Monday, August 18, 2014

Buying and Running with a Jogging Stroller

One of the most crucial gifts that we received before the twins were born was a jogging stroller. We use ours all the time for running, walking and general use. Running with this stroller took a little getting used to, so I thought I would give some tips that I have learned along the way for purchasing and running with the stroller.

1. Do some research, and test drive one at a store - Although it's hard to know what you truly need until your child arrives and you see what life and your needs truly are, you can at least get a sense of what you like and don't like. Babies R' Us has the BOB brand stroller, and although they did not have the double stroller for me to test, I could at least test out the single stroller to get a sense of how they were made and how easy they were to push. Don't be shy, pull that stroller right off the display and push it around (trust me, the sales folks really don't mind). We ended up going with a BOB Revolution SE Duallie, but there are other options. They also have a newer Flex Stroller that I haven't tried, but has an adjustable handlebar for different height runners that looks interesting. Some running shops and bike shops have strollers for you to check out.

My kiddos enjoying some stroller time. My son just learned the idea of saying "cheese" for pictures, and this is his very best "cheese" face.

2. Find a good local bike shop - Your stroller is essential a bike. We use ours on all kinds of surfaces (sidewalks, asphalt, packed crushed gravel/dirt paths), and inevitably, you will get a flat tire. A good bike shop can have you back up and running in a matter of about 5 minutes. Kuddos to you if you can fix a flat bike tire by yourself, but I find trying to do this while dealing with my two kids to be too much to juggle. I actually brought my flat tire in the other day with both kids in tow to the bike shop and they had me fixed up in no time and because they could tell I had my hands full with the kids, they carried the tire back out to my car for me. For those in the Baltimore County area I highly recommend the Bicycle Connection on the corner of York and Warren Road. You may want to carry a small bike pump in the pocket of your stroller to refill a tire on the go if you have a problem after you get going.

3. Find out when the manufacter recommends it is safe to run with infants in your stroller - our manual recommended waiting until at least 6-8 months old when the babies could hold their heads up on their own. It is not considered safe to run with them before this, and although I have seen many people do this, I wouldn't recommend it, and our pediatrician agreed. You can use your stroller at about 8 weeks old for walking though or sooner if you buy an infant car seat adapter. Unfortunately, they do not make a double infant car seat adapter for 2 infants (clearly they did not have twins in mind when they made this accessory), so we just waited until the kids were 8 weeks old to take them out in it and used another stroller that my two car seats clicked into until that point and for a long time for non-exercise outings. We used inserts made by Boppy for some extra head support. We still actually have the inserts in the stroller and they have a fleece side for winter and a non-fleece side for summer. The removable side head support piece is helpful when they are very little and have no head support.

4. Look for a stroller that has a front wheel that locks in place for jogging and also converts to a swivel for walking. Its tough to use the stroller for general use if the front wheel is always in a locked position.

5. Make sure the stroller fits in your car - this really isn't an issue for us as we have an SUV and a Minivan, but if you have a smaller car, this is something to consider. The BOB wheels do come off to make it more compact for transport, but this is one extra step to put the wheels back on your stoller before you can start your run.

6. If you have more than one child, or expecting more than one child, you probably only need the double stroller. There are rare occasions when I find the need or opportunity to take one child without the other, and it would be nice to have a single stroller for this, but for the once a month that this actually happens, it is not worth the cost or storage space. We don't have a garage so our stroller lives in our cars most of the time, and when I do end up only running with only one in the double stroller, it feels like a dream because I am pushing 25 less pounds than I usually do.

7. People always comment to me about how hard it must be to push two kids in a jogging stroller. Yes, it is harder than running without one. But one thing I have learned is that although it is harder, the better running shape you are in, the less you notice the difference. I took my daughter out on my long run one day because it was that or not run at all, and I wasn't sure I could go the 12 miles I was planning because the most I had ever done with the stroller before had been about 5 miles. But I was in good running shape, so although the run was slow, it actually wasn't as hard as I expected. It was also really nice to be able to carry extra water with me. It's probably best to build up to longer runs though. I don't recommend planning a long run the first few times you run with the stroller. I am about a minute slower per mile with the stroller than without, but hey, I am pushing about 80 pounds between the stroller and the two kids, and getting a great workout. I try not to pay too much attention to my pace.

Me and my running buddies.

8. Consider some accesories - Although I love my Bob Revolution Duallie, my one complaint is that although there is a pocket on the back of the each seat, there is no built-in parent console. Luckily they actually make one (yes it costs extra, and in my opinion should just be a built in design feature of the BOB, but at least it is available). This is a must-have accesory. I use mine to carry a phone, water and my keys, or anything else I may want to have handy. Other accessories that I use all the time are our sun shield for blocking out UV rays, and a weather shield for rainy or windy/cold days. These make the stoller more versatile and allow me to not worry about the kids getting sunburned on sunny days without spending 10 minutes chasing my kids around trying to get sunscreen on them. The links are all for the double stroller, but they sell them all for single strollers as well.

My Parent Handlebar Console

9. Running form - When you are running with your stroller, you want to watch your form. Its very easy to get lazy, especially when you are tired a few miles in and lean on your stroller. Try not to do this. Try to keep your body upright. I typically use the wrist safety strap and either put one hand on the handlebar and keep my other hand swinging at my side as I normally would for running and then alternate arms periodically, or I push the stroller away from me and let it freely roll as I jog to catch up to it (still with my wrist in the strap). If I am running up hill, I usually need to use both hands to push the stroller. You will get a better upper body workout with a stroller than you get with running alone, which is not entirely a bad thing. Because the front wheel is locked for stability while running, turns can be tricky. I find them easiest if I tilt the stroller back just a little with both hands on the handlebar so that the front wheel is actually off the ground. This makes turns much more fluid.

10. Family outings are fun and help split the work - My favorite runs with the stroller are where my husband and I go together. We get to spend some time together as a family, and we tend to alternate who pushes the stroller every mile or so, so no one person has too much of the workload.

Hubby and me running in our neighborhood 5K in May. The whole family participated.

11. Plan ahead - especially if your child is less than a year and still taking milk frequently, or if you are going on a long run, don't get caught unprepared. If I am going long, I often bring sippy cups with me, and sometimes a small travel diaper bag that carries wipes and a few diapers and doubles as a changing pad. If I am going short (3 miles or less) or if I am just running around my neighborhood, I often don't bother take these things, as I am pretty close to home if we need to swing back unexpectedly. If your child is a bit older, you may want to consider bringing snacks or a small toy with you to keep them entertained. I find my kids don't really need a toy though as they just really enjoy riding in the stroller and often look around, point things out ("puppy", "car", or my favorite "Go, Go, GO!") or take a little snooze in the stroller. You also want to bring anything you might need, water, fuel, music. I sometimes play music on my phone and sit it in the parent console.

Passed out in the stroller during a run

Note: Thank you to my husband who provided me with input for this post. He runs with the stroller about as much as I do, and had some useful things to add to the information in this post.


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