With it officially spring, I thought I would get down to business and offer up some helpful tips on getting your kid(s) to last as long as you do with the jogging stroller.
1. Start them early. If you are lucky to be a runner before pregnancy, and are trying to come back after having a baby, you are fortunate to be able to just teach your children that spending a long time in the jogging stroller is just a normal part of everyday life, like riding in the car. I am not a dr, so please check with your dr and your pediatrician before starting a running/jogging plan. The recommended age for most jogging strollers is 6 months. I have the BOB Ironman single stroller and BOB duallie Revolution stroller. Both can be fitted with an infant seat adapter, so my pediatrician did not see any harm in having my children ride in their car seat in a stroller at 8 weeks of age, as long as the pavement was not terribly bumpy, and in the beginning, I was not going fast at all. I do think BOB prefers that you not "run" with the infant seat adapter b/c the center of gravity is changed and the stroller is less stable, but you would need to check it on your particular model. I didn't really worry about this reason, nor have any problems with it.
2. Start slow and short. If you have an infant/younger baby, it can be helpful to stay close to home in case of any issues that need to be addressed immediately. My Keira tended to throw up in any moving vehicle (stroller included) if she was put in too soon after eating. Sometimes that happened while running, and I had to go home immediately to clean her up. If you have a short loop you can do repeatedly, this works well. It doesn't work so well as your child gets older and realizes you have already been there, and then will start asking to go home each time you go around. You have to build your mileage slowly with the kids so that they get used to it.
3. Be Fed or Eating. I had to watch with Keira as an infant that she had at least 20-30 minutes after a feeding before running with her otherwise she would likely throw up/spit up. It was hard, because I had to make sure I could run with her before she needed to eat again. Having a hungry child in the stroller is not good at any age. The nice thing about older children is that I will sometimes plan for their snack to take place in the stroller, as long as it is something that is not a choking hazard, and have special snacks that are only for the stroller to help "bribe" them and keep them happy. When we go for really long runs, I will feed them a meal first, and then pack a variety of snacks for mid-ride, as well as milk and water.
4. The course matters. I like to run at state and metro-parks where the path is wide, smooth and there are things to look at along the way. I also preferred flat in the beginning, but now welcome hills for training. We will also stop from time to time to look at wildlife, especially if we see a deer, frogs, or something that the kids might like. My kids do really well on long or short out and backs or long loops. They hate repeating, but that is just them. Also, it can be nice to run in the neighborhood where I know people. We have counted the houses to get to a friend's house and even had to make a pit stop at another friends to get through the run.
5. Being tired isn't the end of the world. For the kids, not you! While having the kids nap in the stroller means I miss out on quiet time at home, it also means I can have a nice quiet run with no whining or bickering! They can't be overtired where they won't nap, but running in naptime can be nice sometimes, and help me get more done during the day if I can do stuff outside the house while they are supposed to be awake. The hard part can be the transfer back to bed. I have carried my entire single stroller into the house before (we have no garage), and parked my double stroller which won't fit through the doors here in our privacy fenced backyard to avoid waking a sleeping child and still be able to keep an eye on them.
6. The Reward. I usually try to make it fun. The nice thing about running at my favorite state park is that there is a playground just a tenth of a mile in the opposite direction of where I run, close to the parking lot. We head away from the playground, do my run, and then run to the playground if there has been little to no whining or fighting in the stroller (Keira and Soren are big enough to touch each other side by side, which is my biggest issue these days). We have also run to a playground, to play, and then run home again. This is sometimes a problem when they don't want to leave, but it is nice for doing speed work with a recovery in the middle. My favorite reward is to do a really long run at Island Lake or Kensington, and pack bathing suits for swimming after. My kids have endured a 2 hour 12 mile run with the reward of playing on the beach afterwards. We make a whole day out of it, and leave the suits in the car until the run is done(we pass a few beaches on the route).
7. Don't give into tantrums. I don't end a run for disobedience, that just teaches them that crying can end the run. If there is something legitimately wrong, like sun in the eyes, cold, hungry, ect, I try to address it as best as I can and may end early if there is a legit issue.
8. Remove or tether things that can get lost. When my kids were small and it was warm, they never wore shoes in the stroller after we nearly lost a croc. Those things are expensive, and thankfully, it was chucked out at the spot where the mountain bike path my husband was on crossed the paved path I was on, at the halfway point for me. He saw it and grabbed it. Otherwise, I would have needed to double my workout, going all the way to the turn around where it was lost. If you have a burley or chariot and you can zip the kids inside of a mesh screen, you have it made in terms of no lost things!
Anyway, I hope these tips are helpful. I am grateful that my children have embraced the jogging stroller lifestyle. If anyone else has some helpful comments, please leave them! I would love to hear how you do it too!