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Running With A Jogging Stroller

By EmilyBMalone |

2012-03-08 11.19.52

This thing is not easy to push!

Even though in general I think I have the hang of this whole parenting thing, each week Casey and I inevitably end up sitting down trying to figure out what we can do better, and how we can become more efficient and aware of our time and each other’s needs.  With just the two of us out here in Seattle, we have to work hard to coordinate our schedules to ensure that we’re both finding enough time for work, workouts, personal time, and time together.

When we both decided to train for spring races (me running a half marathon, Casey running a full), we talked about how we could fit it all in despite our lack of childcare.  (Let me jump in to say that I am working on getting some occasional childcare hopefully soon, but this is how we’re managing in the meantime.)

Our plan for mid-week runs was that Casey would workout during his workday (at his office gym), and I would do my runs with the jogging stroller during the day.  (We have a treadmill at home, but I can’t run on it while I’m home with Cullen – his naps are 30 minutes tops.)

On weekends, we would trade off with him running Saturday, and me running Sunday.  And so for the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to get out for as many runs as possible while pushing this beast of a stroller.

Running with a running stroller is really hard.  You know those moms who cruise down the road with the double jogger, barely even breaking a sweat?  I am convinced they are actually superheros in disguise.

The jogging stroller is a full body workout – burning core, jello-like legs, and weakened arms from pushing forward the 50+ pounds of baby necessities.  Not to mention, running with a stroller forces you to develop an entirely new running stride – one that leans forward and only uses one arm at a time.  Not exactly natural.

So the point of all of this is to tell you that I came to a realization this weekend.  I love taking Cullen out for our daily walks, and even for casual I kind of feel like running today types of jogs.  But trying to train for a race while exclusively running with a stroller just simply doesn’t work.  I’m sure there are other moms out there who have done it, but it’s just not happening for me.

I was supposed to run seven miles on Sunday – just me and Beyoncé out on the trail.  But Casey got called into work and so I had to figure out how to make that work along with my sidekick.

2012-03-08 11.19.59

Don’t be fooled – he wasn’t actually asleep as this picture suggests.  At the point when my window to run opened up, Cullen was wide awake and ready to make my run as adventurous as possible.  He showed off his newest skill, tossing toys out of the stroller left and right.  Once that wore off, he cried for his pacifier every other minute or so, just often enough to make sure I didn’t get into any sort of running rhythm.

I’m exaggerating a little here of course, but it was during that run that I realized that training and babysitting do not go hand in hand.  If I want to be a casual runner and go for jogs with Cullen, that is absolutely fine.  But if I want to set goals and train for races, I need to be able to do that on my own.

The biggest problem I have when I’m out for my runs with Cullen is that I spend the entire time completely focused on him.  Is he crying?  Where is his toy?  Did his blanket slip down?  Does he seem cold?  And heaven forbid if it starts raining.

But what I need to be able to do for just a few short hours each week, is truly and completely focus on ME.  I need to be thinking about my pace and my stride.  I need to look forward to climbing new hills and reaching new mileage.  And I need to be able to lose myself in my headphones without worrying that I won’t be able to hear my baby cry if he needs me.

And so once again, I sat down with Casey to revise our plan and figure out how to be better, more efficient, and how to make it work.  I’m going to start doing my runs as soon as Casey gets home in the evenings.  With summer on its way, there is plenty of evening light now, so I can run in early evening while Casey gets some alone time with Cullen.  If I leave right away, I can make it back before his bedtime.  And if the weather doesn’t cooperate, I can always retreat down to the treadmill so that I can still log some miles.

We’re going to give this a shot and see how it goes.  We both really want to support each other as parents, but also as individuals.  I don’t really feel like I have much of an individual identity these days, and I’m hoping to get a bit of that back by recapturing a sport I used to love so much.

But it’s also entirely possible that the most realistic solution at this point in my life is to acknowledge that perhaps training for races does not work right now.  I’m okay with that.  I would much rather accept that than continue to feel frustrated by setting unrealistic goals.

We’ll see how it goes.  I love going out for long walks with Cullen every day – showing him new sights, new smells, and stimulating him with plenty of voices and faces.  And I still think we’ll run together here and there when the weather is nice.  But going forward, I’m going to do my best to get on the trail by myself just a few short hours each week.  It’s better for all of us.

I have about six weeks to pull myself into half-marathon shape.  That’s a tall order to say the least, given my current level of fitness.  But I’m still motivated and determined, and as I’ve learned in my many years of running in the past – that part is half the battle.

Note:  The recommended age for running in the BOB stroller is listed as 8 months old on the manufacturer’s site.  I started running with Cullen at five months, but only because he has excellent head control and I prop him up with extra blankets and cushioning.  I also only take my stroller on a paved smooth trail, not on bumpy roads or sidewalks.  Make sure to check the recommended guidelines for your particular stroller, and do what you feel is comfortable for your baby.

