Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tips: Running with a Jogging Stroller

Being a runner who also has a son, I often find myself torn between getting my daily workout in and spending as much time with my son as I possibly can.  Now that the light of day is getting longer and the weather is getting warmer, however, I have the option of taking my son out for a run in his jogging stroller.  I'll be the first to admit, running with a jogging stroller takes some getting used to.  But hearing my little guy laugh like crazy as we go over bumps, and seeing him smile up at me during the run is an experience well worth the awkwardness of running with a stroller.  Here are some tips I've come to realize in the short time I've been running with my son in a stroller.  Any further tips would be much appreciated!

  • Make sure there is even tire pressure in all tires.  This will help ensure your stroller does not pull to one side or another.
  • You can choose to run with both hands pushing the stroller, or one hand pushing the stroller.  I've found that with one hand pushing the stroller, you have a much more natural running motion, but that it's much harder to control the stroller's direction.  For reasons of safety and control, I keep both hands on the stroller.  This tends to lead to less pull to one side or another as well.
  • Use the wrist strap.  Given the preciousness of the cargo we're pushing, using the safety strap to ensure your stroller doesn't get away from you in the event of a mishap is a good idea.  My wrist strap is quite short, meaning that if i were to fall, my stroller would most likely tip.  This is a trade-off I'm willing to accept.
  • Very securely strap your child into the stroller.  There is plenty of jostling going on during a run and it's best to ensure your child is as safe as possible.
  • If your front wheel has a lock, ensure it's locked.  While it's nice to have a front wheel that swivels during a walk, you'll want it to be locked during a run to ensure you can move forward smoothly.
  • If you need to change direction quickly, to avoid a telephone pole, wrap around a corner or for another reason, lift the front wheel slightly off the ground.  I've found this to be the easiest way to maneuver the stroller while moving quickly.
  • Shorten your stride.  Without a full arm swing, your balance will be slightly different from what you're used to.  Additionally, your immediate line of vision is obstructed by the stroller, and so you may not see a lip in the sidewalk (etc...).  Shorten your stride to help ensure you don't trip yourself up or get your feet tangled in the stroller itself.
  • Pace doesn't matter, SLOW DOWN!  This is important for so many reasons; the well being of your child, you and the people you are sharing your running route with being at the top of the list.  In my experience, the stroller will slow you down already, which is a good thing.  Don't plan to go out on your tempo run with the jogging stroller.  I've found the stroller is best used for recovery runs when I purposefully want to keep my pace down.  You can still move pretty quickly if you have your technique and stroller dialed in, but I definitely don't recommend trying to push it.
  • Plan your run for a time that will not be busy.  I think it's important to run during the daylight hours to ensure you have the best available vision on your run, but you don't want to do a stroller run while your running route is busy with people/cars.  This should come into play when picking where you do your run and what time you do your run.  You are quite a bit bigger than on a "normal" run, and if it's busy, you'll find yourself starting and stopping a lot more than you may like.
All-in-all, as awkward as it may seem to begin with, you'll soon get used to running with the stroller.  It might take a few runs to get it right, but soon enough you'll be able to enjoy something that your child will enjoy as well, all while getting a good workout in!  

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