My little guy is finally old enough to join me on my morning runs. Any tips for keeping him content while I fit my 3 miles in? What about tricks I should know to ensure pushing a jogging stroller doesn’t inhibit my stride?
A: While a crying baby isn’t as nerve-racking in a running stroller as he is on an airplane, the stress and noise can still make you head for home. Here are some ways to ensure you both enjoy the ride:
- Plan your outings so that you start rolling right as your baby typically gets drowsy. (After a feeding or around naptime is a great option.) Interaction is nice, but peace and quiet are, too.
- If your baby seems to fuss regularly during your runs, start with shorter periods of time (think 10 minutes) and work up to longer outings. As he gets older, he’ll be more interested in the surroundings, your chatter and other entertainment.
- Talk to him. Even if he’s too young to respond, you can keep up a steady patter of the passing scenery or tales of your youth. Or sing songs—at last you’ll have an audience that doesn’t mock your Lady Gaga impersonation.
- Run to a playground, and let him enjoy a few minutes on the swings before your return home.
- Have toys or treats that are “available” only on runs. Use the undercarriage basket to stow a few special toys that can be played with only while he’s riding happily along. Same goes for snacks. (Try animal crackers or pouches that can simply be stored in the stroller and brought out as needed.)
Although a stroller might seem bulky, it shouldn’t change your natural running stride. Take short, frequent steps, and hold on with just one hand—with the safety strap around that wrist, of course—so your other arm can create a rhythm with your steps. (The only times two hands are required are when you are turning a tight corner and climbing or descending a hill.)
To minimize the stroller hunch, pretend you have a balloon attached to the top of your head; your spine should be long and your shoulders back and down. In addition, imagine a pole running from your navel to the stroller handle, and think about propelling the stroller forward with that connection. Although it may appear like your arms are doing the pushing, they’re not the stroller’s motor—your core and lower body are.
—Dimity McDowell, co-founder of Another Mother Runner and co-author of Tales from Another Mother Runner: Triumphs, Trials, Tips and Tricks from the Road