When I first ran with the jogging stroller, I was nervous. I worried it was too big and cumbersome to control or maneuver easily around cars and pedestrians, but after just a couple of runs, the stroller started feeling like a natural extension of my body and even helped to improve my form by keeping me standing straight and looking ahead.
Despite feeling comfortable, I still feel a little nervous when I run with the stroller because it’s carrying precious cargo, so I do everything I can to make my runs with Monkey enjoyable and safe.
Ten Tips to Protect Your Little Running Partner:
Don’t run with your infant unless he or she is able to sit up on their own, usually around 6 months old. Before I began running with Monkey in the jogging stroller, I checked with her pediatrician to make sure it was safe to do so.
Run during daylight hours. Although I don’t take the jogging stroller at night or early morning, my jogging stroller has a reflective light on the wheels, as most jogging strollers do. My husband added additional strips of reflective tape on both sides of the stroller to make sure it was visible in the dark. It’s a precaution that comes in handy when it’s cloudy or foggy.
Avoid running on narrow streets and busy roads. I’ll run along a main road if there are sidewalks; otherwise, I run through residential developments with wide streets and low traffic or on the campus of a nearby school.
Avoid running in extreme temperatures. Now that she’s a toddler, Monkey lets me know when it’s too cold or hot to accompany me on a run, but when she was an infant, it was harder to know when the temperature was uncomfortable for her. At the time, I asked my doctor and he told me that she could handle temperatures as well as I could if she was dressed appropriately. I was comfortable taking infant Monkey in the jogging stroller in temperatures as low as 30 degrees as long as there was no wind chill, the run was short and she was bundled up. I’ve since read that it’s best to take infants running in temperatures between 50 and 80 degrees.
Dress appropriately. I always remember that running generates heat in my body, but not in Monkey’s. If I step outside and feel chilly, I dress Monkey warmly with a hat and coat, even if I’m wearing shorts. I use sun block year round and apply it to Monkey’s skin too.
Use the wrist strap. I keep a death grip on the handlebar of my jogging stroller, but just in case something unforeseen happened, I attach the wrist strap too.
Buckle your child in the stroller.
Have a first aid kit on board, including Neosporin, alcohol swabs, band-aids, Tylenol, and teething gel for babies.
Keep a stroller bag, including wipes, diapers/spare underwear, a towel, a blanket, and a change of clothes.
Take along snacks, juice/bottle, and a toy or two. When Monkey was an infant, the scenery was enough of a distraction, but now that she’s older, I allow her to bring along a toy. I try and limit it to one or two, but some days I end up pushing a stroller filled with baby dolls, books and Scooby-Doo figurines just to get out the door!
I can still hear you say you will never break the chain ~ Fleetwood Mac The Chain.
Photo Credit - Microsoft Clip Art
At the risk of being labeled a bad mother, I confess that I did not feel joy on the day I brought my newborn daughter home from the hospital. I was grateful and happy to have a healthy baby girl, but I was severely depressed and majorly terrified –overwhelmed with the magnitude of the responsibility I was facing.
My confidence wavered as I tried unsuccessfully to wake a sleeping newborn to nurse. My nerves were shot and my hormones were going haywire. I couldn’t help feeling like a part of me was missing. She wasn’t missing –she was in my arms, but it wasn’t the same, and I mourned the feeling of life moving within me.
Even though I’d anxiously waited for my due date for nine months and longed to hold my baby, I ached with emptiness. Any joy I felt at holding my newborn drowned under the sorrow I felt at losing our physical bond.
Thankfully breastfeeding reestablished the physical connection I needed to move past the ‘post-partum depression’ or ‘baby blues’ I experienced after Monkey was born. Although two weeks after we’d been home, when the remainder of her umbilical cord fell off (the last tangible evidence of our physical connection), I cried –a lot.
When Monkey stopped breastfeeding, the sense of loss and detachment returned, although not as fiercely as before since she clung to me 24/7, or so it seemed at the time. Monkey made it easy to remember she needed me. I was blessed and fortunate enough to be home with her and if we were ever apart, her daddy or grandparents were there to watch her and would fill me in (whether willingly or with endless questioning) on every cute and rotten thing she did.
