The last few days since recovering from the stomach bug have been discouraging. We got some fresh snow about the time I finished the Scott Carney book, and was encouraged to go run in the snow barefoot in the Week 6 video (of the 10-week online course). Further, Scott recalls in the book about his first few days of his WHM retreat standing in the snow. I thought it would be swell time to try it out.
My goal was to stand 5 minutes in the snow. I tried doing a horse-stance and breathing the way Wim does, but I ran out of leg strength after about 2 minutes. So instead I just focused on breathing and standing relatively straight. The pain was actually excruciating after 3-4 minutes. I didn’t think I’d make it to five minutes. When the time was finally up, I hobbled inside the house and tried to dry off my feet, but they were stinging like crazy. I laid on the carpet trying to swear warmth back into them. After many minutes I decided to walk over to a floor vent blowing warm air to accelerate the process.
Scott recounts in his book doing 6 minutes the first day, but then he said the next day they stood 15 minutes before getting to that point, and for an hour a few days after taht. So fear not, this gets better!
Except it didn’t. The next day I did the same thing. I almost didn’t make it to five minutes! But I did get to take my daughter out to experience her first snow!
I stumbled back inside and swore a lot again, trying to will away the pain. I am fairly certain that they recovered a little faster than the day before, but that’s hardly encouraging! I think I might have to go for a real run to get the blood flowing properly.
Beyond failing at the immediate task, this gave me a terrifying realization: direct skin contact with 32 deg surfaces is an order of magnitude more challenging than I expected. I can stand in a 48 deg shower for 10+ minutes without issue. I kind of assumed that 32 deg water would just be a moderately more difficult task. Except it seems like a different game altogether. Resisting the cold and shivering is one thing. Tolerating the burning pain is entirely different and an unexpected challenge.
I probably could’ve deduced this from any of the 100 times per year I handle ice cubes and feel the burn/sting from holding it too long. And to be fair, it still takes a few minutes for that intense burning to really kick in.
If I had to guess how this is going to go, I would say that this is not as bad as I’m expecting naively. It is just another obstacle that needs to be overcome through practice and conditioning. Expose myself to ice water enough, my body will acclimate to dealing with it. Just like the feet [are supposed to] do. I had felt quite accomplished that I had “gotten over the hump” with respect to the shock and suffering of 48 deg cold showers. I suspect that getting to this next level is another hump, and unfortunately a much bigger hump.