Parenting and Running aren’t easy

Disclaimer: This is more of a parenting/baby gear post than a running post.  Also, it is not meant to publicly shame people. Read on if you like.

I remember when SuperGirl was a baby, and I was so excited to be one of those moms who runs miles and miles while pushing her baby in a jogging stroller.  I wasn’t excited enough to fork over $400 for such a stroller though.  I found a floor model BOB Sport Utility stroller at a nearby baby boutique for $200, so I jumped at the chance to have one of these luxury running machines.  Once I started using this BOB, I envied the other moms with their BOB Revolution strollers with the swivel wheel.  This must be why the Sport Utility was so cheap- the damn front wheel doesn’t swivel.  It’s impossible to navigate a stroller with a fixed wheel!  If I had a swivel wheel my life would be so much easier.  Maybe it would be easier, but it wouldn’t be safer.

What I quickly learned is that the swivel wheel isn’t there to make running a breeze.  It’s there to make negotiating the aisles of the grocery store or the mall more feasible.  It’s there so that you can have your jogging stroller and everyday stroller all tied up in one nice little bow.  I had a sedan with a not-so-large trunk, so keeping a BOB in there full time was not an option.  Plus, it doesn’t really fold up that easily.  I had a separate stroller for everyday use, so my jogging stroller was just used for jogging/running, and it was stored in our dining room because we had no garage.  Now we have a garage, so it’s basically a stroller grave yard.

The thing is, I have seen lots of people running with the swivel wheel unlocked.  I have also seen people jogging with strollers that aren’t mean for any type of jogging whatsoever.  I won’t even get into that here.  People, this is NOT SAFE.  Do you want to know why? Because if you run “over even a small pebble with a swivel wheel at running speeds could send the stroller quickly veering in an unplanned direction.” See Runner’s World’s Guide to Jogging Strollers.  Also, even if you have a swivel wheel that can be fixed, there is “always some jiggle in the wheel one way or the other.”  If you look at the BOB Revolution owner’s manual, it specifically says not to run with the front wheel in swivel mode.  I am not a huge stickler for rules like obeying the speed limit or not turning on a red light.  But if the stroller manufacturer is telling me not to run with a swivel wheel, and most “serious” jogging strollers are only made with a fixed wheel, then I am not going to take that chance.

I have seen people comment on message boards that it would be “too hard” to push their kids with the front wheel fixed.  Here’s the thing: pushing your kid(s) in a jogging stroller is not supposed to be easy.  It’s hard work.  It makes you a bad ass, because you can watch your kids and exercise at the same time. It doesn’t make you as badass as this guy, but you are still way more awesome than someone who thinks that having kids and exercise don’t go hand in hand. Parenting is hard work.  There are some things that would make parenting easier, like putting your kid in her carseat without taking the 15 seconds to fasten the 5-point harness.  Or leaving your kids at home asleep with no baby sitter for a few hours because they sleep like rocks anyway. Or not installing a baby gate because you would have to find your drill, or making sure your wine isn’t on the coffee table because little Timmy might drink the whole thing (we all know you pour more than 6 oz). But easy doesn’t mean safe.  

Over the years I sold the BOB and acquired a double stroller that had a swivel option.  I only ran with it in the locked position, but I found it was not as sturdy and I worried that at any moment it could become unlocked.  Also, I didn’t like how small the wheels were.  I ended up with the Baby Jogger Twinner which is one of the best things to ever happen to me, besides my family and Amazon.  You can’t put an infant under 6 months in it but this isn’t a problem for me.  I talked about Big Red in a previous post so I won’t bore you again, but a big wheel and lightweight frame are crucial if you want to make pushing a jogging stroller easier AND safer 🙂

 

20131030-112900.jpg

Advertisements

Oops

So, I thought that running 100 miles this month would be too easy, so I thought 100 miles pushing the double stroller would be a better goal. Wow, definitely overshot that one. Not necessarily because running 100 miles with a stroller is so physically challenging, but coordinating my runs with a time when both kids would be awake and willing to sit in the stroller would take an act of Congress!

Sure, on the weekends it isn’t that difficult to pick some random time to run with the stroller. But for week day runs, I like to head out at 6am occasionally. There is no chance I am rousing my kids from their coma-like sleep just to put then in the stroller. I like running to be quiet, and if I jolted them out of bed, they would both scream the whole way, waking the neighborhood like the two largest, most annoying roosters to ever exist.

If I don’t leave work until after 6, the run takes place while Super Toddler is ready to CRUSH his dinner. A few squeeze applesauces and crackers ain’t gonna get the job done.

All this leads me to my giving up on the 100 double stroller mile goal. Many doubted me from the get go and I don’t think they are haters or hold my ability to stick to goals in low esteem. Rather, I think they considered all the contingencies (noted above) which I hadn’t factored in beforehand.

I have decided to stick with 100 miles in October but even this is hard because there are other things, like group exercise classes, I want to do besides run. And I don’t want to work out for 2 hours a day. How on earth did I do this during my very brief period of triathlon training? How did I run 5 miles, then go do a 3 hour swim practice in high school? How did I lift weights three mornings a week in college then in the afternoon swim 3 hours? Just figuring out how to log a mere 25 miles a week is tiring.

Ok enough whining. Just thought I’d share last night’s workout, which is how I got back on track with my monthly mileage. On the treadmill, I started with a half mile warmup (about 8:45 pace), then did 6 miles with the pacing progressing significantly every two miles. Miles 1-2 at goal marathon pace (8:15). Miles 3-4 at current half marathon pace (7:50). Miles 5-6 at goal half marathon pace (7:20). Cool down with another 1/2 mile. So yeah, that hurt.

