Nerves kicked in as the race was getting closer. Not really for me—this was just a 5K, a distance I run regularly.
But when I signed up for the Shelter Island 5K in San Diego, I reached out to the race director beforehand with a proposition: I want to sign up for your race, I said, but I won't be alone. Rather, I was hoping to run the 3.1 miles with my 9-month-old daughter in a jogging stroller.
The race director said it was no problem, and I happily registered later that day. But as the race approached, I was nervous. What if my daughter got cranky 2 miles in? Would anything be worse than a relaxing run with 1,000 people interrupted by one screaming baby on the course? Would somebody call child protective services on me?
Turns out, it was no issue. My daughter fell asleep right before the starting gun went off, and woke up 27 minutes later by the announcer at the finish line calling us in.
Running with a jogging stroller can be great for families. It keeps you active and gets you out of the house at a time in your life when you may be overwhelmed by responsibility.
My daughter enjoys it, too. She occasionally gets bored and fussy, but for the most part she loves being outside and seeing new things.
I've run hundreds of miles pushing a jogging stroller and have signed up for several races with my daughter. There are a few things to keep in mind that differ a little bit from solo running, but for the most part the transition can be made seamlessly.
Here are some tips to help you get started:
This is probably the last thing you need to be reminded of when dealing with your own child. But it's important that you take advantage of the safety features jogging strollers offer.
First off, avoid using a normal 4-wheeled stroller for jogging. That's not what they're made for. Running with your child requires a smooth-moving stroller with stability. A normal 4-wheeled stroller can tip easily and the wobbly wheels can't be trusted at higher speeds. If you're a new parent serious about running, a jogging stroller is a worthy investment.
Once you find the jogging stroller you like, keep these safety tips in mind:
- The safest strollers have a wrist strap that's connected to the handlebar. Use it, especially if you're approaching any downhills. Jogging strollers will pick up speed going downhill, and if the unthinkable happens and it slips out of your grasp, that strap will prevent the stroller from getting away from you.
- Many jogging strollers have a lever that you can flip to lock the back wheels. If you have to take your hands off the stroller for any reason before or after your run, lock the back wheels. These strollers are designed to glide effortlessly. If you're not on a completely flat surface, the stroller will move down the slightest hills if the wheels aren't locked. Don't risk it.
- Remember, you're responsible for two people when you're running with a stroller. Be paranoid about whether the route is safe, or if the weather is too extreme, or if it's too dark, or any number of other factors. Never let your guard down.