Improved Stroller Running Tips

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.

IMG_6487View of the Bay Bridge, San Francisco, bits of the Golden Gate through the fog, and the Marin headlands – Berkeley

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. IMG_7637Quarry 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.)

IMG_7738A big dork and a cute baby

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.

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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.

IMG_7852Tiny cypress swamp at Shinn Pond, Quarry Lakes – Fremont

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.

IMG_7891Ran up this damn hill to this stupid tree just to see…IMG_7893… a really pretty vista. Coyote Hills Regional Park – Fremont

Nike

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!

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A PSA

It’s okay with me if you don’t like kids. I think it’s weird to dislike the young of our species as a whole (but normal to not like kids who are drooling or making the high-pitched eeeeee noise or blowing snot bubbles, and it’s perfectly understandable to not know what to do with kids of a certain age), but variety is the spice of life.

There are many breeds of dogs that I don’t like. I think it’s ridiculous to have over a certain number of pets. I think some breeds of horses are fugly, hateful, and a general waste of hay. But I don’t say that in front of their owners. It’s rude and mean-spirited.

Here’s the thing: I probably already know you don’t like kids, so you don’t have to keep pointing it out. It’s pretty obvious, dude. Of course you can remind me that you don’t ~do~ kids if I shove the baby at you or ask you to babysit or start flipping through pictures on my phone. But when you just feel the need to reiterate your feelings about — ugh! — babies, I get really sad. I know I’m supposed to not care, and I’ll get toughened up as Orion gets older, but right now, honestly, I almost cry every time.

Here is a helpful guide to what to do when encountering my baby.

  • Smile! Exclaim in surprise, “He’s getting so big!” Because he is, dude. It’s both amazing and obvious.
  • I will instinctively respond by telling you his latest milestone. “Oh my god, I know, and he’s totally crawling now!”
  • At this point you’ve fulfilled your polite friend-duty and may now steer the conversation to whatever else we have in common. I try to remain keenly aware of my audience’s interest level and not be one of those jerks who drones on and on about <my horse | how much fun it is to run | my baby>. I might mess that up; just redirect to whatever you want to talk about.

This post brought to you by the person at my barn who was surprised that horses like babies, because she doesn’t like kids. (I don’t understand the logic either.)

The time there were no stairs

Early childhood stories, at least in my family, are usually little pebbles, worn smooth by years and repetitions.
“The day we came home from the hospital, as soon as I fell asleep, your dad took you out to show you off to his family, and all the old ladies were scandalized. ‘RP! Take that baby back home where she belongs!’ they yelled.”

“Our house was right next door to the fire station, and when they’d do the weekly test of the alarm, it woke you up from your naps, so your dad walked over and asked them to stop.”

“You were such a fat little baby. You learned to walk before you learned to crawl – we think you couldn’t get all fours on the ground at the same time!”

They’re not even stories anymore, just little one-beat anecdotes. I’m sure they used to be proper dramatic events: fretting about the weekly fire alarm test. That first interrupted nap, with baby-funder crying and my parents helpless and panicked. My dad marching next door, probably with a crying baby tucked under his arm, to “introduce” me (and ask the fire department to stop making me cry!) But most of the details are just gone. Was it a cold and rainy November day, or one of those hot Indian summers? Was it when I was a newborn? Orion just slept when he was sleepy for the first couple months, and he didn’t get sensitive to sounds til he was maybe three months old, so maybe it was an icy January when the fire alarm woke me. All those little details are smudged and faded.

The Internet has changed all that, like it’s changed everything else about the world. I can type up the story of yesterday’s excitement, upload it to my server, and find it again in some internet cache five, ten, thirty years from now, just as crisp and unworn as today.

It was a Tuesday, so G was working from home like he usually did. We got a late start on things, and we were just bathing Orion at 9:30. G passed me the wet baby and I wrapped him in a towel and we heard a boom.

We hear a lot of booms – the street has a pothole in front of the house, and it got filled, but it got filled pretty badly and it’s got this wave on the leading edge. Every single heavy truck that hits it goes airborne and things go boom. But this boom shook the house.

G said, “Woah, was that an earthquake?”

I said, “I think it was a wreck!”

I threw a towel on the baby and ran to go see. I opened the solid door and peered through the metal-mesh security door and saw this older dude charging across the street on foot. He was yelling “you ran that fucking stop sign!” at the top of his lungs as he made a beeline for a bashed-up mini-SUV. He really sounded like he was about to punch the guy, so I stayed safely hidden behind my door and gawked for a minute. Nobody punched anybody else or fled the scene, so I locked up and went to dry the baby.