I will be super proud if I can get to 100 this month. I really just need to toss in a double digit run this weekend and that should set me up nicely. Also, I need a new goal race. Something in Charlotte or Raleigh in November or December. Anyone have any good suggestions? Nothing longer than a half marathon for now.

How is your 100 in October going?

Day one

Sorry for being totally MIA. Work, parenting, and my love for super expensive group exercises classes has kept me away from running (but not biscuits), so not much to write about.

Today; however, I want to share my excitement over a new challenge for this month. My super awesome health guru fitness buff friend Kelly over at Iron Mamas has extended her 100 mile challenge for October. Just get 100 miles in over 31 days. Walk, jog, run, skip, whatever mode you prefer for getting your miles in. It comes out to 3.23 miles per day, or 6.46 miles every two days, or 100 miles in one day. You get the picture.

Back when I was training for marathons, long long ago, I would hit 160-200 miles per month easily frequently. So 100 miles doesn’t sound like much to a marathon runner, but to someone like myself who is now just sort of in a rut trying to figure out what my next race will be, 100 is a good jumping off point. In fact, running about 25 miles a week could make me a pretty mean 800 meter runner. No?

I started out October with a 4 mile double stroller run, averaging around 8:20/mile. I felt pretty strong at the end, at which point I had a light bulb moment. Since I have long since decided that whatever mileage you do while running with a double stroller should be multiplied by two, if I do all 100 miles with the double stroller, then that’s like doing 200 miles! Or, if I do 50, that counts as 100? Just kidding (maybe). Plus, nothing gets me in shape quite like pushing 65 lbs of humans and 20 lbs of stroller uphill.

So who wants to do the 100 mile challenge? If you already ran today, great. If not, you’re only one day behind. Or, there’s still 150 minutes left in the day to hop on your treadmill. If you want to do the 100 day stroller challenge, I can almost guarantee you will get a LOT faster at the end of the month when you run without the stroller.

Big Red

Last week I went for my first longish run in over 6 weeks. I couldn’t make it to spin class in time, and wanted some more quality time with Super Girl and Super Baby, so I decided we should reunite with our friend Big Red – aka, the double stroller.

Big Red is sort of a beast. She cannot fold down with the quick pop of a button or tug of a rip cord. Big Red was probably manufactured by Baby Jogger in 2003. That’s a rough estimate- maybe 2006. Either way, I was still in law school high school. I originally had a single Bob Sport Utility Stroller when Super Girl was just a wee lass. See:

20130905-231216.jpg

That Bob was pretty great. It was durable, I could throw an infant seat in there, and it had good storage. But it was a nightmare to maneuver due to the fixed wheel. Or so I thought…

When Super Baby came around, I knew that spending $500 on another Bob was not an option. So I waited until Super Baby was almost 6 months old, then I got a Kelty Speedster Swivel Deuce. Good looking stroller I must admit:

20130905-231424.jpg

The Kelty had an option to swivel the wheel, which made it easier to maneuver if I was just strolling around smooth terrain or even wanted to run to Whole Foods with the wheel fixed, then unlock the wheel to walk around the store. Although side note: Whole Foods isn’t really meant for double jogging strollers. It’s meant for Moby Wraps and other forms of child transportation that only involve wearing your child.

The downside of the Kelty is that it is really really difficult to fold and unfold. And the yellow plastic pieces that have to snap down to ensure the stroller doesn’t just pop up and send your kids flying down the road, well, I broke into a sweat every time I had to do the snapping.

So the Kelty’s life came to an end very quickly, as I didn’t want Super Girl to associate curse words with a) me or b) the act of running.

I had heard great things on runner’s message boards about the old school Baby Jogger strollers. You have seen them around- usually red, turquoise, Kelly green, or purple. They are like a long sling with either no hood (because the hood truly is a POS) or a short flat hood. They have either 16″ or 20″ wheels. Apparently, “serious” runners only do a large fixed wheel of at least 16″. Frills like infant seat adapters, cup holders, iPod docs, reclining seats, etc, need not apply.

I found Big Red on eBay. I had searched on craigslist for weeks with no success. Of course now, as I post this, there are three doubles comparable to mine that are going for about $50. Lovely. I didn’t pay that much more (I don’t think).

Big Red needed a new tire and a little bit of tuning up but otherwise, she was good to go. I have taken the kids on many a run with Big Red and she is soooo light and so fast. She turns on a dime. I always assumed it is impossible to turn a fixed-wheel stroller easily but that simply is not the case. You just need a light stroller apparently! Downhill, we practically fly. It’s a good thing I have a leash so the stroller doesn’t get away form me. Another sidebar: if you run with your kids, make sure you use the strap. Once that stroller gets away from you, only Usain Bolt would be able to catch it.

I haven’t been running much and Big Red has been collecting dust over the past two months. We had a blast last Thursday, just like old times. Knocked out about 4 miles in 35 minutes on a rolling route. Another 4 miles in 34 minutes the next day, and again today. There are times it is so so painful, but isn’t that what being a parent is? Taking the good with the bad?

I won’t be able to schlep these kids around in Big Red for much longer, because Super Baby’s weight doubles approximately every three months. But for now, I shall cherish her as Super Girl cherishes watching PBS kids on my iPhone and inhales snacks while she sits in the stroller. Do whatever it takes to keep a stroller-restrained kid happy!

20130905-232939.jpg