4 Reasons To Run With A Jogging Stroller

I used to think satisfaction came at the end, at the finish line. Now I know that what I see or smell or do on the way is much more significant than the distance we covered or how fast we did it. Susan Williams, A Mother And Son As Training Partners

Honestly, my jogging stroller is heavy! Monkey is now 30 pounds and I don’t know what the stroller weighs, but whatever it is -it’s weighty. Today, as I was running past a couple of my neighbors, they joked, “The speed limit is 25mph through here!”

For a second it bothered me that I was slow enough that my neighbors felt compelled to make a joke about it, but I’m not that fast without the stroller, except on the days after I’ve run with the jogging stroller – I feel so light and free without the extra weight that I do go faster. So while, I may have been going slow today, I’ll be going faster tomorrow.

Not every run has to be a race. And there are benefits to running (slowly) with a jogging stroller.

  • Form. When I run sans stroller I tend to focus on my feet and my shoulders hunch. I have to keep reminding myself to straighten up, but with the stroller, I always look ahead and my grip on the stroller keeps my shoulders straight and my posture erect.
  • Hill Training. Pushing a stroller, up even slight and moderate hills, has made running up hill on my own seem like a breeze — most of the time.
  • Quality Time. I cherish every moment of running with Monkey. Seeing the world through her eyes is magical. She has so many questions and so much she wants to do. Her excitement bubbles over and captures me as well.
  • A Different Perspective. Racing, chasing, holding hands, laughing, shuffling through piles of leaves, the sun on her skin, the lights in her eyes, the joy vibrating around her – all reminders that running is just pure fun, no matter how slow or fast I go.

Chasing Shadows

 

Today was simply beautiful. The temperature was warm in the 60s with no wind and the sun shone brightly in the baby blue sky -perfect conditions for a lovely fall run with Monkey.

On the track today we ran together holding hands and crossing the finish line together so we both ‘won.’ We chased our shadows, stepped on each other’s shadow, and merged our shadows into one ‘monster’ shadow. Monkey also picked the few remaining dandelions.

On our way to the creek, she fell asleep and napped for maybe 15 minutes. She woke up in time to stop at the creek and toss sticks into the water.

I got a great workout pushing Monkey in her jogging stroller up a hill because our regular route was blocked by big tree limbs that fell down during the snow we had a week ago.

A metaphorical tree limb fell in my path on Friday and rather than turn to God for the strength and wisdom to navigate, I panicked. I’m deeply ashamed to admit that I blamed God for putting the tree in my way as punishment. I stumbled over the limb, tripped and got trapped in the tiny branches. Only when I was completely helpless did I realize that I was blaming God because I didn’t trust him as much as I thought.

It’s a challenge for me to trust God when something bad happens, but I desperately want to trust in God as Job did – “In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (Job 1:22). I have to stop obsessing over what has happened. I’ve been living with it, enduring it, but not accepting it and trusting God to take care of it. It’s time to stop chasing shadows of why, what if and what will. It’s time to start admitting my own powerlessness and recognizing who is all powerful.

When The Running Ain’t Easy

As a long time runner, I know there are going to be days when my legs feel like dead weight, when one mile feels like ten, and when the weather makes me want to stay in bed. Monday was one of those days.

The Bad and Ugly of Monday’s Run

  • My cold.
  • An almost flat right back tire on the stroller.
  • Rain.

The Good of Monday’s Run

  • My daughter’s peeling laughter as she ran beside me.
  • My daughter’s hand firmly holding onto my pants.
  • My daughter shouting, “This is fun!”
  • My daughter saying, “We both win,” as we finish our last lap around the track.
  • Remembering to bring along the rain shield for the stroller.
  • Sprinting through the rain.

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Every time I go out there, I win. Every time I finish the task that I’ve set before myself, I win again. ~ David James Elliott, Actor

My Jogging Stroller Safety Tips

When I first ran with the jogging stroller, I was nervous. I worried it was too big and cumbersome to control or maneuver easily around cars and pedestrians, but after just a couple of runs, the stroller started feeling like a natural extension of my body and even helped to improve my form by keeping me standing straight and looking ahead.

