Today I wanted to talk a little about my stroller running experience. Should I run with a stroller? Is the cost of a good jogging stroller really worth it? What stroller is best? Will I ever run as fast with the stroller? When I found out I was pregnant with our daughter, these kinds questions popped up in my mind constantly. I knew that having a baby didn’t mean I would have to stop running, but I wondered if I could ever run with a stroller. Heck, running alone was hard enough!
My first experience with running with a stroller was a 5K race in 2012. You read that right: a race. Certain circumstances arose in late October/early November in which my husband was stuck at sea on board a submarine. I had signed up to run a back-to-back race on Veterans Day weekend fully expecting my husband to be there to watch Izzy and support me. Well, now that he wasn’t going to make it back I found myself with a dilemma in my hands. I was able to secure a sitter for her for the marathon portion of my race but the 5K was still up in the air. I really didn’t want to DNS the 5K because I really wanted the challenge medal (pride seems to be my deadly sin…). I decided that since it was a shorter run I could bundle up Izzy as well as I could and at least jog the 5K with a stroller. Sounds like a plan, right? Well, it was except I didn’t have a jogging stroller.
During my pregnancy my husband and I had researched jogging strollers. I had heard the BOB stroller was awesome but at a $350 price tag it was a little steep for us, especially since it didn’t come with a car seat. I didn’t personally like any of the other strollers I saw (like Baby Trend and Jeep) because they looked and felt flimsy so we didn’t end up buying a jogging stroller (No offense to anyone who runs with those strollers. I tried using one and I didn’t like the feel of them. The BOB just seemed so much smoother). We went with a standard stroller that came with a rear-facing car seat and base.
Since I wanted to run with a stroller, I knew my standard stroller with its itty, bitty wheels wouldn’t cut it for the race. I decided to turn to Craigslist and see if I’d luck out and find a reasonably priced used BOB. I lucked out alright. Someone was selling their Revolution with car seat adapter for just $100. I quickly responded and went over to check it out the following day. The stroller was in excellent shape for being used. There was a tiny nick on the handle grip but that was it. I bought it and eagerly took it home with me. I had a BOB!
I ran the 5K as planned. I actually finished in a decent time: 28:12. Not bad for someone who’d never run with a stroller before that day. Granted, I made some rookie mistakes (i.e. trying something new on race day, not locking the front wheel, running with the car seat adapter…though the last one I wasn’t aware was a no-no. Live and learn, I guess) but it went well. My stroller running experience was off to a good start.
Sadly, that was the last time I ran with the BOB. Weeks went by before I used it again. The second time I ran with it was at the 2013 WDW Family Fun Run 5K. We couldn’t actually run because we were in the stroller division and when we did slowly jog, pushing it was traded off between Manuel and me. There just wasn’t a need for me to subject my child to running when I decided to go out and do a training run. I had daycare at the time because I worked full time. Whenever I did have to run while she was home my husband would watch her or I’d wait until she went to bed for the night. Stroller running just wasn’t necessary for me so the BOB went back to being a regular stroller.
I didn’t dabble with stroller running until this past July. I found myself transitioning out of the Navy and no longer had/needed childcare available to me. I was still stuck on running in the morning because it was summer so I decided to pick up stroller running again. We were living on the Inner Harbor in Baltimore at the time so running on a safe path wouldn’t be a problem. I chose to run on waterfront and one day just set on with the BOB and my daughter in tow.
The run was a huge rude awakening. After a quarter of a mile I was huffing and puffing. My lungs hurt. I didn’t understand what the heck was going on and tried to maintain my “fast” pace (9 minutes at the time). I was quickly slapped back with the harsh reality of an 11 minute mile pace. This was harder than I expected. Thankfully, I had only set out for a 2 mile run since I knew this would be my first time running with a stroller.
Eventually, my pace got a little better and I started setting out for longer distances. I kept working at it but my pace rarely fell under 10 minutes. Finally, after a solid month of stroller running, I broke my 10 minute mark:
It wasn’t a huge jump but a win in my book. I was finally seeing improvement!
On my runs I rarely heard a peep from my daughter. I think that was due to the fact that I had Disney Junior on my phone. I was typically treated to Little Einstein songs my entire run. I also made sure to carry some of her snacks, Go-Go Squeez, with me in case she got hungry. These helped to keep her happy on our runs.
We moved from the waterfront to our new home in August. I was eager to continue stroller running but quickly shot down that idea after I surveyed the area on a run one day. There were only sidewalks on one side of the street and it extended .10 of a mile on one side and .50 of a mile on the other. I just didn’t feel safe running longer distances with her. I resigned and went back to solo running. I didn’t touch the BOB again until my race at the end of August. Yup, I once again I would be racing with the BOB after a period of not running with it. Thankfully, this time around it had only been about 2 weeks.
I actually finished faster than I had on my previous race in 2012! It wasn’t much faster but it was still a visible improvement =). If you have read my review on this race (Run for the Cure), you’d know that I actually won my age group on this race. That was surprising given the time I finished in but it was a very small race.
Up until about 3 weeks ago I hadn’t checked out the community across from us. One day we (the family) drove through it to check out what it had. It’s a new development as well but it was further along in its completion. We saw that there was a park there and it wasn’t too far from us. I thought I could probably run to the park there with the stroller. I ran to it on one of my solo runs and saw that it was about 1 mile away. It sounded perfect for an easy run day so I decided to do that on my next shake out run (the run the day after my peak mileage for the week).
The run went well and I actually was able to maintain a about a 9:20 pace during the run there and back. I was surprised since I hadn’t been running with the BOB. However, I knew the improvement probably had something to do with the hills I now ran. I decided to incorporate this run for any future easy runs I want to do or when I know I won’t be able to run alone in the evening.
This was today’s summary for my stroller run to the park. It’s been 2 weeks since I last ran with the BOB. Once again, some improvement even though it was slight. It feels as though it’s gotten easier despite the fact that I haven’t run with it regularly. I guess my marathon training is helping out in a lot more ways than one. Seeing this number is very encouraging and makes me wonder what my 5K race time would be. I tend to run races faster since I want to let it all out on the road that moment.
I’ve made some great strides since my first run with the BOB. I guess the biggest lesson I’ve learned is to not give up when running with a stroller. Yes, it’s hard and sometimes painful but that’s what it’s going to feel like until your body gets used to it. Solely stroller running isn’t necessary to improve your pace, or at least that’s what has worked for me. Some solo running allows me to train for speed without the resistance of the stroller. Lastly, have some toddler “tools” in your stroller to help get your toddler through the run. Lately it’s been a stuffed animal or ball since my runs to the park are shorter. I’ve found that cartoons on my phone help with the longer runs. I’m also not against my toddler watching the occasional Mickey cartoon, though.