It’s an art form. Ask anyone who has ever tried.
Here’s my first tip for running with a pram – run without it whenever you can. You’ll be much faster, and you won’t have to worry about whether your little one is content and safe. But as a parent, that’s not always an option.
Melissa Zgomba from Mountain Buggy says babies need to be “at least six months old – they need to have good neck control before you can run with them in the stroller”.
If you haven’t quite made the plunge in purchasing a running pram, Zgomba says the features you’ll want to look out for are: rear wheel suspension (to absorb bumps), large rear wheels (for an easier push), a fixed front wheel (to avoid swivelling to the sides), plenty of storage (self-explanatory), a wrist strap (so your pram won’t roll away if you trip or fall), and a control handbrake.
If you’ve got you running pram and feel ready to head out for a run with baby in tow, below are some tips I’ve discovered to make running with a pram as smooth and enjoyable as possible:
No footpaths: While some people always run in the road, I generally prefer footpaths, but that is impossible with a pram. And I don’t think it’s just my neighbourhood with its old footpaths. I’ve found even the smallest bumps in the footpaths to be impossible with a running pram.
Stick to quiet roads: Since footpaths are out, your best bet is the quietest neighbourhood you can find. I’ve found drivers to be especially mindful when I’m coming toward them with a pram – much more so than as a solitary runner, which has been a great discovery. Paved paths are great, but I don’t always have the time to pack the baby and the stroller in the car to get to one near me.
No hills: Think hills are tough during your regular runs? Just wait until you try one with a running pram! I try to find the flattest path possible and revel in any downhill.
Don’t worry about pace: You’re never going to PB pushing an 11-kilo pram and an 11-kilo toddler. But I like to say there’s your usual training pace and then there’s your running pram pace. To me, it’s like another goal to work toward – can I improve my running pram pace?
Don’t run far: I’ve never done more than six kilometres by myself with a running pram. It’s sort of like my relationship with my treadmill. I’ll use it for short runs, but a long run would be torture. When my husband’s around and we’re both time-crunched to get a run in, we’ll switch off every five minutes with the running pram. We’ve done eight kilometres a few times that way.
Full tummy for baby: The only time my son has cried while out in the running pram was when – it turned out – he was due for a bottle. That was during one of our first outings when he was six months. Now that he’s 16 months, meal times are more spread out and I haven’t had any tears since.
Double check the buckle: At the end of a run once, I noticed the buckle had come undone. My son was still safely in the pram (and even sleeping, I think), but what a scare! I always check it twice before I head out.
Bring a mini diaper bag: With the combined pram and baby weight, who needs the added weight of a big diaper bag? I’ve found the many race bags I’ve received work great as mini diaper bags.
Find a position that works for you: My running pram doesn’t have an adjustable handle. When I first started running with it, my shoulders would hurt from the position I’d have to have my arms in. I soon learned that if I guided the pram one-handed, I didn’t have any pain. I do have to use both hands to turn corners, but it works out fine.
No headphones: I guess some would say no music while running with baby, but I can’t run without music. My pram has a really effective mobile phone holder right on the handlebar, so I can have both Spotify and Runkeeper on throughout my pram run while being able to hear my son. I hope my neighbours enjoy my Spotify playlists as much as I do!
Quiet means enjoyment: The first few times I used my running pram (and I did wait until the recommended six months), I went out with my husband, and we both spent most of our non-pushing time running ahead to observe our son’s expression. We’ve only ever got him to crack a smile in the running pram when we’re making faces at him (which requires running backwards, which isn’t very advisable), but I’ve learnt that if he’s quiet, he’s okay. Actually, he ends up falling asleep almost every time we go out, so he must not be bothered by it. If only I could transfer him into the house without waking him up, then I could take a shower in peace! I haven’t mastered the running pram/sleeping baby transfer yet.
What to wear: This is the one that still worries me some. Obviously, your baby won’t warm up like you do, so dress him or her appropriately for the actual temperature. It’s always a surprise wind that starts getting me worried, though, if I’m freezing my little guy! He even usually falls asleep on windy days, so I figure he must be okay.
No blankets: One day when I realised it was windy but my son wasn’t wearing heavy pants, I put a blanket in with him to keep him warm. I thought I’d tucked the blanket really well around the buckle, but halfway through my 5K run, it came loose and got tangled in the front wheel! Not only did I have to stop, I almost didn’t get the blanket (hand-knit by a family friend, nonetheless!) out of the wheel.
Treat your baby: When I was training for a marathon, I would start all my jogging stroller runs at our local park so I could give my son a swing ride for a few minutes. I felt I was giving him something he likes before having him tag along on my run, though I do think he likes going out for a run well enough. My challenge now is his beloved kiddie car is also stored in our garage along with my jogging stroller. I’ve so far been able to convince him to go in the stroller, but he’d pick the kiddie car if given the choice. So I try to make sure I take him out in his kiddie car on non-running days.