If you have kids, you know that free time is a limited quantity. Especially with a baby, your time is not your own, and it is so easy to sacrifice your health and hobbies to make sure their needs are being met. If you’re a walker or runner, you know what this means. You can’t leave your baby alone while you run, and it seems pointless (and expensive!) to hire a babysitter for such a short amount of time.
There is a solution though. Get a jogging or running stroller and bring your baby with you. Not only can you ensure your little one is safe, but it buys you back some of the free time that you’ve been longing to have! It takes a little coordination, though, so we’ve rounded up some of the top tips to teach you how to run with a jogging or running stroller.
Benefits and Challenges of Running with a Jogging or Running Stroller
First, let’s talk benefits. There are so many great reasons to buy a stroller equipped for running (and actually use it with your child!) Of course, there are amazing health benefits for you. For the moms out there, it can help shed some of that baby weight, or just keep you healthy in general.
Health and Time
There’s also an added benefit of pushing an extra 30 or more pounds: you’ll get some strength and endurance training in too!
It can also buy some time for you and your partner to do something you enjoy while keeping your baby entertained. The baby is often lulled to sleep by the gentle motions of the stroller or entertained by nature, noises or city sounds that float into the stroller.
However, anytime you’re strapping your baby into an object that moves, you must be extremely careful to ensure his or her safety, and a jogging stroller is certainly no exception. While running strollers are created to be somewhat more agile than regular strollers, they are heavy and are hard to quickly stop. If you take a sharp turn too quickly, the stroller could easily overturn.
Plus, there’s your safety to think about too. It is easy to hunch over the handlebar and compromise your form while using a stroller, which could lead to some serious injuries.
Another thing to think about if your baby is into throwing things and you’re bringing along blankets and toys: these can easily get thrown out of the stroller and tangled up in the wheel.
Maneuverability and Awareness
Keep in mind, running with a stroller is overall more challenging than running with your own two feet. If there’s inclement weather, a poorly lit trail or you’re traversing new territory at night, remember that it’s much harder to run from danger with a 50-pound stroller.
Finally, you’ve always got to keep your head on a swivel. Even though you feel bigger and more noticeable carrying a stroller, it doesn’t guarantee that drivers and other pedestrians will see you and make room for you. If you can, stay away from busy roads and stick to the running paths you know and love.
Tips for Running with a Jogging or Running Stroller
Let’s face it. If you want to run with a baby, you’ve got to know that it’s an art form. But there are some tips and tricks that will make it easier for you and your babe.
Ensuring Baby is Ready/Running Strollers a Must Have
First, know that the Mayo Clinic advises that you don’t run with a baby before he or she is 6 months old. However, a lot of parents will tell you, it’s more like 6-8 months because you’ve got to make sure your baby can safely hold up his head. This is because most jogging strollers don’t recline.
Second, this should go without saying, you NEED stroller built for running. There is no way you can safely run with a baby in a stroller with four wheels unless it is specifically made for running. If you have no idea where to find one of these strollers, never fear! We’ll review a few of our favorites in this article. Regular strollers are made for just that: strolling. At more than a leisurely pace, using a stroller can be dangerous. Their wheels are wobbly, they’re not stable, and it would be quite a bumpy ride for your little one.
Running Form and Rhythm
Your form is still extremely important when running with a stroller, as is maintaining your pace. Reminder yourself during the run, “Run tall, keep your shoulders back! Do not lean into the stroller!”
One of the hardest parts of running with a baby jogger is figuring out your rhythm and where to put your hands. Some parents choose to run with both hands on the handlebar. Others alternate, going back and forth between pushing with their left and right arms. Finally, some parents choose to push the stroller and run to catch up with it. None of these are wrong, it’s just what works best for you.
Let’s be clear on one thing: we do not advise you to use the push and catch-up method. This is dangerous. Anytime you let the stroller out of the grip of your hands you’re taking a HUGE risk. In fact, some strollers even come with straps to wrap around your hands, so they never leave the handle. Whether you use the straps each time you run is up to you, but if your stroller has them, we suggest using those straps when going downhill.
