5 things I learned from 30 days of Cold Training



June 1st marked the start of winter here in Australia (at least according to the Bureau of Meteorology) and the end of my #EveryDayInMay Cold Challenge.


Earlier this year I noticed my cold exposure training starting to wane. It was getting harder and harder to regularly get myself into my cold plunge and it had been weeks since I last swam at the beach. I also found my motivation & enthusiasm in other areas of my life starting to falter.


I decided that radical accountability was the way to tackle it. So I committed to doing a cold exposure activity every day for a month and share my experience on social media.


It turns out I wasn’t the only one in need of accountability. After creating the challenge and inviting people to sign up, May started with +130 people committed to the challenge.


There were people from 3 continents, with cold training activities including ridiculously slushy ice baths, nude oceans swims, outdoor cold showers, bare chested hikes in hills, post-training cold plunges and night dips under moonlight!


People couldn’t have shown up any better!


So here we are, 31 days later and I wanted to share the five things I learned from the experience.


TL:DR


  1. I’m not the only one who feels the way I do

  2. Accountability is a powerful motivator

  3. Community is energising

  4. Variety in training is important

  5. I still don’t like cold showers



I’m not the only one who feels the way I do


No doubt you’ve heard this countless times. I have. But it still surprises me when I finally share something I’m struggling with and find out I’m not the only one.


The thing is, when it comes to positive feelings or something we love, we more readily accept that there are others out there who feel the same way!


When I put it out there that I needed accountability to help me get back into doing something that was challenging (but good for me), there was no shortage of others who shared they were in a similar situation.


We’re human. We all slip from time to time. We all fall short of the targets we set for ourselves. Knowing this, acknowledging this makes it just. That. Little. Bit. Easier.



Accountability is a powerful motivator


Day 14 & 15 were tough. I’d had an epic week of connecting with people and of trying to overcome my nemeses; night time cold plunges and seaweed, and then I hit a wall.


Part of my head wanted to switch to default mode and bail on the entire thing. But, another part was reminded that I’d committed to this challenge, and that others we’re committed along with me. And man was that motivating. Without that, I’m sure default mode would’ve won.


All I had to do was do something, anything. And take a photo of it!


The key for me in this instance was accountability to others, not accountability to myself.


Is this the best way to live? No. However, there may be times that you’re on the brink of letting yourself down, of failing to be accountable to yourself. If in those times you can find a solution that gets the task done, a task that you know will greatly benefit you, and that doesn’t harm you, I say go for it. And use the motivation from completing it to inspire you to keep going.



Community is energising


This one was a nice discovery. Normally I jump in my chest freezer, at home, by myself and I sit there in solitude and silence… occasionally with excessive seriousness! For regular cold training this is perfect. I’m in, out and on with my day.


However, after meeting up with different people for ocean swims last month I realised that there’s another aspect I enjoy… the social one. The conversation prior (often asking “are we crazy?”, the hasty change into bathers as the wind blasts you from the shore, the composed walk in (or run!) and the time in the water to connect with another person (or in some cases to share the experience with hundreds - check out @saltysipsADL on Instagram) and share a post-dip coffee & chat.


This was a nice reminder of two things:

  1. That cold training doesn’t always have to be a serious activity. There’s nothing wrong with running like a mad person into the water, gasping at the shock of the water and having a laugh.

  2. The cold offers an opportunity for connection, not only to yourself, but also to the others who you share the experience with.



Variety in training is important


I love ice baths and cold plunges. The still, cold water helps to still my mind. Which is the main reason I enjoy cold training… the mental health benefits. However, cold training is about improving our body’s adaptability… so it’s counterintuitive to only train the cold in one way.


Swimming in the ocean means the environment is continually changing. Instead of focusing completely inward, you also need to focus on your surroundings. Training your extremities focuses the cold sensations on a smaller area (it also helps these areas adapt more).


That’s why I practiced just training my hands, or just my feet, or both. It’s why I went down to the beach on stormy days, or why I met up with other people instead of practicing in silence. Different training scenarios create different adaptations… and broaden your foundation.



I still don’t like cold showers


Yep. I’ll admit it. I’m not a fan. In fact… for those paying attention I didn’t share a single cold shower story! Partially because a camera slip may get my account banned, but more so because I enjoy the stillness aspect of cold training.


However, as I mentioned in #4… variety is important and cold showers are definitely an area I can improve on.


Look out for another 30-day challenge. I’m sure you can guess the activity… ;-)



Looking to explore what the cold can do for you or to mix up your training from cold showers to an ice bath? Join me at an upcoming workshop or contact me about private training.


Like me to teach at your gym, studio, workplace or backyard? Contact me


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