Despite feeling comfortable, I still feel a little nervous when I run with the stroller because it’s carrying precious cargo, so I do everything I can to make my runs with Monkey enjoyable and safe.

Ten Tips to Protect Your Little Running Partner:

  1. Don’t run with your infant unless he or she is able to sit up on their own, usually around 6 months old. Before I began running with Monkey in the jogging stroller, I checked with her pediatrician to make sure it was safe to do so.
  2. Run during daylight hours. Although I don’t take the jogging stroller at night or early morning, my jogging stroller has a reflective light on the wheels, as most jogging strollers do. My husband added additional strips of reflective tape on both sides of the stroller to make sure it was visible in the dark. It’s a precaution that comes in handy when it’s cloudy or foggy.
  3. Avoid running on narrow streets and busy roads. I’ll run along a main road if there are sidewalks; otherwise, I run through residential developments with wide streets and low traffic or on the campus of a nearby school.
  4. Avoid running in extreme temperatures. Now that she’s a toddler, Monkey lets me know when it’s too cold or hot to accompany me on a run, but when she was an infant, it was harder to know when the temperature was uncomfortable for her. At the time, I asked my doctor and he told me that she could handle temperatures as well as I could if she was dressed appropriately. I was comfortable taking infant Monkey in the jogging stroller in temperatures as low as 30 degrees as long as there was no wind chill, the run was short and she was bundled up. I’ve since read that it’s best to take infants running in temperatures between 50 and 80 degrees.
  5. Dress appropriately. I always remember that running generates heat in my body, but not in Monkey’s. If I step outside and feel chilly, I dress Monkey warmly with a hat and coat, even if I’m wearing shorts. I use sun block year round and apply it to Monkey’s skin too.
  6. Use the wrist strap. I keep a death grip on the handlebar of my jogging stroller, but just in case something unforeseen happened, I attach the wrist strap too.
  7. Buckle your child in the stroller.
  8. Have a first aid kit on board, including Neosporin, alcohol swabs, band-aids, Tylenol, and teething gel for babies.
  9. Keep a stroller bag, including wipes, diapers/spare underwear, a towel, a blanket, and a change of clothes.
  10. Take along snacks, juice/bottle, and a toy or two. When Monkey was an infant, the scenery was enough of a distraction, but now that she’s older, I allow her to bring along a toy. I try and limit it to one or two, but some days I end up pushing a stroller filled with baby dolls, books and Scooby-Doo figurines just to get out the door!

Run. Rejoice. Be safe.

 

How Running Makes Me A Better Mother

The strength I develop through running has benefits that go beyond physical. For me, running is like meditation, a way to connect to nature, grow closer to God, find inspiration and stimulate creativity. Anne Audain credits movement.

By moving the body itself, you are moving not just air, food , and blood but even thought through the body. If you let things sit still, you’ll get cobwebs. Movement gives you so much more energy (Anne Audain, cofounder of the Idaho Women’s Fitness Celebration, as told to Dagny Scott in The Complete Book of Women’s Running, p. 155).

This energy carries over to other aspects of my life, especially being a mother to a three-year-old who is constantly on the move herself. Some days even after a good-night’s sleep I’m still tired, and when a cheerful little voice says, “Sun is up, Mommy! You play with me now,” I just want to roll over and pull a pillow over my head. But after a run, I’m revived and energized with plenty of pep to play hide and seek, build a castle with blocks, read a few stories, make worms out of Play-Doh and run races in the yard.

Besides this wonderful energy, running also releases feelings of accomplishment, affirmation and confidence that make me a happier, more positive mother.  It also gives me the opportunity to plan out our daily schedule and stay organized. Keeping on top of everything makes me feel more secure about my parenting skills and makes it easier to accomplish goals while still having time for fun.

