Photo: Actual tube of IcyHot that this post deals with
Back in September 2009, I was returning to school at UNH after spending a summer working for the Appalachian Mountain Club in northern New Hampshire. I’d been a backcountry campsite caretaker, which basically meant that I lived in a canvas tent by a pond located along the Appalachian Trail, a stone’s throw from federally designated wilderness, for 10 or 11 day stints at a time (followed by three or four days off). I hiked in a tremendously heavy pack at the start of each stint with all my food for the 11 days (goodbye, fresh fruits and vegetables) and spent the days interacting with some of the coolest people on earth (AT thru-hikers), doing various kinds of trail work, and going for hikes.
What I didn’t do was run. At all.
There were various reasons for that, but the point is that after returning to school in the fall after a solid 90 days off, I kind of felt like I’d lost my identity a bit, having always been “the runner.” I really wanted to get the legs turning again.
And so run I did. I ran in the morning; I ran in the afternoon. I ran for 90 minutes; I ran for two hours (my longest run ever time-wise at that point). All in all, I ran about 8.5 hours that week, which was definitely the most running I’d ever done in a week up until that point. By quite a bit.
Needless to say, I got really, really sore.
By the start of the second week, I’d pretty much lost all zip from my legs, so I ended up taking that week pretty much off. I thought I might have done some decent damage, but eventually things restored themselves and I was fine, racing a decent 5k in early October and my first half marathon in early November.
But flash back to that first week. Even now that I’ve run a marathon and a couple ultras, the soreness stands out in mind as quite incredible. And so I was inspired…
To buy some IcyHot.
I guess that might seem sort of natural, since IcyHot is supposed to help relieve soreness and all that. The thing is, I don’t think that IcyHot works. I mean, you slather it on and it gets hot and then cold, but it doesn’t seem to relieve soreness or contribute to society in any way.
That being said, I did go out and buy IcyHot that September. I’ll always associate the stuff with my brother’s (not my) high school cross country days, when he didn’t seem to get through a race without Icy Hot and ibuprofen. Then I came along and decided after a trial or two that IcyHot never made anything feel different and that I’d rather avoid the ibuprofen (I think it makes more sense to learn to tolerate and read pain than mask it…pain is an important communicator).
Why am I writing this now? Because I still have that tube of IcyHot that I bought back in September 2009. I used it once back then (not surprisingly, it didn’t do anything) and a handful of times since, but there’s still a decent amount left. So I threw some on today. Sure, I’m only a tiny bit sore from yesterday’s long run, but it was sitting on my counter and I figured I’d give the legs the old treatment.
When it comes down to it, I think IcyHot is the only product that I’d be willing to endorse that I don’t think actually works. And that’s saying something.
I’m just not sure what.