Dear New Running Mom,
Congratulations on your new little bundle of joy! I know those last 40 (give or take) weeks were long and arduous, but completely worth it to have that sweet baby in your arms. But now that junior is finally on the outside world, and you are feeling recovered from the marathon that is childbirth, I’m sure you are itching to go for a run.
If you are like most running moms, you probably have a shiny new jogging stroller just begging to start logging miles. You’ve also likely seen other running moms posting photos on social media of their own new bundles of joy wrapped up in their car seats and strollers, just ready to run. So you too might be wondering how soon until you can take your brand new running partner out for a spin? Because what could possibly be better than sharing your love of running with the little love of your life?
Believe me, I understand. With my second child, I was so excited to hit the streets that my family even threw me a surprise running-themed baby shower.
But before the two (or more!) of you hit the road together for the first time, here are a few things you should know:
1) You might be ready to run, but is baby?
Technically, 6-8 months old is the rule of thumb before putting your baby in a stroller and running with him or her. This is based on the fact that up until this age, babies typically don’t have the head control and neck strength to prevent their little bobble heads from bouncing all around with the bumps and jolts that often accompany riding in a jogging stroller. However, this varies from baby to baby, and other factors such as car seat adaptors and neck support pillows may assist in your decision. So always check with your pediatrician first, to weigh the pros and cons and determine if your baby is ready to run (or ride, as the case may be).
2) Have the right gear.
Do not attempt to run with a traditional four wheel stroller. They were not designed for running, and could become very unsafe very quickly. Instead, make sure you have a jogging stroller designed specifically for running. Read the instructions to make sure you know exactly how to use your stroller, including but not limited to: the hand brake, the safety strap, and the locking front wheel. Never run without the front wheel locked. I know, it’s much easier to turn corners with a swivel wheel, but one pothole or stray rock can quickly and unexpectedly turn that wheel and cause the stroller to flip.
Also, make sure you maintain your stroller and check it frequently for any broken or worn components, low tire pressure, loose screws, or any other possible wear and tear.
3) Stroller running technique is NOT the same.
You are going to feel, and likely be, slower from pushing all of this extra weight in front of you. Don’t let your slower pace bring you down; instead, think of it as resistance training that is only making you stronger and faster! Further, because you have your arms out in front of you holding the stroller, your posture and even quite possibly your running gait might change. Being aware of this factor will help you to actively prevent it. Make sure you hold your core tight and remain tall; avoid leaning on the stroller as much as possible. Switch the arm you use to push the stroller frequently to prevent built up tension in your neck, shoulders and arms.
4) Safety, safety, safety.
I know, as a new mom your likely obsessed with the safety of your baby, so I’m clearly preaching to the choir here. But keep in mind while you are out for your run, your running safety tips and techniques are now multiplied by two. Know where you are going at all times, and make sure your running route is stroller friendly. Check the weather, and keep in mind that while you are hot and sweaty, baby is not only sitting still, but is being subjected to the elements (wind, rain, sun, etc.). Watch your step: that curb or pothole you can easily avoid on your own now has to be navigated over/through/around with a bulky stroller, AND the most precious cargo you could ever imagine.
As a running mom, you are truly setting a wonderful example for your children, showing them the importance of health and fitness, as well as teaching them about the joys and rewards of hard work and dedication. These early days of running with your sweet baby in the stroller will be memories that one day you will truly cherish, as we all know these precious babies grow up way too fast. So make sure you are taking the right steps to get your running relationship together off on the right foot…literally!
And welcome to the running moms club!