Running with a pram is not as simple as popping bub in your stroller, tying up your runners and heading out. There are a few things to consider that will help make the whole experience so much more enjoyable for everyone involved, as well as making it more likely that you will be able to keep going without injury.
General advice when considering running with a baby in a pram indicates that it’s not a great idea before bub has excellent head control, usually about the six month mark. Up until then walking is recommended.
You don’t need a fancy running pram to start clocking up the kilometres. I started running with a twelve year old Bertini which I was lucky to inherit from my older sister. It is a fabulous pram and reasonably easy to push, given its weight. Having since been blessed with a Bob Ironman (the Rolls Royce of running prams) I would recommend that if possible you lock the front wheel(s) in a straight position. This will take some getting used to but in the long term makes running so much easier, not having to worry about steering adjustments as you go.
Please be safe. If you run on hills and have a safety wrist strap, use it. No one wants to see a runaway stroller on the road. If you don’t have a safety strap you may want to consider staying away from hills when running with the pram. And always strap your little mate in. I’d hate to imagine what damage a toddler could do, climbing out of the pram when you’re running at speed, or even just reaching out and getting fingers caught in the spokes.
My other hot tips for running with a pram, in no particular order:
* Make sure your passenger is happy:
Miss J was only six months old when I started running again. I tried to time my runs to coincide with her naps as she didn’t really love the pram at all to start with. Otherwise I found myself trying to puff out verses of ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ in between intervals or worst case, carrying her and walking home, while still having to push the pram! As they get older toys, books, snacks and drinks all make it more enjoyable for your passenger. And don’t forget to be sun safe. A good sun shade also doubles as a fly and mosquito net.
* Maintain your running form:
My mantra when running with the pram is ‘Head up, shoulders back, don’t lean on the handlebar’. Don’t forget to swap hands regularly to avoid getting unbalanced, I often run fifty paces then swap. This also helps distract me on days when I’m just not feeling it. Really try and concentrate on running as normally as possible, except for the hand pushing the pram. For example, don’t swing your free arm across your body, keep it going front to back and keep an eye on how your foot strikes the ground. Don’t lean forward. On flat ground you should be able to push the pram with minimal effort, don’t grip the handlebar and just push with the palm of your hand.
*Maintain your pram:
Check your tyre pressure regularly and keep everything according to your manufacturer’s guidelines. Treat your pram as you would a bicycle. This will make sure your passenger stays safe and make pushing the pram that much easier for you.
*Adjust your expectations:
Don’t forget you are working with additional resistance compared to solo running. Depending on your model of pram and how big your passenger is and whether you have one or two on board (!) you could be pushing an extra 40kg or more! Allow for this when looking at your pace and don’t be disappointed in your times. I went from a 28min/5km when running solo to 40 minutes for the same distance and that was on a good day! You will notice the difference when you do get a solo run though, you will feel like you are absolutely flying.
*Don’t try to get in a super long run with the pram unless your bub will sleep most of it!
I once tried to do an 18km training run with Miss J on board. The first 9km were fabulous as she slept from about the 2km mark. But then we had to stop for a chat with a passer-by (Runners with prams out on the highway, 15km from the nearest visible house, are often cause for passing motorists to stop out here!). So she woke up. Running 9km home with a babe who hadn’t had enough sleep and was cross was horrid and took twice as long as the first 9km. And three hours in a pram is too long for anyone! Overall I found running with Miss J to be one of the best things I have ever done. She has learnt that running and being active is completely normal and often asks when we’re going running. And pushing the pram means I don’t have have to worry about where to stash my water drink, snacks and phone. They all go in the pram console!
What pram running tips would you add? I’m looking forward to learning to run with two on board the pram early next year, have you got any suggestions for making that leap?