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Žan Černe
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Wellbeing & Growth ·

UAE Ice Baths and the Power of Experimentation

I’ve been following the Tour de France for the past few years. This year, the race hasn’t disappointed, but in the early stages, the UAE team “shocked” everyone by using ice baths to cool down their riders right after each stage. A lot of people were curious about the reason for this.

Tadej in Ice Bath

Due to such curiosity, UAE medical director Adriano Rotunno eased our doubts by stating, “It’s just simple cooling with an ice bath, nothing fancy. We’re not using prolonged submersion because that’s for sure proven to be non-beneficial to recovery and performance. It’s purely to cool down body temperature. It’s an acute submersion; we go in and out for less than a minute at a healthy temperature. It’s not intended for recovery or performance but is more based on just allowing the rider to feel better after the stage. We don’t do prolonged submersions, because the longer the submersion, the more deleterious it is to performance. We follow performance-based evidence in this team, and we’re doing it purely at the request of the riders.”

Top performance teams (in other sports as well) are investing so much in science-based protocols to gain just a small edge over their competitors. It’s really inspiring to me how we can constantly improve our protocols in our own lives as well.

Today, I’ve learned about the 5-hour rule, which is defined by spending at least an hour a day (thus five hours a week) learning new things or practicing your skills. Such activities can include:

Rapid experimentation is something I’ve been doing in multiple aspects of my life, including in well-being, physical exercise, finance, and more. Starting with small experiments can help you start new habits and change your routine. By trying out new things on a weekly or monthly basis, it allows us to learn from those experiences, keep what’s working, and change what’s not. I’ve found such experimentation really valuable.

Here are some of my experiments that I remember off the top of my head: issue log, yearly goals, weekly action items, gratitude journal, and more. I might explain some of these in the future.

Most of the time, I start such experiments by writing a specific goal and actions I want to take on a simple note. Then, I plan the actions using a calendar and to-do app. Later, I reflect on my experience and make a decision for future actions - I might decide to modify the goal or the actions, or abandon the experiment completely.

What we saw with the UAE’s ice baths is a form of experimentation, trying to optimize their routines to more easily achieve their goals, make their riders perform better. To me, this is inspiring, and I’m so happy I’m doing some experiments and trying to improve myself. I haven’t started with the 5-hour rule, but I might give it a try - especially since I enjoy reading and learning about new things.

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