8 Ice Bath Dos and Don'ts

As a coach, one of the most common questions posed to me by athletes, whether they are tri-rookies or emerging elites, is "what can I do to get faster?" Most tend to be looking for the key workout that will help push them to new heights. Others want to know what new piece of equipment will help them shave a gram off their bike set-up or make them a fraction more aerodynamic.

One of the biggest lessons I have learned in the 30 years I have been exposed to endurance sports is that consistency and commitment to the small stuff are paramount to success. And these two items are not mutually exclusive. It is generally the attention to this small stuff, such as functional strength, nutrition and recovery that helps keep athletes from sustaining injury and thus allows them to be consistent in their training.

Most athletes have heeded the recommendation to incorporate strength and flexibility training into their regimen and some actually include these items as entries in their training logs. And, while I know we all break from time to time, I can't think of a more disciplined group when it comes to nutrition.

However, if there is one common shortcoming I would single out in the Type A-leaning triathlon population, it's the lack of focus on recovery. While in part this means breaking ourselves from the "more is better" mentality, it also means doing the little things that help our bodies bounce back for the next training session.

A number of people have been asking about ice baths lately, possibly due to the visibility successful marathoners such as Paula Radcliffe and Meb Keflezighi have brought to the practice. The general theory behind this cold therapy is that the exposure to cold helps to combat the microtrauma (small tears) in muscle fibers and resultant soreness caused by intense or repetitive exercise.

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