5 Rules for Successful Stroller Running

Friday 5Today I took the kids to a park with a 1.36 mile trail loop. I wanted a softer surface after 10 miles on the roads yesterday and I thought this would be just the ticket. The fam and I were just at this park over the weekend and walked a little on the trail and it was pretty decent for a stroller run. WAS being the operative word. Wouldn’t you know TODAY would be the day that dump truck after dump truck would arrive at the park filled with SAND as they began to resurface the otherwise perfect crushed gravel path? Seriously. I have never run here before but often considered it. It’s super close to our house. It has a great playground and other amenities and a perfectly manicured flat loop trail. But the ONE day I show up with the stroller I get to run on this:

I didn't expect to push a double stroller on the beach today! Those are my tracks (and a dump truck's tracks) from my previous two loops. By the third I just thought it was kind of funny!

I also made another critical error that I’ll get to later. But this hilariously calamitous stroller run got me thinking about my stroller running rules. I’ve never written them down but I definitely have them. So why not use today’s Friday 5 to share how I’ve managed to run 3.5 years (mostly) happily while pushing my kids.

1. Start ’em young. I was a naive mother and put my son in the BOB without the carseat adapter at 3.5 months (as soon as it was warm enough). He could hold his head up from birth, so he was plenty strong and we never had any issues. My daughter was born at the beginning of summer so I bought a car seat adapter with my BOB Dualie (the monstrous double) and she was riding in it from birth! Since they were infants they’ve been in the stroller regularly. It’s part of our normal life. I even take them out periodically in the winter. With a weather shield, proper clothing and blankets it’s actually quite cozy in there! But with stroller rides a normal part of their entire lives they are less inclined to whine about them.

At 5 months he was loving his stroller rides. More than 3 years later and he's still going strong!

2. Find intereting routes that aren’t too interesting. Our favorite park has quite a few miles of paved path that are often filled with other runners, bikers, walkers and lots and lots of dogs. We hear birds chirping, see deer, snakes, cool bugs and sometimes even turtles. We listen to the birds sing and occasional spot a tractor mowing a field or some horses on the bridle path. The paved path travels along a main road and there’s a city owned plot with a giant dirt pile with diggers, dozers and dump trucks working away! The kids love riding by and stopping to watch for a minute while I swig some water. Recently we found another construction site further along the path which is a great excuse to run a little longer and the best thing ever that we found was a monster truck for sale! We actually pass a monster truck on our stroller route! SWEET!

Today I made a big mistake. At the other park we went to today, the trail is a shorter loop and every time we finished a loop we’d pass this:

I should have brought some cheese for all the whine!

That’s right. Passing a playground on the run is a bad idea, especially the playground they are planning to play on after the run. Every time we passed they protested and cried and I felt like a jerk, except I still had more miles to sludge through the sand and they did get over it fast each time. But I still felt like a mean mean mommy!

3. Every kid whines sometimes;ย Don’t get sucked into over-entertaining. Every stroller riding kid goes through a phase when they whine for the sake of whining about the stroller ride. You MUST ride out the whining phase. It won’t last long and will pass. The alternative is not good. You see, when they go through this phase you will be very tempted to make it stop IMMEDIATELY and your impulse will be to bring snacks, toys, electronics, drugs, ANYTHING to get through your run without the incessant crying and whining. The thing is that if you start adding things to the ride then the kids want more and more. Eventually you will be bringing 7 different snacks, 3 different drinks, 6 board books, 4 plastic obnoxious musical toys, an iphone, an ipad, 2 blankets, an extra sweater … you get the point. Eventually it will look like you’re pushing this:

There's an ipad playing Dora videos in there, I swear! Image via flaglerlive.com

I say limit the baggage to one drink, one snack and one toy or book (NO ELECTRONICS) per kid. I would also suggest thinking about scrapping the toy or book if you have more than one kid because you often experience the fights over one of the toys or books that they both MUST HAVE even if the other one chose something different. I typically bring one snack and a cup of water. And that’s it! If they get restless I talk to them and we play I-spy or listen to the birds or I just let them whine. Sometimes it’s actually ok for them to be upset. It’s hard to believe, but it’s true! That being said, I typically don’t run with the stroller longer than an hour so I figure even on the whiniest day it’s not asking too much to hang in there until we’re done.

4. Take advantage of the rolling sherpa. The one awesome thing for the pusher of the stroller is that she (or he) is not limited to a tiny key pocket for stowing crap on the run. You can bring water bottles and phones and a change of clothes and a picnic lunch and sunscreen and a camera and a map and pretty much anything else you can think of. I like it in the winter because I can use the stroller to keep me balanced on the icy path!

5. Feel free to take on anyone who thinks you must be slow simply because you’re pushing a stroller. This one is less about keeping the little people happy and yourself comfortable and all about maintaining your pride. Many people see a stroller runner and assume “easy prey.” It’s like the non-stroller runner feels like the almighty lion ready to strike the lame antelope stroller runner. Nah-ah! That’s when it’s time to go from just out for an easy stroll to bad-ass psycho running momma and drop that assumer like a bad habit. That’s right–that’s no lame antelope, it’s a cheetah in a lame-antelope suit, bitches! Pardon my language, but this one gets me fired up! There’s something about people assuming I’m slow when I’m pushing the stroller that really gets my goat and causes me to do some things I would never do. Normally if I’m running on an easy day I do not deviate from my easy pace no matter what anyone else is doing. But when I’m out with the stroller I will race otherwise innocent runners for no other reason than to prove that we stroller mommas can be fast too!

Enjoying a very normal everyday ride with mom. Thank goodness nobody was out on that trail today. Trying to race someone while pushing these two through the sand might have killed me!

Any stroller mommas out there? What are your rules for successful stroller runs? What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to get the kids to cooperate for just 1 more mile?


Salty Running boss and mother of 3 little ones with PRs of 3:10:15 (26.2), 1:25:59 (13.1) and 18:15 (5k). I love to write about running culture, mental training, and fitting in a serious running habit with the rest of a busy life.

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    1. I have decided I’m not going there! It’s not worth the hassle and the expense since N will be in preschool this coming year and F will be following him the next year. I might regret that decision when I’m stuck on the tm at 5:00 a.m. on a beautiful summer day!

    2. Although if I happened to spot a super cheap used triple stroller I wouldn’t pass it up! So if anyone happens to see one let me know ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s just not worth $1000!

  1. I bow to you stroller mamas and papas. You always kick my tail- be it a race or a training run!! I never assume you are slow, I just brace myself for the moment you pass me and crush my ego. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Well, thanks! It’s nice to be viewed as a strong runner human and not some aerobicizing hausfrau or whatever some people seem to think about stroller runners ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I love your rules, Salty! Unfortunately, I tried to start my little one young, and I strongly believe in all of your rules, but he has hated (and I mean HATED) the stroller and car seat from day one. Sigh. At 14 months, we basically ditched the stroller and now, at 21 months, he walks up to 2 miles/day. I have tried and tried and tried to convince him to like the BOB, but I was lucky if I could get through 40 minutes without a major scream fest/meltdown (oh yeah, he doesn’t do planes either!). He is now smart enough to unlatch the seatbelt so strollers have become dangerous. I think a lot depends on a child’s temperament and I have one of the most vocal, strong willed kids out there. Now my BOB sits in the garage collecting dust . . . it makes me so sad! Before becoming a mom, I always envisioned myself happily pushing my child while cranking out the miles. But my son has had different ideas from day one.