Running with a jogging stroller is hard work! But it is worth it! By exercising and getting outside, you’re getting feel-good endorphins, spending quality time with your kids, and setting a positive example for a lifetime of good health.
But running with a jogging stroller can quickly go awry if you aren’t prepared. Your baby may be screaming; your toddler may need to use the potty; your kids may be fighting; and you may get annoyed with all the stops. But don’t despair! I am here to help!
I’ve answered all your questions and rounded up the best tips for running with a stroller so you can run longer and everyone can have a good time.
When can I run with my baby in a jogging stroller?
Most pediatricians and jogging stroller manufacturers advise waiting until 6- to 8-months-old to run with your baby in a stroller.
“This is when your baby has independent head and neck control,” says pediatrician Dr. Melanie Prior at the Hospital for Special Surgery. “Your baby should be positioned upright while running, and needs head and neck strength to maintain a safe and comfortable position,” she says.
Full disclosure: Many moms do not wait that long.
In an unscientific poll of about 200 mother runners:
- Half of the moms waited until their baby was half-a-year-old to run with them in a stroller.
- The other half started stroller running at about 6-8 weeks postpartum.
The moms ran before their baby was 6-months-old used a car seat adapter for their jogging strollers which allows the car seat to fit into the stroller.
This means, your baby will sit, facing you, in the car seat which sits on an adapter bar that you clicked into the stroller. (Bear in mind that the adapter you purchase is specific to the brand of car seat you own.) The car seat provides neck support the stroller alone cannot.
How long do moms wait to run with their baby in a stroller?
Stroller manufacturers recommend not running with the car seat attached to the stroller because it makes it top-heavy. Pediatricans recommend not running with a baby in a stroller until the baby is at least 6-months-old and has good head and neck support.
However, many moms who say they ran before their baby was 6 months shared they:
- used a car seat adapter,
- liked they could see their baby’s face while running,
- ran on smooth flat surfaces,
- stayed away from traffic,
- ran at slow speeds,
- and did not feel like they put their babies at risk by doing so.
The mother runners who started stroller running at 6-months postpartum cited reasons related to wintry weather or pelvic floor issues for waiting that amount of time.
I am not a doctor. Talk to your pediatrician and your OB/GYN to ensure stroller running is safe for you and your baby!! I got cleared by both and it was a lifesaver because stroller runs were the only way I could ensure my firstborn would nap.
Related: Postpartum Running Plan
Where can I run with my baby in a stroller?
Choose flat surfaces with minimal turns and traffic for running with your baby in a stroller. Quiet, smooth stretches also aid in long naps giving you more time to exercises.
Is it harder to run with a jogging stroller versus without?
Running with a jogging stroller is harder than running alone.
One study in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness found that running with a stroller results in a significantly higher heart rate, perceived level of exertion, and lactate concentration. Another study in the International Journal of Sports Medicine added a higher VO2 max to the mix.
Often when I’m pushing the double BOB stroller up a hill, I hear my kids taunt “Mom, are you even running right now?” Yes, yes I am, sweethearts. But the workout is no joke. Science backs me up.
What are some benefits of running with a jogging stroller?
The benefits of running with a stroller include a great cardiovascular workout with less taxation on the body resulting in injury prevention; it makes running without a stroller feel like a breeze; and gives quality time with your kids.
What is proper running form for running with a jogging stroller?
Proper form running with a stroller involves running tall (no hunching!), alternating arms holding the stroller, and driving from the hips, advises Laura Norris, coach with The Mother Runners and Laura Norris Running.
Does stroller running burn more calories?
Research shows stroller running burns more calories. In effect, runners can run slower than their usual pace but still burn the same amount of calories as if they were running faster without the jogging stroller. That’s because of the extra exertion I mentioned previously. You’re working harder even though you are running slower.
On average, a 150-pound person can expect to burn about 30 more calories per half hour of running. That’s according to a study by researchers at Seattle Pacific University which broke down the number of calories burned by how you push the stroller:
- pushing the stroller with two hands increases the number of calories burned by about 5 percent,
- pushing with one hand increases it by about 6 percent,
- and the push-and-chase method increases it by about 8 percent.
Here is a calculator to estimate calorie expenditure based on pace, distance, and pushing technique.
Can I train for a race running with a stroller?
You can run with a jogging stroller and still train for a race even if you aren’t hitting the mileage or speed your training plan calls for. I mean, after all, mother runner Alyssa Bloomquist, was able to log almost all her miles with her jogging stroller and qualify for the Olympic Trials Marathon.
How do I used heart rate training for stroller running?
How? The key is to think of time over distance and heart rate over pace.
According to Bobby Holcombe, running coach and founder of Knoxville Endurance, heart rate zone training is where it’s at when training with a cutie in tow. Here’s how it works:
Say you have a training plan that calls for 3 one-mile repeats with one-minute interval rest. Instead of trying to run those at your threshold pace, run them at your threshold heart rate which is about 85-88 percent of your max heart rate.
To calculate your heart rate zones, check out this calculator, or use the standard formula of 220 minus your age. (Or get really fancy and get a max heart rate or VO2 test for accurate zones.)
Many Garmin watches have heart rate monitors built-in, but they aren’t always accurate since they take your pulse on top of your wrist. The best monitors use a chest strap which you can buy to go with your Garmin watch or separate like this Polar one.
What are the best running strollers?
The Kidrunner is unlike any stroller you’ve seen–it clips in the back via a harness so you pull your kiddos like they’re in a sleigh (yes, making you the dog.)
PRO: Lyndy Davis, a two-time Olympic Trials Qualifier, says that she couldn’t feel her child behind her at all.