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EmilyBMalone

Emily Malone shares her adventures in cooking and parenting on her personal blog, Daily Garnish. Read bio and latest posts → Read Emily's latest posts →

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20 thoughts on “Running With A Jogging Stroller

  1. Koreen says:

    Hello Emily, I recently started walking again to battle the depression that came with coming home on evenings and waiting out the three hours till my baby went to bed. Close to where I work there’s a park and I enjoyed jogging around it years ago. I’m a casual jogger with a couple 5K’s under my belt. I’m hoping to add some more 5K’s this year in a couple months when I’m in better shape. I can completely understand your frustration. Its challenging to run and push the stroller. Just this afternoon I realised I was hunched over it while pushing which really isn’t good for my posture. With my stroller my son (7 months) faces away from me and I only keep 1 toy which is actually attached to the buckle in the stroller.
    I do hope your new plan works as I know how much fitness and reaching your goals mean to you as I’ve been reading your posts since you were pregnant.

  2. Colleen says:

    I started jogging again when my son was exactly 6 weeks old – gently, because it was still early, but it was actually the easiest way to soothe him to sleep. I ended up running my first half marathon when he was 8 months old. And he came with me on every single training run except for the last long run.

    It gets easier, I promise. If he can lay flat and face out, that might work better because if he can’t see you, he might not whine for anything. He’ll just enjoy the scenery.

    I will admit that I did have to stop sometimes. I actually stopped and nursed in the middle of a trail once because his bottle wasn’t enough food. And I stopped to change diapers more than once. But soon enough it was the only way I could get my colic monster to take a nap!

    I would also look online for a mom’s running group in your area, and see if you can find another runner to trade babysitting with. Though I hope you get as much enjoyment out of it as I eventually did!. There was something amazing about running that race knowing my little guy was there with me every step of the way.

  3. Courtney says:

    My son is 2.5 and I just ran my first half — before I started training, the longest I had run since I had him was 5 or 6 miles. It is really hard to push all that stroller and baby. On the other hand, you’ll feel like you’re flying when you’re running alone. :-) But I don’t do more than 3 miles w/ him in the stroller. He likes it but I’m a slow runner and he’s not going to want to hang out for as long as I would need him to for my long runs.
    The reality w/ training is that you’re not going to be able to train like you used to pre-baby when you had much more free time! For me that meant doing short runs around the neighborhood before anyone else got up in the morning (we don’t have a treadmill) or taking my son out in the stroller. On weekends, my husband sometimes ran w/ us at the park for a couple miles and then took my son to the playground while I ran 2-3 more. I did my long runs alone on Sunday mornings. I basically ran 3X week and that was it — before baby, I would have run about 5X. Alas!
    But one thing to consider — the longer my long runs got, the more time it took from my family. I do want to do a marathon in a couple years and I know that’s going to be hard. In your situation, I think having both parents train for long races at the same time may be a little much — you might want to take turn training for a big race like a half or a full marathon. Just a thought. Good luck!

  4. Ali says:

    I wish I remembered the. And of it, but they make a harness that goes around your waist and attaches to the handle of a jogging stroller. I read some really good reviews on it.

    I go to 24 hour fitness and hop on a treadmill. They have the Kids Club there (2hour limit) and my daughter loves it too. She plays and gets some time with other kids. I try to be out for a real run on the weekends too. Good luck!!!

  5. Melanie says:

    http://www.bobgear.com/faq2

    Do not jog/run with an infant, and do not use the carseat while running/jogging.

    1. EmilyBMalone says:

      Hey Melanie – sorry that the picture is misleading (it’s an old one). I actually put him directly in the seat for jogging, and we only do it on a smooth, paved trail. He’s very safe and comfortable!

  6. Louise says:

    I hope this doesn’t come across as mean but, the baby looks entirely too young to be running or jogging with. Also, you should be using the BOB which is designed for running if you are planning to take the baby on long runs. It provides much more support for them.

    1. EmilyBMalone says:

      Louise, that is a BOB! And he’s five months old – old enough to sit directly in the seat and be very safe.

  7. Amy says:

    I think Louise’s point was that there are different models of BOB strollers, some designed for city use and some more appropriate for running. Its hard to tell in your pictures which model you have. Those with larger air tires and better shocks will provide a more comfortable ride for your baby.

    What the previous commenters were getting at I think is that there is research that jogging with a young baby (under a year according to many experts, under 8 months according to BOB) can be dangerous for their brain. The impact is similar to shaken baby syndrome, even on pavement. Fast walking is considered safer. Ultimately its up to you as a Mama to do the research and decide what’s best for you and your family.

    I know its sooo hard to figure out me-time vs. baby time. I’m on my 2nd and still trying to fit in time for long walks with both kids in a double jogger. The young baby days go really fast though, so hang in there!

