Today we’re very pleased to have the lovely Lucy S back with us once again, this time with all the low-down on how she uses a well known piece of baby equipment to help keep her fit.
What’s the one piece of baby equipment that has done more for my physical and mental well-being than any other? It’s not a magic musical sheep, or a super duper monitor- it’s a scruffy second hand pushchair that’s always covered in mud and has a slight squeak to a wheel.
Because it’s a running pushchair. It lets me get out and about at relative speed with baby on board, clearing my head and lulling my little one to sleep as I go. My fitness grows, endorphins soar, I feel better, lighter, the world clears around me. I can’t recommend it enough- and trust me, I was the girl huffing and sulking in school cross country who would have done anything to avoid running the 1500m. I can’t believe I’m now training for my second triathlon and thinking about a half marathon.
The first thing to say is it is not advised to run with baby until they are 6 months old. This is because the movement of the pushchair isn’t great for their neck muscles, and they don’t have the strength to prevent their heads from shaking. A good running pushchair should be versatile, though: perfect for building your strength and recovery on walks, and if you fancy running solo and your pelvic floors are recovered then go for it!
What Kind Of Pushchair?
Things to look out for are the wheels- the larger the wheels the smoother the ride for baby. They should be pneumatic (air-filled) to optimise this. Some brands suggest they are for running whatever the wheel type but from running with my solid wheeled double buggy I can tell you this is not fun at all- much harder work and difficult to steer. You want air cushioning, especially if you are going to run off road on tracks or grass. I would lean towards a 3 wheeler as they are far more versatile.
There’s a bit of a question over whether you want a fixed or moving front wheel- I chose a pushchair that lets you switch between the two. The classic running pushchairs, which are super light and speedy, like the Out’n’About Nipper Sport, have the fixed wheel and tyres like a bicycle, and in theory I should be setting my front wheel to fixed when I run. But personally I really like the flexibility of a moving front wheel so that steering is easier and more responsive. As I run on country lanes, I need to not be worrying about having to swerve suddenly.
A hand brake is really helpful if you live somewhere hilly- I do. It just gives you a bit of extra comfort that baby and pushchair aren’t going to outrun you downhill! A hand brake helps you adjust speed for a smooth descent, but obviously any pushchair should have a foot brake too.
My pushchair is a Baby Jogger Summit– I got it on eBay a few years ago, although you can buy them new. I promise they aren’t paying me when I say how brilliant it has been. The thing that sold it to me was the folding system- you can fold it one handed by pulling a strap- it just lifts up and into the car. The enormous wheels also click on and off easily- perfect if you’ve been whizzing through mud and need to rinse under the tap. It’s really strong so if I want to stop and feed I can sit on it to do so, rather than huddle on the verge. The suspension is great, you can see the springs working. And there’s a little window through which you can see your baby and check in with them- although my experience has been that they will usually be asleep!
There are lots of running pushchairs out there, and the best advice I can give you on picking one is have a quick watch of YouTube reviews of the one you like the look of. Although sometimes these are excruciating QVC America style, they let you see how the thing moves and folds and give you an idea of how it will fit in with your life. These things are expensive, you want one that works for you.
The Personal Kit
Don’t neglect yourself and your personal kit either: you will probably find that you need a different sports bra postnatally, especially if you are breastfeeding. Shock Absorber are the best if you, like me, suddenly have gigantic gazungas when feeding, or are usually blessed in the bust department. Look at your old running trainers too- how many miles have they covered, and do they still feel right? You really don’t want to get injured from pushing out in knackered old shoes. If you’re buying new, try them on in an actual shop, run around, ask the assistants for help- it is worth going to a specialist running shop where the staff will support you and help figure out what you need. Even if it feels intimidating, they are there to help you and are usually delighted to do so.
Where To Run
Speaking of injuries, be kind to yourself. There’s no rush, no race (unless you want to enter one! ParkRun on a Saturday morning often welcome buggies), it’s just you, baby and the open road. Run, walk, run, follow a Couch 5K programme, only do as much as feels comfortable and then try a little more next time. Depending on where you live, there may be a “This Mum Runs” or “Mums on the Run” group for support and companionship- or you may want your run to be a sanctuary of peace and quiet just for you. Whatever you want to do, however far you go, the hardest part is just getting out of the front door- if you’ve achieved that, you’re doing brilliantly.