I didn’t know I was a long distance runner… until technically speaking, one day I was. 3.1 miles (a 5K) was the furthest I had ever run in my life on the daywhen I registered for my first full marathon. That was five years ago. To date, I’ve completed three 26.2 marathons, and a gaggle of 13.1 mile runs – I still don’t think of myself as a “long distance runner.” It’s just not a title I easily identify with. Eleven months ago I added some new credentials – three letters, actually – to my title. Those letters? M. O. M. Yep, I’m a bona fide mom-on-the-run, which is a title I feel better suited to.
This year baby girl and I have logged over 300 miles together. In the beginning, running with a 25 lb stroller (plus baby) was a big adjustment. On one hand, it has gotten easier. I have modified my gate, my posture, and my pace. I learned to run beside (not behind) the stroller, with one hand “on the wheel” and the other pumping. On the flip side, it also continues to grow more challenging as my baby grows [heavier] into a toddler.
Challenging as it may be, I wouldn’t trade running with Nora for anything in the world. I thought I enjoyed the meditative qualities of running before she came along, but now-a-days “the runner's high” has a whole new meaning for me. Nora has been a passenger to the sport since she was 2 months old. Watching my baby gain a unique awareness of her surroundings while we zoom around town is priceless. Her happy baby babble is full of contentedness. Am I lucky to have a baby who enjoys (let alone tolerates) a 13.1 mile run with her mom on a sunny afternoon? Maybe. But I can’t help but feel like running is as cathartic an experience for her as it is for her mom. Friends have asked me how we do it. How do I keep her happy while logging big miles? A couple of tips I have learned thus far…
- Juice cup. Always have one handy – and flakey snacks (low-choking hazard). Thirsty/hungry babies are a force to be reckoned with.
- Try running at nap time. The easy bouncing and rhythmic pounding on the pavement help baby doze easily.
- Babies love music. Sometimes running with tunes helps occupy a busy or restless baby.
- To bust boredom, decorate your stroller with toys and keep a few back-ups in the storage compartment below. Like this colorful hanging pullee that clips right to the stroller or one of Nora's favorites, the "crunchy" book.
- Protect your little one from sun, wind, and rain. You may work up a sweat while your little one is chilled by a cool breeze, or a light refreshing (to you) drizzle. Some strollers offer rain covers and/or sun shields that can help with these problems, otherwise keep a blanket with you and be cognizant of the sun’s position.
- Plan your route strategically – always have an easy escape planned. What I mean by this is don’t stray too far from home. If you want to run 13 miles with your baby, plan a route that loops within a 5 mile range from home or your starting point so that you can easily head home if necessary.
- Until your baby is comfortable in the running stroller, stick to flat, paved surfaces. The fast, bumpiness of running feels different to a baby and takes some getting used to.
- Until YOU are comfortable with the running stroller, stick to flat, paved surfaces. Running strollers are designed to cruise and roll easily – with or without you. Always wear the safety leash and give yourself time to get used to pushing and pulling (yes, pulling on downhills) before you try hilly or bumpy terrain.
- Most of all, maintain awareness while running with your precious cargo. I wouldn’t advise wearing headphones, as it is all too easy to get into the zone and miss traffic signals, rogue cars, or even your baby’s cues of discontent while logging miles with a soundtrack.
My last piece of advice? “Run with your heart, not with your legs.” I saw this printed on a t-shirt at a running expo a few years back and it stuck with me. Whether your goal is to run a mile or a marathon – I know that all of my fellow parents-on-the-run out there have heart, which is an invaluable gift to share with your little ones.
Katy Stager, proud mom and wife, is a fan of all things "active." She's a marathon running, swimming, cycling, hiking, art loving, community volunteering, book reading, Instagraming, Animal Kingdom shopping kind of mom who does it all with her little girl in tow. A Bloomsburg University grad, she now studies homemaking, successful childrearing, and thriftiness through the school of life's successful parenting program.
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