If you are the proud recipient of a newborn bundle of joy and believe that your running will be compromised, don’t despair; there’s a jogging stroller out there with your name on it, and plenty of quality miles to be run with your child. Your running, like your life, won’t ever be quite the same, but running with a jogging stroller has numerous physical and emotional benefits.
Once you and your child are ready to venture out onto the roads and trails, remember that jogging stroller training will be much different. The key difference in running with a stroller than without one is the weight you’re pushing — and that can be a good for your fitness.
Elite coach Brad Hudson of Boulder, Colo., who trains several strolling runners, points out that every baby-jogger session should be treated as a resistance workout.
“It’s great for all your muscles — especially your core and your back,” he said. Hudson suggests working in moderate hills without the jog stroller for an added challenge once or twice a week and using the stroller on other days across flat terrain at a slow pace to aid in recovery. But Hudson tells all his new-parent runners to keep their expectations real. “Having a baby in your life is a huge adjustment, so you shouldn’t overdo any of your training at first. Go easy on yourself.”
One elite runner who can relate to this advice is American Olympian Kara Goucher. The proud mother admits strollers will definitely slow you down. “There is no way around that,” she admitted. “Then again, when you get to run a race without the stroller it will feel amazingly easy, so PRs are quite possible!”
But despite the challenges of a stroller, the benefits far outweigh the costs. Deena Kastor, the American record holder in the marathon, says the times she’d be out with her daughter Piper were often the most rewarding. “It’s great to share your running passions with your children,” she said. “Getting out with them teaches them the value of an active lifestyle at a very early age.”
Here are 5 Dos and Don’ts for Running With a Stroller
1) Don’t be disappointed by your pace
You probably assume you won’t run quite as fast with the stroller as you would without it, but you might be surprised by how slow you’ll actually go. Don’t get caught up by your pace; you’re probably pushing at least an extra 30 pounds so cut yourself some slack. But if you’re a runner who really needs to track herself, keep individual solo and stroller paces and work on improving each one separately.
2) Do pack for the apocalypse
After all the effort you put into getting you and your kid dressed and out the door, the last thing you want is to have to turn around a mile in because a little tummy is rumbling. This is where that extra planning comes into play — throw a bag of crackers or fruit and a bottle of water in the stroller basket so you can grab and distribute without breaking stride. And, as they get older, some small toys or books will go a long way when boredom (read: whining) kicks in. While you’re at it, make sure everyone makes a pit stop before you hit the road or bring a backup diaper for anyone who might need it. You may feel like a doomsday prepper but you’ll be mighty glad when you make it to mile 3 without a peep from the peanut gallery.
3) Do switch things up
You may find that it’s more comfortable pushing the stroller with one hand while pumping the other arm. That’s totally fine — just make sure you switch sides every few minutes, or you’ll end up with one very sore arm. The exception — make sure to keep both hands on deck when you’re on any kind of a downhill to avoid a runaway baby situation.
4) Don’t stay on sidewalks
If you’re lucky enough to live in a neighborhood filled with extra-wide, freshly paved sidewalks, then by all means, take advantage. But since most sidewalks have at least minor bumps, cracks or tree roots along the way that can make the ride uncomfortable and beat up your stroller, stick to the roads whenever safe, or pack up and head to a park with smooth routes. Both your stroller and your sidekick will thank you.
5) Do reap the rewards
When you’re struggling with the stroller, try and focus on the rewards coming your way. Beyond the irreplaceable time interacting with your child outdoors, running with a stroller can make you a better athlete. One of the biggest bonuses of a stroller run is that it’s a combination cardio and strength-training workout. You’re not just working your leg muscles here — your abs, shoulders and back play major roles in rolling those wheels so you’ll be rocking some muscles in no time. Another perk of all that pushing? You’ll earn some serious street cred and notice lots of nods of admiration from your fellow runners. Because almost anyone can run, but it takes a badass to stroller run.
Top Jogging Strollers
High-end, lightweight strollers with large wheels tuned specifically for running, plus stroller/bike trailer options.
Builds a variety of versatile, durable, top-of-the line strollers.
The original jogger-brand’s offerings have become more comfortable and adaptable, while still rolling smoothly and easily on big wheels.