If you’re a runner and a first-time parent (or repeat offender), the idea of booking some miles with your little rugrat and running with a stroller is usually pretty appealing.
You get to do your running workout while spending time with baby – awesome!
But preparing for stroller runs, and adjusting your workouts to account for the stroller, is an art form in itself.
For this article, we sat down with doctors, running coaches, and other parents to put together a complete guide to running with a stroller. We’ll look at:
- When Is It Safe and Appropriate To Start Running With a Stroller?
- Our 13 Do’s and Don’ts of Strollers Runs, including:
- What To Bring With You,
- How To Adjust Your Running Form For Stroller Running,
- How Much a Stroller Will Affect Your Performance,
- Additional Safety Tips For Running With a Stroller,
- And our recommended Running Strollers!
Let’s jump in!
When Is It Safe to Start Running with a Stroller?
Even though it’s normally safe for new mothers to return to regular exercise about six to eight weeks postpartum, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) doesn’t recommend running with a stroller until your baby is at least six months old and can control their head and neck independently.
This is for two reasons:
- your baby should be sat upright when you’re running with it, in order to be comfortable and safe. Babies under six months don’t have the neck or head strength to be in this position comfortably.
- Running with baby is a quite a bit bumpier than going for a gentle walk, and tiny babies much prefer smooth journies – not cross-country escapades!
As a new parent, you’re probably desperate to get out and start logging some miles – and doing it with baby-in-tow is a win-win since you’re both childminding and working out.
But don’t forget these three pre-requisites before dashing out the door with your little one:
1.Mom needs to have been given the all-clear to do exercise by their doctor or gynecologist.
2. Baby should be 6 months old, and comfortable sitting in the upright position.
3. Important: Use an actual running stroller, not just your regular walking stroller.
Walking strollers tend to be top-heavy, and surprisingly unstable if you try to run with them.
Running strollers are designed specifically for going at speed, and are extremely stable (check out our recommendations at the end of this article).
Although a second stroller is definitely an additional expense, treat it as an investment in your health – and think of the money you might save on babysitting fees since you are taking baby with you!
The 13 Dos and Don’ts of Stroller Running
Running with a jogging stroller for the first time can present several new and unexpected challenges.
A lot comes with running with a baby. Not only is the physical aspect more strenuous, but you also have a lot more to think about and plan.
Your runs, much like your life, will never be the same.
But take heart! These tips for running with a stroller will help to better prepare you for running with your new little companion.
1. Don’t Overexert Yourself
Working out post-baby is already a big adjustment on your body. On top of it, you have to learn how runs will go, with the added weight of your jogging stroller. It’s important to go slow at first, so your body and your baby can adjust.
On average, you can expect your pace to be about one minute slower per mile.
Remember not to let a slower pace discourage you.
Here’s why: the jogging stroller provides some resistance training and helps you burn more calories. Also, just like with anything else, the more you run with your stroller, the easier it will be.
Instead of focusing on your pace, try to dial into your Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) – it basically accounts for the extra effort of hauling the stroller everywhere!
Related: 8 Strategies to Beat Overtraining
2. Pack Appropriately
Once your baby is old enough to go on a jog safely, you will have a good understanding of what things you should pack – that are specific to your needs.
Of course, it’s always important to pack what your baby needs, but you also don’t want to overload your stroller with unnecessary items.
Dr. Alison Marie Helms, Certified Personal Trainer /Running Coach and Pregnancy /Postpartum Corrective Exercise Specialist, suggests always having snacks on hand.
She says, “This is more appropriate when your kids are a bit older, but snacks will keep your little one occupied and happy while you get your miles in!” Other things to consider packing are:
Packing For Baby
- A change of clothes
- Diapers and wipes
- Breast milk or formula
- sun hat / sunglasses / suncream as the weather dictates.
Packing For Mommy or Daddy
When you go out for a run with your little one, you’re probably going to be more cautious than when you go solo.
Here are some things you want to remember:
- Plenty of water
- Energy snacks
- A phone with a topped up battery
You should probably leave the headphones at home – unless you’re listening to a quiet podcast in one ear, it’s likely that listening to anything while running with a stroller might distract you, cause you to tune out of your environment, or not hear your baby when it needs some attention!
- Related: Guide To Running While Pregnant
3. Keep the Tires Inflated!
Dr. Helms says it’s a simple tip, but it’s so important!
Unlike regular strollers, your running stroller usually has bicycle-style tires that you want to keep inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended level. This is usually easy to do using a cheap bicycle pump.
If you have under-inflated tires, it’s going to feel like you’re pushing baby up a mountain the whole way round!
4. Don’t Switch Up Your Running Form
Dr. Helms states, “Recent biomechanical studies showed that holding on with both hands actually most closely mimics the natural stride.”
Although she recommends holding on with both hands, there’s still nothing wrong with occasionally only using one hand.
But she does advise, “If you do decide to stick with the one-handed hold, be sure to switch often.”
