Now that we have added Ellie to #TeamMcMILEan we have had to learn how to incorporate stroller running into our training and race life. Thus far it has been an adventure and learning curve to say the least however with the transition of her to sitting up and looking out on runs versus having to be in the car seat looking directly up at the sky I think we are on course for more success. As with so many things in the parenting realm I never knew how DIFFICULT stroller running could be before actually having to do it myself. I am not talking about the physical component of having to push this massive thing in front of you without tripping up as you stride, I am referring to all the other factors that go into it that you probably would never think about (because I sure as heck didn’t) until you have to experience them on a daily basis. First of let me state that if you and your kids have mastered stroller running I would love some feedback on how to be more successful for both mine and Ellie’s sake. For those of you like me who are new to this, who are going to be new to this, or who just want to increase your compassion for all those parents you see running by let me shed some light on what I have learned so far.
- Invest in an actual RUNNING stroller. We have a THULE which is extremely pricey I am not going to lie, but I use it almost every day and put miles on it. We wanted to make sure we had something that would maneuver turns easily, not mess up our strides, and be easy to take up and down. This stroller works extremely well in doing all those things. It also is extremely secure for Ellie to sit in while we’re running. Before she transitioned to sitting in the seat with the harness herself we had purchased the car seat adapter so we could put her in the stroller with us. It was super simple to install (literally two clicks) and held the car seat securely. We have a walking path in our neighborhood that requires you to go up and down a little bridge on both ends of it. The bridges aren’t flush with the ground and therefore the stroller wheels hit the bottom part when you are approaching it unless you pop a wheelie. No matter which of those two options I pick Elbow doesn’t get too jostled and the stroller just keeps on chugging along. For serious runners you need serious strollers. This was one of the items I had Robert research before we made a purchasing decision- if you couldn’t tell from his amazingly detailed product reviews he is much better at paying attention to specifics than I am. I am so happy he did. I know the BOB is supposed to be a great brand too, but we have not tried it. The ease of taking the THULE up and down (I can do it one handed with Ellie in my other arm), its shocks for absorbing bumps (we have a lot of construction in our neighborhood so I am always hitting stones), and the actual safety features make me recommend the THULE stroller 100%.
- You have to remember there is a little human in there. This creates a whole set of considerations that you never had to think about when running without a stroller. Yes Robert and I would always run together, meaning I had another person with me to consider, but this is oh so very different. When Ellie was sitting in the carseat adapter I had to always remember that the wind was opposite when I was running which meant sometimes I would run the first part of my route then turn and be like oh shoot the wind has been blasting her in the face this whole time. It may be too windy, too hot, or too cold for your baby. It may start to mist a little and that doesn’t bother you, but do you really want the baby in it? (The answer to that last one is no).
- You shouldn’t leave the neighborhood. This one is for a few reasons and is obviously dependent on where you live. We learned this lesson the hard way one day in the middle of a winter family run when Ellie started sobbing out of nowhere. Thankfully Robert was able to sprint home with her, I think she had gotten too cold and just wanted to be home. Another time I was on my way home from Kitty’s (which is only 1 mile from our house) and Ellie started wailing. Sadly for her, I am not as fast as her father. Now I stay in the neighborhood and run the .78 mile loop so that I am never too far from home when I am with her. When Robert and I were looking at buying a house one of the deciding factors was, is it a “runnable area?” We LOVED our neighborhood because of the walking path around the mini lake (it’s too big to be a pond but not big enough to be a lake). It is only a .25 mile track, but it adds just enough distance that I do not go bonkers when I am doing laps of the neighborhood. Yes, 6 laps to do 4 miles is a bit annoying, but it could be a lot worse and it keeps Ellie close to home which makes everything easier.
- You probably won’t get the distance you want. I cut my run short because Ellie starts to get cranky due to the fact that she is either bored, hot, tired, hungry, wet,…. at least once a week and I will not make her sit for more than 4 miles even if she is being awesome. Would I like to get consistent mileage? Of course. Am I realistic that somedays that isn’t going to happen? Of course. On those days if I only get 3/4 of a mile in I try to be grateful for the little bit of mileage we were able to muster. Then I just remember that throughout the day I am constantly running around the house with her so I am still getting some sort of cardio going on.
