I’ve been a runner since I was 12. A significant portion of my life has been spent running and racing . . . and running is truly one of the top things that makes me feel like me. So, it was only natural that a jogging stroller was one of my top baby shower gifts. Thanks, Mom and Dad! 🙂
I was so excited for the day that my son was old enough to come on a run with me. I’m not going to lie — running with a stroller is harder than running without one. But in my opinion, it is so worth it! No matter your background with running, I truly believe running with a stroller is something that you can do! Read on for some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way. And if running isn’t your thing? No worries–just find your fitness motivation and a type of exercise that works for you. 🙂
Buy the Right Stroller
Basically, the “right stroller” = a three wheeled stroller marketed as a “jogging” stroller, with bike tire-style wheels. It’s a little painful to run with a normal four wheel stroller. Personally, I have (and LOVE) the Baby Trend Expedition Jogger. This stroller isn’t as expensive as many of the other options out there, and it has worked well for our family—a smooth ride, tires that are easy to inflate with a standard bike pump, easy to fold and transport in our trunk, etc. I happen to see this stroller on buy/sell/trade sites allllll the time in the Nashville area, so maybe you could even get a deal! We’ve been using this stroller multiple times per week for walking and running over the past 15 months, and it’s still going strong!
Make Sure Baby is Old Enough to Run
The basic rule of thumb is that babies should be at least six months old before heading out for a run — unless your stroller allows a car seat (and even then, there’s some controversy). This is mostly about babies’ neck control. But pay attention to the instructions from your stroller manufacturer as well as your pediatrician. Personally, I started taking my son on walks in the jogging stroller with extra blankets on the sides (as you can kind of see in the photo below) around seven months and then started running with him at about eight months.
Keep Baby Happy
No matter your baby’s age, you’ll want to keep them happy in the stroller. It will make your run so much better—trust me! So think about things like timing, the weather, their little tummies, and whether or not you want them to nap during the run. My son never would nap in his crib at home until he was about 15 months old, so I would often time our runs for nap time—and then tack on a walk afterwards to allow him to doze longer. But if you want to avoid the stroller nap, make sure you run when your kiddo is alert and have some toys or a snack to pass them time. Nowadays, I like to give my son a snack (or breakfast) during our runs. Back when he nursed constantly, I would make sure to feed him before we ran.
Another factor to consider is the weather. My son is fine in the stroller for walks in all sorts of weather (my husband and I are from up north . . . no snow-adverse southerners here! So we go on walks in all weather, haha). When it comes to a run—and the increased wind—our cutoff is about 40 degrees F. Otherwise, little man is just too cold! Surprisingly, he likes to run in a warm misty drizzle . . . but we don’t usually start a run (or walk) in that weather. But if it happens, it happens!
Be Aware of the Mechanics of Running
If you are used to running without a stroller, running with a stroller is a little different. For a more comfortable run for YOU, pay attention to how you swing your arms, be sure to switch your hands holding the stroller often, and be intentional with your form. This video helps illustrate some of that. Basically, you want to make sure you aren’t gripping the stroller too much or hunching over it.
I mean, this is the cardinal rule of parenting, but I gotta say it. Some runs won’t go well—baby will be unhappy, you’ll be slower. Just try, try, try again! I can say with certainty that I’ve improved so much in my stroller running skills over the past year plus. I’ll be honest. It IS harder than a regular old run. I walk up hills. (Though now, I choose to run up them sometimes!) I’ve cut runs short because I’m sore or because my son just wasn’t having it. And my stroller runs really aren’t that long . . . but I feel like they’re harder workouts anyway—like lifting and cardio all at once! 🙂 All in all though, there are other days when our run together is perfect—good weather, happy kiddo, strong-feeling mama . . . and that’s what it’s all about! Even if you’re new to running, you can start out with a stroller. You’ll feel so strong when you go out alone!
Oh — and if you can find a friend (or a husband) to share the stroller-pushing duties with on a run? Even better! We love our family runs together. There are lots of races in the area that are stroller friendly — like the Nashville Diaper Dash. We ran it last year and had so much fun.