It’s important to me that my daughter associate running and having fun so when I take her in the jogging stroller, we go off road and into the woods where we stop for a break and throw stones or sticks into the water, which is something she loves to do. I also use this quality time together as an opportunity to point out and count the different animals and the many beauties of God’s creation. This past Tuesday on our run we saw squirrels, groundhogs, geese, a deer and a blue heron. Sitting on a rock with our feet dangling over the water, we both looked up and admired the way the sunlight filtered through the canopy of trees. I’m so grateful for that special moment with my daughter surrounded by God’s presence.

My goal is to set a positive example for my daughter through running by encouraging her to follow an active lifestyle. So far, so good. Just the other day when I was eavesdropping on her as she played with her Disney Princess figurines, I heard her say, “We’ll go to the track and we’ll go to the water, then we’ll come home and play outside okay, baby?” Since running is such an important part of my daily life, it’s become a daily routine to my daughter. To her, it’s something done every day, like taking a bath and brushing her teeth.

She’s already learning lessons from running that took me years to learn. While we were on vacation she started racing her father and I. When she finished, she yelled, “I won!” And as we finished behind her, she congratulated each of us on winning too. Finishing is winning; it doesn’t matter whether you finish first or last.

Monkey’s First Story

During one of our runs last week, Monkey composed the following story:

Once upon a time, the sun turned me into a groundhog.

I went down the hole and was a mommy groundhog.

Then I came out of the hole and I was Monkey again.

The end.

Translated, but not embellished or edited in anyway by Monkey’s mommy.

Running often stimulates my creativity. If I had a brain recorder, I’d have multiple novels written by now! It’s good to see that the apple doesn’t fall from the tree and that running inspires Monkey’s creativity too!

Making the Most of Running with Monkey

One of the joys of running for me is spending quality time with my daughter. Monkey is three now and joins me in the jogging stroller for two runs a week. Here’s how I make the most out of our running time together:

Pray – Before running I pray that God will keep us safe, help us to run our best, and open our senses to his presence.

Practice God Sightings – I feel closer to God when running; I’m hoping Monkey will someday know the same closeness.

During our runs, I point out God’s wonderful and beautiful creations like the blue sky, fluffy white clouds, flowing water, green grass, fine sand, heavy rocks, tiny pebbles, the variety of creatures like the birds, ducks, geese, groundhogs, squirrels, and turtles. Highlighting all of the different textures, smells, sounds, and sights around us, I say, “God made that.”

Later when I’m making dinner and overhear Monkey say, “God made water or God made macaroni and cheese;” My heart swells and I breathe a prayer of thanksgiving that my efforts made an impression.

Practice running – At various spots along my route, I park the stroller and encourage Monkey to get out and run around with me or on her own, although I don’t push; if she doesn’t want to run, I don’t force her.

There is a track along my route, but Monkey got bored running in circles. (I can’t blame her – five laps and I can’t take it anymore.) Now she likes to run around the pond occasionally chasing geese and pointing out all the neat stuff God made, trying to be like her mommy.

Practice teaching – While running I count how many squirrels we see, how many geese are on the water, and how many laps I do on the track. There are plenty of opportunities to teach counting, colors and shapes.

There are woods and a stream along the route, which provide the opportunity to teach Monkey about nature. This summer she’s learned, among other things, that spiders make webs to catch other bugs to eat; that squirrels eat acorns; that acorns grow on trees; that fish breathe in the water and that turtles can disappear inside their shells.

Pray – I end our runs together just as we began – in prayer. I thank Him for keeping us safe, for speaking to us through His creation, and for the ability to run. I also pray that our time together has nurtured and strengthened my daughter’s faith.

Hear now, O Israel, the decrees and laws I am about to teach you…
Teach them to your children and to their children after them.
Deuteronomy 4:1a, 9b (NIV)

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Previously posted @ The Caffeine Coquette on August 19, 2011