Tag Archives: lactic acid

Ice Baths Are Not for the Weak!!

My running partner, Lauren, and I have had some pretty tough training runs over the past few weeks…so under the advisement of her boyfriend Zach, Lauren stepped into an ice bath for her very first time! As she told me today on our run…it was the absolute worst experience ever! I had to giggle as I know the pain all too well! Few can handle the ice bath, but those who do benefit!

(Photos of me in my own ice bath today; as well as Lauren eating pizza to make the time go by faster in hers!)

Here’s why:

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.

  • After a workout, your body needs to “repair” itself to prepare for the next training session.
  • It does so with the help of blood vessels that bring oxygen to your muscle tissue while removing waste products of exercise — the most common being lactic acid.
  • Too much lactic acid build-up can cause your muscles to function poorly and will often lead to fatigue.
  • An ice bath will immediately reduce swelling while flushing lactic acid out of your body.
  • When you sit in an ice bath — or when you rub a cup of ice on the muscles you just trained — the cold causes your blood vessels to tighten.
  • This helps drain the lactic acid out of your tired muscles.
  • When you get out of the bath, your muscle tissue warms back up, causing a return of oxygenated blood to help your muscles recover.

So next time you are need of some relief for your sore muscles, try out your very own ice bath. Directs as follows:

  1. Pick up at least two or three 20lb ice bags
  2. Fill bath up with cold water about 50%
  3. Dump in ice baths
  4. Jump in yourself and force yourself to stay in there for 10 minutes
  5. Tips: Go in fast…the slower you do it, the longer it takes for your legs to go numb. Wear a sweatshirt or towel on your upper body to keep you warm / bite when you need to scream!
  6. Have fun!!!

An Oxymoron? Good Pain

I read this great piece in Women’s Running Magazine on good pain verses bad pain and had to share it with my own readers! I’ve been talking a lot about these two and how a runner needs to understand the difference in order to push themselves to improve but know when to back off.

At the start of every high school cross country season, you get a lot of new runners to the sport that have never pushed their bodies like this before. What 15 year old (before they join a cross country team) has ever run a 35-plus mile week before? Done mile repeats at tempo pace (six times in a row)? And then followed it all up with 25 hill climbs on a massive trash mountain? I bet very few…

And as a result, these new runners push themselves (like they should) and feel the lactic acid build up in the legs, the pain in their muscles, the trouble catching their breathe, and so on. This is all “good pain” as we call it. It’s the stuff that makes you better – that is if you push through it.

However, at the same time, some runners feel different pains – pulls in their hamstrings, sore knees, shin splints, and serious trouble catching their breathe to the point of hyperventilation…These are what we call “bad pain” in some cases. (I’d say shin splints are a bad pain – but one that us runners know we have to push through…and keep running – on the grass or softer surfaces whenever possible.)

I tell my students all the time – know your body. Don’t quit a workout for “good pain” because then you’ll never reach your potential. At the same time, tell us (your coaches) when you have bad pain so that we can adjust if necessary. And by adjust I mean – send you to the pool or bike for a workout; and in worse cases, send you to the doctor to get checked out.

Anyway – here’s the article…and let me know what “good pain” feels like to you!?

Womens Running: The Difference Between Good and Bad Pain