Photo: Lars Schneider/Tandemstock

Running Tips for New Moms

From newly postpartum to running with your baby in a stroller, here’s a guide to returning to your runner-self.

There will always be those runners who return to their regular, pre-baby runner selves quickly and miraculously within weeks of giving birth. They may go on to run races within a year and push their 2-year-olds in strollers to record-setting marathon times. But do not beat yourself up by comparing yourself to those women. Know this: They are not the norm. Plus, medical professionals advise women to take things slowly, and very carefully, in their return to running after giving birth. Here are a few other helpful tips along the way.

Running Postpartum

Each individual is just that: an individual whose physiology, combined with the extent of physical trauma caused by birthing a human, varies. Therefore, the amount of time required for recovery before resuming running will vary as well.

You may hear general guidelines of waiting until you’re six weeks postpartum to do much activity at all. Gentle walks (which you can do with your baby) will be your best bet. Also, physicians recommend doing exercises to regain strength in your pelvic floor and abdominals. Strengthening those muscles will help fortify your overall core for when you do return to running. Having a strong pelvic floor can also help you minimize injury while resuming daily tasks, like lifting grocery bags, or while holding your new, growing baby.

Before starting to integrate any running into your walking progression, talk with your physician and consider seeing a pelvic floor specialist. When you do begin running again, follow a gentle plan that slowly introduces running into walking outings. Treat yourself like a beginner runner who’s training to return to her regular self. Be gentle on your body, listen to any odd pain or discomfort and communicate with your doctor, and allow yourself to recover well between outings.

It’s best to leave your baby at home for these outings. You’ll appreciate the time on your own, and it’s not advised to run with babies in strollers until they’re at least eight months old anyway.

Photo: difught

Running with a Baby in a Stroller

The reason for the eight-month wait is because a baby needs to develop strength to endure the wobbles and bumps encountered when riding in a stroller at mom’s or dad’s running speed, whatever that pace may be. 

When your baby is close to eight months old, talk with your baby’s physician to make sure they advise running with them in a stroller made specifically for running. As you ease back into short runs, avoid routes with traffic, steep inclines and descents, as well as unpaved sections that might present unseen hazards.

 Running Strollers/Joggers

Strollers, or “Joggers,” made specifically for running with a baby, differ from standard walking strollers. Running strollers have suspension to soften the terrain, plus inflatable rubber tires to withstand the rigors of running. They often have front wheels that pivot and lock out (recommended for running), with other run-specific features such multi-point safety harnesses. (It is not advised to run with your baby in a stroller not made specifically for running.)

Mind Your Posture and Your Grip

Running while pushing a baby or toddler takes some getting used to. After all, you’re pushing a good amount of weight, and have to keep at least one hand on the handle of the stroller (ideally using a wrist leash, often included, for added safety). Aim for maintaining an upright posture instead of slumping over the stroller handle. And avoid gripping the handle too tightly. You don’t want to make your return to running even harder by giving yourself new aches and pains due to poor running posture and grip while pushing a stroller. (It happens.)

What To Bring

Strollers are versatile in that they’re loaded with storage and pockets—fill them with extra layers for you and your baby, plus mobile needs like diapers and wipes (plus a trash bag for a dirty diaper), a bottle or other feeding means, and any other comfort extras. A book? Pacifier? Stuffed animal? Blanket? It’ll all fit in the pockets or undercarriage of the stroller. Make sure your baby is protected from the elements and bundled accordingly for the cooler weather that they’ll be experiencing in motion while your body heat increases on the run.

Safety Tips

Each baby jogger manufacturer lists a whole host of safety guidelines for running with your baby, but the biggies include making sure your baby is old enough to ride in a jogger, making sure to strap them in properly, locking out the front wheel, and always maintaining hold of the handlebar. Some baby joggers have a hand brake to help slow momentum, as well as a locking position that keeps the jogger from rolling away when it’s intended to be stopped.

Running with a Toddler in a Stroller

As your baby gets older, they may have an opinion about being in the stroller—and it may not always be in line with your running goals. While they may have napped every time you ran with them at eight months, they may wiggle and squirm at a year-and-a-half. Or, they may sleep when they used to wiggle.

Be flexible, bring toys and snacks, point out cool things the two of you pass by while running. Consider creating positive associations with being in the stroller, like running to a park or playground for some playtime before running home.

Sharing your love of running with your baby or toddler can be a wonderful bonding experience. It’s also a great way for both of you to get fresh air, and for you to model the healthy behavior of exercise to your young one from an early age. Be kind to yourself in your expectations of mile splits and distances achieved, but know that returning to running as a new mom is doable, and healthy…for both of you.

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.