If you hit the parks of Louisville early in the morning, you see them. Squads of moms, and sometimes dads, running with strollers. Single strollers, double strollers, strollers everywhere. Of course, its popularity usually lies in the convenience, not the challenge. Most of us would prefer running free, sans stroller, any day. It’s a lot easier when you’re not pushing half your bodyweight or more or having to keep kiddos happy.
In fact, many parents dread the stroller run, but you don’t have to. There are ways to make stroller running more enjoyable for you pushing and the kids riding. This post will cover how to make stroller running more fun for everyone with tips from our past and current Louisville Stroller Crew members.
Stroller selection—It all starts with stroller selection. You don’t have to go with the fanciest or priciest model. The only features it really “needs” are a fixed/lockable third wheel and a safety strap. The important thing is that it fits your body. You shouldn’t have to lean down to push, and the handlebar shouldn’t be so high that it causes wrist/forearm pain. Many brands have models with adjustable handlebars, but that’s not necessary if the height of the stroller handles fit you and you’re the only one using the stroller.
How can you tell if it fits your body? Try it out if you can. You should be able to hold your arms at a normal height for running, bending 90 degrees at the elbow. The handlebar should be right at your hand level. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice your running form.
If you’re sharing the stroller with a partner, and you have a large height difference, you’ll definitely want to go with one with an adjustable handlebar. Also, double strollers tend to have higher handlebars, so adjustable ones on doubles are better for shorter parents
Body position/posture—It’s always tempting to lean into the stroller. Don’t. This will lead to back and/or wrist pain and doesn’t use your biggest muscles. Just like with running in general, it’s all in the butt. Think of it this way, you set your arm at a static position and then kind of run into the stroller handle to push it.
“It’s easy to slump over with stroller running,” explained Tara Jo Thomas, a former double stroller runner. “Tuck your hips in, ‘take your butt with you,’ and keep your shoulders back.”
You can think of a string coming straight out of the front your pelvis, pulling you along. If you can feel it in your glutes, you’re doing it right! And it will definitely pay off when you run without the stroller. Don’t be afraid of hills either! It’s a great chance to work on driving from your glutes and hips, even if you have to walk.
Hydration— Just because you have all of the extra storage and a cup holder doesn’t mean you’ll have a free moment. Pushing the stroller is hard enough work without having to placate your passengers. Add in heat or humidity, and it can be easy to get behind on hydration.
“Pay extra attention to hydration beforehand,” pointed out Kaitlin Buchanan, who has gone from a single stroller to a double recently. “It’s just not always easy to grab a drink.”
You can also set up an alert on your phone or watch to remind you to stop to hydrate. You can also check on your passengers and their hydration needs as well. Don’t forget them in your water plan!
Flexibility—This is an important tip for many aspects of stroller running, from the kids to the weather and also giving yourself the chance to slow down. Things don’t always go to plan.
“Kids are unpredictable,” pointed out Christina Martinez, another double stroller runner. “Some days they are loving it and other days they just want to go straight to the playground. Be flexible and just enjoy each experience. Some days you will get in a great run and other days it’s more about playtime.”
This flexibility extends to the weather as well. “Stroller running can happen in almost any weather!,” emphasized Corrine Burrmeister, a double stroller runner who famously gets her 1 year old and 4 year old out in any weather. “Invest in a rain cover because that works both for rain and cold. Also a bunting bag is handy for super duper cold days. And a thermal head to toe suit for babies makes bundling much easier.”
Enjoy the moment—We’ve all heard “they won’t stay little forever,” and the stroller days can seem to go by too quickly. Slow down, enjoy the time together, and make the most of it.
“Find a way to keep your kids engaged,” advised Tara Jo. “We practiced colors with mailboxes and cars in the driveways, colors of houses, etc. I played the free Pandora Preschool station to sing phonics.” Make the most of what you see. Talking has a double bonus, you can engage with your kids and make sure you’re running easy enough at the same time.
If they are antsy, find something the kids like as a treat. Looping by a playground can be handy but can lead to frustration. Small suckers, fruit snacks, and graham crackers can be handy to get another mile or two in. You can use stickers, small books, or anything else small that your child loves to keep them happy while you get your run in.
Savor the freedom it gives you as well as the connections. You can go anywhere the stroller can. “Stroller runs are as much about the self-care of just getting out there as the run,” explained Emileigh Ledgerwood, soon to be another double stroller runner. “Make sure to find your tribe of other stroller moms because they get it, both for the runs and where you are in life.”
Embrace the slow down of stroller running. Go with the flow. You’ll find it will increase your fitness as well as your bond with your child.
Tara Jo had the perfect last words: “Savor that time. It goes quickly, and it’s precious bonding time between your fitness and your kids watching you.” Never forget they are watching and the power of being that active role model.
What are your top tips for stroller running? Leave them in the comments below. We love to share customer tips!