Snack prep. Play and pretend time. Frantic hollering. Picking up toys. Cleaning up messes. Banging on pots and pans. Finding and putting on shoes.
Parenting is a challenging but rewarding job under the most predictable circumstances.
But with daily household rhythms thrown off kilter to reflect quarantine necessities, family togetherness is the new normal for any given activity.
That’s why parents at all experience levels are looking into new methods to healthy, productive exercise – including stroller running.
Before you get started, you’ll want to know what to expect. After all, you wouldn’t want to get off on the wrong foot and end up with a bunch of new gear gathering dust in the garage.
HOKA shares a few helpful tips to ease your approach to running with your baby.
Find a Running Stroller You Can Trust
When you’re going anywhere or doing anything with precious cargo, safety is always the top consideration. But price is another important one.
Running strollers can be pricey, with some top-of-the-line models going in the $600-$700 range. There are less expensive options as well, but these can carry a few compromises. Construction quality is the one compromise not worth making. Read customer reviews thoroughly to get an idea of the overall trust level, as you would for any baby-safe product.
As you research running stroller model production quality, you’ll find a range of options and price points that may suit your needs. Keep in mind that some additional features may increase the initial price of a stroller, but save money and hassle in the long run.
Consider the following:
- Age range and adjustability features – these can keep your stroller out on the road for longer without necessitating another purchase down the line
- Accessory features such as wrist strap – while a wrist strap is recommended for safety and cup holders are helpful for convenience, you can buy these separately
- Wheels and suspension – Although flat tires and fussy babies is a combination worth avoiding, air-filled wheels can offer a smooth ride over rugged paths with less weight than foam-filled or solid tires, and an advanced suspension system can also make your tot more amenable to hopping in
Before you spend, ask yourself how long you plan on running with your baby, and over what terrain. This can help you narrow your stroller options to the right model for your budget.
Just be prepared to adjust this initial plan once you get out on the road. Your child will always have their own opinion.
Adjust Your Expectations
Running with a stroller is almost a completely different sport than when you’re on your own. The added weight and pushing action will make some changes necessary – and that’s if your kid stays asleep the whole time.
Remember, they’re along too. And that means you’ll be multitasking between parenting and running. As a parent, you already know that flexibility is necessary – anything can happen at any time. But runners are creatures of habit, so adjusting your running routine to incorporate kid chaos can be a challenge.
Adjust your expectations, and give yourself wiggle room for multiple definitions of a “successful” run.
Consider the following:
- Keep a distance range and alternate routes in mind – even if you’d prefer to get a solid 5-mile run, it’s good to prepare yourself to accept a brisk 2 mile run cut short by a meltdown
- Alter your pacing and/or add weight – pushing a stroller will make your regular runs more difficult, but you can use this to your advantage to adjust the intensity of your workout
- Experiment with scheduling – every kid is different; maybe yours will find the runs soothing, and slide off into naptime, maybe it’s more of an invigorating post-nap experience, or maybe it’s a case-by-case opportunity to burn off some of that destructive energy
- Plan for contingencies – remember that going on a run with your baby is exactly like every other time you leave the house with your baby; it’s always better when you bring everything you might need
- Build in positive interaction points – you and your baby will both get more enjoyment out of running together if you schedule breaks for cooperative activities like feeding and play time
- Work out in other ways too – for new parents used to a hardcore training regimen, it can be a challenge to be adaptive and keep an open mind toward working out — try some playground cross-training, and stay resilient in the face of unplanned interruptions
Setting out with the right equipment and the right mindset are both very important. But what happens when you get out there?
Change Your Running Approach
Running with a stroller and a baby will cause a few necessary tweaks to your usual approach.
The most important of these is the need for increased attentiveness. Take extra heed of your surroundings. Safety is priority one, but making sure you don’t leave a cherished binky in your dust can be a fairly close second.
Additional changes include the following:
- Scout a safe, relatively smooth route with adequate stroller clearance
- Take those earbuds out and listen carefully for signs of distress
- Keep your eyes on the path, both ahead and in your periphery
- Maintain an easy grip on the stroller as you run to prevent hunching
- Drive from your core and legs to make the best use of the added weight
Now that you’re fully prepared, let’s prepare your little one.
Get Your Child Involved
Going for a super-fast stroller ride seems like it’d be a pretty fun activity. But it doesn’t always pay to make assumptions, especially when you’re dealing with a toddler.
If your child is old enough to communicate their opinion, ask for it before strapping them in. This goes beyond careful phrasing that gives them some control over the situation, although “Want to go for a run with me?” is a good standby.
You can also ask where they want to go, what they like to see, what they noticed and what was their favorite part. You can plan a stop at a playground, or set up a reward system. You can even get them involved in your workout by letting them choose a “fast part.”
How exactly you handle it is of course up to you, but anything you do to make your runs feel like “our” runs will make the entire process much more enjoyable for all involved.
Also, a routine can help your child adjust their expectations as well. For example, if you’re lucky enough to have a daycare option within running distance, setting the expectation that a stroller run is the preferred commute method can make it just as enjoyable for your tot as it is for you.
Parenting can wear you out just as surely as regular exercise can increase your energy level. Combining them seems like an ideal solution, and it can certainly be both rewarding and convenient.
Just make sure you go about it with the right blend of caution and preparation.
Good luck and happy running. It’s Time to Fly™.