CON: While making the load feel much less heavy, you aren’t able to see your kids or hand things to them.
Kidrunners run just under $350 but you can save 10 percent with the code Themotherrunners.
Thule Urban Guide
Thule Urban Glide has many pros.
PRO: It is collapsible, lightweight, easy to maneuver, smooth, and Thule has amazing customer service. Katie Taylor, mom of one, who ran a 5k at a 6-minute clip with her baby in tow says she is “obsessed” with this stroller.
The most bang for your buck
BOB Revolution SE
PROs: The Revolution has tons of storage, a canopy, wrist strap, and a front-wheel you can lock so you have more stability on the run. It also has shock-absorbent tires and a suspension system so you can go off-road if needed.
CONs: The downside of this stroller is that it’s large and not as easy as others to collapse.
Mountain Buggy Swift
The Moutain Buggy Swift is similar to the BOB in that it is easy to maneuver and can handle rough terrain.
PROs: It’s much more compact than the BOB which is a plus. Like the Thule, it can be collapsed by one hand. The Mountain Buggy has cute print options and the ability for a stroller board to be added for older children to hop on the back. It’s also lightweight, weighing five pounds less than the BOB and three pounds less than the Thule (20 pounds).
CONs: It has less storage and a smaller canopy.
Best double stroller
Phil & Ted’s Sporty Inline
There’s no way around it. Pushing a double stroller is HARD WORK.
But Phil & Ted’s Sporty Inline makes it as easy as possible by taking the load off.
PROs: Phil & Ted’s double is the only inline running stroller—meaning it can convert to a double stroller from a single. It’s easy to maneuver, can go off-road, and weighs much less than its competitors—clocking in at 26 pounds versus 30+ pounds of others on the market. Mother runners also rave about Phil & Ted’s customer service. Mother runners who are city slickers loved how sleek Phil and Ted’s is, not taking up sidewalks, and how easy it is to collapse.
12 Genius Tips for Running with a Jogging Stroller
Here are 12 stroller running tips from mother runners, ranging from elite to casual runners, who have mastered making stroller running fun for all! These tips help you stroller run with toddlers and infants.
Pack Lots of Snacks.
Moms know better than to go anywhere without a plethora of snacks for kids. Bring chips, pouches, crackers, cheese sticks, granola bars, apple slices, oranges, and sippy cups. Be prepared to rotate them as you run.
Have Special Stroller-only Toys.
Novelty is the name of the game when it comes to stroller running. So have toys that only make their appearance during stroller running time. You can also bring a tablet for stroller-only screen time if you need extra help getting some miles in. But Erica Hopper, mom of two, warns, “make sure it has a protective case if it happens to get dropped or thrown out.”
Put Safety First.
Keep safety top of mind when jogging with your child: Make sure your jogging stroller has a safety wrist strap that attaches to the handlebar (or, if it doesn’t, buy one) and always use it. Another safety tip: Some running strollers allow you to lock the front wheel to keep it from turning suddenly during a run. Once you’ve gotten on your route, do this.
Dress for the Weather.
During this time, it’s not smart to run in very cold (below freezing) or wet weather as that can run down immune systems. If you do go out in unpleasant weather, remember that while you may stay toasty warm from all that running, your kid may get cold. Consider buying a protective shield from Amazon if it’s going to be windy or rainy. On hot days, overheating can be a problem, so don’t overdress your kids, apply sunscreen and use a stroller visor or sunshield to keep them shaded.
Take the Road Less Traveled.
Avoid roads with lots people (so that you can ensure your social distance) and traffic. A truck driver once tried to run me off the road while shouting obscenities. I learned my lesson that it’s safer to be on roads with fewer cars and trucks.
Make It Fun.
Count squirrels with your kid, look for dogs and cats, play “I spy” or try to wave to as many people as possible. “I run my kids past entertaining spots like construction sites,” says mom of two Lindsay Adams. Also, listen to music like Disney soundtracks and don’t be afraid to sing loudly with your kids. Get some toddler game ideas for stroller runs here.
Related: Benefits of Running with a Stroller.
Tell your kids you are going to end at a park and let them run around. Some mother runners let their kids run the last half mile with them. I have a route that I run with my kids that includes several spots that they can get out and explore before we keep going. We used to stop at playgrounds but we are not during the coronavirus time. If you do, be sure to use lots of hand sanitizer and discourage kids from touching their faces!
Watch Your Form.
Running with a stroller is hard work and some people tend to hunch over. Instead, aim to run upright to avoid low back and hamstring injuries and switch arms every 15 minutes to balance the body.
Run for Time.
Several studies have found that running with a stroller is harder than running without one. So don’t stress about your pace or distance. Instead, shoot to run for time. If you want to get a particular workout in, use your heart rate as your guide. You can get more info on heart rate training with a stroller here and training for a race running with a stroller here.
Manage your Expectations.
“You may head out the door planning on a 5-mile run,” says Katie Taylor, mom of one. “Your kid may have other plans. That’s okay!” The days of you being in control of your mileage will come back. For now, be flexible.
Enjoy this Time.
For many people, running is a chance to have peace and quiet. That’s probably not going to be the case when you’re running with your kids. Instead of looking at it as a disruption of “me time,” view it as a special time with you and your loves. They won’t be this little forever.
“Yes, it’s hard. They are heavy. They bicker and ask for more snacks than you could possibly imagine but it’s still worth it,” says Sarah Merrick, mom of twins.
That’s because we are getting to share our time and our sport with our littles ones and show them what strong looks like.
Fly high, mamas.
PS-I’d love to help you reach your running goals whether it be to run your first 5k or run competitively! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or check out my Coaching Services page!