I’m not proud of the texts I sent the first few times I ran with my daughter in a stroller.
It was hot. It was hard. I was frustrated, which is extra frustrating when you’re doing the one thing that usually alleviates your frustrations.
Over time, though, the texts about my experience with stroller running became less frequent and less, well, whiny. So, I’ll spare you the time, and I’ll get right to the things I’ve learned and how I’ve become a proud, self-proclaimed mother-stroller-runner.
Stroller runs count double.
First things first, stroller running is HARD. Show yourself some grace. Those text messages I referred to above? They could mostly be attributed to the fact that I was comparing my stroller runs to my solo ones. Apples and oranges, I tell ‘ya, for a variety of reasons.
First, you’re pushing more weight than normal. Next, you’re also responsible for yourself AND someone else — I’ll get to this one in a bit. Lastly, your gait will be different until you figure out how to push while making your strides.
Now, what alleviated my stroller running “pains”? I did. With each run, I got stronger. I coordinated my training plan and our family calendar, so I wasn’t stroller-running for every run. I can proudly say it’s now my favorite strength training workout (with the cutest assistant, too)!
Music, Snacks – Oh my!
As my daughter got older, and my runs got longer, I struggled to keep her wiggly self still in the stroller.
One thing that helped was having a small Bluetooth speaker keychain. Not only did having a speaker allow us to both find joy in this newly found shared interest, but it also helped me feel more comfortable about monitoring my surroundings, hearing my daughter’s needs/wants, etc.
Now, while listening to the Trolls soundtrack on repeat was not an ideal motivator for me, I realized quickly that it brought joy to my daughter. In turn, I found joy in it too, and hobbies should be fun, right?
Next on deck, toys. I kept it simple, as my daughter is not huge on toys that would be conducive to the running environment. A fellow Indy Mom (Thanks, Claire!) recommended those ever-so trendy “pop it” fidget toys. It was *chef’s kiss* perfection for our runs at times. Added bonus, you can find a lot of them second-hand.
Lastly, snacks on snacks on snacks. I kept it simple, especially when it came to safety. Applesauce pouches (I love the reusable ones a mama friend recommended) and Cheerios quickly became staples in our runs. (However, no matter the age, choking is always a concern. Therefore, each mom should stick within her comfort zone when it comes to stroller snacks!) Our runs typically coincided with snack time anyways, so it worked out. Either way, having those options readily available made me more prepared and kept my daughter at ease. Plus, I felt like a pretty tough cookie running miles while simultaneously serving my child like a diner waitress on roller skates.
As long as she was content, I was able to continue happily trotting along.
Keep your arms and pacis in the stroller at all times.
Now, for every 10k I possibly ran, I think we lost a pacifier or two. Very quickly, I realized that, unless it was strapped to the stroller, it was going to be tossed outside the “vehicle”. I needed a solution because sometimes my daughter was so sneaky, I would not even notice we lost one until we were back at the house.
Do you know those plastic or fabric clips for pacifiers? Yup, those. Bring those back out for your toddler in a whole new way. I clipped one of those bad boys on everything I could…Toys, her sunhat, her water cup, her snack cup? Paci. Holders. For. Days. If a couple of her favorite things were within reach without fear of falling from the stroller, that was one less thing I had to focus on in the plethora of aspects of stroller running!
Okay, that is enough of this unsolicited sales pitch for pacifier clips.
Teamwork makes the dream work.
As I mentioned earlier, my frustrations with it changed a lot over the course of my training. Once I gave myself a little attitude adjustment, I realized my perspective had a lot to do with my outlook on stroller running. Besides just gaining physical strength by pushing an extra 35 lbs., I noticed that my daughter’s (most of the time) upbeat personality could be a weapon for my own mental hurdles when it came to training.
When I only had half a mile to go, I asked her to clap for me. Being the professional clapper that she is, she obliged with a big smile. This morale boost was unmatched by anything else I had experienced.
Similarly, when things got tough, I would tell her, “We got this!” In turn, and although she had no clue what we “had,” I felt better. At the end of each run, she gave me a high-five and, of course, more claps. I was swimming (well, running) in the positivity that had, quite literally, been in front of me this entire time.
All in all, though, stroller running is anything but just “running with a stroller,” in my opinion. As we all know, being a mother in itself is a hard job to have, so adding in physical activity while keeping your toddler safe and happy can be a challenge. As funny as I and fellow trail-goers found my jokes about how exhausting her “run” must have been, I soon realized that stroller running was actually an advantage, not a challenge, in this already trying hobby of mine.
Not to mention, my daughter now gets a front-row seat (literally and figuratively) to watch me become a stronger, healthier, and happier individual. So, Mamas, let’s get out there and keep pushin’!