Many sites review bikes, shoes, and wetsuits but this series of reviews for some of the not so common accessories that we have found useful when training for a triathlon. Each article in the series aims to find unique ways to break up the monotony of training recovery a triathlon. Check out the others in the unlikely training tools series.
Why Is a GE Opal Pellet Ice Machine Useful for Training
The GE Opal pellet ice machine is a surprisingly helpful gadget to have around when training. On the surface it is a high priced way to get ice that is all the rage for any drink. But as an athlete that is training it is also ideal for after workout icing. The pellet ice can be packed in a ziplock bag and more easily contours to the body, and doesn’t have sharp edges.
Pellet ice packs are much easier to form onto your body than standard ice cube tray ice packs. Many schools and commercial training rooms will have industrial size versions of this type of ice maker for exactly this reason. Objectively, pellet ice is much better for creating ice packs to be used on sore muscles or injuries. Although the Opal machine has a limited reservoir size, it is a sufficient size to create two to three moderate sized ice packs. After a long run or ride the benefit of icing is lost if the ice pack winds up hovering above your body instead of being applied to the sore muscle area.
Since the size of reservoir is limited you can empty the contents into a bag before doing a workout, then throw that bag in a standard freezer. Over the course of an hour the pellet ice will stay intact in the freezer without forming into a block. This way you can get multiple ice packs out of it. Done correctly you can setup a secondary reservoir for a lot more ice since the machine is capable of making up to a pound of ice an hour.
The other overlooked benefit of pellet ice is that it will easily fit in any water bottle, even with a small opening. Many times we have tried to put ice into a standard water bottle for a bike ride and wound up having to chisel down the contents of a common ice tray. Alternately you can freeze an entire bottle, which is nice when. going on a long hot ride, but when you want a sip but nothing has melted yet it becomes an annoyance.
A final hack of training when using the pellet ice is the ability to throw a scoop of ice into a pocket or hat. When running in peak weather, a small handful of ice tossed under a running buff or hat turns it into a cooling pellet ice pack.
Favorite Feature of GE Opal Pellet Ice – Pellet Ice Packs
Given the above description, it should come as no surprise that the favorite feature of the Opal ice machine is it’s ability to help make pellet ice packs. These wind up getting daily use during our training blocks, and make it easier to establish the good habit of doing your best to properly recovery and treat issues before they get out of hand.
The Opal is not the only ice machine that can be used to create pellet ice packs. There are other less expensive machines that make nugget ice and are sized to be used in the home. Any of the common counter top nugget ice and pellet ice makers will also serve this same function. The crunchy chewy ice makers are a good option and similar ice packs can be created out of them. If you are looking to implement these in your training (even if it’s just an excuse to get one for drinks), then look for ice makers that produce small ice with no sharp edges.