Monday, July 20, 2009

Great Question From A Dad

I have two boys 5 and 2.5 and try and do a long run on Sundays. We have #3 on the way so am thinking about getting a stroller. WE have the Bob Revolution - so I was leaning towards a Bob, but was wondering if you had any advice. I generally run on pavement and do 5-6 miles. Thanks so much. I am thinking about a double to take both boys, but will probably go with a single.

What?! No triple stroller? They only cost $999.99!

It sounds like you already have a single, but I absolutely think you should get a double so that you can take both boys on your Sunday runs. My kids are exactly the same age-split as yours (plus one year). Though not for too much longer, the 5-year-old still fits fine in the stroller and it will be a welcome break for your wife. The advantages of a double are many. You can always use a double with only one child (with, of course, witty comments as you pass confused pedestrians such as, "Oh no! Where's Tommy?" or "Yeah, the other one was giving me too much lip!" or "Don't worry. He'll catch up!"), but you can't put two kids in a single. I've tried and it is super-duper hard to turn. Likewise with putting three kids in a double.

As the older child adds more school and extracurricular commitments, it also allows you or your wife to take #2 and 3 in the stroller while #1 is at baseball or whatever a couple years down the road.

Personally, we find that it is worse on the parent left at home for the other parent to take the 5-year-old, but leave the 2.5-year-old behind than to leave all the kids at home. Now you've got to entertain the younger ones because the most useful kid who would otherwise do the entertaining isn't around.

The double strollers do get harder to turn than singles. If you are running on pavement anyway, I would avoid strollers with suspension. You are not pushing a little baby either so the big kids can take it. You want to run for real, so a swivel front wheel is going to be a liability- especially downhills. If you can afford it and if you have the space to store it, my dream stroller is the Baby Jogger Performance Double. It is 5.5 pounds lighter than the BOB Ironman Duallie and 7 pounds lighter than the BOB SUS Duallie. If you don't care too much about a sun shade, you'll be able to find used Baby Joggers on websites like for much less than a new one as well. They are built to last.

Sit Back and Relax!

How To Turn Your Jogging Stroller, Part 3

After a near-roll-over on Sunday's run, I started thinking a lot more about how center of gravity affects turning your stroller. I've heard a lot from readers about how so many strollers (particularly double joggers with fixed wheels) are IMPOSSIBLE to turn. How the manufacturer has designed the center of gravity makes all the difference. There is a fine line between being easy to turn and being a flip-over-backwards hazard. Despite the weight difference, our double stroller is actually quite a lot easier to take around corners than our single because the seats are farther back relative to the rear axle.

To really demonstrate this, let your child lean forward (even with a 5-point harness, a kid trying to see past the sun shade can pull up several inches) when you try to make a turn. Then have him/her relax all the way back into the seat. It will be much much easier to turn. This is hard for curious kids to maintain. Even my 11-month old likes to grip the sides and sit up as far as possible within the constraints of a 5-point harness to see what is passing her by. Before trying a turn, however, look down and make sure your child sits all the way back. It will be easier and safer. Especially if you are going fast!

So, if you are still reading, here's the dirt on how I almost rolled the single jogger. There is a really steep, paved hill at the bottom of our cul-de-sac. It is so steep, that when I've got the double, I have to back down it because the stroller is too heavy to control. My son, in the single, wanted to go "fast" so I did, but the 90-degree turn at the bottom with that telephone pole in just the wrong place, made it really essential that I turn no matter what. So we made it, but not without getting up on one wheel, doing a 180 degree spin out and tipping to about 45 degrees. Good thing I buckled the kid in!

Afterwards, I was trying to figure out what made turning so hard when I had successfully made the turn so many times before. Here's what I've got:
1. I am more accustomed to the double stroller with a wider wheel base.
2. The wheels are nearly bald, so rather than a pivot, I got a skid.
3. Spencer was leaning forward in his seat which further accentuated the skid vs pivot problem.

So, make sure your kids sit back...if they know what is good for them...and if you start to tip, teach them to NOT stick out their arms to try and break the fall. Tuck and roll!

Stroller Reviews

I realized the other day that I've been running long enough with a jogging stroller that neither of the models that I own and use are available anymore. The Kelty Joyrider has been replaced by the Speedster and Dreamer Design is simply out of business. Furthermore, while I've found success running with both of my strollers, neither is ideal for shopping, traveling, etc.

There is a new website that is off to a fabulous start at providing comprehensive reviews of a wide variety of stroller types. The majority of reviews are for casual use strollers at this time, but they are just getting off the ground! You can't purchase strollers from this site, but I think that is better since you know you are getting an honest opinion from someone who actually uses the stroller being reviewed, rather than from someone who is trying to sell it to you. After reading many of the reviews posted to date, I can say that I generally agree with their Pros and Cons for each stroller that I am familiar with. I've added some comments where I felt it to be useful.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Opportunity, Not Liability

Think of your jogging stroller as an opportunity, rather than a liability. Use your stroller as a training tool! Pushing your stroller provides a great chance to improve your strength and endurance faster than running alone. In fact, my husband and I have found success using both strollers even when there are only two (out of three) kids with us. Rather that one person pushing both kids, we split them up, with one child in each stroller to keep us better matched in pace.

Sure, it is easier to run without the stroller, but if I'm going to bother getting out there, I can't say that I mind the benefits that come with pushing the stroller:
1. have a place to put my water.
2. exercising the upper body.
3. burning more calories.
4. impressing the other walkers and joggers that we pass.

So, embrace your stroller! Keep in mind, however, that you will enjoy running with your stroller more if it is a good fit for you! I am happy to give advice and answer questions about choosing the right stroller for you. Please contact me ( if you have questions about buying a new stroller or about issues with your current stroller. Happy running (or jogging or slogging or walking)!