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You have had the baby and recovered (somewhat) from the newborn days and now you are ready to get running again. But you need to bring baby along for the ride. Here are five tips to rock stroller running like a pro – and keep baby happy to boot!
TIP #1 Invest in a quality running stroller
Now is not the time for plastic wheels. You need a good running stroller both for your sake and for your little one. Features to look for in a running stroller include:
- Real wheels – similar to bike wheels that need to be inflated. These will help you through all terrains and make a smoother ride for the baby.
- Three-wheeled versus four. This will allow you to turn easier while going at faster speeds.
- Transitional. Running strollers don’t come cheap, so make sure to get one that will grow with your baby into toddler-hood.
- Weather-proof material. You may not mind a little rain or cold – but your baby does! Look for a stroller that has a hood that can come down and cover your little's legs and that is rain resistant – a wet baby is NOT a happy baby.
Personally, I have LOVED my both of my BOB strollers (yes – I have the single and the double and I use them both regularly). They are a little heavy but I have run and raced with both and like that they have a smooth ride for the kids, have a weather shield that comes all the way over their feet, and it is still narrow enough to fit through a standard doorway. An added bonus is the handle bar is adjustable, which is super helpful when you and your husband have a foot difference in height. One thing to keep in mind is that the BOB does better at speeds less than a 7-minute mile. I have found that if I go faster than that the tires will spin out or I will start to get air over bumps (which my rowdy boys find funny but would probably scare most kids).
Bonus trick for running with a BOB: Add some weight when the kids are under 25 pounds – the stroller will be able to handle higher speeds if there is more weight in it.
TIP#2 Adjust your form
I am a stickler for form when I am coaching people to run. But you can’t keep normal running form when you are pushing a stroller, especially once the kids start to weigh a bit more. So what to do?
For flat running try to keep as normal of a form as possible. If you have a quality stroller you should only have to have a light touch and push to keep it going on a flat surface. I like to keep one hand lightly on the stroller and the other one pumping when I am on flat ground.
For going downhill, you will need to lean back. Normally I would tell you to let gravity pull you down the hill and take the advantage – but NOT when you have precious cargo in tow. Hold onto the stroller with both hands and lean back a bit to make sure that you keep control going down the hill.
For going uphill, push push push! But seriously this is when you realize that running with a stroller is NOT an advantage. You will need to have both hands on the handle bar, look down toward the front of the stroller and push it. If needed, walk up the hill so you have the stamina to get through the rest of your run.
TIP#3 Don’t use the stroller as a crutch
We aren’t at the skating rink learning to skate – don’t lean on the stroller! Strollers are meant to be pushed and pulled, but if you put too much downward weight on the stroller it will tip backward, which will actually mean you are working harder to get it to go forward. It can be really tempting to rest your arms on the stroller but this is terrible for your form and for your run performance. Don’t do it.
TIP#4 Bring Entertainment
When the kids were little I would time my runs around nap time so I could make sure I could get in a good 40 minutes of quiet running. But as my oldest hit toddler age, he wasn’t feeling the nap during the run. Now, I have a few videos downloaded to my phone, snacks, and a small toy ready to keep the kids happy during the run (I know mom fail on screen time – but I am a better mom if I get my run in so trade-offs!). If you are really against letting the kids watch Mickey Mouse while you run, then download some kid tunes and have them playing. You can also talk and sing to them yourself – but this gets hard on the hills in my experience!
TIP#5 Learn to roll with it
Let’s get real – you are not going to get a personal record or qualify for the Boston Marathon running with your stroller. Do NOT put high performance expectations on your stroller runs. Remember, it is AMAZING that you are getting out there and running (that goes for dad and mom). There will be a time and place for speed work and race training, but your stroller run should be about getting your running fix in while also getting to spend time with the kids. They are little sponges at this stage, and including them in your run routine will teach them to have a healthy appreciation for exercise – and maybe even become little runners themselves! Enjoy these runs with your kids and give yourself a pat on the back for getting out there.