Running can be one of the best forms of exercise for moms. You need no equipment besides your running shoes, and you can do it right out your front door. No gym membership required.
Running brings moms a sense of peace, strength and confidence, especially vital during the crazy early years of motherhood. As long as you have a good jogging stroller, you have the option to bring the kids along too, so you can get your run in during the day or anytime it works with your family’s schedule. No childcare required.
So what tips should you keep in mind when running with a stroller?
A stroller specifically made for jogging will benefit both you and your little one with more stability, shocks, better wheels and, in many cases, better maneuverability. I have always jogged with a BOB® Revolution® SE, which is also the recommended stroller by Fit4Mom – Stroller Strides moms and instructors around the country. Our local moms of Stroller Strides of Raleigh and Raleigh Running Mamas really love it as well. It’s very light, easy to push and run with, and has the option of a fixed or swivel front wheel.
Keep in mind that BOB has the option to add an adapter for an infant car seat, so you can walk with your baby in the stroller as soon as you’re ready. It is not recommended that you jog with your stroller when an infant car seat is attached or before your baby is strong enough.
Be sure to read over your stroller’s manual for tips on how it should be set up properly. For example the BOB Duallie® has different settings for the shocks based on the weight of your children. And don’t forget to periodically check the air in your tires — properly filled tires make for a smoother ride!
Setting your expectations
For jogging or off-road stroller use, BOB recommends that children should be at least 8 months old. Children develop at different rates, so before you run with your baby in the stroller, talk to your doctor. There are a lot of unseen bumps, rocks and holes out there that can really jar the stroller and your baby when you’re running. Ensure that your child is strong enough for the exciting stroller adventures ahead.
Running with a stroller IS a tougher workout, so it’s good to go into your run knowing that mentally in advance. Many runners find they are anywhere from 20 to 60 seconds per mile slower when jogging with a stroller, especially a double stroller. But, as long as you have that expectation when you start, you shouldn’t let that bother you. You also may find you’ll stop more often to help the kids, provide snacks or pick up things that they’ve dropped. So keep that in mind for your total workout time.
On the pro side, your little one gets a chance for fresh air, lots to look at, and the example of mom working out. The stroller is also useful during a run because you can STORE lots of stuff — water, keys, sunglasses, phone, kids toys and snacks, etc, and you’ll be burning more calories when pushing the stroller because you’re working harder!
Allow time to adjust to running with the stroller
If you have run at all in the past and are now starting to run with the stroller, you may find that you feel pretty awkward for the first couple of weeks. That is normal! Your body must adjust in many ways to get used to the mechanics of running with a stroller, and you may even find that you have some initial soreness in your arms and upper body as you get used to it. Don’t write off running with the stroller immediately, give yourself some time and you should get used to it shortly.
Avoid the death grip! And maintain good stroller posture
A common mistake when people start running with a stroller is to grab onto the handlebar with a super-tight “death grip” of sorts, which can result in sore forearms, wrists, and even neck muscles. Plus, it’s a waste of energy. Yes, your baby is precious cargo, but a relaxed grip on the stroller handle is all that you need and will help you maintain better form. Plus, you can and should use the wrist strap for safety, especially going downhill.
Other Best Practices:
- Maintain an upright posture
- Pull in your abdominal muscles tight
- Roll your shoulders down and back
- Keep the stroller close to you, instead of leaning forward and pushing too far in front of you
- Relax your wrists and keep them neutral
Yes, you can still swing your arm!
Believe it or not, you will actually run more comfortably by just holding the stroller with ONE arm and letting your other arm swing freely. At first, many running moms, in addition to the “death grip,” try to hold on tightly with both hands constantly, but that can ultimately throw off your gait and bring on more tension in your shoulders and back.
Try one arm at a time and you’ll likely get used to it and prefer that option. Aim to alternate which arm you are pushing with though, periodically throughout your run, so as not to gain a muscle imbalance.
Keeping the kids happy in the stroller
So what can your little ones do while you are running with the stroller?
- Nap!! Especially for the first 6 to 9 months or so, some moms plan runs around nap time. A portable white noise machine can be useful if your baby usually naps with white noise or if you are worried about waking.
- Watch the world. With preschoolers, play a game of “I Spy” or try to find certain colors or items in nature as you run.
- Snack. Always popular during a run or a workout like Stroller Strides! Once your little one is sitting up on her own and eating finger foods, snack trap containers are a great way to keep them busy in the strollers. Fill it with Puffs or Cheerios and it’s tough to make a mess, but baby can happily snack. For older kids, consider bringing an apple that they can munch on for a while as they watch the scenery go by.
- Look at books. Popular at all ages.
- Play with toys. Stroller toys that hook onto the harnesses keep them from being thrown or dropped. Some moms keep toys aside specifically for playing with in the stroller so their child sees then as new and exciting.
- And of course, gadgets such as the phone, tablets, Innotab or Leapster! Once your child is old enough to play with certain apps or games by themselves, you may find it’s actually EASIER to bring them for a run because they are happy to watch a show or play a game in the stroller.
- Finally, if you are training for a specific race and plan to run with your stroller often, you may want to bring your little one along for your final Race Day event as well! Many 5K races and a few 10Ks allow strollers, so check the guidelines and consider pushing your running buddy across the finish line with you!
Article first appeared on WRAL’s Go Ask Mom