Running with Kids

  • How to Choose an Alternative Workout When You Can’t Run

    Plan A and B crossed out, Plan C not crossed out

    When your run just isn't going to happen

    It happens to all of us. You scheduled a run today and life is getting in the way. Your kiddo is home sick, the weather is miserable, or your schedule suddenly went from packed to exploding with meetings. You could just skip your run and plan to move it to tomorrow. But pushing your run out a day could throw off your workout schedule for the rest of the week. Not to mention, who knows what new adventure tomorrow is going to bring?!

    When I was first returning to running a few months postpartum, I often tried to “reschedule” my workout for the next day. I quickly learned that didn’t work for me. My workouts became sporadic, and I wasn’t getting any stronger. So I came up with a new plan. When I couldn’t run, I found alternative workouts that fit my day and still shared some of the same benefits as running.

    Woman pulling child in stroller behind her

    1. Shorten your scheduled walk/run

    Don’t have time for a 30-minute walk/run, what about 15-minutes? Won’t have time to freshen up after your run. What if you walked at a comfortable pace instead of running, so you didn’t break a sweat. While we don’t want to shorten or lower the intensity of every workout, it’s ok to do it when it means the difference between doing nothing and doing something. It’s still a literal step in the right direction.

    How should I mark this workout on my progress tracker?

    Check that walk/run box! It’s a progress tracker, not a perfection tracker. 

    Woman Exercising Online

    2. Do a HIIT cardio workout

    This is one of my favorite alternative workouts when I unexpectedly have a child home during my planned walk/run. While certainly not identical to running, HIIT cardio workouts and running do share some benefits. Generally, they both increase your heart rate, include impact exercise, and strengthen your leg muscles. 

    This Peloton 20-minute HIIT Cardio Class is one I have used before in place of a walk/run. As always, don’t be afraid to modify an exercise, as needed. For instance, maybe you can’t do a mountain climber on the floor without a child crawling on your back. Try doing it with your hands on a steady piece of furniture or the wall instead. 

    How should I mark this workout on my progress tracker?

    I would check the “cross training” box and the “strength” training box. You got two for the price of one! Also, pay attention to the level of impact in your workout. If it was a medium-to-high impact workout, apply the same guidelines as if you had run that day. For instance, if you aren’t running on consecutive days, I wouldn’t do a high impact class and a run on consecutive days either until your body adapts to the impact.

    Adult and child-sized exercise bike side-by-side

    3. Break a sweat on a cardio machine

    If you own cardio equipment, this can be a great alternative when you can’t get out of the house. I have had to resort to this many a time and will humbly prove it by sharing a picture of my messy exercise space/office/toddler craft room. If you have a kiddo nearby, keep your expectations low. Not only will their attention span likely shorten your workout, but you will need stay aware of their movements to keep them safe. 

    Also, keep in my mind, cardio equipment, like bikes and rowers, generally offer low-impact workouts. If you start replacing a lot of runs with low-impact cardio workouts, don’t get fooled into thinking you can skip ahead in your walk/run progression plan. Your cardiovascular fitness will likely improve faster. However,  your body isn’t getting consistent opportunities to adapt to impact. So just because you aren’t huffing and puffing on a run doesn’t mean you are ready for a longer run segment. You need to slowly progress your body’s exposure to impact, too. 

    How should I mark this workout on my progress tracker?

    I would mark the “cross training” box. You got your heart rate up and worked on your cardiovascular fitness! 

    Child Running on Football Field

    4. Just Dance

    If your kids are little, you likely have plenty of opportunities to rock out to some KIDZ BOP. You can get your kids wiggles out and your workout in at the same time. Not a dancer? Then, embrace the 500 other ways kids break a sweat every day. This could include a game of chase, running around at the playground, or kicking a soccer ball. Like the other alternative options, this shouldn’t replace all of your walk/run workouts. But its a great way to keep making progress when the choice is between nothing or something. Not to mention, your kids will love it and it might even make you smile, too. 

    How should I mark this workout on my progress tracker?

    You will most likely have a chance to mark the “cross training” checkbox. If you found ways to sneak in some lunges, push ups, monkey bars, etc, feel free to count this as a strength workout, too. There is even a small chance you got some medium-to-high impact exercise in. For instance, if you were jumping rope or really a dancing machine. 

