There was a time when I didn’t think this post would be a reality. The first time I pushed Mary in a stroller I couldn’t quite get the hang of it. I was out of breath and I felt slow. The truth is that running with a stroller isn’t easy, but it does get better. You get in a rhythm. You slow your pace down and you appreciate running for different reasons.
Over the past few months my running has transitioned, thanks to the stroller. I was afraid it would mean becoming a slower runner. But the good news is, running with my baby (ahem, toddler) has been an awesome experience in many ways.
It forces you to slow down. Sounds like a bad thing, doesn’t it? Here’s the thing. Most of us think we need to run fast all of the time to become a faster runner. Yes, you do need to do some faster runs to get speedy. That’s what speed work is for. Ever notice that speed work is usually only on your plan one time per week? That’s because you only need about 10% of your training to be done at a high intensity/interval pace to reap the benefits of speed work.
Many of us can also benefit from some slower runs. Pushing a stroller can definitely help with this!
You learn to roll with the punches. Sun bonnets fall on the ground. Pacifiers get thrown. Blankets get tossed.
I used to hate having to stop during my run. I wasn’t the best running partner. But having a child requires a completely different kind of patience. Some runs are stop and go. You just have to deal with it. There’s the run where you struggle to keep that sun bonnet. There’s the run where you realize the pacifier disappeared. You stop your GPS and desperately search around the stroller. You contemplate back tracking. You panic. And then you just head home, hoping in desperation that you make it there in one piece!
You realize, stopping doesn’t mean that you will be slower.
With resistance, you become stronger. Pushing a stroller adds a touch of resistance. Sure it slows you down. But when you get that chance to go for a slower run. You find that everything is much easier. You are much stronger. You appreciate that easy run.
Pushing a stroller up hills is hard. But when I hit those hills solo, they feel so much easier. My legs actually feel stronger from that training.
You enjoy running for different reasons. When I run with Mary, my workouts take a different tone. She’s on the verge of sharing a bunch of new words. She babbles in sentences that I can’t quite understand. But I love listening to her. I respond by pointing out the sights.
On our new running route there is a dairy farm. She loves to wave to the cows. I never thought I would shout “Moo!” on my run. But I do it almost daily now. We wave at dogs, and I point out trees. We chat about which one might become our Christmas tree this winter.
This probably comes as no surprise, but we have a very active little toddler. If she sits down in your lap for a minute, you savor every second before she takes off running again (sounds like her parents, doesn’t it?!). The time we share together on a run is very special. I get to have her nice and close and chat and listen to her sweet little sounds and giggles.
You enjoy your time together and then your time running alone. Sometimes one of the hardest things about running is avoiding boredom. Let’s be honest, it isn’t the most exciting sport. We all tend to fall into a rut and that doesn’t help matters any.
When I run with the stroller, I pick a fun route and I forget about technology. No headphones, no worrying about my splits. My goal is to get a workout in and do it with my daughter. It’s a great way for me to do a little something for myself while still spending time with my little one.
When I switch to a run on my own, I get to throw the headphones on and enjoy some music. I can add in some different routes that aren’t as doable with the stroller. I can pay a little bit more attention to my pace and push myself a bit if I want. If I am feeling good, I can add on a few extra miles without worrying that I might be stepping into temper tantrum territory. I can get into my head and problem solve, or think about things going on in my life. It is a little bit of time for me to just spend with myself and then come home refreshed and ready for whatever the day might throw at me next.
Both ways of running are special. I enjoy having the opportunity to run with my family and on my own. They each have their benefits and it is a great way to mix your training up. I have learned that doing new things like pushing a stroller might temporarily slow me down, but in the long run I can actually be a stronger runner and still find success in my training.
What do you do to try and fit runs in around your schedule?