Today’s ride was a moving ice bath. It poured cold rain non stop the entire way, I’m even sure it hailed at one point. Air temps were low 40s. Truly an exercise in expanding one’s comfort zone. So, a few words about the benefits of ice baths and expanding your comfort zone.
Ice baths are thought to constrict blood vessels, flush waste products and reduce swelling and tissue breakdown. While reviews are mixed as to whether ice baths are really good for you, there is no doubt that cold showers not only wake you up and improve circulation but also strengthen the immune system by creating cold/warm stimulus that constricts and dilates the blood vessels. Conclusion: forget ice baths and just take more cold showers!
As for expanding your comfort zone, the concept of a comfort zone dates from a 1908 psychology experiment that concluded that a state of relative comfort creates a steady level of performance. To maximize performance, however, we need a state of relative anxiety—a state in which our stress levels are slightly higher than normal called “optimal anxiety”. This space is just outside of the comfort zone and where we gain enhanced performance. Too much anxiety takes us too far out of the comfort zone and performance drops. There is nothing good or bad about one’s comfort zone. The important thing is to be mindful of what it is and mindful about how you venture outside of it. Today, for instance, we cut our ride short by about 25 miles because we were getting hypothermic—a clear indicator that we were venturing too far outside the zone. I was reminded of my Mother’s wise words: everything in moderation. Conclusion: Mother always knows best! ?