Over the past 4 years, I’ve done most of my training pushing a running stroller. On average, I’d say about 85% of my running is with the stroller. While at first I resisted (ugh, how can anyone get in a workout with this huge thing?), it’s now so natural I don’t even question it. Even while training for the last Olympic Trials, every run except long runs and track workouts was with my kids. Along the way I’ve learned some things that may be helpful to others in the Salty community.
First and foremost, the key to enjoying your runs with a stroller is to remain flexible. I don’t follow a strict training schedule or attempt doing any kind of workouts with the stroller. I know some people who try intervals, or fartleks, while running with their stroller, but I ruled that out early on. Trying to stick to a workout can be frustrating if you have to repeatedly stop or interrupt your plan to deal with fussy kids, or whatever else you encounter along the road.
Effort over pace
You also may want to turn off your GPS watch while using your stroller, as this can be misleading. I always run by time anyway, preferring to pace my runs off effort, but I think it’s particularly helpful when pushing a stroller. Obviously, you’re going to run slower while pushing a stroller. But, I think the fact that you’re pushing extra weight (I calculate mine is around 90 lbs right now!), counterbalances your slower pace. Think of every run as a strength session, and then when you do go solo, running faster will feel even easier!
When I do want to run harder, I try to find hilly places to run. Pushing all that weight up a hill really gets you breathing hard, and holding back the stroller on downhills gets in a great arm workout as well.
Time stroller running around naps while they’re young. When my kids were still young enough to be in their carseat while in the running stroller (under 6 months), I’d run when it was their naptime. Otherwise they’d usually fall asleep anyway, throwing off their schedule. It also allowed for a more uninterrupted run, cutting down on the number of times I’d have to stop to feed them, change a diaper, etc.
Time stroller running around meals when they’re older. My kids don’t sleep in the stroller anymore, but it’s a great time saver to feed them a meal while out running. It keeps them entertained, and is much easier for me to hose down the stroller after a run then clean the kitchen/eating area! This summer they ate breakfast almost every day in the stroller so I could run before it got too hot out.
Destination runs 1.0
Run to a destination, breaking it up for both you and the kids. Studies have shown that breaking up runs (either long runs, or double runs with little recovery between), have the same benefits as one continuous run. So don’t stress if you have to stop your run to take care of the kids, or do an out and back with a visit to a playground in between. We do destination runs often- either to a park, the library, or somewhere they can get out and play. This makes them excited to go out for a run, and overall a better time for us all!
Destination runs 2.0
Run at your destinations. If you don’t mind hanging out in running clothes, try to find a run route near whatever activity you’re driving to that day. This will help break up the daily monotony for you, as well as let them enjoy an adventure of finding new things!
I have fun with my pint sized training partners. Besides setting a good example for my kids, stroller running allows them to see more and explore the world. We talk about things we see, spend quality time outside, and enjoy this part of our daily routine.