The due date may be coming or your baby is already a few months old, and you can’t wait to get back to your old routines as best as you can. I know the feeling. Jenny has been wonderful ever since she was born, but the last few months of pregnancy and the first months after birth were quite hard for me.
I was used to regular training several times a week. Gym, jogging, running, and sprinting sessions. Jenny needed much of my time and I felt my exercise time dropped significantly. It’s not that I didn’t have some kind of exercise with her, haha. I mean, I’d have to get up in the middle of the night, I’d carry her often, and doing the house chores brought me to exhaustion on certain days.
But once I and Jenny were ready for a running stroller, my exercising life saw sunshine again… with just a few cloudy casts here and there.
What Is It Like To Run With A Stroller?
As an overview, I would say that given the situation mothers are in, there are more upsides than downsides, if you have good paths you can take your stroller over. The running is quite different, that’s for sure. You can say goodbye to speed running when running with a stroller, the pace will always feel odd and slower all the while you’ll feel tired and exhausted faster.
Choosing a good route can also be difficult because the stroller will feel every bump, crevice, hole, patch of grass, or other obstacles. Running on roads may be better, but it’s hard to find roads that are safe enough. Uphill’s its battle, and going downhill faces its own challenges, especially when the child gets heavier.
Taking turns can also be tricky. Strollers usually have two options – unlock the front wheel and take a turn, then lock it again is the easier method. The second method is with a fixed front wheel. Then you’d have to raise the stroller on the back wheels, do the turn, and drop it down. This puts strain on the forearms, and it’s my less favorable option. I’ve tried both. I mean, you can look at it as an additional exercise, but it kind of feels unnatural.
But it’s time with your baby, and then your toddler. If you both get to like it, it becomes a great bonding time. This is what kept me going and what made me forget the loss of performance I perceived in the beginning.
The Benefits Of Running With A Stroller
Though running with a stroller won’t be the same s regular running and it honestly takes away some aspects of regular running, it has its benefits. All the benefits, as well as the downsides, trickle down to the burden, the weight of the stroller, and the child you have to constantly push in front of yourself.
The first benefit is that, with the additional load, you spend more calories with less mileage. Pushing the stroller is more demanding than you’d expect, especially uphill, and though you’ll lose the speed, you’ll spend more calories and get tired faster the heavier your little one gets.
30 minutes of running with a stroller can spend additional 30+ calories. Once you get a hold on it, so to say, and develop a good technique, running will feel easier. You can develop more muscle power, though you may fall behind with the explosiveness, to be honest.
Getting back in shape won’t be easy with a stroller, so remember to find a slower pace that suits you. With the extra load, it will be more efficient than running at the same speed without it, so you’ll actually lose much.
Your mileage will therefore drop, but it will be more efficient. You can potentially lose more calories per mile, and it can become great strength/endurance exercise, or light to medium cardio.
When To Start
Starting the running with your baby in the cart would take some time, for the sake of your baby’s well-being. The manufacturers recommend the 6th month as a good time to start, and I would be fine with a few weeks or even a month over.
Staying in a fast-moving stroller can be disorienting to a young baby, and there will always be sudden movements at turns. Even the running itself will exert uneven force to the stroller giving a shaky sensation to the child. The sound of running and heavy breathing can disturb a young child and bring long-term consequences.
That’s why I waited a bit to start running with my baby, just to make sure we’ve done what’s needed for her to develop healthily in the beginning. That includes growing in a calm environment, catering to her every whim, and being there every time she needed me in the first few months. I thought of that as a kind of exercise, because as you know (or you’ll learn soon), it is exhausting in its own way.
Once the timer ticked and the baby was ready (six months and more), we gradually started using the running stroller, we gradually increased speed and time away. Every time she felt too groggy and refused to play along, I’d give it a short round, and if she was quite sulky, I’d give up completely.
I was kind of always ready to give up on the whole idea if I suspected it had adverse effects on my child. The trick was to distinguish that from her whim, and refuse the stroller just because she can.
Before going anywhere, it’s good to prepare enough water and other necessary things for your running session. Depending on the age of a child, you can include snacks, drawing and coloring books, anything your child likes to do and that would keep them engaged.
Depending on the region you are in, bug sprays or sunscreen are also a good idea. Of course, the inevitable diapers and wipes are a must for a young child. Strollers are handy for this kind of stuff because they usually have good storage space. Preparing a running kit box in advance can help you save time on preparation.
Choosing Routes For Running With A Stroller
Since it’s a stroller going high speed, any bumps and holes will be felt. Yes, some strollers have suspension that minimizes the shock, but it’s good for both you and your kid to choose a solid running course.
At first, you might want to pick a route that doesn’t take you far from home, in case you quickly need to get back.
Some of us like to pick roads that are not very busy, if we can take precautions, of course. Finally, I’d avoid dusk and dark on roads, because low visibility makes it harder for others to spot you.
Running was strange in the beginning, a different experience overall. I would feel the slower speed and that would bother me a bit when I started, but it also surprised me how fast I get tired and start breathing heavily.
Pushing the stroller was a learning curve for me. I guess I was nervous in the beginning, and I had a strong grip. This and the bad adjustments I made to the handle made my arms tired and I got stiff shoulders. Gradually I learned to push the stroller with a relaxed hand, and just guide it.
Pushing it with both hands was also very tiring, so I eventually gave up on that. It turned out it was a good idea because I read later that it’s more natural to let one hand move at the running pace and to switch hands from time to time. It kind of made sense to me.
Needless to say, I gradually increased distance and time. First, I needed it, to gradually get back in shape. Second, I wanted to make sure Jenny was okay with it. The more I was sure she enjoyed it, the more relaxed I was to increase the session. And I had to remind myself that Jenny is growing and getting heavier, so three miles this week are not the same three miles next week since I’m pushing a little more load.
What Can The Kids Do In The Stroller While Running?
The kids usually feel when you enjoy the process of running with a stroller, or in the stroller in this case. As they get older they like the speed and the routine if it’s built well. They sometimes protest it and just don’t want to play along, but once they see it’s something that’s done, they hop on the train.
It’s a great time to build a relationship and do what you usually don’t do in the house. As Jenny grew older, we talked more, and played verbal games, like I spy, or comment on stuff we see. Coloring books and other things, like toys and such, can be helpful fend the boredom in the ‘cockpit’.
So, this is my experience with running with a stroller. It had its challenges in the beginning, but eventually, it turned to be a great routine for both me and my toddler. I feel like I am back in shape, and the conversation and relationship building are things that I’ll miss once we store them away. They grow so fast.