When I was pregnant, I looked up articles and posts about jogging strollers, trying to get some advice on running with a baby. I remember reading everything I could find and thinking it all seemed both vague and slightly negative. Well, now that I’ve been stroller running for two whole months, I feel qualified to write a better listicle of my own.
Run with the stroller as often as possible
Yeah, you’re gonna be slower. That’s ok. You’re building stamina. You know how you’re supposed to run hills, even if that really means “walk sullenly up the slightest grades,” because it’ll make you stronger and faster overall? Same idea.
Adjust speed as necessary
Orion’s pediatrician gave us the ok to jog when he was 4 months, but I was a lot more careful in those early days. At first we stayed on well-paved smooth trails, but as he got bigger and sturdier I started taking him off-road onto gravel trails. Here’s the secret: all the bouncing puts him to sleep. The rougher the better.
I guess if you live in some kind of idyllic Pleasantville suburban dream, you can even run on the roads, but that’s a hell to the no in most major cities. You do you, though. Watch out for careless assholes Facebook Messaging while driving. Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area – Fremont
Do those hills
Back to the hills: do ’em with the stroller. Seriously. Nobody expects you to run them. Put your head down and turn your music up loud enough to drown out the tortured gurgling of your breath and push that baby buggy up that hill, you weenie. (And at the top, dig out that lame safety strap you never use and strap yourself to your future runaway.)
Do not worry about your stats
You have two (or more!) perfectly valid reasons to be going, like, half as fast as you used to. Birth-moms just evicted a baby from their bodies, and I don’t know about you, but I really understood the extended metaphor of Aliens after I had O. Even if you didn’t give birth, you’re still sleep deprived and pushing 30+ lbs of stroller and contents. You’re gonna stop and check on the kid every half mile at first. And just wait until you’ve got the cover out and you’re pushing into a headwind! Don’t even think about comparing your pre-baby times to your stroller times. It’s like expecting to run your 5k pace in a marathon.
Running is a hobby – make it fun for both of you
I read a few articles really hating on stroller running, comparing it to the dreaded treadmill. You don’t have to like stroller running. Takes all kinds! But Orion and I like running together. He really enjoys looking around, kicking his stroller toy, playing with his pacifier strap, and napping. I like having him nearby, I like “airing him out” in the sun and fresh air, and I like having a drink/phone holder right there in front of me. (Having an excuse for terrible splits doesn’t hurt!)
A happy baby makes for a better run. Definitely make sure the baby’s got a full tummy. We usually head out right after he’s nursed, or I’ll offer him a quick “snack” nurse in the truck at the trailhead.
Learn the baby’s signs for “I’m cold” or “I’m hot,” and respect them! I’m inclined to grab a hand, think he’s cold because I’m hot, and freak out, but I’m learning to listen to Orion. He’s fussy when he’s cold. If he’s not sweating and he’s not fussing, he’s probably fine. If he’s asleep, well, he wasn’t too hot/cold to doze off!
Be careful about blankets. I’ve read a few scary stories about getting a baby blanket caught in a wheel. I keep a baby bunting / snowsuit in Orion’s size in the truck, in case we end up running near the Pacific and he really does get cold. Something form-fitting like PJs is better than something that can get loose.
Try to get the baby to wear a hat. I love the bucket hats with Velcro straps, and my kid tolerates them fairly well. Sometimes he’ll take the hat off; sometimes he’ll leave it on. “I needed to keep putting his hat back on” is a great reason to keep stopping / posting really slow times.
Get “ambient sounds” headphones. Not the noise-canceling ones you use at work; the kind where you can hear what’s going on around you. I used to run/ride with bone conductive headphones, but when we had to move out because we had no stairs, I forgot them. Womp-womp. Fortunately, there’s always Target – I found purple no-slip earbuds that allow ambient sounds for $20. They’re even cheaper on Amazon.
Apparently the puritanical dispensers of overly-cautious baby advice say you shouldn’t run with headphones at all, but trust me, if it were that easy to drown out a crying baby, new parents would get a lot more sleep. If the kid isn’t having fun, you’ll know. The earphones are just to pump in a bass line for you to plod along with.
Watch your form
Most of the time, I push one-handed and use the stroller as a kind of guided meditation. I’ll push for a certain number of breaths with one hand, then switch. It helps me focus on keeping my breathing smooth, slow, and even.
Try not to get all bent over weird or lean heavily on the handlebar. But there’s plenty of ways to run weird without a stroller, too.
The best piece of advice I can give you is to just get out there and run. I think it’s win/win: I get to spend time with Orion and I get my running “fix” too. And he’s growing up with exercise being a normal part of our routine!