minutes and your legs will go numb around three minutes. At the five minute mark, move your legs a bit. Feel that? Brrrrrrrr.

If you survive the 10 minutes, congratulations! I promise your skin will go back to it's normal color. Now hit showers! You've earned it.


  1. I can't believe anyone could be mad at you! Try red wine. It makes the uncomfortable feeling go away faster, and I think the alcohol helps something about circulation or blood flow or something. Plus it makes you more "crazy".