Running and Rolling

Becoming a parent is an exhilarating, apprehensive time! Lives change, shift, and grow. It’s exciting – and tiring! Becoming a parent when you are also a runner comes with one really big question: will I still have the time/the ability/the energy to run?

A Personal Experience

As a new mom, I was really excited to begin running with my son in a stroller. As a runner, I knew that it might be trickier to get my runs in while also parenting a new baby. My wife had given birth to our sweet kiddo and so I wanted to take him along for my runs to both give my wife a break and to keep myself running. After purchasing a secondhand BOB Ironman Stroller off of Facebook Marketplace, I was ready to put in the kms with my 6 month old.

We trained together on and off through the fall of 2017 and then in 2018, I really got into taking him with me. I felt so much joy in sharing my running experience with my growing guy. I was training for the Squamish50 50km at the time and really noticed how strong and resilient I was becoming. For me, stroller running was a wonderful option to keep up with my running and be a good partner for my spouse. 

To Race or Not to Race

I only attempted one race with my son; the Scotiabank 5km in 2017 wasn’t ready for my vim and vigour! With the “STROLLER” bib pinned to my back, I lined up in the stroller section of the race (i.e., not in my proper pace corral) and quietly wondered how this was going to play out. After yelling “on your left!” for the duration of the race and experiencing a curb strike to avoid a direction-changing racer which resulted in my front wheel popping off and my accompanying friend acting as pit crew, we crossed the finish line at 31:44 and I swore I would never do that again. Spoiler: I haven’t. 😉

Seeking Expert Advice

Though further racing wasn’t in our future, training with the stroller has been something I’ve come back to many times in the past few years. My son is now almost 4 and, though I don’t take him with me much anymore, our family does have another baby on the way!  Since stroller training will definitely be back in rotation for me next spring, I wanted to get some expert advice regarding running with strollers. I sat down with Janie Sheppard, kinesiologist, clinic manager, and co-founder of The Runner’s Academy for a chat about running, postpartum, and how to keep moving post-kids. Janie shared her tips for keeping those rolling miles successful ones.

Stroller Running Tips

  1. Test out the options (aka not the first hit on FB Marketplace). You want to make sure that you get the right stroller for you. Try out different models and find something that moves smoothly, has a good strap, and feels comfortable. You want to consider how tall you are and find something that is anthropometrically appropriate for your size.
  2. Be very mindful of your posture! You want to be sure that you are maintaining an upright position and not bending forward at the waist. Ideally, keep one hand on the handle and let the other hand/arm move as it normally would without a stroller. Alternate hands throughout the run and aim to be behind the stroller or slightly beside it. Try your best to keep things in balance!
  3. Pay attention to stride mechanics. Maintaining your normal stride (or as close as possible) is very important. You want to be sure that the stroller isn’t impeding your stride. 
  4. Focus on your drills and warm up. Running with a stroller places more demand on your body. Ensure that you are well warmed up. Drills remind your brain of the right mechanics and prepare your body for the run. 

While running on your own is the most ideal, Janie believes that there can be a place for stroller running in a person’s repertoire. If the only way to get out for a run is with a stroller, she says to definitely do it. There are also wonderful benefits to stroller running, independent of the actual exercise, such as your child seeing you active. It gives you the opportunity to be a great role model for your kid(s)! 

While this post is from my personal experience stroller running as a non-gestational, non-birthing parent, there are important things to consider in postpartum recovery for birthing parents. Janie recommends connecting with a health professional to review your unique return-to-exercise readiness. Experts currently advise waiting between 4 and 6 months before returning to running. Everyone is different so please be sure to make the right choice for your personal situation! UK-based Running Physio has a comprehensive guide regarding return to running post-pregnancy, available here. Note the guide is designed for clinicians, but contains a wealth of information for all readers.

Get Out There

No matter if you decide to stroller run or not, remember to find ways to keep your running going when you have kids. You will undoubtedly find that you are a better parent when you also take care of yourself. Parenting can be challenging; my advice when you hit the hard stuff? Try to roll with it. 😉

For more information about running, visit The Runner’s Academy located in Toronto.