    Conclusion

    Next time to need to skip a run, I hope this list gives you some ways to continue working towards your running goals. Remember, no single workout needs to look perfect. Consistency is the key to making progress and perfection should never be the expectation. Sometimes doing 50% of the plan is 100% good enough!

  • What You Really Need to Know About Stroller Running

    Toddler with happy expression while sitting in running stroller

    Disclaimer: This post contains an affiliate link for one of my favorite running strollers, the KidRunner. I may get commission if you use my link to purchase KidRunner products. 

    6 Tips to Help You Love Stroller Running

    Confession time. I didn’t buy a running stroller until my second child was 18 months old. Originally, I really wanted to keep running as “me time.” But here’s the problem. In order to get back to running and building mileage, you need to consistently run. With two young kids, my husband nor I are consistently getting “me time.” It just doesn’t feel realistic in this phase of life. So I decided to give running with my kids a shot. Now, it’s one of my favorite ways to bond with my kids and get some exercise.

    Mom and daughter looking happy running together

    1. You Might Be Shocked By How Much Fun You Have

    Share What You Love

    I don’t know about you, but it seems like we do a lot of kid-focused activities. We have fun because our kids have fun. But when I run with my kids, I get to share something I love. That has turned out to be a million times more fun than I ever imagined it could be. 

    So Much Storage

    Stroller running is also surprisingly convenient. Not enough pockets in your running pants? No worries! Your running stroller you has covered. Often find yourself under prepared for your running nutrition needs? Not this time! You would never leave the house with your kids without enough food to survive three days. Heck, you can even pack a full first-aid kit. You’ll never feel like a better prepared runner in your life!

    Running Without Childcare

    Parents 100% deserve and need alone time. However, there are a million reasons that doesn’t always work out as planned. Therefore, its great to have a back up option for those days when your spouse is sick or your babysitter’s car broke down.

    happy toddler in bob running stroller

    2. Your Running Stroller Has a Minimum Age Recommendation

    Different running stroller manufacturer’s have different minimum age recommendations. For instance, Thule recommends at least 6 months old while an article on the Bob Gear site references 8 months old. Many strollers offer infant adapters, so you can use your running stroller for walks until your baby has enough neck strength to join you on a run. And, of course, your child’s care provider is a great resource here, too. 

    Woman pulling child in stroller behind her

    3. Your Running Stroller Has Awesome Features

    There are several great running strollers on the market. I admit that once I got into stroller running, I also got obsessed with all the gear. We now have the KidRunner, the Bob Alterrain Pro, and a jogging stroller converter kit for our Burley Bike Trailer. Running-specific strollers come with great features that offer safety and convenience. This includes locking front-wheels, suspension, handbrakes, and storage.

    Child Running on Football Field

    4. You Should Assess Your Readiness to Run

    Return to Running Postpartum - Self-Assessments and Tools

    Whether you are stroller running or solo running, you should assess your readiness to run. Dr. Carrie Pagliano has a great, free self-assessment screen. You can also check out Expecting and Empowered for guided help to return to running postpartum.

    Return to Running Postpartum - Research

    Like to know all the facts? Check out “Return to running postnatal – guidelines for medical, health, and fitness professions managing this population” (Goom, Donnelly, and Brockwell, 2019). It offers a first-of-its-kind, evidence-based set of guidelines for postpartum runners. They even include a section about stroller running (the call it “buggy-running”). Historically, stroller running articles often recommend a one-handed stroller running method. But in this paper, the authors cite a 2017 study (Alcantara and Wall-Scheffer) to offer a different perspective.  This study suggests two-handed stroller running “resulted in a speed and stride length most similar to non-buggy running.”

    toddler boy going down turquoise slide at palyground

    5. You Need a Strategically Planned Route

    Obviously, safety is top of mind when choosing a running route. But don’t forget to think about convenience, too. Shortcuts home, bathroom access, and water fountains can be lifesavers when a run goes awry. But I cannot stress this next part enough. Ask yourself, “do I want to stop at a playground during our run?”. And if the answer is no, then ideally plan a route that does not go past your child’s favorite playground. Do not, I repeat, do not learn this lesson the hard way.

    Toddler boy eating rainbow ice cream

    6. Snacks, Snacks, and More Snacks

    You know this one. Snacks for you. Snacks for them. So many snacks!

    Ready to go for your first stroller run?

    Now that you know the ins-and-outs of stroller running, it’s time to give it a try! Let us know if you have any tips to share with our community and, most importantly, have fun!