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5 Things I Learned About Jogging Strollers

I had waited months for the big day. My husband and I had discussed it nonstop since the minute we knew it was coming, even clearing a sizable area in our apartment in anticipation. We were a little nervous; it represented a big change. But we knew that once it appeared we would most likely fall in love. When that day came, we were predictably overjoyed.

A jogging stroller joined the family.

I know, I know. It seems like a silly thing to get emotional about. But as a voracious runner, who found out by month three of her pregnancy that running just wasn’t going to work, envisioning the day when I could tuck my baby into a sleek running stroller and take off like one of those super-fit Ironman moms excited me to no end. I had big plans for the contraption.

But it was also an intensely practical addition. My husband is a runner and had fallen off his consistent training schedule when our son roared into the world last fall. We took regular walks with our infant, but we couldn’t really run with our stroller setup: the baby’s car seat clicked into a four-wheeled base (no suspension, no oversize tires, no dice). In order for either of us to go, one would push the stroller while the other eked out a few miles before taking over the boy like a handed-off baton. It worked, but it wasn’t ideal. I often felt like I needed to cut things short so my husband got his fair share of endorphins; he would often forego his workouts so I could get in mine.

When our son turned six months old—the minimum age recommended for stroller running, which hinges on a baby having full head and neck control—we bought our jogger. And for something so seemingly straightforward, there was a lot to learn. Here are a few things to keep in mind when contemplating your purchase and beyond:

Explore Your Options

When choosing a stroller make sure you know what you want out of it. Who will be using it the most? How often will you run with it versus use it to tool around town? Do you want a traditional jogger (three outsize wheels) or a pod (an enclosed design that, with the help of a conversion kit, can be used for running or biking)? Is a handbrake a necessity? Would you prefer a permanently fixed front wheel or one that can swivel, too? Does an adjustable handlebar make sense in your world? Make a checklist and shop accordingly. There are many options to choose from.

Kick Some Tires

Before our son as born we registered for a specific make and model of jogging stroller that we thought would be perfect. No one bought it, so several months later we went shopping ourselves to investigate options. Turns out the stroller we wanted originally didn’t feel quite as sturdy or smooth in real life as the one we eventually bought. It pays to touch and feel. Try the breaks. Examine the harness. Give the shocks a bounce.

Get Comfortable Before You Head Out

Running with a jogging stroller isn’t rocket science, but it is different than running alone. Take some time to orient yourself with your new appendage. Get used to its weight, the pull of its tires (a fixed front wheel requires a bit of finesse to make a smooth turn), how it performs on an uphill climb or a downhill descent and even how your baby responds to the ride (more on that below). Once you know what you’re dealing with, get out there.

Your Baby Might Not Love It at First

I pictured my son taking to our new stroller like a duckling to water. What I got instead was a lot of crying followed by a lot of crying topped off with (you guessed it) even more crying. (And he’s not a crier.) The transition from a back-facing stroller seat that offered unobstructed parental views to a front-facing stroller seat that offered unobstructed world views jarred the little guy. (My husband and I are no slouches, but I assumed sweeping vistas of our regular route in New York’s Central Park would be much more compelling than our mugs.) I have embarked on many stroller runs only to stop after less than a mile to stop the kid from sobbing, a feat normally only accomplished by picking him up as a steady stream of parents zip by with their mini training partners in tow. I learned to pack toys and to feed him before takeoff; he falls asleep quite often mid-ride. But it is worth noting that your sidekick might require a warm-up period—and I don’t mean the athletic kind.

Running Sans Jogging Stroller Will Be a Better Workout

Fact: You will feel lighter, faster and freer when you run without the stroller. But I learned that running with my little one bonded us over something that I already loved and that he, with any luck, will love one day, too. And that alone is enough to carry me through some pretty happy miles—even if my training buddy tends to be a bit of a crybaby.

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