Related: Proper Running Form Explained
5. Lock the Front Wheel
One of the things to look at when you’re buying your jogging stroller is the front wheel.
Some have a fixed front wheel, while others have a switch that lets you lock and unlock the front wheel.
If your jogging stroller has the wheel lock option, you’ll always want to make sure it’s locked before beginning your run.
Doing so will keep your stroller from unexpectedly turning, and make it easier to run with.
Going for a gentle stroll? Feel free to unlock the wheel for better maneuverability.
Related: 13 Tips To Balance Being a Runner and Having Kids
10. Get Off the Sidewalk
One of the great benefits of a good running stroller is that they tend to be pretty versatile: they’re well-suited to a variety of terrain*.
*as long as it’s not too bumpy!
If you’ve got some gentle and forgiving trails or quiet backroads around, a good running stroller can easily navigate these.
The same goes for urban parks and outdoor tracks – a decent running stroller can be used in any safe, not-too-bumpy terrain!
11. Protect Baby from the Weather
In cooler weather, always remember to keep your baby bundled up. Depending on where you live, you may even want to consider buying a weather shield for your stroller to protect your baby from cold and windy conditions.
On warmer, sunnier days it may be a good idea to put sunscreen on your baby. Most importantly, if there are extreme weather conditions, you will want to keep your run short to keep your baby safe and healthy.
Related: Cold Weather Running Guide, and Running In The Heat
12. Beware Hilly Areas
Getting used to pushing your running stroller is going to take some time.
So it’s worthwhile to go easy on yourself and stay on flatter routes.
Once you are acclimated to running with a stroller you can try a hill workout. Just remember to start small and always engage your core.
13. Reward Yourself + Plan Breaks
Running with a stroller is hard.
Remember to enjoy this time and be patient with yourself and your baby.
Whitney Heins, running coach and founder of The Mother Runners (and fellow writer at Marathon Handbook!), advises to be patient and understand there may be frequent stops.
There will be plenty of time to train, but this time with your baby is short.
Heins recommends ending somewhere fun like the park or an ice cream shop. “This gives older kids (toddlers) an incentive to go the distance. We would also make fun stops along the way and play lots of games.”
14. Follow Up with Extra Trunk Rotation and Strides
Dr. Helms comments on research done by Sullivan et al.
“The two main differences between running biomechanics with and without the stroller were a decrease in trunk rotation and hip extension.
It’s no surprise that running with a stroller decreases the counter-rotation through the shoulders. Interestingly, this showed no effect on the pelvis rotation.
However, the authors suggested that over time a decrease in the overall rotation could occur. Therefore, adding extra rotation into your training could be beneficial.
There was also a decrease in hip extension due to an overall greater forward lean at the hips. Take extra care to not hunch forward over your stroller too!
I give my athletes that run with a stroller regularly extra drills/strides before or after they run to practice that nice forward lean of the whole body.
The simplest way is to part the stroller and run a handful of strides forward and back past your baby.
Get them started early on being your cheerleader!”
Running With a Stroller: Extra Safety Tips
THE biggest concern for any new parent is the safety of their child.
Here are some tips to keep you and your baby as safe as possible:
- Perform routine maintenance – Performing routine maintenance on your stroller will help you spot potential hazards.
- Make sure your child is always strapped correctly into their safety harness.
- Only jog with strollers meant for running.
Our Top 3 Running Stroller Recommendations
1. Thule Urban Glide 2 Running Stroller
The Thule Urban Glide 2 is the go-to higher-end running stroller for parents who want to book some miles with their kids.
Marathon Handbook founder Thomas Watson weighs in:
‘I’ve been running consistently with the Urban Glide 2 since our son was 6 months old, and love it! We regularly take it over the trails near our house, and it’s held it’s own in snow and ice too.
The smooth ride of the Urban Glide 2 makes it super-fun to run with, and the features such as the twist-brake and adjustable handlebar – as well as the pocket placement – has clearly been designed with running parents in mind.
Check out our full review of the Thule Urban Glide 2, or our video review below!
2. BOB Gear Revo Flex 3.0 Jogging Stroller
BOB strollers are an established brand, and they’re loved by many because of their durability, suspension system, and extra features.
The Revo Flex 3.0 has an adjustable handlebar, mountain bike suspension system, and is extremely lightweight.
It’s also compatible with a number of different car seats and has plenty of room in its undercarriage storage compartment.
3. Baby Jogger Summit X3 Jogging Stroller
The Baby Jogger Summit X3 is great for those looking for a hybrid stroller. It has all-terrain stability. Its neatest features are a handbrake which controls the rear brake and a handlebar control to easily lock and unlock the front wheel. It’s also extremely popular for its UV 50+ weather canopy.
Getting back into a regular routine after having a baby is challenging. As a runner,
training yourself to properly run with a jogging stroller can be even more challenging.
But, with the tips above you should be able to hit the ground running, and keep training for your best performance!
Related: Tips for Running After Childbirth