(Eds note: Coach Allen and Amy Stanfield have put in some amazing race performances this year - WITH a stroller and baby Ben! We asked them to share some of their tips for stroller runs with us.)
1. What stroller do you need?
Among runners, a stroller seems to be a pretty popular option for a group baby shower gift. We were given an Ironman Bob stroller by a friend. There are numerous choices and models available, ranging in price and options, but the Bob we were given seems to do everything we ask of it. Technically, I think ours is an older model no longer in production. The various options and types available can really be selected to fit your needs, and the one MAJOR recommendation I’d make is to be sure you have a lockable front wheel. One thing I think we’d prefer on ours is an adjustable height option. Amy’s 5’1” and I’m 6’2” and it is definitely a more natural position for her (as evidenced by her 5k times being much less affected than mine). (Best Jogging Strollers list 1 and list 2)
2. How old does baby need to be to start running?
Amy: Obviously, running home from the hospital after giving birth is not a great idea for a variety of reasons, but we were running with Ben by the time he was about 5 weeks old. This is also because our outdoor climate was comfortable for him. Most running strollers
make an attachment that makes it adaptable for the infant car seat/carrier that parents choose. For example, we used a Britax infant car seat system, and it was very easy to find the Britax adapter for our Bob stroller. This enables baby to be facing you and secure while running exactly as they would be in a car. Once the baby has outgrown the infant carrier, he is ready to be forward facing in the stroller.
Allen: I’ve seen a lot of different suggestions, with some even suggesting a year. I found that ridiculous. With the infant carrier attachment, Ben seemed to be comfortable and secure. After realizing he was secure, my biggest concern was whether it was too hot or cold, but luckily for us fall in Mississippi is pretty ideal running weather. Initially I had an entire diaper bag stuffed into the stroller like we were heading across the country, but quickly learned what was needed and what wasn’t. Forty days after he was born we did a ten miler (although I was never more than 2 miles from home) and haven’t looked back.
3. What are the positives? Negatives?
Amy: Obviously being together and training with a baby is a positive. I have also found it to be something that makes me stronger and adds a new dimension to even an easy run. Running up a hill is challenging, but pushing a 25 pound toddler up that same hill is a whole new thing. Strangely, I think that’s a positive. In addition, it’s been fun to add another category to our running goals. At our house there have always been PRs, but now there are also stroller PRs to chase. We haven’t encountered too many negatives yet. I know there will come a time that Ben may be less than excited to run with us, but a promise to end the run at the beach park should help with that.
Allen: In the first year especially, it’s a great opportunity to take advantage of nap time. And there is a lot of nap time. For Amy and I, if one of us takes him out for a run, it can also provide an opportunity to get Ben out of the house, which gives the other one of us an opportunity to perform other household tasks (which happens to be a lot easier). Running with the stroller also forces a pace adaptation and makes it “ok” to slow down. The carrying capacity of the stroller is also really nice for a long run. In addition to treats and water for Ben, the stroller allows for easy carrying of nutrition/hydration products.
Amy: Most running strollers come with a strap that attaches to the runners wrist, so you are actually connected. Our stroller also has a hand break that can be used on a hilly course. We haven’t found much need for either of these, but could come in handy in other environments.
Allen: Multi use paths are ideal, but they are somewhat few and far between. We are lucky to have good running routes from our house. They tend to loop and wind through town so very rarely more than a few miles from home. They keep us in areas of low vehicle and high pedestrian traffic and in the presence of nearby homes in the event of some sort of issue.
5. When does the stroller stay home?
Amy: Temperature and Ben’s comfort level is usually the deciding factor for us. He loves to go, and sometimes points in frustration if we pass the stroller in the garage without putting him in it, but there are days that are not ideal. We have avoided super hot and/or super cold days, and sometimes excessive wind has been a factor too. We have
been caught in some rain storms briefly, but the canopy and side panels of the stroller have left him completely unphased.
Allen: In addition to Ben’s comfort level, there are some training sessions that aren’t particularly comfortable with the additional weight. For those sessions, it’s best to work them into a time when you won’t be running with the stroller.
6. Stroller running tips?
Amy: Start them early. It’s amazing how quickly they learn to enjoy it and feel it’s part of the day. Isn’t that what we all want out of running?
Allen: I concur with Amy on that, just get started early. It’s been awesome to watch the change in how Ben approaches a run. It was originally a nap time, and now he points at and climbs on the stroller ready to go. And now there is a squeak and squeal with joy at every dog/person/bird we pass along the way!