Letter from a reader:
I googled "running and baby jogger" and came across your blog. I have not read all of it yet but I do have some questions I would like to ask you since you sound like a "pro".
I am a runner and just gave birth to my first child. I would like to train for the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon in April which means my 18 week training plan would start in December. Right now my baby, Mazzy Mae, is 4 weeks old and I am currently running on the treadmill between nursing and changing diapers; however, I am getting extremely bored and would love to get back outside. I recently bought a baby jogger but I am reluctant/apprehensive to use it. I have a snuzzler and a neck roll so I am not so much worried about head or neck movement as I am about diaper changes, feedings, low temperature, and running in the dark.
I guess my first question for you is 1) how do you change a diaper in a stroller that only semi-reclines? 2) How cold is too cold for a baby (she will be bundled up but I worry about her face)? 3) Is it possible to take a baby on a long run for example - 20 miles? What if I become engorged on a long run? How would I go about breastfeeding especially in the cold? 4) Is is stupid to take the baby on a jog in the dark even if I have lights and reflective gear/tape on stroller? (I run after work, 5:30pm, and it gets dark by that time in late November).
I would really appreciate any advice you can give me.
0) My midwife really really stressed the importance of waiting 6 weeks after childbirth before running again. I had run almost up to the day of delivery, but there are so many internal organs and connective tissue that has to get back in the right spot. Your body will recover faster and better if you give it a rest up front. I know that itchy feeling to get going already, but you can do lots of other things like walking, elliptical machine, step aerobics, etc.
1) I’ve never tried to change a diaper IN the stroller. I’m sure you can do it. I’ve done a diaper change in a car seat. Even though there will be a few long runs to train for your marathon, few are really longer than 10 miles, so I would expect that the need to change your baby mid-run will be rare. If you start out with a clean diaper, the majority of the time it will be OK.
2) If you are running on cold weather, you absolutely NEED A RAIN/WIND SHIELD. It will make a huge difference. With my second child I drew “the line” at 32 deg F, with my third we were out as cold as 19 deg F. BUT you need to have the wind shield and baby boots or something warmer than socks like a snowsuit with feet and hats and all that stuff. When it was really cold I also stuck some of those air-activated hand warmers on the OUTSIDE of her snowsuit. They are much to hot to put near a baby’s skin, but it kept the blankets a little warmer. YOU need to be careful when it gets that cold too. Any moisture on the road will be ice plus you are at risk for pulling muscles, etc.
3) Though it is not ideal for anyone, I have taken my eldest daughter on a few 18-21 mile runs. She was about 17 months at the time which means she was old enough to feed herself snacks which is incredibly helpful. When she was younger, I attempted once to bring a bottle along, but it was still frozen so I ran for a while with it in my sports bra to try to warm it up, but hilarity ensued and I just ended up sitting on a park bench and nursing her anyway. You’ll have to expect to make stops along the way. Bring a jacket for yourself to stay warm if you do need to stop to nurse. I haven’t found engorgement to be too much of a problem during runs. Between a supportive/snug-fitting sports bra and mild to moderate dehydration, it usually keeps things in check. If possible, try to run during times that your baby is usually asleep. When they are little, that is a very useful trick.
4) I would NOT encourage you to take the stroller out running in the dark. I know it is incredibly frustrating when there is such little daylight, but it would be awful if something happened. Maybe on a lit track it would be OK, but probably just as boring as your treadmill. With darkness as a consideration, I would encourage you to use your treadmill during the week. If you do some speed work, you can probably cut back a little on the miles and then just make sure your get your long runs in on the weekends. You could even split your treadmill workouts between the morning and evening since it is so awful to have to spend a very long time on a treadmill.
Conclusion) I’ve run many races while nursing – generally my “comeback race” (sprint triathlon, 10K, etc.) - is when my baby is 3-4 months old and they have been fine, but I’ve also done a marathon while still nursing and I swore I would never do it again. While it was awesome for weight loss, it was IMPOSSIBLE to stay adequately hydrated during training or during the race. I think that I was pushing too hard/fast, so I encourage you to take it a little easy. Nine months in and nine months out! It won't last forever. My baby turned one this summer and by that time I was totally back at 110%.