The years feel long and the nights short when your children are small enough to be pushed in a stroller on runs. Yet, before you know it, you're running side-by-side with the same little person you once pushed on a 20-mile training run.
As I reflect back on over nine years of running with a single, double or triple running stroller, here are six things I wish I could go back and tell my new mommy self.
Stroller Running is Hard, but Not Impossible
Running with a stroller is difficult, there's no other way to dice it. Think of it as you would a race distance that once seemed impossible; once you start doing it you realize that, while it may take more work than what you have done in the past, it's completely possible.
Some is Better Than None
If you train for races, you are more than likely going to follow a weekly training plan. Children, however, don't care what your mileage goal is for that day.
Instead of being frustrated at not getting in the miles that you wanted on a specific day, tell yourself that some is better than none. Having a flexible attitude will keep you from feeling bitter over a run cut short.
On days that everything seems to be clicking and your child (or children) is enjoying the run, tack on some extra miles. Run what the day gives you and never beat yourself up for what you did or did not do.
Always be Prepared
Snacks, sunscreen, bug spray, blankets, more snacks, coloring books, water, a bottle—the list goes on. The more prepared you are on a run, the more enjoyable your run will be.
Sitting still for a long period of time is hard for a wiggly toddler. Give your child a reason to enjoy the runs you go on. Save a special book or a special game specifically for stroller runs. Bring their favorite snack or even treats to reward a patient child.
A crying baby or toddler is the worst, and so are the looks you'll get from strangers judging you as you push them in a stroller. Being prepared decreases the chances of meltdowns happening on a run.
Be Encouraged by What You Accomplish
Every month or so I would head to a flat-ish area and see how fast I could run a mile pushing my kids. I had different PRs based on how many kids I was pushing or even which stroller I used.
Did these numbers matter to anyone but me? No. But they did encourage me. Giving myself little things to be proud of made stroller running more rewarding. I found ways to see improvements that motivated me to run more often.
Long Runs are Possible
Being prepared will one day give you the option to go on a long run, if you so choose. It took me years to realize that because my children had grown up in the stroller, it wasn't something they minded all that much.
When I had more flexibility and someone to watch them while I ran on the weekends, I often opted to bring one of them with me for company. To this day, pushing my daughter on a 20-mile run while training for the Boston Marathon remains one of my favorite running memories.
When I have a moment on a solo long run where I am doubting my abilities, I remind myself what I've been able to do in the past while pushing a stroller and it snaps me out of doubting myself.
For some, stroller running isn't an optional activity; it's the only way to fit in a run. Embrace it.
Yes, it's hard. Yes, it's often much easier to run alone. Yes, you may want a break from your kids. But this stroller is allowing you to do something you love, and something you may not have been able to do that day with out it.
You have the option of allowing the stroller to give you the gift of a run. It might not be far, it might not be fast and it might not even be what you wanted—but it was a run, and for that be thankful.
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