Last Tuesday Monkey started preschool and for the first time in her life I wasn’t there to observe everything she said and did, nor was I able to wring out every detail from her nursery school teacher. This turned out to be more difficult for me to handle than I had expected. I cried when I left her in her classroom. I cried when I got home. I felt alone. The house seemed so empty and lonely. Something was missing. It was the same feeling I had when I got home from the hospital three years ago, only this time, there was no infant snuggled against my chest. I cried harder. This was it. Our lives had diverged and our bond was gone.
I truly felt too miserable to go for a run, especially since Monkey had been joining me on Tuesdays in the stroller. But when I’m miserable, that’s the perfect time for a run, so out the door I went.
It had been raining and dark clouds hovered overhead. As my body relaxed into the rhythm of running, thoughts about Monkey moved through my mind: how inseparable we’d been for the last three years; how it seemed like the chain of family members that had always linked us together had been cut; imagining there was a chain hanging heavy around my waist, a swinging, severed end banging against my leg as I ran.
Digging deep I searched for something positive. Well, at least the pre-school was at the church and her grandparents were across the hall at choir practice. It was some consolation. As I contemplated the church, I heard God whisper to me, “I am the link in the chain between you that can never be broken.”
I looked at my watch; it was 11:00 A.M. A powerful surge of love and faith revived and strengthened our invisible bond. I imagined being a fly on the wall of the preschool classroom and hearing Monkey say, “I want ‘bobo’(her security blanket). Where’s my ‘bobo’?”
For the first time since my daughter was born, I understood that we would always be united in Christ and experienced the power of that union.
Prayer: Thank you, God, for comforting me with your words in my time of need. I feel so unworthy, so blessed and so humbled. May I always find time to open myself to Your whispers. Amen.
This story is a perfect illustration of why I run. Running is the only way to silence the obsessive voices in my head, to clear my mind, to open myself to God’s presence. If I’d sat at home feeling sorry for myself, my thoughts would have been raging too loud for God’s whisper to be heard.
How do you clear your mind to hear God’s whispers?
The strength I develop through running has benefits that go beyond physical. For me, running is like meditation, a way to connect to nature, grow closer to God, find inspiration and stimulate creativity. Anne Audain credits movement.
By moving the body itself, you are moving not just air, food , and blood but even thought through the body. If you let things sit still, you’ll get cobwebs. Movement gives you so much more energy (Anne Audain, cofounder of the Idaho Women’s Fitness Celebration, as told to Dagny Scott in The Complete Book of Women’s Running, p. 155).
This energy carries over to other aspects of my life, especially being a mother to a three-year-old who is constantly on the move herself. Some days even after a good-night’s sleep I’m still tired, and when a cheerful little voice says, “Sun is up, Mommy! You play with me now,” I just want to roll over and pull a pillow over my head. But after a run, I’m revived and energized with plenty of pep to play hide and seek, build a castle with blocks, read a few stories, make worms out of Play-Doh and run races in the yard.
Besides this wonderful energy, running also releases feelings of accomplishment, affirmation and confidence that make me a happier, more positive mother. It also gives me the opportunity to plan out our daily schedule and stay organized. Keeping on top of everything makes me feel more secure about my parenting skills and makes it easier to accomplish goals while still having time for fun.
It’s important to me that my daughter associate running and having fun so when I take her in the jogging stroller, we go off road and into the woods where we stop for a break and throw stones or sticks into the water, which is something she loves to do. I also use this quality time together as an opportunity to point out and count the different animals and the many beauties of God’s creation. This past Tuesday on our run we saw squirrels, groundhogs, geese, a deer and a blue heron. Sitting on a rock with our feet dangling over the water, we both looked up and admired the way the sunlight filtered through the canopy of trees. I’m so grateful for that special moment with my daughter surrounded by God’s presence.
Photo Credit - Microsoft Clip Art
My goal is to set a positive example for my daughter through running by encouraging her to follow an active lifestyle. So far, so good. Just the other day when I was eavesdropping on her as she played with her Disney Princess figurines, I heard her say, “We’ll go to the track and we’ll go to the water, then we’ll come home and play outside okay, baby?” Since running is such an important part of my daily life, it’s become a daily routine to my daughter. To her, it’s something done every day, like taking a bath and brushing her teeth.
She’s already learning lessons from running that took me years to learn. While we were on vacation she started racing her father and I. When she finished, she yelled, “I won!” And as we finished behind her, she congratulated each of us on winning too. Finishing is winning; it doesn’t matter whether you finish first or last.