Jogging Stroller 101: 6 Weeks to a 5K

>> Friday, March 9, 2012

We've been blessed with a warm winter. So warm, in fact, that I've been able to take Ada out in the jogging stroller many, many times -- and it's only the beginning of March. On the morning of my first run with her, I had these images in my head of sunny days and me, joining the local runners club's weekly long run. Plodding along with a huge smile on my face, enjoying what I have missed for the past year.

This was going to be great!


Yeah. I had these -- what I can now classify as -- delusions that running with Ada would be much like running alone. What I q.u.i.c.k.l.y found out is that using the jogging stroller is HARD WORK. Humbling, actually. And, at least at first, is more for sanity than speedwork.

Some stuff:
  • The biggest difference I notice is how much I end up using my core to push the stroller. My abs burn during every run. It might have something to do with the muscle-loss during pregnancy.
  • My pace is much slower than usual. I haven't actually timed myself, but I can tell it's at least 30 seconds to a minute slower than my long run pace.
  • Not using my arms while running is difficult . . . but even more than that: Annoying.
  • Because it's so much harder, I find myself ridiculously thirsty and have had to bring water along with me.
  • Over time, though, it does get easier!
The first day I tried it, I went out thinking I'd run 5 miles. Then I limped my way through 3 and decided I needed to back up -- take it slow. I've added some pushups, planks, and situps to my workout routine to supplement as strength training. Basically, running while pushing something is different than running alone. But that doesn't mean it can't be fun.


Before you start this plan, you should be able to run 3 miles comfortably. Otherwise, you can repeat some of the beginning weeks to get to that point. I've been using a modification of this routine for a while. It allows me to get out of the house during the day and get in a moderate level of cardio. On the easier days, I get in my half marathon training in the evenings when Stephen is home. On my days off from half training, I still get a good sweat!

And if you feel like you can take off faster than this plan suggests, more power to you. Go for it! (You should also probably check with your pediatrician before strapping your kid into the stroller. We're doing it a bit early, but only after many trial runs. She loves it and it snug as a bug in there.)


WEEK 1

A: Walk 3 miles.
B: Walk 10 minutes. Then Jog 2 minutes, Walk 3 minutes; repeat. Walk 10 minutes.
C: Walk 10 minutes. Then Jog 2 minutes, Walk 3 minutes; repeat twice. Walk 10 minutes.
D: Alternate walking and jogging as you wish for 15 minutes.

WEEK 2

A: Walk 2 miles. Then Jog 3 minutes, Walk 2 minutes; repeat. Walk 5 minutes.
B: Walk 10 minutes. Then Jog 3 minutes, Walk 2 minutes; repeat. Walk 10 minutes.
C: Walk 5 minutes. Then Jog 5 minutes, Walk 2 minutes; repeat twice. Walk 10 minutes.
D: Alternate walking and jogging as you wish for 20 minutes.

WEEK 3

A: Walk 1 mile. Alternate jogging (5 min) and walking (2 min) for 1.5 miles. Cool down with a .5 mile walk.
B: Walk half a mile. Alternate jogging (5 minutes) and walking (30 seconds) for 1.5 miles. Cool down with a .5 mile walk.
C: Walk half a mile. Alternate jogging (5 minutes) and walking (1 min) for 2 miles. Cool down with a .5 mile walk.
D: Alternate walking and jogging as you wish for 20 minutes.

WEEK 4

A: Walk .25 miles. Alternate jogging (5 minutes) and walking (30 seconds) for 2 miles. Walk .25 miles. Alternate jogging (5 minutes) and walking (1 minute) for another mile.
B: Walk .25 miles. Alternate jogging (5 minutes) and walking (30 seconds) for 2 miles. Walk .5 miles. Jog .5 miles. Walk to cool down.
C: Start out jogging for 5 minutes. Walk 2 minutes. Then alternate jogging (6 minutes) an walking (1 minute) for 2.5 miles. Cool down with at least a .5 mile walk.
D: Alternate walking and jogging as you wish for 25 minutes.

WEEK 5

A: Jog for 10 minutes. Walk 2 minutes. Repeat. Jog 5 minutes. Walk 5 minutes. Repeat.
B: Walk 5 minutes. Jog 1 mile. Repeat. Jog .5 miles. Walk 10 minutes.
C: Jog for 15 minutes. Walk 5 minutes. Repeat.
D: Alternate walking and jogging as you wish for 25 minutes.

WEEK 6

A: Jog for 15 minutes. Walk 2 minutes. Jog for 15 minutes. Walk a cooldown.
B: Jog for 20 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Jog 10 minutes. Walk a cooldown.
C: Alternate walking and jogging as you wish for 30 minutes.
D: Jog an entire 5K.


NOTES:
  • You may want to scope out potential routes before taking off with the stroller. Things like uneven sidewalks or curbs can be dangerous. Same thing with traffic. Your favorite 3-miler might be impossible with a stroller.
  • I recommend heading to parks, if you can. Most of these concerns become non-issues.
  • The good thing about the walk/run approach is that you can check on your little one during those first times out. Make sure they are properly in place and comfortable.
  • I would never recommend taking your hands off the stroller entirely. But if you're at a relatively safe park, I sometimes alternate hands so one can be free. It helps if I'm feeling particularly tired.
  • I haven't reached a point where stroller running feels like normal. But that's OK. Treat it like its own sport, which it is.
  • I try to jog right after a feeding, then recline the seat, and let Ada nap. Now that she's older, she's able to be awake and content -- but I do get nervous that she might scream when we're miles away from home. (Hasn't happened yet!)
  • Make sure your baby is bundled for the elements. But also not too hot. I put Ada in her snowsuit on a 60-degree day and when we got home, she was sweltering. Rookie mistake. Basically, dress your baby as you would dress yourself if you weren't running. (A lightweight hat never hurts.)
Well. That's basically it. I'm obviously not an expert. So, I'd like to hear from more seasoned stroller runners. Does it feel like second nature after a while? Any tips to share?

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