You’ve just become a new parent, perhaps even for the first time. After a whirlwind few months, you want to start getting back out into the world and running again. You can’t leave your bundle of joy alone, which is why you’d prefer to bring them with you in a stroller. You know your running game will change with your baby, but how? How should you run with a stroller?
Here are some great tips for running with a stroller:
- Don’t start taking baby out too early
- Prepare to slow down compared to your usual pace
- Use a wrist strap to keep the stroller secure
- Take up a new running form, such as shorter strides or using your legs and core more
- Learn to run with some extra weight (for all those diapers, bottles, etc.)
- If you don’t already have one, buy an all-terrain stroller
- Switch hands and go one-handed if you’re comfortable
- Don’t run where a lot of cyclists and motorists are
- Dress yourself and your child for the weather
- Keep the front wheel of the stroller locked
Keep reading for more information on each of these great tips. This article will help you make the most of your runs while ensuring your baby or toddler is as comfortable and happy as possible, so you’re not going to want to miss it.
10 Tips for Running with a Stroller
Know When the Right Time for Running with Your Baby Is
Before we get too far into things, how old is your child? If they’re not quite six months yet, then it’s too early to put them in a stroller and start running. At that age, fit issues become a concern, in that your child may be too small for the stroller. Once you add some speed through you propelling your baby forward in their stroller on your run, you’re creating a dangerous scenario in which your baby could slip or fall right out.
Also, at so young an age, babies might not be able to support the weight of their head quite yet. Between being jostled and bounced while you run, they could end up with head and/or neck damage, some injuries that could even follow them for life.
We know how hard it is to wait even longer when you’ve been jonesing for a run. If you must go, then we suggest leaving your baby with your spouse or partner and running solo for now. Women shouldn’t be jumping right back into physical activity after having a baby; you need to wait six to eight weeks, but for some women, it could be longer.
Even still, your body went through a lot of changes, and you might not be up to the level of running performance you achieved before you were pregnant. This is normal. Having patience will make running with a stroller a lot easier, so take this extra time while your baby grows to cultivate that patience in yourself and your new family.
You Won’t Run as Fast as You Usually Do
You see, one reason you must have patience is that those previous running records of yours? Forget about them. You’re not going to run five miles in 20 minutes anymore; it might take you twice, even thrice as long.
There are several reasons for that. For one, as we said above, if you’re a woman, you’re still adjusting to all the changes your body has undergone.
Also, with a young child at home, you’re not getting as much sleep as you used to, so fatigue can drag you down. You’ll have to change your running form as well, which we’ll talk about shortly. That can take some getting used to.
You might even have to take breaks for diaper changes and feeding your baby or because your toddler is getting fidgety and needs some time to walk around. This will chew into your time and make your runs take longer.
The biggest and most obvious reason why your speed will slow down is that you have a big stroller in front of you. You can’t run quickly or you could accelerate your child past a point where they’re comfortable. You’ll have to find a nice, even, moderate running pace and stick with that.
That doesn’t mean you have to give up on cracking speed records if that’s something you aspire to do as a runner. Instead, create a new normal. Think of how long it will take you to run five miles with all the above distractions. Set that as your new running goal. If you achieve that, then subtract a few minutes and try running at that pace.
The days in which you can run with a stroller won’t last forever. Before you know it, your child will have outgrown their stroller and you’ll run on your own. Then you can get back to your old records if you want.
Make Sure Your Stroller Has a Wrist Strap
You just checked your stroller up, down, and sideways and saw no wrist strap. You can always add one to almost any model of stroller. This stroller strap on Amazon is a highly-rated Amazon’s Choice product. The wrist strap is made of comfortable neoprene with an interior nylon liner for durability.
You simply strap on one end to your stroller’s handlebars and then slip your wrist through the other end of the strap, pulling the metal D-ring adjuster. You want the wrist strap snug around your wrist but not so tight that it’s painful or cutting off circulation.
The wrist strap we recommended is even washable. The strap extends 1.8 feet, so you can create some distance between yourself and the stroller while you run, but not so much that you risk losing control of the stroller.
We’d suggest using your wrist strap every time you run. Your hands can get sweaty, which makes maintaining your grip on most stroller handlebars difficult. In the colder weather, when you don’t have to worry so much about sweat, your winter gloves can also reduce your grip. If your hands ever slip, a wrist strap can be a literal lifesaver for your baby.
Use New Running Forms
Are you a long-stride kind of runner? Where from your body do you usually propel yourself into a sprint? It doesn’t really matter what you used to do, as now that you’re running with your baby, your form is going to change.
Some new parents/runners have found their strides became shorter to accommodate for the stroller in front of them. You might also have to change where you propel from, as your arms are unavailable considering they’re keeping the stroller moving.
Rely more on your legs and your core as you run with the stroller. Running this way maintains a better upright position so you don’t hunch and hurt your posture. You’ll also tone your legs and your core in a way you weren’t before with your usual form.
Since you’re making a significant change to the way you run, don’t be surprised if running with a stroller feels pretty darn awkward the first time you do it. Even the second or third run might be a little strange. As we said before, be patient, as the more you do it, the more natural running this way will become.
When you finally run stroller-less once again, you’ll have to reacclimate and adjust your body to your former way of running.
Expect to Carry Extra Weight on Your Runs
What kind of gear did you used to bring with you on your run? Probably very little, right? After all, you wanted to remain as aerodynamic as possible to maintain your running times and reduce drag. You’d eat a meal or a snack before your run, maybe carry a bottle of water with you, but you really only stopped to drink either on breaks or after your run.