  8. Jenny says:

    I agree with Melanie. You should NEVER run with a baby in the car seat. The car seat raises the center of gravity and makes the stroller more likely to tip if you hit a little uneven surface. And even a car seat doesn’t keep the baby’s head from jostling during a jog. They do not have the muscle control to deal with it until closer to 9 months (or some even say a year). I know people want to get out and exercise, but do you want to do it at your baby’s expense? You can always walk, which will be much more gentle on baby’s developing system.

  9. guajolote says:

    We ordered a set of ties – short lanyards that have two snap setting on each end. One end loops around stroller/carseat handle/etc. And the othr around the toy. They’re about 3x longer than a pacifier clip. My kiddo now is entertained both by throwing toys “out” and hauling them back in again!

  10. Melanie says:

    Emily, he might be comfortable, but at five months he isn’t safe. Check the link – BOB recommends not running with an infant until they are at least 8 months old.

    In choosing to accompany this post in which you write in favour of running with a too-young infant, you are also leaving an impression that your activity is doubly unsafe. Irresponsible activity, and irresponsible to advocate for it.

    1. EmilyBMalone says:

      Hi Melanie – I do see that on the BOB link. It also says they shouldn’t be directly in the seat until six months, and yet I can’t tell you how many moms I know that switch much earlier. I’m not advocating an unsafe activity, but rather talking about what has worked (or not worked) for me and my infant. My son has very solid head control at five months, and I feel perfectly fine putting him directly in his stroller. I also pad him with blankets on either side to make sure he’s fully supported. I guess what I’m saying is that as moms I feel it’s up to us to make judgement calls based on our individual babies. I feel he is perfectly safe in his stroller, slowly jogging along with me on a completely paved and flat trail. I would obviously not take him off-roading, or on bumpy sidewalks that would jostle him too much.

  11. Melanie says:

    Emily, if you had read the link, you’d recognise that BOB recommends using the seat from *8 weeks*, not 6 months.

    Other manufacturers make their own recommendations, for instance:
    http://www.babyjogger.com/faq.aspx#faq3
    http://www.chariotcarriers.com/english/html/faqs.php#ck2

    You will do what you do, as we all must, but if you are going to write about this in a high-profile blog, you ought to do your research and acknowledge that you are going against the recommendations of the stroller manufacturer and potentially a pediatrician’s advice.

    1. EmilyBMalone says:

      You know what, Melanie? I see your point. I’ll edit the post to reflect our conversation so that I’m clear that I’m choosing to jog with him at five months, not that it’s necessarily the recommendation. I do feel comfortable with my decision, but I agree that it’s best to give recommended advice to the masses. Thanks for the food for thought.

  12. Melanie says:

    Good addendum, Emily!

  13. Drie says:

    I would have to agree with other comments about looking into a different strOer for training for a half marathon – you should probably have one with the inline wheel, like the BOB Ironman or even a Schwinn or something. Your little one should also do better facing out. I also hope your not planning on ever having more children, seeing how you are going thru an identity crises with just one in tow. Just saying – if you and your husband think you may want to have more you either really need to find child care (I know it’s hard, I don’t have any either) or you really need to step down your goals.

    1. EmilyBMalone says:

      The BOB has the option to used a fixed wheel in front, and it is one of the most highly recommended running strollers. I’m pretty offended that you’re suggesting I shouldn’t plan to have more kids – what a ridiculous thing to say to someone. It makes me sad that in a community where most moms are supporting one another and helping each other navigate this journey, you feel the need to be hurtful and aggressive. I never said I was having an identity crisis, and despite your criticisms, I think I’m actually a pretty great mom. It is okay to do accomplish and feel things outside of parenthood, and I think having outside interests and goals actually makes me a better mother and better role model for my son.

  14. Drie says:

    I’ll start off by apologizing for the fact that you’re offended by my comments. I guess I read into this incorrectly, and I quote from above, “I don’t really feel like I have much of an individual identity these days, and I’m hoping to get a bit of that back by recapturing a sport I used to love so much.”. I was just suggesting that if you’re having a rough time at it, you may want to re-check your goals. Set your marathon further out, find other ways to get “you time”. It is very important and if don’t find it now, its only going to get harder the more children you have. I also have a Revolution (duallie) and, while it is a great jogging stroller, I would never consider training for a half-marathon with it. This was pointed out to me by my sister-in-law and her old college roomate (who are both avid marathon, triathalon and ironman competitors) and had suggested the BOB Revolution for my light jogging preference.

  15. maria says:

    Emily, I’m curious. I just started really getting into running with my Bob. How does your pace compare to when you run without the stroller? I supposedly went 4 miles according to the map my run app. I would usually go 6 miles pre-baby on a normal run. Do you consider running with a stroller just as good of a work out even if you go a shorter distance?

    THANKS!

    Maria
    Mother to 8.5 mos old baby girl

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