The view from just inside the doorway.

After his bath, Orion had his usual long morning nap.


Dreaming of nursing.

Two hours later the landlord called. Turns out, one of the cars took out half the stairs to our apartment, and the fire department had already certified the place as uninhabitable. He hadn’t seen my truck, parked a little ways down the block, so he didn’t realize we were home. We needed to pack up the pets and the baby and get out. 

 So we flung ourselves into motion. We packed all of our stuff and the baby’s stuff and the dog and cat’s stuff. How much stuff? No one knows. Probably through the weekend. Maybe for two weeks? So, you know, pack for a while. 

G called our renters’ insurance and opened a claim – they’ll reimburse a lot of our costs. I found a La Quinta halfway down the bay toward G’s work and made a reservation. We emptied the most-perishables out of the fridge, emptied the trash, threw the wash in the dryer, and generally tried to close up shop. Finally, we shoved the pets in their crates and G called the fire department to come rescue us while I nursed Orion one last time before the road trip. 

That kid was great. He missed his midday nap, but as long as he got a snack every hour, he stayed super cheerful. He’s trying his hardest to crawl, so we could just plop him down and keep half an eye on his gymnastics as we shoved crap in duffel bags. 

The fire crew ran a ladder up where the stairs used to be and carried the pets and bags and boxes down. I passed the baby down and we clambered down uneventfully.

I thanked them and got a picture, and we headed south. 

  

And that, Orion, is the story of the time there were no stairs. 

Lack of content

Didn’t really mean to let a month + go by without a post.

One of the key tenets of storytelling is that there’s no plot without conflict.  In the first act, get your hero up a tree. In the second act, have people throw stones at him. In the third act get him down.”

I’m not even up a tree, much less dodging stones. You, dear reader, may view this as the “time passes” montage part of my life, with whatever theme song you feel appropriate playing in the background.

***

Dixie had a restful (?) vacation at the cheapest boarding facility within 50 miles.

Get away from my apple.

Get away from my apple.

HI I LIKE YOUR MARE

HI I LIKE YOUR MARE

But her base instincts got the better of her. She peed on the grey gelding until he finally acquiesced and started mounting her, and then she got kicked out of the pasture, and then I had to scramble to find her a better barn.

K's help was invaluable!

K’s help was invaluable!

Queen of her domain.

Queen of her domain.

I moved her to a barn that’s almost as far away as the pasture, and almost as expensive as our former barn, but hell, it’s really lovely and it’s got access to trails that aren’t crowded with other users. She’s got a stall + paddock, and Orion is big enough to fit in the hiking backpack thing now, so I can take them both on hikes.

(Except – sigh – I haven’t made it back out there yet. Tomorrow, I promise.)

***

Orion likes to put things in his mouth. Even the most charitable of parents can’t really call it eating yet!

Melon. Extremely popular!

Melon. Extremely popular!

Sand, then a leaf, then a stick

Sand, then a leaf, then a stick.

Toes

Toes.

Yogurt

Yogurt.

A leaf, while waiting for sausage (hmm), bread (mmm,) and sauerkraut (gak!)

A leaf, while waiting for sausage (hmm), bread (mmm,) and sauerkraut (gak!)

Pizza!

Pizza!

"keys"

“Keys.”

He has two little bottom teeth, but I haven’t gotten pics, so it hasn’t really happened.

We took him to a “baby brigade” showing of Labyrinth at the local independent movie theater.IMG_7072-0.jpg

He spends part of his free time playing with toys, but he spends a lot of time working on walking. He needs fingers to pull up on, but he can scramble and get his feet under him and stand up under his own steam. Sometimes he lets go of one finger and practices balancing (it’s not going so well), and sometimes he just stares at his feet and tries to work out how to consciously move those feet (also slow going.) IMG_7258.JPG

"Hey, if I grab this, I can pull on it and maybe stand up!"

“Hey, if I grab this, I can pull on it and maybe stand up!”

We had to drop the floor of the pack’n’play that night.

So: Dixie’s fine. Orion is cute, and growing fast, and I am completely smitten with him, but he’s kinda boring. Nothing blog-worthy yet, but we’ve got Tevis coming up in four weeks! Orion and I are going up to volunteer again. I’ll be running the Instagram and posting a little on the Facebook page, and he will be charming everyone he meets.