Four Tips for Running with a Jogger Stroller
Running with a jogger doesn't have to be as intimidating as you think mama.
Running postpartum may be the last thing on your mind. Running while pushing a babe in a stroller may seem even less pleasant. But we are determined to show you that it can be attainable and enjoyable.
I resumed running as soon as it was safe postpartum. Even though I was "cleared" to exercise by my OB GYN at the six-week follow up, I knew that I needed a strong foundation in order to run without pain and incontinence. Just because your doctor tells you that you can exercise, doesn't mean that you are ready to jump back in. Your body has gone through some major physiologic changes mama and you need to recognize that things won't feel like they used to. Running is a high impact sport and your pelvic floor just held a baby and all that extra weight inside. If you delivered vaginally, you experienced some extra strain on your pelvic floor mama. Prior to my first postpartum run I focused on diaphragmatic 360 breathing, ab + pelvic floor rehab, and strength work. Don't rush back to running without checking your strength with these three moves. If you fail the test, like I did (the first, second, and third time), don't worry mama we have some dynamic exercises to help get you ready for the pavement and trails.
At 3 months postpartum, I started running and have been gaining confidence, endurance, and speed since then. Luka is approaching 6 months and there is a new hurdle to overcome: running with a jogger. Maybe you got a push present that's bling bling, but my literal "push" present was two strollers. An every day stroller that's compact and a jogger. I am equal parts excited and intimidated by a jogger. Hello spending time with babe, getting outside, and sweating all in one! BUT running with a jogger seems like A LOT of work. If you are reading this article, then I am assuming you are a bad A bish and love doing hard things. I. AM. HERE. FOR. IT.
Now not only do we need to take into account this tiny new human's schedule and needs, but we get to push a bulky stroller up and down hills for fun. Not "have to" because let's be real mama, in some weird, sick way you love challenging yourself. It's okay, I am there with you. If you are like me, then you research everything. From what type of stroller to invest in for running to how to run with a stroller. So here are some tips I found helpful and want to share with you all. Lucky for you, I had fellow and seasoned runner mama Christy confirm that these tips are helpful and relevant.
If you are a mom then this may seem obvious, but your time is no longer your own. Gone are the days where you could just jet out the door for a run without worrying about someone else's needs. You may have planned to leave by 8 AM and now it's 8:30 and you still have to nurse, change a diaper, or pack the car. That's okay. Hopefully, your goal is to just get outside and enjoy some form of movement. The exact start time might not be what you envisioned, but you can still maximize the time you have and not spend some of it upset that you aren't already moving.
Not only is it important to be flexible about start time, but it is even more critical to have an open mind about the duration, distance/pace, and difficulty of the run. Your babe might get antsy or throw a tantrum that no amount of toys, snacks, or cuddles from mama will fix. Remember any movement is better than no movement. Let's not forget you are now pushing the weight of babe (15+ lbs), a jogger stroller (22-25 lbs), and all the other essentials (diaper bag, water, snacks). It may be a bit harder to travel the distance you had in mind or maintain the pace you are used to. Opt for a shorter and flatter run the first time you set out so that you set yourself and babe up for success. With regard to pace, use the first couple of runs to determine what your baseline is, then set goals around that. You can still have pace and mile markers to challenge you pushing a stroller and we guarantee you will be a stronger runner from all that resistance training.
I believe the saying goes, "fail to prepare, prepare to fail." If you are going out on a run with your babe or toddler then you need to plan for it like any other outing. This means bring ALL. THE. THINGS. You will be working up a sweat, but remember they are basically cruising around in a man-powered convertible. Make sure you dress babe in warmer layers than yourself and if it's chillier a blanket or hat and mittens may be appropriate. Depending on the age of your little one, you will want to make sure you bring diapers, wipes, and a change of outfit in case they have a blow out. If you have yet to experience the joy that is a carseat or stroller blow out, you have now been warned mama. It's not pretty. It's very much the opposite of fun.
Other things to consider packing:
- Water or milk (depending on age and distance of run)
- Entertainment (books, stuffed animals, if you are okay with limited screen time then maybe an educational video)
- Bug spray or cover for stroller
Be Aware of Your Grip.
Your jogger should come with a wrist strap. If it doesn't make sure you invest in one. The last thing you want is to stress about your grip slipping while you are cruising down a hill in the city surrounded by traffic. A wrist strap is attached to your stroller on one end and loops around your wrist on the other end. Speaking of grip, you want to avoid a death grip on the jogger. This is similar to cycling or running with a water bottle. If you are gripping tightly, then you compromise your form and can cause unnecessary muscle tension and fatigue. Based on our review of Runner's World and Active Kids, it is recommended to keep your grip light and alternate hands on the stroller every 5 minutes or so.
Be Aware of Your Form.
Maintaining good running form is even more important when you are pushing a stroller. It is natural to want to hunch over a desk when you work at a computer, similarly you will want to hover over the stroller. Please don't. I found these pointers from Runner's World, Breaking Muscle, and Active Kids.
- Don't have a death grip. I know I said this already but gotta make sure you were paying attention!
- Be aware of your posture. You wouldn't lean your bodyweight forward if a stroller wasn't there because you'd probably fall flat on your face. So don't rely on the stroller to support your bodyweight. Keep your head in line with your spine and your booty tucked so it doesn't protrude out.
- Have a slight bend to your elbows and keep your stroller close to you. Your stride might feel a bit shorter than it was prior to running with a jogger. You don't want the stroller to dominate and pull you down a hill. It's okay to push the stroller up hill, but you should try to use one arm and alternate unless it's beastly and you need both arms to help control the stroller.
Ultimately, running with a jogger is going to feel like more work than running solo. But you will get to enjoy the outdoors with your little one and that is pretty special. As a reminder, I recommend checking with your pediatrician before running with a baby. Most joggers and guidelines advise waiting until your baby is 6 months old to minimize risk of whip lash or head injury. You may be anxious to start running with your little one, but make sure it is safe and appropriate for you both to prevent injury.
You got this mama!
Ives Hot, PharmD, BCACP, PCES, ACE-certified