6 Cool-Down Hacks to Beat the Heat During Hot Summer Runs

Like many runners, I spend each cold season counting the days until spring. Running in the cold is not my forte, so the warm weather is always a nice welcome.

But now that summer is here, the extreme heat and humidity can make it difficult to do any form of outdoor exercise—let alone running.

Running somewhere warm and humid can compound this problem and the longer you stay overheated, the more likely you’re going to start sweating through your clothes again as soon as you dry off and get dressed.

This usually happens to me when I run before work or during my lunch break—and I really hate it.

If this describes you, then you know what I’m talking about.

I want to assure you that you’re not alone, and definitely, there’s still hope for you.

Without further ado, here are six simple measures you can take right away to help you stay cool and ward off heat-related issues when running in the summer.

1. Pre-Cool Before the Run

This is something I started doing this past summer, and as far as I can tell, it works like a charm.

Pre-cooling (just as it sounds) stands for a set of strategies that help slightly lower core body temperature before a workout.

The premise is simple: the cooler your body temperature is pre-exercise, the longer it takes to start sweating. That, in turn, prolongs the amount of time you can run hard before reaching that critical temperature threshold.

Don’t take my word for it as plenty of research backs this up. According to a study published in Sports Medicine, pre-cooling not only regulates body temperature during training but also improves performance. What’s not to like!

Instead of setting out in the sun before you run, take any of the following pre-cooling tactics:

  • Hydrate with cold drinks at least two hours before your run.
  • Try cooling garments. These are clothes designed to help lower body temperature
  • Take a cold shower. Soak your hair and leave it dripping wet.
  • Sit in an air-conditioned room or next to a fan.

2. Let It Sweat

When your body temperature rises (like, say, during a run on a hot summer day), you’ll begin to sweat to keep it down.

More specifically, your nervous system activates the sweat glands to release perspiration, which keeps your body temperature stable. This is a normal bodily function known as thermoregulation.

In other words, sweating is what keeps your body from overheating. And it’s essential.

Here’s what you need to do: invest in a proper cool-down. You got to let your body sweat it off.

First, walk for a few minutes while taking deep breaths to allow your respiration and heart rate to come down back to normal. Next, perform a few stretches for at least ten minutes.

Here’s what I usually do. I gradually reduce my pace into an effortless walk, then I look for shade, sit on the grass, take my trainers off, and stretch for 10 to 15 minutes. I also make sure I have a water bottle with me. After 15 minutes of this, I cease sweating profusely, then I go inside and shower.

See, it’s really simple.  Doing so not only helps you prevent getting the gross post-shower sweats, but also avoid dizziness, improve flexibility, and speed up recovery.

3. Drink Your Water

To make sure your body is sweating properly, you’d need to keep it well hydrated. The fact is, devoid of fluids, your body won’t be able to sweat as efficiently, which, in turn, makes it harder to regulate core temperature.

Not only that, the more you sweat, the more fluids you lose, which puts you at a higher risk of dehydration, making you more prone to heat stroke and heat exhaustion—two conditions to avoid when exercising in the summer.

To avoid the dreaded condition, drink plenty of water before, during, and after your runs. Therefore, drink at least 8 to 12 ounces at least 30 minutes before any exercise, so your sweating systems are in tip-top shape.

On long runs—anything exceeding 60 minutes—make sure to carry water with you in a water belt or pouch,  or plan out your run course along water fountains, gas stations, city parks, etc. Try to down another 8 to 12 ounces per every 20 minutes you’re exercising—or even more, depending on your own needs and preferences.

For the full guide to proper hydration, check my post here.

4. Take A Cold Shower

Once you’re done sweating and stretching, jump in the shower. This is by far the most effective way to swiftly put out the fire that’s your body following a strenuous summer workout.

Nonetheless, avoid the temptation to fight one extreme with another. Taking the cold plunge can be a little shocking to your body—and you don’t want that. Not only that,  once you get out of the cold shower, your body may, in fact, generate an excess of heat to compensate for the sudden loss.

To stay comfortable, start with tepid water, then gradually turn the temperature down as you get used to it. Lukewarm water is more comfortable and just as effective at helping you bring core temperature down.

5. Put Ice on Pulse

For a more focused cooling down approach, try placing ice packs or running cold water on the back of your neck, wrists, chest, abdomen or feet for up to 30 seconds each.

Why and how this works is no mystery. Applying the cold to these pulse points can help you bring down your core temperature quickly since large quantities of blood run close to the surface of these areas. By cooling down your blood, you’ll drastically cool the rest of your body.

Just be careful. Do not put it directly on your skin since this can result in painful ice burn. And you don’t want that. Instead, wrap your ice in a gel ice pack or a towel.

6. Listen To Your Body

Although the above strategies are all you need to bring your core temperature down following a hot run, don’t be surprised if your body still hasn’t fully cooled down.

Err on the side of caution and make sure to listen to your body throughout. If you notice any symptoms of heat-related illness, stop your run. That’s the cardinal rule, especially while running in the summer when the risks of heat strokes and/or heat exhaustion are the highest.

Symptoms of heat-related illness include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Extreme Fatigue
  • Intense Headache
  • Increased heart rate
  • Confusion
  • Muscle cramps
  • Trouble breathing
  • Low blood pressure

Ignore these red flags and your condition may worsen, requiring medical intervention. And you don’t want that.

Conclusion

Now it’s your turn. Do you have any favorite summer-cooling strategies and tactics you’d like to share with us?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.

In the meantime, thank you for dropping by.

Keep Running Strong

David D

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