Pace Changes and Adaptation
Whatever you do with your hands, know this: pushing a heavy stroller is going to slow your pace. A recent study shows that the added benefit of pushing the stroller can be completely washed away when a runner slows his or her pace to compensate. The study shows that you’re most likely to keep up your normal pace when pushing the stroller with both hands. Don’t get frustrated with yourself if your pace is slower, but don’t give up! Just like when you started running, you slowly got better with time. This too shall pass. Keep at it!
Baby’s Comfort and Entertainment in a Running Stroller
What’s equally important as maintaining your form is making sure your baby is happy. You will run zero miles if you have a baby that won’t stop crying. Like you would before any outing, make sure you have changed your baby’s diaper, fed her and put her in clothing that is appropriate for the weather. Also, bring a diaper bag. You never know what might happen!
If you have some toys you can attach to the stroller to entertain your baby, bring them. However, you’d be surprised how easily entertained your baby will be in the jogger as he looks around at the sights and sounds he doesn’t normally see inside your home or his daycare. Generally, though, the lulling motion of the stroller will stir your kiddo into a soft sleep. Ultimately, you know your child best. If he is a busybody, though, plan your run around a park where you can stop and let the baby out to play.
Setting Realistic Expectations when Running with a Stroller
When planning your run, be realistic. Don’t start by running a half-marathon, try a few miles and see how it goes. It’s not only going to be a challenge for you, there’s only so long your baby can be in the stroller before she gets fussy. While it differs for every runner, four to five miles is likely going to be the maximum you can go with a baby in tow.
You can train yourself and your baby to go longer distances if you build up over time. Even if you’re a long-distance runner, start out by doing just a couple of miles. Compare that pace to your normal running pace, and the next time, aim to be just a bit faster. As you get faster, start adding on more miles. This will acclimate both you and your baby for a long-distance run.
Finally, choose your path wisely. You’ll want to pick a smooth, paved path. If you can, find a route that has little to no hills. You will thank yourself for that later! It’s also best to choose a path that is not very busy. While jogging strollers are easier to maneuver, you’re still going to find it challenging to weave in and out of heavy pedestrian traffic.
Great Jogging and Running Strollers to Consider
Jogging and running strollers are expensive. We know. But if you’re really committed to your fitness and jogging or running is a top priority for you, it is worth every single penny. If this is going to be your only stroller, get exactly what you want, no matter the cost! It will be worth it. If you’re doing shorter runs, a small jogging stroller is perfect for you, but if you’re a long distance runner, get one with a fixed front wheel for more stability.
Baby Jogger X3 Single Jogger
Baby Jogger is one of the highest regarded brands out there right now, and for good reason. Their products are durable and make running with your baby a dream. The X3 Single Jogger model has so many great features. It easily folds and fits into your car with the click of a button. You can use it on a wide variety of terrains and still have a smooth ride. This is due to its killer suspension system. The brake system ensures that the stroller can stop on a dime. Plus, Baby Jogger has some of the coolest accessories available that you can add on to the stroller to really make running an enjoyable experience for you and your baby. However, it is expensive, so this might be a good one to put on your registry.
Thule Ultra Glide Jogging Stroller
One of the best models out there right now is Thule’s Ultra Glide Jogging Stroller. The quality of this jogger is unmatched, and for those parents looking to run before their child is 8 months old, it comes with a reclining seat! It is lightweight, has a front locking wheel and can handle any terrain. You and your baby will love this stroller, but again, save up. It is so worth the cost!
Top 11 Best Jogging and Running Strollers
Check out the Top 11 Best Jogging and Running Strollers guide for a comprehensive list and considerations of what to choose.
The benefits of running with your baby far outweigh any challenges that you might have to overcome. It provides quality time for you and your baby. This in turn buys you quality time with anyone who chooses to run with you. It adds a strength training component to your cardio workout by pushing the stroller. For consistency, it helps build or maintain a routine of fitness for you through all of life’s challenges. With a little planning, minding safety considerations and some motivation, a perfect run with your baby is easily within reach. Trust us, you will be very grateful you got up and got running!