- You are working way harder even if your mileage is shorter. Pushing a running stroller, even on a flat surface is way more of a workout than a normal run. A lot of people have commented that I have become much faster post baby. Although I do believe there are some physiological (I think I am using that right, MD friends help me out if I’m wrong) factors that probably help me to shave off a few few seconds I think the fact that I am pretty much running with resistance everyday is a HUGE factor. When I go for a run without Elbow now it is like I am light as a feather. So although my quads and arms are much more sore from four mile runs then they have ever been before I think it is justifiable and doing me more good than I know. I was never a fan of speed work so this is a helpful way for me to get faster without having train in a way that I do not really enjoy. Shoutout to all the parents who whiz by me in a double running stroller- I truly do not know how y’all do it.
- You will fall behind on your podcasts. In case you missed my post on podcast running Robert and I are huge fans of listening to podcasts while you run. Here’s a pro-tip: unsubscribe or at least prevent them from automatically downloading on your phone. You aren’t (I hope) going to have headphones in while you’re running because you need to hear your little one. Therefore all the time you used to have to listen to those great stories is in the past. I tried to listen to one with it on my phone speaker once, but when listening to someone talking (not a song that you already know) it’s hard with all the other noises outside. You may be able to play a Disney Pandora station coming out of your phone speaker without judgement though, so there is that silver lining.
- You will probably have to stay in sweaty clothes for a little while (or a long one) after your run. Remember how there is the tiny human in there? Well more likely than not, if you are running with them that means there is not someone else around to watch them. So when you finish your run you now get to take care of them not you. So you will probably not have the opportunity to take a nice shower and get clean immediately afterward. Sometimes I got lucky when Ellie was in the car seat and I could just bring that whole unit upstairs with me if she was sleeping soundly enough while I showered fast. Most days though when I stop running she stops snoozing (if she fell asleep at all) and wants to play for a bit. That means I either have to bring up her bouncer or play table to keep her occupied while I am in the shower or I have to wait to shower until her next nap. Thankfully I am not a super sweaty runner (sorry Robert) so I do no have to worry too much if it is an hour or two before I can jump in the shower.
- They make toys for that. There are tons of toys designed specifically for strollers to hang from the umbrella part or to go across the front. These are lifesavers. Go get one. Ellie loves to swing at the one she has above her head, grab it, and then use it as a teething toy (shocking). If you do not want to invest in a specific stroller toy let me suggest something that has a clip handle that you can attach SOMEWHERE to the stroller. My daughter adores chucking things from wherever she is. I have a hard enough time keeping track of her toys whilst she is on her rug in the house. We would have lost her Minnie Mouse crinkle book yesterday if it had not been latched on to the mesh pocket in the seat- and believe me that would have been a travesty. These types of toys not only will help prevent toy losses throughout the runs, but also keep toys from getting tossed into dirt which means you have to wash them before giving them back to your child…right…
- It is really hard to find long races. Most longer distance races do not allow for strollers. I do understand this to a point because these races are often very full and strollers take up room. However, I have no problem starting at the back of the pack and making my way up. I’m not saying I am going to win the race, but even with the stroller I manage around 9 minute miles. I also do not think a marathon distance is a great idea for someone to run with a stroller for the child’s sake, but I do not know you and YOUR child so no judgment if that works for your family. However when a kid takes a road trip they sit in the car for longer than a half marathon usually without stopping. I wish more half marathons would be open to strollers, like I said I do understand why to a point but work with the stroller runners I’m sure they wouldn’t mind starting in the last corral if it meant starting.
- It is the greatest blessing in the world. If you’re a runner to the point where you are taking your child with you on a run you are probably passionate about the sport. I don’t know too many sports that allow for a parent to participate in with their child from
day onesix weeks after birth. Although my runs definitely look a lot different now, I LOVE being able to be with Ellie on even a short run. I get to do what I love with the little girl who stole my heart. It is a BLESSING even when I only get a mile run, even when she starts fussing, and even when I am shivering from the sweat that has dried waiting for Robert to get home. I hope that Ellie enjoys the adventures we go on now and continues to do so as she grows up so that she develops her own love of running simply by being immersed in it. Remember to embrace these moments, they are oh so fleeting.
Running with a stroller these past six months has definitely taught me a lot that I did not know- as has everything the past six months if I am being honest. I know that as Elbow keeps growing her likes and dislikes and her ability to sit in the stroller will change which means I may do a follow up post later on to see what still holds true once my baby grows.