Editor’s Note: During the holidays, most of us focus on the 3 f’s: family, friends, and food. As you start to think about your New Year’s Resolution, getting back in shape, and shedding a few pounds, here’s a relevant guest blog post by NYC Dads Group member, Mat Gerowitz, as he provides us with a sound plan on using a jogging stroller to get some exercise.
I know for a lot of new parents all of your time is spent taking care of the baby. It can be tough figuring out how to find time to work out or exercise. Here’s a HOW TO GUIDE for running with a jogging stroller:
Picking Out a Jogging Stroller
There are many brands so I suggest that you try out a few before deciding. I use the BobRevolution SE, I considered getting the BOB Ironman stroller. The biggest advantage I found with the Bob Revolution SE is that it can be used for other things besides jogging. The Ironman has a fixed front wheel so it is harder to maneuver when taking it out on the town to a museum or grocery story. The Revolution has a front wheel that can be locked for running, but you can also release the front wheel for walking around. The Revolution is much smaller because of this wheel issue, which is something to keep in mind in small NYC apartments and elevators.
I started running with my daughter, Lucinda, when she was around 5 months old. The instructions that came with my jogging stroller advised not to run with a baby younger than 8 months. You need to use your best judgement, but I felt confident trying it as soon as she could sit up without slumping over in the stroller. The first time out we went for about 2.5 miles. The first mile and a half she was fine, but then she got fussy. So we abandoned ship. The second time out was a little better. By the third time, she had gotten used to the stroller and things started to go more smoothly.
Helps with Naps
After about five short runs in the jogging stroller, she had gotten into the routine of napping really well during my runs. Before I knew it, I couldn’t stop or she would wake up! And as you know or will certainly learn…you should do whatever humanly possible NOT to wake a sleeping baby. The breakthrough came in early June, when she fell deep into a nap and didn’t wake up after the usual 30 minutes. She slept and slept, and before I knew it, I had run almost 2 hours in the middle of the day! Running with our Bob Running Stroller was a great antidote to short napping. Eventually, we got into a routine of taking most afternoon naps during a jog in the park.
Stopping could end a nap prematurely during the middle months, but I find as she’s getting older, the stopping isn’t as detrimental to the nap. My daughter has always been a light sleeper, But if you have a good sleeper it should be fine.
Preparing for Weather
In the middle of the summer when it was 95 degrees we decided it was too warm and just didn’t go; my wife was home from work in the summer and that made my life easier so I was able to run on my own. If you plan to go in the summer, find a jogging stroller with a sun shield to protect from the rays. It’s also best to go early or late and avoid the heat in the middle of the day. In the winter, we’ve been using a weather shield, which keeps the stroller quite toasty. In fact, you should not use the shield unless it’s lower than 60 degrees due to the possibility of overheating. It also protects your child from wind and the elements. I’m not sure how cold will be our cut-off for going out, but below 30 degrees will probably be our limit. Spring and fall are the best months for the jogging stroller. Always keep in mind that your baby is not warming up from exercise like you are. And as she grows I’m not sure how it will change. But for 6- to 12-month-olds, it’s great.
Don’t expect to be running 7-minute miles with the stroller; it can really slow you down. My running pace is around 11-12 minutes with the stroller, and when I’m without the stroller it’s usually more in the 9-10 minute range, sometimes faster if I’m racing in a shorter distance. So don’t expect to run fast with the stroller, but do expect to work hard. I think the extra effort you put in running with the stroller, even if you are going at a slower pace, can make your runs without the baby a little faster. Think of it as a type of speed work!
I train for ultra marathons so running for 90 minutes everyday with my baby isn’t such a problem for me. But if you are not an ultra marathoner, at least getting out there for an hour will be great for you and the baby.
Living in NYC, we usually head to Central Park or Riverside Park. Hills are tough, but add to the fun. Quiet routes are ideal, so try to stay away from tree cutters, friendly tourists, and people wanting to ask how it is to run with the baby. That is my warning, but it’s hard to schedule around those problems.
Bringing the jogging stroller into you and your baby’s life can be fun (a little intimidating initially) and I think it can help you and your baby explore the town, provide fitness, and give your baby a great opportunity for napping. Since my daughter, Lucinda, is turning 1 next week, we will see how this plan works and evolves as she gets older.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mat Gerowitz, is a full time stay-at-home dad, ultra runner, and part-time running coach who lives on the Upper West Side with his daughter Lucinda and wife. Mat can be found on twitter @matruns and he blogs at ultrarunningstayathomedad.blogspot.com.