Neely Gracey, an adidas-supported pro runner, is one of the first mother runners I interviewed for my website and the podcast I host for Runner Click, The Passionate Runner. Why? Because Neely has done incredible things as a mother runner yet in a very relatable way. She is open about challenges and how she juggles running and motherhood. Her latest feat is running the world record mile time pushing a stroller.
Related: An Interview with Neely Gracey
Neely set the world record stroller mile of 5:24 on June 30, 2023, on a track in Colorado. She beat the Guinness World Record by 33 seconds set last year by Sally Onn in Blagnac, France. Sh
e told Runner’s World she wanted to illuminate the “belief that having kids doesn’t have to hold you back from a healthy and active lifestyle. There’s no better way to instill this in your children than by including them.”
When Neely announced on Instagram she was going after the world record mile time of pushing a stroller, I had no doubt she would get it.
Neely is someone who does something she puts her mind to. After all, she qualified for the 2020 Olympic Trials marathon after a mere 8 weeks of training. I am not kidding. That is unheard of.
I got with Neely to find out more about why she wanted to go after the world record mile pushing a stroller and how she went about it. Of course, I wanted to know what stroller she used and stroller running tips she has because let’s face it—pushing a stroller isn’t easy.
In this article, I will cover:
- Who is Neely Gracey
- Why Neely wanted to set the world record mile time for pushing a stroller
- How Neely trained to set the world record stroller mile time
- What stroller Neely Gracey used to set the world record in the mile
- Her advice to fellow mother runners, plus
- Stroller running tips from Neely Gracey
So, let’s go!
Who is Neely Gracey?
Neely Gracey, 33, is an elite runner, running coach and founder at Get Running Coaching, author, and 4-time Olympic Trials Qualifier. Most importantly, she is a mom to two boys.
Neely was the top American at the 2016 Boston Marathon in her marathon debut and is the 11th American female ever to break 70 minutes in the half marathon. Neely released her book for female runners in 2022 called Breakthrough Women’s Running: Dream Big and Train Smart.
After having her two sons Athens and Rome, Neely has gotten back into competing at a high level, running a personal best in the marathon at CIM last fall and winning the Disney Princess Half Marathon with a time of 1:15:55 a couple of months later.
Neely Gracey’s PRs include:
- Stroller Mile World Record 5:24 (2023)
- Marathon: 2:30 (2022)
- Half Marathon: 1:09 (2015)
- Mile 4:36 (2015)
- 5k 15:25 (2015)
- 10k 32:16 (2012)
Below is my interview with Neely Gracey:
Where did you get the idea to go after the world record mile for pushing a stroller?
Last year Runner’s World did an article on Ruben (Sanca), the male stroller mile record holder and I was curious, so I looked up the women’s. At the time, it was 6:09 I believe, it then dropped to 5:57 so that was the mark I was chasing.
Did you train for the fastest stroller mile?
I run with my kids in the stroller, or one kid biking and one in the stroller almost daily for a varied amount of time. We do an average of probably 20 miles per week with the stroller so it felt very natural for me to set this goal as stroller running is part of our routine.
I did have to practice on the track though, since I don’t typically do workouts with them, hence I was not used to track running. I chose to do the record attempt on the track because it was much easier to have a properly measured, certified course that could be videoed and timed.
The flat part was so nice (hills in the stroller are rough) but turns are no piece of cake, especially at that speed. I did 8×200 on/off one week, then 8×400 on/off another week, and then a 1-mile time trial on Tuesday ahead of the Friday attempt just to ensure I was good to go. I ran 5:45 very comfortably so I knew the record wasn’t going to be the challenge, more checking off all the Guinness requirements to verify it.
What stroller did you use to set the world record stroller mile?
I used the Guava Family Roam Stroller with the Limited Edition Color Pack.
They connected with me last fall and asked if I would be interested in trying a stroller, I jumped on it because I love to learn more about the products on the market and I loved it.
I told them about this idea I had to break the World Record and the partnership blossomed into more than either myself or Guava expected. I am now the Head of Running for Guava Family, and it has been so beneficial to have their support during this record attempt.
Related: adidas vs. Nike Super Shoes Review
Other gear Neely ran the world record attempt in included:
Was this the stroller mile world record time the time you expected to get?
I did run 5:45 in practice and hoped to go a little faster than that. I told my dad on the drive to Denver ahead of the record attempt that I would love to run 5:25.
Rome (my son) is 29 pounds, the stroller is 28.5 pounds, and I had to run the entire thing with both hands on the stroller (Guinness requires one hand in contact the entire time, but at the speed and on the turns, I needed both hands to control the stroller). So, I feel really good about that!
What did Rome think of being part of the world record mile time?
He loves the stroller! We have done 45 mi in the stroller in a week and runs up to 11.5 miles. He especially liked the drones video recording the effort and the cheers from the crowd. But afterward, he wouldn’t high-five me because he saw the Icee truck and wanted one pronto.
How often do you use a stroller to train?
I run 3-5 days a week with the stroller but not on workout or long run days, and often for just a few miles to take my kids to school or as a warm-up before a workout or something. But if they don’t have school, or (my husband) Dillon had to work early or something, then I might have one or both for the whole run.
What message did you want to send to fellow moms when you set the stroller mile world record?
Running is special because it is a sport that can meet us where we are in many different phases of life. I have been nationally ranked and also ran/walked a 10k at a 13-minute pace.
Related: How Running Makes You a Better Mom
Being a mother runner has its own special community within the sport, and I hope this world record shows other moms that yes, they can still set goals for themselves after becoming a parent.
What is your advice to fellow mother runners?
I was 7 months postpartum with Rome before I did my first set of strides. Some moms race well ahead of that timeline. I was very cautious to not rush my fitness as I had dealt with so many setbacks after having my first.
Related: 5 Benefits of Stroller Running
So, it was a “live and learn” situation for me. He was two when I attempted this record. He was a lot lighter last year, but I wasn’t ready for the speed and strength needed to handle it.
The freedom to take a zoomed-out perspective to your running and meet yourself where you are on the day is key.
Some advice for fellow mother runners:
- Don’t rush the process
- Have your own timeline
- Celebrate each little step forward
- Focus on day-to-day and week-to-week growth to build your momentum
- Stick to listening to your body
- Have a support team that will guide you well
Related: Top Running Stroller Tips
Stroller Running Advice from World Record Stroller Mile Holder Neely Gracey
Start them young.
Start as soon as your kid is old enough and strong enough to be safe in the stroller… starting when they’re little allows you to build strength up as they grow.
Ease into stroller running…. don’t go from 0 to full runs right away as you have to build up strength and get used to the change of form.
Invest in a quality stroller.
Get a good stroller, it is worth it 1000%. I like the Guava Family Roam Stroller because it works great as a running stroller and a regular stroller. We take it to the zoo, Disney, the airport etc. It folds up 30 percent smaller than its competitors, has airless tires so you don’t have to worry about a flat, and it easily switches from run to walk mode (releasing the front wheel to swivel).
Relish the time.
It’s special to share miles with the boys. I love that they think this is normal and just a daily part of their life. I also like the meaning behind it, as a mother runner, I can include my kids in my goals, and they get a front-row seat to watch how goals take work but it pays off.
If you want guidance with your running goals including postpartum running and pregnant running, check out my run coaching services. Also, be sure to check out my free training plans:
- Postpartum Training Plan
- After a Break Training Plan
- 5k Training Plans
- 10k Training Plans
- Half Marathon Training Plans
- Marathon Training Plans
- Strength Training Plan