By Lisbeth Hoyt PT, DPT
I can’t tell you how many people asked if I would start running with a jogging stroller when my daughter was old enough. From a time and productivity standpoint, a jogging stroller is a great way to get a run in without having to coordinate childcare. From a physical perspective, it’s A LOT harder than just a regular run. I personally have yet to run with a stroller for many reasons. But for anyone ready to tackle this run challenge here are a few tips on how to get started.
First and foremost, your baby should have good head control before you put them in a running stroller.
It’s always a good idea to check with your pediatrician regarding this but it’s typically when they’re around 6-8 months old. It’s also important to make sure you’re using a stroller designed for running, not your everyday walking stroller. A jogging stroller usually has 3 larger wheels and a suspension system to handle uneven sidewalks or terrain.
Before actually running with your baby inside the stroller, take a few practice runs to get the feel of what it’s like to run with one or both hands attached to something. Most running strollers weigh about 25 lbs not including a baby. One study found that a stroller run results in a significantly higher perceived level of exertion and heart rate. Which makes sense because you’re basically doing a sled push! It’s a good idea to practice what that feels like before the added challenge of a baby in there.
Stroller running form is extremely important here as well.
The more you run with a stroller, you may develop an arm preference for pushing. Ideally you want to switch arms every few minutes to not overuse one side of your body. If you prefer to push with both arms, that is OK too – just be aware of your posture. Try to avoid hunching forward into the stroller but keep your trunk nice and tall. You’ll also find you have to shorten your stride to avoid kicking the front of the stroller.
Go for total time not distance.
Since running with a stroller more often than not will slow you down, set out for time-based runs, at least in the beginning. As you build stroller fitness you can progress to set miles but running for time is always a good option. Don’t forget, the added weight of the stroller will make your regular easy pace feel hard, so it’s very normal (and helpful) to slow down significantly.
And finally, are you the parent that birthed the baby? Your readiness to run is a big part of the equation as well! If you’re newly postpartum and looking to restart running, check out this blog for some guidance. If you didn’t give birth but are still new to a running stroller, follow the above tips and take it slowly! Need help getting started? Our run coaching services here are personalized to your running needs, even if that includes a stroller.
By Lisbeth Hoyt PT, DPT