As a running coach and a new dad, I was pretty excited to start figuring out ways to work the baby jogger into my running routine. I knew it would be an adjustment – running while also pushing a little person. But, I also figured there would be ways to use that to my advantage. After some trial and error, I found three ways to make running with a baby jogger an effective complement to my regular training. Hopefully you will find them useful too!
1. HILL REPEATS
Doing hill repeats when you’re already pushing something may not seem like a great idea. But, quite the contrary. This is actually the first workout I tried out with the baby jogger.
From a running perspective there are several benefits:
- Pace doesn’t matter when you’re doing hill repeats; it’s an effort-based workout.
- Part of the goal is building strength and power. So, as long as you can run with something close to your regular running form, a little extra resistance can be a benefit.
- Hills are the best way to cram fitness-building into a short period of time. That becomes important when you’re trying to fit runs around feedings, naps, etc.
From a new dad perspective, I loved this idea. It meant that I wouldn’t have to stop at any intersections and I could check on my daughter before and after each hill repeat to make sure everything was OK – All without sacrificing the benefit of the workout. (Yes, I’m a worried first-time parent.)
For all those reasons, this workout takes the top position in my list of baby jogger workouts. It doesn’t take long. The stopping and starting is a benefit (not a negative). You don’t have to worry about pace. Finally, using the baby jogger can actually increase the workout’s effectiveness. Tough to beat that!
If you want to give it a shot, here is a go-to hill workout I love:
- 10 minute easy running warm-up.
- 4-8 repeats of a hill that takes 60-90 seconds for each run up (5k effort-level).
- Easy jog recovery to the bottom of the hill
- Aim to run each hill repeat slightly faster than the last.
- Bookend it with another 10 minute easy running warm-down.
Total time: ~45 minutes
2. SUPPLEMENTAL RUNNING
It only took a couple runs with the baby jogger to realize that keeping an uninterrupted rhythm and keeping my regular pace was going to be difficult. Maybe as I get more practice with it, that will change. But, as a newbie parent, I can’t count on being able to run like I used to (without a stroller).
Still, not all running needs to be long distance or of tremendous effort. On my shorter days when the goal is simply to recover, running with the baby jogger actually helps keep me from running too hard.
Running with the baby jogger the day after a hard workout or long run gives me “permission” to take it easy and not worry about my pace — which makes for a more effective recovery day.
In an ideal scenario, you would actually be able to keep the running schedule that you’re used to and ADD additional easy, recovery runs with the baby jogger. In that case, all the easy miles with the baby jogger are bonus fitness. They also provides your little one with some fresh air (and your partner some time to themselves).
If your commitment-level allows you to add this “supplemental” running to your schedule, try to schedule it opposite a hard workout. If you do track Tuesday night, do some easy jogging with your baby Wednesday morning, etc.
3. CIRCUIT TRAINING
Our third workout isn’t strictly for running. But, it’s another great way to use time with the baby jogger to improve your running.
Let’s face it, runners aren’t usually the best at doing all the non-running things that can help make you faster. Things like strength training, strides, plyos, etc. often get pushed to the side. But, things like strength training, strides, and plyos are also really funny-looking activities that your baby will think are hilarious (at least mine does — maybe my form is just awkward).
Circuit training with the baby jogger combines some of my favorite features from the first two workouts: It’s easy to keep an eye on your baby and it’s something that I fail to make time for in my regular routine.
My approach is to do an easy 10 minute warm-up, then park the baby jogger at a park or the end of a cul-de-sac. While stopped, I can do lunges, squats, skipping, form drills, whatever I like for 15-20 minutes. Finally, end with an easy run back home.
Since most baby joggers have a fair amount of room for storage, you can always bring some equipment with you! Kettle bells may not be an option, but a jump rope travels easily. Jump rope is a great beginning plyo exercise and is a great way to improve your running economy.
Mixing these three baby jogger workouts into your normal running routine will give you some good quality time with your baby, will improve your running and will hopefully help you see the baby jogger as a benefit rather than a detriment to your training.
Coach Carl is a USA Track & Field Level 2 endurance coach who works with runners of all ability levels to reach their goals. He has been featured in Runner’s World, Women’s Health, Men’s Fitness, and Competitor. For information on his coaching services, visit his website.