When I was pregnant with my first, I knew I was going to be one of those fit moms running down the block while my baby babbled happily in his jogging stroller.
Like many things with motherhood, running with a stroller hasn’t been as easy or as fun as I expected. Now that number two has just turned six months, I’m once again pushing a stroller around, but this time I have some tricks to make the ride much smoother.
Set expectations low.
Do not expect runs with a baby to be the same as normal runs. First off, you won’t have your normal form. Holding on to a bar, even just one handed, changes things. Next, even the lightest stroller is heavy when compared to running without one. If you have a particularly heavy stroller or child, you may find yourself considering it more resistance training than a run. Each day your kid just gets heavier, so for me, I plan shorter stroller runs.
Schedule around nap time.
My babies are always better passengers if they are asleep, which lets me have longer runs.
Feed the baby right before the run.
Not only can it help keep the baby happier longer, it also reduces running around with heavy milk boobs. That said though, always be prepared for the baby to demand a snack but be mindful of potential choking hazards in your food choices.
If breastfeeding, wear clothing you can nurse in.
Lots of my pre-kid workout clothes just proved too tight to easily lift up and not feel overly exposed out on the road. So now I’m fond of looser, longer tops. My favorite right now is a NOLA company, tasc Performance. Their racerback tanks are perfection.* For the ladies, especially with larger ladies, my marathoning friend highly recommends the Fiona bra by Brooks. Look at that strap, it looks like perfection and offers the benefit of being able to run with a single bra with minimal chafing.
Pick a flat, paved, well maintained surface without a lot of turns.
Most of the time the stroller isn’t too much of a challenge, but add an incline or a lot of turns, and suddenly it’s a lot more work. Fixed wheels can be a hassle to take around a bend and really slow you down. Having to stop for crosswalks and traffic is best avoided. Some babies respond to the sudden stop as an invitation to wake up. I like closed off loops best.Smooth surfaces are much more safe and comfortable for baby. It’ll keep them from being jostled too much, especially when they’re itty bitty. That said most strollers and doctors do not recommend running with infants younger than 6 months. Be sure to read what your stroller recommends before taking the baby out.
Be prepared to entertain.
I love books that strap onto the stroller so they can’t fall out. Nothing derails a run faster than having to stop to pick up toys. One friend I have offers screen time during stroller time to keep her boys happy. Choosing routes with lots to look at is another great option. I like to switch up where I run to offer a variety of settings.
Bring a partner.
Both our stroller and our son are both on the heavy side, so my husband and I often ran together with him while we trained for our last half-marathon. We found trading out every 2-4 miles helped us both get in long runs without needing a babysitter and took less time than each of us to separately scheduling two-hour long runs. Even for a shorter run, having someone else there is great because, if the baby decides to be anti-run that day, one person can stop and make the baby happy while the other runs. My bestie also has shared pushing duties because it takes teamwork to make the dream work.
As a mom, you already know that things don’t always go as planned, and this will most certainly extend to running with a stroller. Last weekend, I was ready for a 60 minute run, but my baby only had about 40 minutes in her. Despite nursing right beforehand, she very vocally decided she needed a snack. I tried to feed her quickly and get back to it, but she wasn’t having it. I had to sit down and feed her again, then I was able to get in another 15 minutes before I had somewhere else to be. Babies cry. Dirty diapers happen. Rain that you’d be fine running in suddenly becomes a reason to head home when a baby’s on board.
From forgetting to air up your tires to having to cut your run short when you really need the miles, running with a stroller offers plenty of potential frustration. Just take it all in stride. Without pushing that stroller around, you’ll feel like you’re flying on your solo runs.
Share your jogging stroller tips in the comments.
*While I received the tasc Performance merchandise as part of our favorite things, my opinion on these tanks is unrelated to that compensation. It’s seriously my favorite for comfort, nursing ability, and not clinging awkwardly to my post-baby belly.