I love to run. The freedom, the extra oxygen pumping through my veins – it’s just me and the road. After my daughter was born, I was anxious start running again. I needed to find a way to bring my love for running into my daughter’s life.
If you are a runner and have a new baby; you are probably missing the road. The last stages of pregnancy, hormone and body changes and a crying infant are often stumbling blocks. One way to avoid these issues is to learn how to run with a stroller. Many moms (and dads) are nervous and have questions about technique, safety, how your baby will cope, when to start and so much more.
Tip #1 – Pick a Stroller that Meets Your Needs
The stroller you got as a baby gift is not going to cut it for running. The typical stroller has four wheels and is designed for “strolling”. What you need is a jogging stroller. It has 3 wheels and bigger tires for more stability and comfort. If you are a daily runner, wanting to use more difficult terrains, you will need to spend a little more. A couple of key features will make your run more enjoyable.
Front Wheel: The front wheel should be free moving and locking. It is much easier to run if the front wheel is locked into place. If the tire hits a crack it is not going to pivot and pull the stroller to the side.
Weight Limit: It is wise to purchase a stroller with a higher weight limit. Some strollers have weight limits up to 75 lbs so they can handle your child as they grow.
Canopy: Some strollers have a very small canopy that will not protect your child from the elements. Choose a stroller that has a full canopy protecting them from the sun, rain, and extra stimulation.
Tip #2 – Getting Started
The biggest obstacles I encounter as a runner are my own expectations. Running with a stroller is different than running on your own. Big tip here is to give yourself some grace as you learn and get stronger.
Start at a Fast Walk: By starting at a fast walk you will be able to gradually ease into the higher physical demands of running with a stroller. Another advantage is that you will have time to get to know your stroller, where the brakes are, how the stroller handles inclines and uneven ground.
Baby Comfort: Not only will you need to adjust to running with a stroller, but your baby will need to adjust as well. Bumps, inclines and declines can cause your baby motion sickness. Look for signs, such as vomiting, sweating or pale skin. Over stimulation can be an issue for some children but
pulling your canopy down can alleviate that.
Take it easy to start and that will make it a more enjoyable for both of you.
Tip #3 – Safety
Safety is an important part of making your run enjoyable.
Brakes: Different strollers come with a variety of braking styles. I prefer a hand brake. Look for one that has a wrist strap that will keep the stroller from getting away should you falter. A hand brake is very helpful during a run to slow the stroller going downhill or over uneven pathways.
Harness: Another great feature is a 5-point harness. Especially at the higher speeds of running, you want to make sure your little darling hasn’t wiggled out of their lap belt. It will provide some peace knowing your child is secure and it will be more comfortable for them.
Maintenance: Like any mechanical product, your stroller will need maintenance. Ryan Wood, from Active, suggests visual checks of tires, straps and lubrication of the shock piston as ways you can maintain your stroller.
Tip #4 – Community
One thing all runners need is encouragement and peer support.
Connect: Check out our WIMI 50 Best Women’s Running Blogs. Find a blogger whose words really speak to you, start commenting and add to the conversation. You will find tips and answers to many questions as well as encouragement from other runners.
Encourage Others: Have you been doing this for awhile and learned a few tricks? Have you found a great route? Do you want to share your successes and struggles? How about writing a blog? Don’t have time to start your own? There are many blogs looking for guest bloggers. Run Oregon is an example.
Running Organizations: Another way to engage in community is through community running associations. A great example is the Saturday Morning Bull Mountain Group Run. Every week you can meet up with other runners and follow a designated course. There are options for length and even a coffee stop along the way.
Tip #5 – Technique
Slow Down: When you’re approaching cracks, curbs or uneven terrain, slow down a little, it will allow you to maneuverer easier and ease any abrupt drops for your child.
Hands: When running, pumping your arms provides balance, forward momentum and helps with rhythm. Once you add a stroller you will notice a difference in your running. Keep at least one hand on the stroller at all times and pump with the other. Alternate arms in order to keep your form even.
Incline: Run upright with your arms at a comfortable bend. This angle will help you push the stroller uphill. If your arms are outstretched when pushing, it could put greater strain on your back. Use your thighs instead of your back muscles to help push.
Decline: Gillian Clayton, a physiotherapist says, “Keep the stroller close to your body, engage your core, and quicken your running cadence (number of steps you take per minute). Use both hands here, as you want to keep the weight distribution even on your back.”
It might take some time and practice to adjust to running with a stroller. However, with the right equipment, support and proper technique you will find this new family endeavor very rewarding.
Author Bio: Emily believes that good health means a good life. When she’s not running or spending time with her three-year-old daughter, she brings athletic advice to the world through WIMI Fitness’s blog. Her company, WIMI Fitness, brings innovative athletic solutions to tennis players, runners and active people.