Yesterday, Maria and I went on our first run together! That is, I jogged and Maria was mostly asleep in the stroller, but hey, that’s just a small detail.
I was not planning to take her already on a stroller run before she turned six months, but I figured if I stuck to the pavements and didn’t take a bumpy route she would be fine in it. And she was, given that she was relaxed and sleeping while I worked up a sweat!
For me, it was more fun than I had thought it would be. I expected it to be very heavy and slow, but although it was indeed heavy (especially going uphill) I actually managed to run 10 kilometers at an average pace of 5:39 min/km. Not bad for my first stroller run, eh?
While I definitely do not call myself a “pram runner pro” yet, I thought I’d share a few tips with you based on this first time experience. I may write another post once I am a more experienced stroller runner in a couple of months time.
1. Use a stroller that is made for jogging
Obviously, a jog with a stroller will only work if you choose a stroller that is made for jogging. There are some great ones that are light and high-tech, but if your budget doesn’t allow you to buy two prams – one for daily use and another for jogging – you can find some kind of “hybrid” like the one I bought. It has three wheels, and the front one can be fixed for more stability during runs. It also has pneumatic tyres, assuring a much smoother ride than with plastic ones. Ideally, the tyres are about 16 inches. Lastly, check what brakes the stroller has. I will get back to that later.
2. Take it easy
Especially when you’re just starting to run with a stroller, forget about pace. Running with a stroller is much heavier than without, even with the light-weight jogging strollers out there, so you cannot expect to be running the same pace you are used to. Don’t feel frustrated and give your body the time to get used to a new form of exercise. Also, don’t be surprised to feel sore after the first few stroller runs. Taking it easy is also important to ensure you don’t compromise your and your child’s safety for sticking to your goal pace, and this reminds me of tip number 3:
3. Safety first!
While it is always important to be safe when going for a run, it is even more so when you have a passenger whose safety is – quite literally – in your hands. Some obvious things to keep in mind are choosing a safe route, going out during daylight hours only, making sure you are seen (i.e. by wearing reflective clothing) and buckling your child up in a 5-point harness. Also, always look when crossing roads, and be aware of the pram protruding farther than you think it does. When buying the stroller, look what safety brakes it has: Jogging strollers often come with a lever that you can flip to block the back wheels. Use this when you have to take off your hands from the handlebar. The jogging stroller should also have a wrist strap connected to the handlebar to ensure you never lose the stroller. This is specially important if your route has hills. In addition, some strollers, such as the BOB Revolution Pro, come with a hand activated rear wheel deceleration brake for extra control when going downhill. My stroller does not have this, but it is something I would have liked to have, as it was not easy to stop the stroller from flying down the hill. I really had to shift my body weight backwards to keep it in control, and I was thinking if the path was slippery I could have easily lost it.
4. Alternate hands
During my first jog, I ran with both hands on the handlebar, which was fine. However, when I was almost home I discovered it was much easier to run with one hand, enabling the other to pump (as you usually do while walking or running). I was inclined to keep my right hand on the bar and pump with my left, but soon realized I should alternate hands to prevent injuries or a bad running form. I will do that next time and see how it feels. It goes without saying that using the wrist strap is even more important when using only one hand to navigate the stroller, and when approaching intersections or sharp turns it is best to keep both hands on the bar.
5. Mind your running form!
Most people (including me) tend to lean forward when walking or running with a stroller, and really push the pram. This is not only not necessary with running strollers, but is even bad for your form. Aim to keep the same form as when running without a stroller to prevent injuries. This is not easy and requires some practice, but it is worth paying attention to. Especially as I got tired, I noticed I was really leaning forward and pushing the pram. This is something I will focus more on during my next stroller run, and I think alternating hands will also help me to keep a good running form.
Bonus: Leave the diaper bag at home
As said before, running with a pram is heavy, no matter how high-tech your stroller. I realized (too late) that I should have left all unnecessary stuff at home, and this included Maria’s diaper bag and my bottle of water. Of course this depends on how far you are planning to go, but if you (like me) stay close from home there is no need to bring anything, apart from your keys and cell phone perhaps.
Personally, I think I found a great way to get my runs in on days that I cannot keep Maria with her father for whatever reason while going out alone for a run. I will most probably try to limit our stroller runs to once a week, not go for long runs with her and not take her when it is raining or very windy, but it does give me the chance to mix up my workouts a little bit while Maria takes a powernap. A typical case of win-win, I’d say!