If you’re a runner and have small children, you’ve probably at least considered using a jogging stroller. It’s a daunting endeavor, especially considering that just taking young kids to the grocery store is enough to make you break a sweat. Pictures of people running with strollers always make it look so … effortless:
I’ve run countless miles with a jogging stroller, with both a single and a double, and I’ve even raced with the stroller. Over time, I developed some methods to make it all smoother. I don’t want to say “easy” because there is nothing that will make it easy.
1. Bribe the passengers. This isn’t easy with tiny babies, but it can still be done.
Little babies: Have special “stroller toys” and dole them as you go to keep them engaged. I assume this is the whole point of that mesh basket under the stroller.
Toddlers: Snacks! Don’t worry, you’re totally teaching them healthy habits by running with them so that cancels using candy bribery. My kids know that they get one lollipop at the start and another at the turn-around point. Having the set times avoids them pestering you (as much).
Preschool age: Break out technology. My older daughter will ask to go for a run just to get Kindle Fire time, so it comes with bonus motivation for you.
2. Break up the run. If you can, add a playground stop to your route. Let them out for a break. You can do push-ups and plyometric exercises while they play if you feel so motivated.
3. Ditch the headphones. Talk to your kids! They will enjoy it more (and fuss less) if you’re engaged with them. Unless they are sleeping, then rock out to Beyoncé all you want.
4. Watch your form. It’s so easy to run with a different stride when you’re pushing the stroller, so pay close attention to your form, especially on down hills when the stroller is pulling you.
5. Run with just one hand on the stroller. This helps your running form and prevents you from hunching over the handlebars. Only during turns is it necessary to have both hands on the stroller! When I run, I keep the dog leash looped on my left wrist and my right side is free to swing.
6. Check the tires! Never go out on a run without a tire check. If they aren’t fully inflated, your run is going to suck. I keep a bike pump right by my stroller as a reminder. It’s a pain in the butt, but worth it.
7. Have a sense of humor! Running with kids is never going to be the same as a solo run, so don’t plan on hitting certain mile splits and don’t stress about having to stop five times every mile to mess with something.
From my perspective, it’s more enjoyable to view a stroller run as an adventure with the kids, not so much as just a workout. Consistency is key in getting the kids to behave well in the stroller and aside from pushing almost 100 pounds of kid and stroller for four miles, I enjoy it, too. They are my only running partners who literally make me stop and smell the flowers!
What are your tips for stroller running? —Kara