It always cracked me up in college when one of my non-running friends would show up at the gym for, say, ballroom dancing class and see me carrying a towel and heading for the training room.
“Hey, Megan…whatcha doin?”
I’m off to the whirlpool.
“Ooh…a whirlpool. That sounds nice. I’m so jealous!”
The cold whirlpool.
“Oh.” Tehe. As in, “oh, well nevermind then.” As in, “oh geez, what? Why would you do that?!” As in, “I didn’t even know there was a cold whirlpool.” Coach was a big believer in the whirlpool for recovery, so my fellow distance runners and I spent a lot of time packed in a metal tub with water up to mid-thigh as ice cubes whirled and whacked some miraculously still-sensate portion of leg. After at least twice-weekly sessions for the better part of four years, it’s something you get used to. Plus, it really does help…especially with the volume and intensity of running that we were subjecting our legs to. And, I must say, the uncomfortably chilly first two minutes is a much easier price to pay than the extreme anguish that is The Contrast Whirlpool. I only got to experience this a couple of times (I had a minor calf injury), but it is miserable. Imagine sticking your leg in an ice bath. It’s cold, yes. It’s tingly. After five minutes, however, you don’t really notice it anymore. Now it’s time to stick the same leg in a warm bath. The first impression is…lovely. Ooh, warmth. Nice! Loveliness quickly turns to alarm…um, ow? The pricklies! The pricklies! You’re not sure, but it’s possible that you mistakenly put your leg into a vat of acid. Or boiling oil. You check…flesh is still attached to bone. That’s a promising thing. Just when the “boiling oil with acid on the side” feeling passes, it’s time to switch back to the cold. Call me a wimp, but I really didn’t care for it. Give me the good ‘ol ice bath any day.
None of these positive thoughts (you get used to it; it only hurts for two minutes; it really helps; it’s better than Contrast) came to mind as I stood beside the whirlpool tub in our master bathroom, watching the ice swirl through decidedly chilly water. Prepared for battle wearing a long-sleeved shirt, shorts, and stocking hat…my nemesis was nevertheless psyching me out. I went to the top of the stairs and called down to Scott, who was watching a very important basketball game
“It looks really cold!” Ah, thank you Captain Obvious.
With the whining out of the way, I went back to meet my destiny. And it was cold, but my legs are feeling peppier today. I’m hopeful that this will address the random and lingering knee soreness…but is it too much to hope that only one session with the whirlpool will be enough to send it packing?