Cold Shower Therapy Challenge

Dare: Take a cold shower for 30 days straight.

My buddy, Stephen, was over the other night, and we were talking about motivation (or lack thereof) for running the Richmond Half Marathon in November. He was online searching for motivation, but instead, found someone who told him that’s NOT what he needed.

What he needed was: DISCIPLINE.

Stephen found Joel Runyon’s site, ImpossibleHQ, and read about his Cold Shower Therapy technique. It wasn’t a lack of motivation that was worrying Stephen. It was a lack of discipline. And 30 days of cold showers would help him find the discipline he was missing.

So, naturally, I joined him for the challenge. I’ll be tracking my progress each day, and publishing my thoughts below.

I’d love for you to join us. We’re a few days in, but it’s never too late. Get a buddy to do it with you, and check-in with each other every day to hold yourselves accountable. When you do it, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Day 1 – 8/6/13

I actually showered twice today. Double whammy.

  • I hesitated before I even turned the shower on. Just knowing what I had to do was playing tricks on my mind.
  • When I first got in, I only let my lower legs get wet. I felt the need to ease into it.
  • I washed my hair first (as I always do), but still only let my head get wet. Thinking this would mean less time for my full body to be in cold water.
  • When I finally got everything wet… yeah, it was uncomfortably cold.
  • I moved much faster than normal, and washed quickly. I actually stayed under the water the whole time, washing & rinsing all at the same time… to save time.
  • When I went to turn the water off, I definitely tried turning the hot water dial. Nope.

Overall, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I (sort of) got used to it after the first minute. It was still uncomfortable, but not as bad as that first shock when you jump in.

Day 2 – 8/7/13

Water seemed colder today. I did do a 7-mile run this morning, before my shower, so maybe my body temperature was elevated, making the water seem colder?

I was curious how much faster I was moving, so I timed myself today. Started the clock when I turned the water on, and stopped it when I turned it off.


I’ve never timed myself taking a normal shower, so I don’t have that to compare. But I’m pretty sure 3:50 is considerably faster than normal.

Just long enough to listen to Sara Bareilles’ hit single, Brave. Which, aside from being AWESOME, I also find it quite ironic.

Day 3 – 8/8/13

I had to take two showers this morning because off my workout and massage schedule.

The first one, I jumped right in. Full body completely wet, from the get-go. It was rough. I made quite a few strange noises that could have been mistaken for two horses having sex. Nope… just Dave taking a cold shower.

The second one, I acted like a little baby. Only got my feet wet at first. And instead of putting my body under the water before I soaped up, I stood at the back, splashing water on me with my hands. Embarrassing.

I didn’t submerge my body until it was time to rinse. Great morning of workouts and massage. Rough morning of showers.

Day 4 – 8/9/2013

Quickest. Shower. Ever. And it didn’t even feel cold.

The secret: Have something important that you have to do in 5 minutes. Don’t even think about what you’re doing. The only you think about is that you need to be done in 2 minutes so that you can be ready for the important thing in 5 minutes.

Day 5 – 8/10/2013

A few friends have brought into question the health benefits of cold showers… or lack thereof. I did a little research—and of course, by that, I mean googling—and I found an easy to read & comprehensive article outlining the health benefits of taking cold showers.

Turns out… there’s quite a few 🙂

Day 6 – 8/11/2013

A good friend of mine made an interesting, but seemingly obvious, comment to me about my cold shower challenge. He said, “Do the same thing in January.”

It hadn’t dawned on me, but right now, the water is only as cold as the pipes & ground that it’s sitting in. Which, in the summer time in Virginia… isn’t all that cold. But in January it would be freezing.

Touché, my friend. Touché.

Not sure if I’ll be doing this again in January, but perhaps I’ll try one shower just to feel the difference.

Days 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 – through 8/18/2013

Haven’t been keeping track every day, but nothing eventful has happened. I took 2 cold showers in a hotel in VA Beach, but they were the same as at home.

They’re certainly not getting any warmer. And they’re still uncomfortable, even after being in it for 5 minutes.

Days 14, 15, 16, 17 – through 8/22/2013

Nope. Still not getting warmer. And I’m still thinking about them before I get in. I know they are more comfortable if I just jump right in, but I’m still getting the feet wet first.

Then taking a deep breath.

Then reciting some jibberish out loud to psych myself up.

And thennnn getting completely wet.

Is this really what discipline feels like?

Day 18 – 8/23/2013

I cheated for the first time in over 20 showers. I took a warm one.

I spent the day in Charleston, SC, and we were on the beach for a few hours. I got burnt. So that night when I jumped in the shower, I had a decision to make. Stick with the challenge, show some discipline & get another cold shower… or do the comfortable thing and turn a little warm water on. I opted for comfort. And to be honest, it didn’t take me long at all to come to the decision. Not did I feel that bad about it.

Does this make me any less disciplined than the guy who took nothing but cold ones for 30 days? Many would say yes. A few might say no. I say… let’s see how I handle the remaining days of the challenge.

Day 20 – 8/25/2013

I cheated again. After a long weekend in Charleston, lots of drama, 5 hours of intoxicated sleep, and a six hour car ride home… I really wanted a comfortable shower on Sunday night when I returned to Richmond. So I took one.

Did I have some rough circumstances? Sure. Does that justify me cheating again? Absolutely not. They are excuses. And with millions of people in this world that don’t even have clean water, let alone a hot water heater, they are poor excuses.

Looks like I didn’t bounce back as strong as I had hoped from my slip up a few days ago.

Days 21, 22, 23 – through 8/28/2013

They were all cold ones, but I acted like a baby for all of ’em. I’m still thinking about it too much, and inching my way into it, one limb at a time.

Day 24 – 8/29/2013

Cheated again. I had a massage this morning for the first time in 3 weeks. I’m used to getting one every week, but had missed the last two because I was out of town. Again, not that that’s a legit excuse, but I just really wanted to take my time & have a comfortable shower. I also had a meeting at 10:30 this morning.

All those things played into my decision. But at the end of the day… I’m still a cheater.

Days 25, 26 – through 8/31/2013

Nailed it.

Bounced back strong from my third cheat yesterday. I was pretty hard on myself for cheating again, so I wanted to ‘man up’ and finish this challenge the way it started… with COLD SHOWERS.

Jumped right in. Mind over matter. Let’s finish this thing out strong.

Days 27, 28, 29 – through 9/3/2013

Nothing special, here. Jumped in. Cleaned up. Jumped out.

Day 30 – 9/4/2013

The final day. Honestly, I had so much on my mind as I jumped in, I almost forgot I was taking a cold shower. This was one of the few times — if not, the ONLY time — that the water really NEVER felt cold.

So, if I had to use a sports analogy…

I ended up with a record of 27-3 (27 cold showers, 3 warm ones). That’s good enough to get you into the playoffs, but if you turn the ball over 3 times in the Championship Game, you’re probably not walking away with the title.

A good performance, solid display of discipline, but I could’ve done better, for sure.

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