Most runners have learned how to persevere, even in the thick of adversity. We wake up before dawn, lace up our running shoes after a long day, and even head out in the midst of winter. However, the transition into parenthood often presents an obstacle that many runners have never conquered before: jogging with a baby.
Even with the best time management skills, most new parents quickly realize that if they want to keep running, they’re going to have to try something new.
The solution: stroller running.
Many parents struggle to balance their own needs with the needs of their children. After years of consistent running, runners know that they are a better version of themselves when they take the time to keep up with their training.
However, jogging with a baby is often far more complicated than it looks. Learning how to run with a stroller takes time, practice, and above all – patience.
When can you run with a baby in a stroller?
Prior to having a baby, many runners assume that they will get outdoors and return to running as soon as their baby arrives. Once the baby arrives though, reality seems to be different story.
Most women are not cleared to resume normal physical activity until at least 6 weeks postpartum, and many parents find themselves more anxious than they expect about exposing their newborns to the elements for any significant length of time.
Whether you find yourself eager to get back to running, or are enjoy a little time off, most jogging strollers are not safe to use until your baby is at least 6 months old.
Stroller running is usually not recommended until 6 months.
Running with a stroller usually requires that the baby be facing forward, where they rely on their neck and shoulder muscles to keep them upright and balanced as you navigated any bumps and turns.
If you are hoping to begin stroller running before your baby turns 6 months old, you can purchase a travel system or look for a stroller that can accommodate a car seat so the baby faces you until they are old enough to sit on their own.
Is stroller running harder?
It should come as no surprise that running with a stroller is harder than running without one. However, many new parents are surprised with just how difficult it actually feels.
When you’re used to running alone, the addition of a stroller can really throw off your form. In addition, jogging with a baby requires extra mental effort as you now need to be aware of the needs of your baby in addition to yourself.
Although stroller running presents its challenges, runners find that they can adapt quite successfully with a little practice. These stroller running tips will help you quickly adjust to running with a stroller, so you can start logging miles with your baby in no time.
Stroller Running: 9 Tips for Jogging with a Baby
Begin on a flat, smooth path
Hill running and trail running are challenging enough on their own – so attempting to run with a stroller for the first time in these situations will likely set you up for failure.
When you’re trying stroller running for the first time, set yourself up for success by finding a flat, smooth path to begin. Even sidewalk cracks, which are often unnoticeable by runners, can present a challenge when pushing a stroller.
Look for a local trail, or find a quiet neighborhood where you are able to run in the street. Aim for an area that is relatively flat, and spend your first few weeks or months getting adjusted to jogging with a baby before moving on to somewhere more challenging.
Shorten your stride
It may not feel like it in the beginning, but stroller running can actually provide a few benefits. Running with a stroller prohibits you from taking long strides, as the stroller is literally in your way. If you find yourself kicking the bottom of the stroller, you’ll want to focus on shortening your stride.
Luckily, shortening your stride is usually advantageous when it comes to running form. A shorter stride means that you have a faster cadence, take more frequent steps, and therefore are less likely to heel strike – which can lead to a variety of running injuries.
Try using one arm
Whether you realize it or not, pushing a stroller while running can really change your form. Many runners mistakenly keep both hands on the handle of the stroller, which prohibits their arms from swinging.
While this might feel easier when you’re just getting started, keeping both hands on the stroller will eventually cause you to hunch forward.
To avoid inadvertently changing your form, try using just one arm to push the stroller. It will likely feel strange and uncomfortable when you first begin, but your body will adapt over time. Keeping just one hand on the stroller will allow you to pump your free arm, helping maintain a similar running form. Just be sure to switch arms regularly throughout your run.
Adjust your pace and expectations
Stroller running is significantly more challenging than running solo. Not only is your body adjusting to a slightly different form, but you’re suddenly moving a significant amount of extra weight while you run.
Jogging with a baby increases the resistance, therefore requiring more effort to run at the same pace. It’s important to understand the added difficulty when running with a stroller, and adjust your pace and expectations accordingly.
When you’re just getting started with stroller running, make a point to head out and run based on feel – not pace. Acknowledge the fact that you will not be able to run your normal easy run pace by exerting the same amount of effort. Focus instead on completing the mileage and backing off when your body gets tired.
Plan your runs wisely
Attempting to finish a run when your baby is protesting in the stroller will only result in both of you feeling stressed and overwhelmed. To avoid having to deal with a meltdown when you’re miles away from home, plan your runs according to your baby’s schedule.
It may feel inconvenient to run in the middle of the day as opposed to getting it out of the way first thing – but if that’s when your baby is most content, it will be well worth the change.
Try to avoid running when your baby is tired or hungry, and be sure to test things out with shorter runs when you first begin. Learn to read your baby’s signals and only continue if they are enjoying themselves too.
Pack for your baby – and yourself
Depending on the season, running can sometimes require quite a bit of extra gadgets and gear. However, even winter running is nothing compared to the amount of extra things you’ll need to pack when jogging with a baby.
Plan ahead and pack anything you think your baby might need while you are out. A change of clothes, diapers, snacks, toys, blankets, and anything else. Be prepared for the weather to change, to deal with an unexpected blowout, or angry cries along the way.
In addition, take advantage of the extra storage space you now have with the stroller. Pack your running fuel, water bottle, and any extra gear you might have gone without if you had to carry it.
Protect your baby from the elements
When we dress for a run, we’re told to dress as if it were 10 degrees warmer – and this usually keeps us plenty warm on the run. However, it’s important to remember that your baby won’t get nearly as warm.
Remember that stroller running means that while you’re working, your baby is relaxing and exposed in front of you. As the stroller moves, the baby is vulnerable to all of the elements without working up a sweat in the slightest.
Always anticipate that your baby might get a little colder than you think. Be prepared for sudden rain, wind or hot sun to shine down on them. Stock your jogging stroller with gear that will keep your baby safe from the elements at all times.
Regardless of how prepared you might be, babies often change their minds at a moment’s notice. They can go from happy to angry within a second. They might love stroller running one day and hate it the next.
Taking time to plan and prepare is key for success with running with a stroller – but understand that things might not always proceed as expected.
Be flexible with your training when jogging with a baby. If things go awry, take a break mid-run to look around, play with a toy, or let your baby get out and stretch their legs. Remember that finishing the run is certainly a worthy goal, but your baby will always come first.
Give yourself time to adjust
Adjusting to stroller running takes time and patience. No matter how strong or fit you were prior to running with a stroller, expect that it will be difficult.
Remember that even the biggest obstacles begin to feel smaller with time.
Committing to running with a stroller is admirable. Amidst the craziness and sacrifice that comes with parenting, taking the time to take care of yourself is always a worthy endeavor.
Prioritizing your health and fitness will set you up to be the best parent you can be. In addition, you’ll be setting a positive example for your child right from the start. There is no better better gift we can give our children than showing them that fitness is fun and health is a lifestyle.