Keeping fit and healthy doesn’t have to stop when a kid enters your life, in fact, you can use that kid to optimise your fitness goals. One way that we’ve done this in our house is by running with the kids.
When our first child was born we were mad runners, the kind of runners who do marathons and have wild dreams of ultra marathons. Now we didn’t want this new member of our little household to stop that passion, we wanted her to join in with us, and perhaps inspire her to get the running bug.
Most of all we wanted to keep running to keep that post baby birth weight off.
So with this in mind we bought a running pram, yes it’s a real thing. Now almost 10 years later and two more kids we still use the same one, and it has been indispensable.
I will go over the design features of the running pram and try and explain the considerations when looking to buy, I won’t talk cost because this is likely to change over time (unfortunately increase) for that you’ll need to do your own research.
Key Differences Between “Regular” Prams And Running Prams
- Terrain: When running you will need to negotiate a variety of terrains, from; smooth even footpaths, to unmown verges, right into rocky bush tracks. The big wheel diameter will help you cruise through most of these with little effort, plus tackling gutters is far easier with a large wheel, the less you have to stop the better.
- Suspension: Many “regular” prams have suspension so this isn’t limited to running prams, but you really need this for the above mentioned rough surfaces and also for the constant jigger that happens when running. It’s simply a consequence of movement, the more suspension the pram has the smoother ride will be for you child.
- Three Set Wheels: Running prams almost always have three wheels, the simple reason for this is: turning. When your clocking 5 minutes per kilometre the last thing you need is a wonky shopping cart wheel stuffing up your rhythm. A set wheel is one that doesn’t turn, no wobble! To turn all you need to do is lift that front wheel slightly and rotate the pram, this sounds difficult when speeding along, but it’s surprisingly simple and intuitive.
What To Take Along For The Ride
One thing that you’ll need to be aware of is the child’s state of mind while running, I’ve found that any more than 5km generally means that their attention and enthusiasm begins to wane. So it’s important to take some things that will keep them busy.
Make this list very short, the less stuff the better, you don’t need the extra weight and also in my experience kids tend to throw things that they don’t want, trust me you do not need to be chasing a plush toy down the verge.
Some things to consider taking along are:
- A blanket to keep warm
- Bottled water with a pop top
- a simple toy, a plush or doll is good
Keep the amount of this simple and small, remember is you choose an interesting course they might find stuff to draw their attention anyway.
Running With Style
Now for the actual task of running with a pram, I practice two types, and they are farely basic but can change a whole lot in your energy usage and gait.
Single Handed Running
Put simply this is running with one hand on the handle and the other hand swinging with the motion of your stride. I find this method quite hard, it requires a lot more concentration when turning the pram and I always find that I’m a bit off balance. However I am a bit uncoordinated, I’ve seen pleanty of people succeed with this style.
Two Handed Running
You guessed it, this is running with both hands on the pram, I find this far more stable and easier to control, however it tends to lend itself to more of a slump in your shoulders and also places more weight on the pram. As most runners will atest being more upright with dropped shoulders is a far better running style. This meathod definatly fights that form.
As stated above 5km is about the distance a kid will be able to hold their attention, but ultimatly it really does depend on the kid and the route. When my eldest was little we used to be able to do upto 10km before she started to get restless, however our youngest seems to be getting the same fidgeting at about 4 or 5km.
Another thing is the route you take, my simple advice would be, try and avoid courses that pass playgrounds, aim to finish at one, trust me the kid will go nuts if they see a playgrund and yu don’t stop. However if you finish at one it can be treated a bit of a reward.
Safety is the number one rule when running with a pram and child, you’ve got to look out for your kid above all. Besides when crossing roads you’re not going to be as quick as you’d be on your own, often you’ll need to drop down a gutter to get in the road and mount one on the otherside.
Be constantly on the look out for danger, cars, and even dogs, I’ve had quite a few dogs chase me when running by myself, I really don’t need that when pushing a 20kg pram and 15kg kid.
Running with your kids can be a hugely rewarding venture, not only do you get excersise, but you also get the extra weight afforded by the kid and pram. Plus probably the most importatant thing is you’ll be sharing a passion thats good for you with your kid.
There’s not to much thats bad in that.