Stroller speak: Running with a stroller

Limiting the length of your runs to an hour or less is a good way to keep the outing fun.
They say that having a baby changes everything. But for the runner, this really hits home. It's recommended that children be at least six to eight months old before taking them out for a run in a stroller.

So for many new parents, that means six to eight months of sporadic running, heading out the door before sunrise, after dark, or simply getting out of shape. Salvation, however, is just around the corner, and running strollers are the key to getting back into a normal running routine.

What to look for in a stroller

Starting at six to eight months, your child will be ready for all sorts of running adventures and you'll surely be ready for them as well.

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The first step is selecting a stroller that's up to the task. Many brands and styles of running strollers are on the market today, and when you consider that they'll carry a child up to 70 pounds, it's important to get one with all of the features that you'll need for years to come.

Running strollers can be found for as little as $100 and as much as $750 or more, and, up to a point, you get what you pay for. Plan on spending in the $300-$400 range for a good quality stroller.

Wheel size
Wheel size is probably the first consideration when looking for a stroller. Common sizes are 12-, 16- and 20-inch. A model with 12-inch wheels will give your little one a very harsh ride -- especially on dirt trails and rough road -- and is not really recommended. The larger wheel sizes provide a good all-around ride, however the 16-inch wheels pack up smaller when it's time to load the stroller in the car.

Weight
The weight of the stroller and its load capacity are also important items to consider when making your purchase. Strollers generally run in the 20-25 pound range. Obviously, lighter is better, but you don't want to sacrifice durability for weight.

Likewise, the load capacity will determine how many years your child will be able to accompany you on your runs. Load capacities can range from less than 50 pounds to more than 100.

Accessories
Finally, there are multiple accessories to choose from. Shocks for off-road running, weather shields, sunscreens, bug shields, and a whole slew of other optional gadgets are available with each brand of stroller. Depending on where you live, and the type of running you'll be doing, one brand may be better than another.

Do your research before buying, shop around for a good price, and you'll be ready to roll. A good source of information on a variety of models and brands of running strollers, including a comprehensive comparison chart, is available at www.joggingstroller.com.

Guidelines for running with young children

  • Keep it fun: All kids are different, and you don't want to make your runs something that they hate. Start with short 20-30 minute runs and build up the time you spend running, while watching for signs that your passenger is, or isn't, having a good time.

    Some kids will fall asleep while you run, and others will be laughing, talking and squealing with delight from start to finish. Limiting the length of your runs to an hour or less is a good way to keep the outing fun for everyone.
  • Be prepared: This Boy Scout motto lends itself well to running outings with your little one. Toys attached to the stroller with a plastic toy chain give the rider something to play with and keeps you from stopping to pick up thrown toys.

    Packing some snacks or a bottle is important for those unexpected hunger fits. Most likely you won't need to stop for a food break, but the one time you forget it, you'll regret it. A hat, gloves, small blanket, and even weather shield fit easily under the stroller, and they'll come in handy if the wind whips up, the temperature suddenly drops or a spring shower arrives in the middle of your run.
  • Use common sense: While running with your little one is a great way for the two of you to enjoy getting outside and having fun together, you should remember that what's fun for you may not be fun for your passenger.

    What feels like a warm spring day for the runner may be very cold for a passenger who's just sitting. Feel your child's hands from time to time during the run. If they're cold, then it's probably time for a hat, gloves and a jacket. Save your hard runs for a time when you're not pushing the stroller.
  • First, you'll not get the same benefits while pushing your child because running with the stroller will change your form. Second, and more important, running hard will distract you from watching for potholes and other obstacles that could be dangerous.

    Use the leash that comes with your stroller -- it's there for a reason. If you trip or lose your grip on the handle, the stroller will get away from you and you may not get it back before something awful happens. And if the weather looks bad, turn back. Finishing your run should come second to the welfare of your running partner.

    Keep your little running partner happy and you'll be able to enjoy years of fun and exciting adventures. Before you know it, the stroller will be a thing of the past and you'll be struggling to keep up.

    Stroller Strides

    Are you a new mom looking to get back into shape? Then Stroller Strides might be just the thing. Stroller Strides classes consist of a power walk and body-toning exercises using your stroller and your baby.

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    In 50 minutes, you'll get a total body workout improving your cardiovascular endurance, your strength and your flexibility. The class is for all levels -- you create the intensity for how hard you want to work. In Colorado, classes are offered in Colorado Springs (contact Jamie Myran at 800-687-6696) and Littleton (contact Kathy and Karen Zawadzki at 888-684-0641 ) or visit www.strollerstrides.com.

    The BOB line of Sport Utility Strollers is designed to take your kids anywhere. The lightweight design -- just 20.4 pounds for the Ironman models ($349-$439 doublewide) -- and built-in suspension in all of the models provides a cushy ride whether you stay on the bike path or venture off-road.

    Improvements for 2005 include adjustable tracking, such as the castering front wheel on the Revolution ($349) model, so the stroller will always go where you want it to go. BOB has also teamed up with Stroller Strides and introduced the new Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller ($369), which comes with an instructional booklet mimicking the program and exercise tubing. www.bobgear.com.


    Reprinted, courtesy of Windy City Sports Magazine. For more articles and information for Windy City Sports, please visit www.windycitysports.com.


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