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After arguably the world’s hardest marathon, you need to ease back into a workout routine. Take it slow – even if you’re feeling fantastic – so you don’t delay the healing process. And of course, check in often with your doctor to determine what kind of exercise you’re ready for.
Recover. First, let the body rest and repair itself. Usually at least 6 weeks of little to no physical activity are recommended; during this time, go for some easy walks if you’re up for it. If you’ve had a C-section, take extra caution so as not to compromise your incision.
Try some cardio: Start with the elliptical, the recumbent bike or swimming; avoid bouncing as much as possible. Don’t jump right in with hour-long sessions, either – the body is still healing, and you’re probably not quite yet adjusted to sleeping standing up with one eye open, not to mention performing intense diaper-changing sets with a million reps.
Walk/run: Runners are notoriously untalented at things like “coming back slowly” and “resting.” But even though you’re probably crazy psyched to get back to your sport, doing too much too soon will only set you back. Be especially aware of any pain in your pelvis, lower back or abdomen, and don’t be bummed if your first few sessions are more walking than running. Running isn’t going anywhere. It will still be there for you when you’re fully healed.
Get it, girl: The perfect storm of complete recovery includes your muscles, cardio endurance, ability to sleep and overall mental health. Don’t compromise any of the above to tackle a training plan. But once you’re ready, make time for your workouts and kick any mom guilt to the curb. You’re healthier and happier on a consistent endorphin regimen, which is a win for you and your family.
Bring the baby: It’s never too early to get little Meb or Kara out on the roads! Well, actually, it can be too early – check with your doctor to make sure a jogging stroller is safe for your infant. It’s usually recommended to wait till your kiddo is at least six months old or can sit up independently.
Once you’re greenlighted, keep in mind that running with a stroller is going to alter your gait while also increasing abdominal, gluteal and hamstring activation, so pay close attention to your body. And check your ego: your pace will be slower than normal, but that’s because pushing the extra weight of the baby and stroller is an incredible workout.
…for your kid, not for you. Your little one is doing you a solid by sitting relatively still for 30 / 60 / 90 minutes, or however long your run happens to be, so try to keep the experience as painless as possible by being prepared before you head out.
Bring snacks. Hey, it’s tough work sitting there, checking out the scenery, pointing at nothing, maybe sneaking in a quick nap. Keep ready-to-eat snacks handy, so you both can just pop something in your mouth if you need a little boost. Don’t pack anything you might consider a choking hazard, especially if your co-captain is going to be eating it while you’re still moving.
Bring water or juice. Sippy cups are great for tiny hands, and they’re mostly spill proof, too. Even better, some jogging strollers are equipped with water bottle holders, so you can grab a quick drink yourself without needing to stop.
Bring some toys. If your baby is happy and entertained, a stroller run will seem like an adventure instead of a prison sentence. Keep extra toys available to swap at a turnaround or after one gets tossed out of the stroller. Bonus points if they attach to the stroller because that means fewer stops for you and constant stimulation for your co-captain!
Bring a clean diaper… just in case. Don’t set out for a run until your little one is clean and content, but also realize that may not last long. Always be ready for a bathroom emergency (as a runner, you should be familiar with how quickly those can creep up).
Bring the right gear for the weather. A rain/wind shield will be a game changer in cold or inclement conditions. Be sure to bundle your child up if it’s chilly – he’s not running, so he won’t have the same increase in body temperature that you do. On sunny days, apply sunscreen to any exposed skin. And be smart – if it’s absolutely freezing, pouring down rain or sweltering hot, change up your workout that day.
Bring a sense of humor and adventure. Jogging strollers let you work out and hang out with your kid all at once – awesome! So treat these runs a little like playtime, too. Run through a park and stop for some cross-training on the swings, or slow down to check out a construction site that looks super cool to your co-pilot. Who do you think is in charge here, anyway?
With all the options available to new parents, it can be tough to determine which jogging stroller is the best fit for your training, your lifestyle, and your baby’s comfort. Here are some things to look for when planning a purchase.
Wheels. Unlike traditional strollers, which typically have four wheels, jogging strollers are designed with three larger wheels: one in the front and two in the back. They act like bicycle tires in that they roll easily over tough terrain, but that also means you’ll need to check the air pressure every so often…and beware of flats on the run.
Jogging strollers feature either fixed or swivel front wheels. Fixed wheels are made specifically for running; they’re larger than swivel wheels and roll more smoothly in a straight line, but they’re also much more difficult to turn, making them a nuisance indoors.
Swivel wheels, on the other hand, turn easily (hence the name), but tend to veer off course upon hitting slight bumps or cracks in the road. Some swivel-wheel jogging strollers allow you to lock the wheel in place for running and then release it for general use.
Brakes. The parking brake is applied when you stop moving entirely; it keeps the stroller from rolling away when you’re taking a selfie or Instagramming the sunset. These come standard on all jogging strollers and are usually foot-operated.
A hand brake allows you to slow the stroller down while you’re still moving, great for running downhill. Hand brakes are only available on jogging strollers with fixed front wheels.
Handlebar. Here you have the option of a fixed or adjustable handlebar. If you’re sharing your jogging stroller with someone of a different height, adjustable is the obvious answer. However, adjustable handlebars are slightly less stable than their fixed counterparts, so if you’re planning to hog the stroller, fixed might be your best option.
Safety Tether. This is a wrist strap connecting you to the stroller. If you don’t have a hand brake and are nervous about the stroller getting away from you, especially running downhill, the safety tether can add invaluable peace of mind. However, some runners find them annoying and uncomfortable; if you’re not going to use one, you might want to limit your runs to flat routes.
Seat. It’s not all about you: the seat is 100% for baby’s comfort and safety. Your jogging stroller’s seat should recline slightly more than that of a traditional stroller; this helps to reduce the amount of stress your baby feels from bumps in the road. A five-point harness offers total security for the upper and lower body.
Suspension. This shock-absorbing system helps to prevent your baby from bouncing up and down on the run. Some strollers offer front and rear suspension, but most only feature shock-absorbing springs on the rear wheels, and some have none at all.
Canopy. These shield baby’s skin from harmful UV rays; with an attached rain shield, a canopy will also keep your little one dry. Some are designed with peek-a-boo windows to let you keep an eye on your kiddo without walking around to the front of the stroller.
Convertible Trailer. Great for running in wet or cold climates, these keep your baby protected from the elements in a weather-proof cocoon, and they can be connected to bikes with a hitching arm for cross-training variety. They don’t recline, though, and can be tedious to store and transport.