Now you’re not running by yourself anymore. You not only have the extra weight of the stroller to accommodate for, but you have to bring everything your baby needs for a safe outing.
Strollers on average weigh 16 pounds. That might not sound like much, but that stroller is weightier than you think. A medium-sized container of dog food is 15 pounds, as is 2,000 paintballs, a bowling ball, and a flatscreen TV that’s 19 inches.
Imagine running with a 19-inch TV. That’s your equivalent.
This is, of course, assuming that your stroller actually is on the lighter side, as some can go up to 35 pounds and over. How much weight is that? Well, 33 pounds is the same as a cinder block and 36 pounds is how much a medium-sized microwave weighs. It’s heavy stuff!
Even outside of the weight of the stroller, remember that there’s still the extra gear you have to bring. We’re talking baby bottles, formula, snacks, sunscreen, and any other essentials for your baby or toddler. You’ll probably have to strap all this stuff to your body in a baby bag or a backpack.
On one hand, yes, all the extra weight absolutely does kill your running speed potential, as we already talked about. On the other hand, adding weight to your runs is like a form of resistance training, so you might get in great shape running this way!
Only Run with an All-Terrain Stroller
When you bought a stroller, you were probably concerned with the size as well as the safety features, like an overhead cover and straps or buckles for securing your baby. Oh, and price, as that’s a major factor.
One factor you probably didn’t give much consideration to is the wheels. Yet if you try running with a regular stroller, every bit of uneven concrete or asphalt you run over will bounce your baby, creating repeated small impacts that add up to one painful experience.
If you run with your baby often, it’s a good idea to invest in an all-terrain stroller. These strollers don’t look all that different than your regular strollers, but the main difference is in the wheels. Your stroller will have larger wheels and sometimes only two or three wheels instead of four or more.
One of the higher-rated all-terrain strollers is the Chicco Activ3 Air Jogging Stroller, which you can pick up on Amazon. As part of the Q Collection, the Chicco Activ3 includes three tires with Flex Core suspension that are filled with foam. These features lend the all-terrain tires a smoothness that won’t bump your baby this way and that on your runs.
This stroller also includes a storage basket, dual cup holders, a soft parent tray, and a single-hand fold. The reclining seat can be adjusted to several positions, and with a 3D Air Mesh backrest, your baby stays ventilated even on those warmer days.
Also, the Chicco Activ3 has brake controls via a Control Console you can activate by hand if you need to stop fast.
Switch Hands to Prevent Pain
Although you run with your legs, you use your arms when running more than you might realize. Swinging your arms keeps your body stabilized, manages your expenditure of energy, maintains your running rhythm, and pushes you forward.
When you only have your legs to do all that, they tend to get sore fast. We recommend running with one hand on the stroller and the other free so it can swing the way it needs to. This isn’t quite as good as having both arms available to swing, but it’s better than nothing.
Also, switch from one arm to another throughout your run so you’re not putting too much pressure on one side of your body versus the other.
Avoid Heavy Traffic Running Routes
You plan your running routes for their scenery, the neighbors and friends you see along the way, and their convenience, right? Now you have to take into account how many people will be around and reroute your running plans accordingly.
It’s not so much other runners or joggers you have to worry about, unless there’s a lot of them. Instead, you most want to concern yourself with bicyclists and motorists. When cycling at a high speed, a biker can’t necessarily stop quickly enough to avoid a collision. Given that your stroller is in front of you, it’s not you the biker will hit, but the stroller.
Much more life-threatening are people in cars, who may not stop on a dime if they don’t see you. Unlike the damage a cyclist can cause–which can be significant although maybe not life-threatening–being hit by a car can be fatal for you and your baby.
We’d suggest running on sidewalks and avoid crossing the street as much as you can. You might drive to a park so you don’t have to run on the streets, then set up your stroller and do your running at the park. Just make sure you’re not running in the bike path at the park, as that’s the place where cyclists can go. If they hit you or your stroller, you’d be at fault.
Stay Dressed for the Weather (Both of You!)
When you were eating for two, you changed your diet for the health of your baby. Well now you’re dressing for two, so try not to forget that. Although strollers have hoods that cover most of your baby, unless the hood closes fully, then your child will still be exposed to the elements. Even if they’re not directly out in the cold, strollers aren’t really insulated, so your child could very well still feel the chill.
As you run, you’re kicking up extra wind. At least you’re sweating due to all the physical exertion, so you don’t notice the cold as much, but your baby? They’re a lot more sensitive to the cold, and they’re not sweating and straining like you are, so they’re quite chilly.
Dress your baby for the weather before you head out for your run. You don’t need to worry about finding child-sized running clothes, just everyday clothes to keep your child safeguarded from the chill. They may even be less fussy on your run so you can go longer!
Lock the Stroller’s Front Wheel
We have one more tip for you, and that’s to lock your stroller’s front wheel before setting it. The front wheel is often fixed, but depending on which stroller you buy, your front wheel might be lockable and unlockable. You definitely want to know the difference before running with a stroller for the first time.
If your stroller’s front wheel can lock, then please do that. If it’s in a fixed position, then you shouldn’t have to do anything extra. Stabilizing the front wheel like this will prevent it from moving erratically and causing you and your baby to crash-land to the ground.
Like your life had to be turned upside down when you became a parent, running with a stroller won’t be the same either. You have to make a lot of changes for your baby, such as running slower, using a different form, and choosing trails that have fewer cyclists and motorists.
Once you and your baby get into the swing of things, you’ll enjoy the bonding time you have together and the sense of satisfaction you get from completing new running goals!