On cold showers and why you need one

I’ve taken maybe half a dozen cold showers in my life.

The most memorable ones were when I walked the Camino to Santiago de Compostella. The showers in the refugios could be freezing, dribbling, timed, paid for, or my favourite – no shower curtain. After walking 25-30 km a day with a backpack across steamy northern Spain, I had no shame or preference when it came to the co-ed bathrooms and getting in and out of the showers as quickly as possible.

With my new gym routines I’m back to that mentality. The gym opens at 0600 hrs, I work out like a madman, then have to be all cleaned up and on the train to reach work for 0800 hrs.

There’s no time to contemplate a discreet moment to scoot into the darkest corner of the cell block to rinse and adorn myself in fluffy body wash, shampoo, leave-in conditioners, etc. Instead, I just have to get in there, scrub everything and get out.

Most times, I’m still sweating by the time I’m finished my shower and am attempting to get dressed or put make up on with sweat dripping off my brow and nose. So gross.  Then I don my floor-length down coat (aka “the sleeping bag with arms”) and head out into -30 C weather.  It’s a sweaty, cold, hot, messy mess mess.

Today – today – was different.

In my bid to run faster, I decided to do a little interval training on the treadmill. It was a generously modified version of a Jillian Michaels-style grind of warm up for a few minutes, escalating to a baseline, then starting the intervals of 30 seconds up, 30 seconds down to baseline, 30 seconds up .5 higher, then 30 seconds down to baseline, etc. until you want to die.

Now being a running newbie, this was a crazy wild experience. TELL ME, why does it feel liberating to kick up the heat to run fast (but you can’t maintain for too long) and when you go back down to what used to be your normal, it HURTS to run so “slowly”?? Wow. Is there a technical term for this?

So, anyways, I got my sweat on. A huge dripping mess. And I hit the showers as usual. But this time, I didn’t even wait for the water to be lukewarm before I stepped under the drizzle. And it was Heaven. Ice cold water dripping from my scalp and running down every part of my body. Cooling off each sweaty particle, head to toe. Sinfully delicious. Rapturous. Wildly invigorating.  Eeeeeeeek!  Why do I not do this every day?

It was the most rewarding shower in the whole world.

Once I popped out and started getting ready for work, no more endless sweat fest. That cold shower nixed it. I still had a purple face, mind you. And that tends to last most of the day. A sweet young lady at work always tells me I have such a nice tan. I accept the compliment graciously, but little does she know my healthy glow is the aftermath of insane exertion in my attempts to run.

Benefits of the uber awesome cold shower:

  • no more sweat!
  • clear thinking!
  • tingling happy awake body!
  • no fatigue!

My whole fitness journey has been a lot about moving outside of my comfort zone (ie. this weekend’s Zumba class was an introvert’s nightmare).  The cold shower is just another way of experiencing a wee bit of discomfort, moving towards those big goals in fitness, in life.

So there it is. Cold showers. Never out of fashion. Try one today.

3 thoughts on “On cold showers and why you need one

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