I’ve been running with the Baby Jogger Summit X3 for a year now. A full review is frankly long overdue, but in summary it’s been a fab purchase. But when I bought it, I couldn’t find much info on how to actually run with it. So here are my top tips* for running with a running buggy.
* Caveat: I’m not a doctor or a personal trainer. Consult your physician before undertaking anything more strenuous than getting out of bed. I thank you.
1. Wait at least six months. Don’t even think about it until baby is at least six months old and strong enough to hold their own head up. Use that time to work on your own core strength, keep up your pelvic floor exercises (god knows, you’ll need them) and do some gentle jogging without baby if at all possible. I bought our buggy when our daughter was about nine months old, and that was about right. It’s not worth rushing into it – for your own and baby’s sake.
2. Buy a buggy or stroller that’s designed to run with. Yes, it’s a reasonably sizeable investment if you’ve already got an everyday pram/travel system, but if you’re serious about running with it regularly it’s definitely worth buying a buggy with bigger wheels, proper suspension, a hand brake and a wrist strap. More about this in another post.
3. Don’t expect to run a PB. It’s hard running with a buggy. Really hard. Mine weighs 28lb before you put a baby in it – quite a bit more with my 21-month-old toddler. Add uneven terrain and a hill or two, and you’ll really feel it! On a good day, with a fast, flat, traffic-free, I can run about 10-10.5 minute miles – about a minute slower than my normal pace range of 9-9.5 minute miles. But I have put in some truly epic personal worsts with the buggy as well. On the flip side, it’s a good workout – I think you must be using at least 50% more effort, burning 50% more calories and can therefore eat 50% more cake than usual. Also on the flip side, you’ve got a chance of putting in a PB when you run without a buggy – though maybe not if your cake consumption rivals mine.
4. Be safe. Obvious stuff really, but still worth saying for the record: wear visible clothing, ditch your headphones so you can hear what’s going on around you, steer clear of roads without proper footpaths, double-check before you cross the road and wait your turn at traffic lights. I feel much more vulnerable running with precious cargo, so I just don’t take any of the risks I would take when out running by myself.
5. Be flexible. Apparently babies don’t really like following other people’s schedules – who knew? I am lucky enough to have a relatively easy-going sprog and mostly she loves being out in the running buggy, but even she is sometimes afflicted by boredom, tiredness, hunger, cold or a “code brown” in the nappy department. I’ve had to cut runs short to get her home so I can fix one or all of those things, so be prepared for runs that don’t according to plan. When I started out, I would run when she needed a nap, which was great. But now she naps less frequently, so I tend to head out early-mid morning if possible before she needs lunch or a sleep.
6. Be considerate of others. I’ve done a fair few parkruns now with baby on board, and I’d advocate starting towards the back, going wide on corners and being very aware of those around you. I’ve never had a negative comment, at parkrun or anywhere else actually.
7. Think about form. I’m not sure I’ve got this one cracked, but I try to stay as upright as possible with my hips square to the buggy and both hands on the handle. I’ve seen people running one-handed, to get some added momentum from their free arm, but I think you probably need exceptional core strength to be able to do that over any kind of distance without putting your back out. If it doesn’t feel comfortable, it probably isn’t right – so I guess it’s just one of those “listen to your body” scenarios.