I was cruising down the road at my comfort pace while pushing the Kelty stroller on a bright summer day. I’d logged hundreds of miles like this since my daughter was born. It was a combination of finding a way to keep up with my running schedule and doing my part to provide my wife with some peace & quiet. Planning your run as a “gift” of free time for the other parent is a great guilt-free way to fit it into your day. Plus, it was usually a sure-fire way to get my daughter to take a nap. The familiar sound of the wind, birds and the occasional passing car whirled on until suddenly…..the blood curdling scream! A large black insect had landed smack-dab in the middle of my daughter’s chest, and well, she wasn’t a fan of big black bugs.
I rid her of the bug and spent the next several minutes trying to convince a 3-year-old that she couldn’t get out and run with me. Needless to say, the remainder of the run wasn’t overly relaxing or quiet. I arrived at my in-laws (destination runs with kids are a great way to fit running into your day vs. adding running to your hectic schedule) completely ready to hand my daughter off to Gram. A couple of years of successful running stroller excursions were instantly marred by one encounter with a gnarly black bug. This is one reason why when it comes to choosing a running stroller, equipment matters. Consider an insect screen.
I have great memories from my years of pushing my daughter in that stroller. It gave me excuses to stop for ice cream breaks. When running from home, we almost always stopped at the neighborhood park for some time on the slides & swings. I had a built in cheerleader for motivation: “Faster Daddy, Faster…”. Any life-long runner knows the woes of needing a potty when there isn’t one to be found. Running with a little one doubles that risk! There was more than one occasion when I dangled a kid behind the bushes to “Do her business”. It beat making a mess in the stroller; not all strollers are washable…just something else to consider when you are choosing one.
My baby is 18 now; a little big for the stroller. We burned through 2 sets of tires over the years. I couldn’t imagine running with a stroller without pneumatic tires. My second daughter wasn’t nearly as fond of riding along while I ran. It was too much sitting still for her, and the prize of time at the park just didn’t make it worth her wait. We still got plenty of use out of that Kelty during trips to amusement parks, fairs, occasional runs and other excursions. It “fit” me. It was easy to push, had plenty of space to store the stuff we dragged along, & had a huge canopy for protection from the elements. Side note: That canopy also acted like a sail when you ran into a headwind….be warned!
There are so many options for jogging strollers today. As someone who really worked his over, I would give the following advice for anyone looking for a jogging stroller:
- Make sure the stroller you choose fits you well while you are running. I got lucky that the fixed handle height on our stroller fit me just right. Many strollers have adjustable handles now.
- Make sure the stroller has the appropriate safety features.
- A safety tether- I tripped on more than one occasion. It’s nice to know the stroller won’t run away from you if you fall
- Hand brakes
- 5-point safety harness
- Good wheels. If you are buying it for running, make sure that it is built specifically for running
- Comfort features: A nice canopy for protection (don’t forget to consider a bug screen or rain shield), storage space (someplace for snacks, change of clothes, wipes for potty breaks, etc.), a reclining seat (makes naps easier to come by).
Parenting brings all sorts of obligations. Finding ways to fit everything into your day can be a challenge. Any time you can include your children in your activities, it’s a win! If you’ve got young ones, hitting the road with them is a great way to keep moving and create adventure. Soon enough, they’ll be headed off to college. Take advantage of it while they are here.
Brian is an owner of Appalachian Running Company and Cardin & Miller Physical Therapy. He can be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.