Thank you, guest blogger Sarah Canney for this wonderful piece on running with a stroller! Read on to see how to get the most from your jogging stroller experience…
Since my daughter, Sophia was big enough to ride in my jogging stroller we have been running together. Over the past two-and-a-half years we have logged many miles, from small trips around the block to a ten miler and every distance in between. The stroller running season in New England lasts from March until November depending on when the first and last snow falls (yep, it snows in March–sometimes April) and how cold it is, during these months we run together 3-4 times a week. It’s the only way I can get the miles in and she enjoys getting out with me.
When I found out I was pregnant with Baby #2, I had every intention of continuing to run. I ran through my first pregnancy with Sophia and knew I would do the same with my second. I got the OK from my doctor and so my running has continued, as has my stroller running. Just as running is a little different during pregnancy, running with a stroller is also different during pregnancy. I’ve found that with a few adjustments it can be an enjoyable activity. Here’s how I’ve adapted my stroller running:
Slow down the pace. My stroller runs now at 24 weeks-pregnant are about three minutes slower than they were pre-pregnancy. Runs alone tire me out, but running with the stroller turns into a pretty hefty workout when you’re pregnant so it’s OK to go slow.
- Choose flat routes. Choosing a flat route will keep your heart rate down and require less effort.
- Walk when necessary. Because we live in a hilly area, finding flat routes means I have to drive somewhere, but I don’t always have the time. So if I do run hills I break them up into segments and pause every 2-3 minutes on the hill to take a breather and let my heart rate come down.
- Dress with less. For many pregnant women an increased metabolism means your body turns into a furnace during pregnancy. Overheating can be a real problem especially in the summer if you have the added effort of pushing a stroller. Even if it is cool outside (which it can be in the summer in New England) I wear a tank and shorts so that I don’t overheat.
- Hydrate and bring extra water. Hydration is incredibly important during pregnancy, and even more important if you’re engaging in an exercise like running. I’ve found that drinking an electrolyte drink such as Nuun or Gatorade helps prevent side-stiches and cramping along the abdominal and oblique muscles. Those muscles become stretched during pregnancy and are more prone to cramping. It is important to make sure you’re replacing your electrolytes. Normally I run with one bottle of water in my stroller console, during pregnancy I put a second bottle with an electrolyte drink.
- Carry snacks. Your body can do weird things while pregnant, like get really hungry or lightheaded at the drop of a hat. Carry GU or some snack that will get your blood sugar up.
If you haven’t run with a stroller yet and are wondering how to keep your child happy and occupied here are a few tips for your little one:
- Find a time that works for your child. When Sophia was little (4-9 months old) we played around with timing. I tried going at “nap time” to see if she would sleep in the stroller as her nap. She would nap, but often times would be cranky after because the sleep wasn’t the quality sleep she needed. I found that running right after she had eaten, during her “awake” time was the best. That way she could look around at the scenery or play with toys and if she did fall asleep I would simply carry her inside and put her down for her “regular” nap. Now that she is older we go at “snack time” (mid morning) so that she gets a snack while we ride.
- Bring toys, books and activities. I placed Sophia’s toys or stuffed animals on a tether so that she couldn’t throw them out of the stroller while I was running. Now that she is older, we bring books, notebooks, crayons or her magna doodle to keep her busy. She’s old enough that she doesn’t throw things out of the stroller.
- Bring snacks and water or juice. Sophia has “special snacks” for our stroller runs. It keeps it special and gives her something to look forward to. I always put water or juice in the side pockets so she can easily reach it while we are running.
- Make sure your child has sun protection. Even though the sunshield on my BOB stroller comes down quite a ways, I always put sunscreen on Sophia’s legs and feet during the summer months. And because I like to have the visibility window open while we run so I can see her, I have her wear a hat so that she doesn’t get sunburned on the top of her head.
- End your runs at a playground. Many times I end our run at a playground so that Sophia has something to look forward to at the end of the run.
- Be prepared for the weather. I always carry the rain shield with me if there is a chance of rain. I want Sophia to stay dry. And if we are running in colder weather I make sure that she is bundled quite well. There was one time when I didn’t and she was miserable. I have found that my rain shield also acts to keep wind out and warmth in, so even if it isn’t raining, if it’s cold or windy I’ll put it on the stroller.
Stroller running has been a part of our routine from early on and is now something Sophia asks for and looks forward to. Most of the time she simply chats with me or sings while we run (so cute!). If you start the habit early your babies will be used to it, but if you’re a late starter to stroller running there are ways to get your kids on board and hopefully these tips will help.
And of course always keep in mind general safety when running with a stroller, pregnant or not.
- Run against traffic. Just as you would normally would. It is even more important when you’re pushing the most precious thing in the world in front of you that you see oncoming traffic. You can adjust and get off the road much more quickly than when traffic is at your back.
- Always wear brightly colored clothing. I run primarily on the road so I’m always trying to be as visible as possible. I purchased the For Two Fitness Tank in Red so that I could be clearly visible to drivers when I’m running alone and when I run with the stroller.
- Carry a bike pump with you for any flats you may have. I also carry a rag to wipe down my stroller after we run in the rain.
Running with a stroller is tough to begin with, add in being pregnant and it can get somewhat challenging, but it is still doable. With a few adjustments you can continue to run with your stroller until it becomes too strenuous or uncomfortable. Most guidelines for exercise during pregnancy say that if you were doing it pre-pregnancy then it should be fine during pregnancy. If you haven’t run with a stroller before, its inadvisable to start running with one during pregnancy. Of course, you always want to check with your doctor before engaging in any kind of exercise while pregnant. But don’t be afraid to get out there and do what you love, for me that’s running with my daughter. Soon enough I’ll be pushing a double:-)
Sarah Canney is a former high school English teacher turned blogger and freelance writer. When she’s not pushing her daughter in a stroller she’s racing and has run six marathons, countless 5K’s, 10Ks and “whole bunch” of Half Marathons. She and her husband live in New Hampshire and have a two-and-a-half year old daughter and are expecting a baby boy in September. You can find her on her blog at www.RunFarGirl.com and on Twitter @SarahCanney.
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