This past weekend, I pumped up the tires of my trusty running stroller, packed snacks for my five year old, and told him we were going for a run. It had been over a year since I had used the running stroller, and I missed it. A lot. That may sound crazy, but it’s true. I have loved running with a stroller for more than ten years.
Why? A few simple reasons:
- FACT: The running stroller has been one of the main keys to my success at losing weight after babies.
- FACT: Running with a stroller has provided me with great bonding time with my kids.
- FACT: It’s enabled me to meet and connect with other moms and kids.
- FACT: The running stroller has helped me juggle running and triathlon training with life and motherhood.
It’s been one of my essential tools for fitness, motherhood, and life. It’s as simple as that.
Now, after more than 10 years of running with a stroller, my kids are bigger and older, but they still beg to get in the thing! This past weekend, I had a 10 mile run on the schedule, my 5.5 year old was totally wired, so I said — “let’s go!”— and pumped up the tires. He’s over 44 pounds and his little legs hung off the end of the stroller, but it was a great workout and we had a blast.
Throughout the ten years I’ve learned a few things about running with a stroller, so I thought I’d share some tips!
10 Tips For Running With a Stroller
1. Pack the Snacks! I over-pack the snacks, actually. One thing I love about running with a stroller is the pockets. I can stuff snacks in pockets and baskets and pull them out throughout the run. I never give the whole snack bag to the kid at the beginning – they either drop it on the ground or eat it all at the beginning of the run, so pace the snacks. When my kids were younger, I would time the run with their bottle of milk or snacktime – so they could lean back in the stroller, relax, and feed themselves.
2. Bribery is legit. Snacks, toys, a little treat – we are not above bribery to get through a stroller run with a happy kid! There’s nothing worse than heading out to enjoy a happy run with your child and being stuck with a fussy, cranky kid. I’ve used the trick of having a toy that is only for running with the stroller – so they look forward to the run so they can play with that toy. They know it lives in the stroller and it keeps them entertained since it’s not a “usual” toy.
3. Time the nap! When my kids were napping age, I would time the stroller run to coincide with naptime. They’d fall asleep and I’d have a peaceful, enjoyable run. A win-win for all.
4. Safety first! Safety starts before the run. I took the recommendations on when to start running with a stroller seriously, and didn’t run too early with the little babies. I always buckle them in, and I use the wrist strap to make sure the stroller doesn’t roll away from me down a hill if my hands get sweaty and slippery. I try to alternate which hand holds the strap throughout the run.
At the Timex ONE Relay in 2014, photo courtesy of Timex
5. Check your gear. Pump up the tires, check the brakes, and make sure everything is A-OK before you go. I always run with my cell phone in the stroller console in case of emergency so make sure it’s charged up. I had an incident where I was grabbed/groped while running with the stroller, and was glad to have my phone in the console. And I always bring this little guy’s Epipen.
6. Think of THEIR weather. I get really warm when I run, but my kids do not! They’re just sitting there, catching a breeze. I try to stuff layers in the bottom basket, but remember to dress them in a layer more than I would want.A blanket can be tricky – I’ve had blankets come loose and get tangled in the wheel so I only use it if I can tuck it around the baby/child.
Also, remember sunscreen and a hat for the child on sunny days.
Throwback! This is me with my daughter, running with a stroller on Cape Cod in 2008! She’s now 11 years old and almost 5 feet tall – time flies!
7. Good form is key. I used to noticed that when I ran solo after a lot of stroller running, I was hunched over, especially going up hills. Uh oh! This is not ideal. Try to maintain good running form when you’re running with the stroller – stay upright, keep a light touch on the handlebars (no death grips!), and remember to hit the ground the same way you run without a stroller.
8. Use your core. One great thing about running with a stroller is that you get a total body workout – your legs, your cardio, your upper body, and – if you do it right – your core. Using your core can prevent injury, help you maintain that good running form, help you push the stroller up hills effectively, and help you keep control going down hills.
At the Timex ONE Relay, photo courtesy of Timex
9. Pace yourself. Don’t try to go all-out on a stroller run. You’re working extra muscles, your core, and often interacting with a child while running – basically you’re exerting yourself more than on a typical solo run. Adjust your expectations for pace, and try not to kill yourself for this one run.
This was AFTER the 10-mile run on Saturday!
10. Savor these moments. It may be hard to imagine when you’re pushing a heavy stroller while a kid asks you 3,457 questions about Star Wars, or the baby is crying, but believe me – this time will pass by quickly. Eventually my oldest was too big for the stroller, then my middle, and sometime soon I’ll have to retire the running stroller for good. I have ten years of happy memories pushing three different kids through many areas and we’ve had some great bonding moments and conversations along the way! Smile and just enjoy – you won’t regret this time together!
This was after a running stroller “relay” – they fought for who would go so I took one at a time!
One extra suggestion I have that isn’t really a “tip”, but was a useful tool to getting in my run:
Combine your errands! I love that the stroller has a nice big basket. I’ve taken my son out for a run, gotten some groceries, and run home. And… maybe stuffed a bottle of wine in the back pocket too!
I love running with a stroller and I’m going to do it as long as I can! I feel stronger, healthier, and more bonded with my children after these experiences, and it’s been a key component to my weight loss and transformation into a runner and triathlete!
Now I’m a little bummed thinking that my time running with a stroller might be coming to an end in the next couple of years! Maybe I can offer my fussy-baby-fixing services to friends and family and take their kids out for a run.
Check out Ways for Busy Moms to Fit in Exercise!
Have you ever run with a running stroller? What keeps your child happy?