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Summer is here—and it’s hot (like breaking global records hot). Running in the summer heat is no joke and can make every mile feel like a marathon. When you finish running, you want and need to cool off fast. If you don’t have access to a pool or the chillest air conditioning unit, try one of these expert tips to help your body return to a comfortable temperature.
Stay Cool on the Run
Sorry to start off with an obvious one, but one way to beat the heat is to avoid it. Sometimes that’s easier said than done, but if you don’t let yourself overheat you won’t need strategies to cool down.
If you can’t get out and run in the wee hours of the morning before the heat takes over, there are some other measures you can take to cool your body down before you step outside. Try to sit in the air-conditioning, drink plenty of water to make sure you’re hydrated before starting your run, or wet your head with cool water or a damp bandana.
Sports medicine physician Jennifer Bontreger is well-versed in treating athletes in the heat as a Texas-based practitioner. And she has worked as the sideline physician at several marathon first aid stations. Her biggest tip for cooling off quick: Drench yourself.
“If somebody is coming into the tent and they’re starting to exhibit some signs of heat related illness, we’ll try to cool them off that way—really kind of drenching them with fans on.”
If your hot run ends at home, that can mean hopping into the shower right away. If a cold shower is too much start out with lukewarm water and then alternate spurts of colder water. You’ll get the same cool-down effect and be able to stay in the shower long enough to actually wash your hair.
Another quick option: Keep a spray bottle full of water in your refrigerator. After your run, mist your face with the cool H20 for an instant pick-me-up and cool down. Try adding cucumber to the water for a refreshing kick your skin will love.
Don’t Skip the Cool-Down Stretching
Even though you may be dying for a shower, it’s crucial to finish your workout with a cool down. Be sure to walk for a few minutes followed by some stretching to allow your heart rate to come down so you won’t keep sweating post-shower.
Change Your Clothes
If you’re not showering immediately (and are in the privacy of your own home), strip out of those sweaty clothes to keep them from trapping the heat. Once you do shower, give yourself a quick pat but then lose the towel; air drying will cool your body more than wrapping yourself in a thick towel. Then get out of that steamy bathroom to continue cooling.
Make sure to incorporate some sort of recovery drink after your run to replenish the fluids and electrolytes lost from sweating. A cold drink will also help to cool you from the inside.
Looking for something more fun than water? For true ice-cold refreshment, turn your beverage into a childhood favorite: a slushy. Just fill a blender with ice, add your drink, and blend to icy perfection.
Ice Your Pulse Points
It’s an oldie but a goodie—putting an ice cube on your pulse points (think wrists and sides of your neck) or running them under cold water works well to cool you down. Since the blood vessels in those areas are close to the surface of your skin, the cold will bring your body temp down much quicker. If you don’t want to use an ice cube, wet some wash cloths and stash those in the freezer to have on hand as wrist and neck wraps post-run.
While drenching yourself is a much faster way to cool off, says Bontreger, focusing only on the pulse points will also do the trick.
Fill Your Fridge With Everyday Items
The refrigerator really is a magical piece of equipment. And there are so many other things you can stash in there that come in handy when you need to cool off.
If you still have the sweats post-shower, lower your temp while you lotion up. Store your daily moisturizer in the fridge and smooth the cold cream on your face and body for an extra moment of cool.
If you’re a night runner, try popping your pillowcase in a plastic bag and into the refrigerator before you head out. When you’re ready to go to bed, slip it on your pillow. The chilled fabric will help your body cool to the perfect temperature for sleeping.