Benefits, Cautions, Tips and Advice for Running with a Jogging Stroller
Running with a jogging stroller can be a fun, albeit necessary part of training after having kids. Rather than viewing it as an excuse to pull back on your goals, embrace the baby jogger!
Shortly after we found out we were pregnant, I started researching running with a jogging stroller. It was one of the first major things we purchased for our son. I was excited to begin running with him the day after we got home from the hospital. Unfortunately, I quickly learned you can’t run with a baby until they’re about six months old.
I’ve been running with a jogging stroller for almost a year now. As a mostly stay at home dad, I do the majority of my weekday miles with baby in tow. On the easy days, it’s awesome! We casually run through neighborhoods, sometimes stopping at parks to swing or “cross train” before heading home.
Other days, when I need to get in a workout and can’t make it out alone before mom leaves for work, it’s not so fun. Running 2×2 mi @ 5k pace, or 800m repeats pushing an extra 50 pounds is tough. I often count this towards a day of strength training.
Below are some of the benefits, cautions, tips and advice for running with a jogging stroller that will hopefully help you continue your training with a growing family.
The Benefits of Running with a Jogging Stroller
Despite the added difficulty and occasional inconvenience, I’ve founded a few unexpected benefits from running with a jogging stroller.
- Quality time with you child. When I’m running with my son, I try to talk to him as much as I can. “Oh, look at that bird?” “Where do you think those trucks are going?” “Hey, there’s another runner!” Since babies language development comes through exposure to our conversations, I use this focused time to help build his vocabulary.
- Added resistance. An obvious benefit to running with a baby jogger is that every run feels like you’re running uphill. Should you encounter an actual hill, it feels like you’re also getting some strength training in as well. Each step is like doing squats.
- Ability to keep running through major life change. Some people think that having kids means they need to put their running goals on hold. Far from it! I set a 2 minute half marathon PR this spring – most of those training miles were with the jogger. Running with a jogging stroller can help you stick to your training plan (mostly) with this new major life change. We also use the time to (literally) run errands. Out of diapers? Lets run to the store!
Cautions when Running with a Jogging Stroller
When we drove home from the hospital with our son for the first time, I was driving at least 15 miles below the speed limit. Running with a jogging stroller (at least at first), is kind of the same way. As someone who has been used to going for a run whenever, and wherever I wanted for the past 20 years, I’ve had to make a few adjustments.
- Make sure your baby is happy. If baby is happy, your run will go a lot better. Make sure they’ve have (or had) a snack, clean diaper, and something to play with. After nap time seems to work better than before. Having a screaming baby when you’re miles from home isn’t something you want to experience.
- Avoid busy areas. This goes without saying, but avoiding busy streets is now a major factor in planning out my running route. Sometimes I act like a bike – sticking to bike routes can be one way to find less busy areas if you’re not near a dedicated running path.
- Don’t assume people see you. For awhile, I had this mistaken impression that people would see a big red stroller coming down the sidewalk. They don’t. You’d be surprised how often I’m the one having to stop or move over for bikers, other runners, or just oblivious walkers.
Tips for a Successful Run with Your Stroller
Here are a few simple tips that will help make running with a jogging stroller feel just a little less like you’re running with a jogging stroller.
- Pay attention to your form – more so than before! Running form matters. It can be easy to slouch, or hunch over the handle. I make even more of an effort to get back to the basics of running. Run tall, keeping your elbows tucked in and not flailing.
- Alternate your arms more often than you think. You’ll naturally figure out what’s most comfortable, but alternating your arms frequently will help it feel less awkward while you’re pushing a running stroller. When going up a big hill, I can’t help but grab on with both hands.
- Don’t lock the wheel and don’t use the safety strap. This goes against conventional wisdom (and probably the safety manual), but I’ve found the safety strap is too short to naturally alternate which arm is holding the handle. Also, locking the wheel isn’t necessary unless you’re going really fast, or around a lot of sharp corners. Keeping it unlocked makes for an easier run. That said, sometimes the front wheel can get a little wobbly.
Advice about Buying a Jogging Stroller
If you’re considering purchasing a jogging stroller, I highly recommend making the investment. They cost $300-$450+ but so worth it! A jogging stroller will pay for itself many times over.
Do your research, and answer these three questions.
- Will this be your only stroller? If this is going to be your only stroller, splurge! Find one that is compact, packable and relatively lightweight, yet sturdy enough for running. Since you’ll be using it for travel, at the mall, walks/runs with the family, you’ll want it to function like a mobile command center, not just a streamlined running machine.
- How much running do you plan to do? If you’re going to be doing lots of running, including your long run, you may opt for a fixed wheel running stroller. Those are limiting in other areas of life. If you mostly want to do more casual runs, you can get a smaller baby jogger .
- What kind of gadgets and accessories does it have? Some joggers have hand brakes, some have foot brakes. Some recline, some tilt. Cup holders, cubbies and “trunk” space are all legitimate questions you need to ask. The more you have, the better. It’s all about your level of comfortability, while running or not.
We purchased the Baby Jogger city Elite because it has a great, compact easy one handed folding design, huge wind/rain/sun canopy and utilize a hand brake instead of a foot break. This one also has a great integration system with car seats, and you can add attachments if you have more kids.
I also think they look the coolest.
What other tips can you share about running with a jogging stroller?
Here’s an interview I did with Olympian Carrie Tollefson about proper running form while running with a baby jogger.
Even if the thought of running with a baby freaks you out, it’s quite fun and may actually help build your leg strength. If you don’t have a baby, borrow one so you can see what it’s like running with a jogging stroller.