Moms and Running: How to Plan for a Hassle-free Stroller Run
As a mom of young children, making time to head out the door for a run can be a challenge in itself. A lack of sleep and energy, combined with a never-ending to-do list and a shortage of helping hands can often result in planned runs either being postponed or cancelled altogether, much to the frustration of the runner mom. There is, however, an easy way to make running a part of your routine as a new mom: Running with a jogging stroller.
And although the prospect of getting an infant or toddler (or two!) ready for a stroller run may be enough to send any mother runner fleeing in the opposite direction, this simple, ten-point checklist will have you heading out the door for a hassle-free stroller run in no time:
Get the go-ahead
The most important step before embarking on your stroller running journey, is getting the go-ahead from your physician or caregiver. Most moms get the go-ahead to start running six weeks post-partum, while it is often recommended that infants be a minimum of six months old before joining mum for their first stroller run. These general guidelines may, however, not be applicable to your particular situation, so be sure to get an expert opinion.
Plan your route
Once you have your physician’s blessing to lace up those running shoes, practical planning for your first stroller run can commence. First of all, identify a running route suitable for stroller runs. A safe, easily accessible, relatively short circular route that starts right outside your front door is always a good call. Avoiding having to pack up and drive somewhere in order to start your run saves time and energy, plus using a shortish, circular route will ensure that you are never too far away from home, should baby want to call it a day.
Also make sure that the surface of your route is stroller friendly: Hobbling over rocks or through potholes is unsafe and will only lead to frustration. Bike paths, if available, are always a good option: They keep you out of traffic, plus the surface is usually easy to navigate.
Pre-prepare drinks and snacks
Save time by preparing drinks and snacks for your toddler the evening before your run. Air-popped popcorn is an easy and healthy option, and will keep little fingers occupied for a while. Other healthy, no-fuss options include fruit wedges, veggie sticks and cheese squares. Rather leave the messy yogurts and sticky treats for eating at home.
Where possible, run with non-spill drink bottles. You don’t want to cut your run short as a result of an accidental spill.
Always be ready
The window of opportunity for a stroller run can disappear just as quickly as it appeared, so always be ready! Set out your running gear the evening before a run and put it on first thing in the morning; pack the stroller the night before; and make sure that drinks and snacks are pre-prepared and ready.
Get your timing right
Good timing can make or break a stroller run. Try to avoid heading out for a run right after nap time, when baby is well-rested and ready to play and explore. Ideally, a stroller run should take place right after a feeding and changing and before a nap. This way the chances are good that baby will fall right asleep, giving you a bit more time on the road.
Check the weather forecast
Nothing can cut a stroller run short like an unexpected rain shower or cold spell. Check your local weather forecast before heading out and prepare accordingly: Pack a rain cover; take an extra blanket/warm jacket for baby; and on sunny days don’t forget the sun hats and sunscreen (for both of you!).
It is vital to be seen when you’re out on the road; even more so when you’re running with a little one. Wear bright-colored clothing, run facing oncoming traffic, stick to well-populated areas and only run during daylight hours. It’s also a good idea to let someone know that you’ll be out running, and when you’ll be back. Last, but not least, pop your cellphone in a stroller pocket in case of an emergency.
Vary entertainment options
Longer stroller runs can become quite tedious for toddlers – get creative and make it fun! And why not leave the iPad at home and opt for some fun, interactive games instead? Work on your toddler’s counting and color recognition skills by counting the number of red cars you see during your run. Or what about a quick game of “I spy with my little eye”?
Involve your child in your workout
Another way to get your toddler excited about stroller runs, is to actively involve them in it. Appoint them as official cheerleader for uphills, or give them the task of pace controller for a fun interval workout. You can even opt to run to a park for some strides, skipping or core strengthening exercises, which your child can mimic and is sure to enjoy.
Adapt your expectations
Perhaps the most important rule of stroller running is this: Be adaptable. Chances are good that your run is not going to go 100% according to plan. Your child might need a diaper change, a feed, or just not feel like running on a particular day – and that’s okay. Adapt your run to suit your little team mate and just enjoy the time you’re spending together. The most important thing is getting out there, being active and having fun with your little one!