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Marathon Mom: Running with Two Kids – Is it worth it?

Dear Marathon Mom,

I started running about eight years ago, and transitioned to being a running mom pretty smoothly after my son was born two years ago. We received a jogging stroller at my baby shower, so I was able to start taking him with me on my runs from the time he was three and a half months old. He used to just take a nap on the run, and now that he’s older and stays awake the whole time, the changing scenery and my talking seem to be enough to keep him entertained. I never take him for runs longer than an hour, and usually just 30-40 minutes.

I’m currently pregnant with my second child, due this Spring, and I’ve started looking into double jogging strollers, so I can continue my current amount of running without finding babysitters or having to wait for my husband to get home from work.  They are significantly more expensive and wider than single jogging strollers! Before I make that kind of financial commitment, I want to know if it’s worth it. Does running with two kids in a double stroller really work, or do the challenges make it so undesirable and unenjoyable, it’s hardly worth it? I need an honest answer from another running mama.

Thanks,
Double Stroller Dilemma

 

Dear Double Stroller Dilemma,

Well, you’ve come to the right place; I can give you a definite answer from personal experience. I also transitioned pretty smoothly to running with a single jogging stroller after my daughter was born.  I am expecting my second child any day now, and already have the double stroller purchased, tires pumped, and ready to go.  In other words, yes, it’s worth it. I got to test it out last year when I was watching a friend’s baby during the day for a few months.

Yes, running with two kids in a double stroller is possible to do and still enjoy your runs. However, it’s no cakewalk. You wanted an honest answer, so let’s address a few unavoidable challenges that come with running behind a double stroller:

Weight. Obviously, pushing two kids will be heavier than one.  No way around that.  It’s not only noticeable on up hills, but the extra pull of gravity on the down hills may throw you off the first few times; be prepared for it and wear the safety break around your wrist – always! The positive side of the extra weight is that babies start small, so you aren’t just suddenly doubling your 2 ½-year-old’s weight. You’re only adding about 10 -15 pounds to begin with, then gradual weight gain from there. You’re getting stronger all the while too, though, so you’re gaining muscle while loosing fat hauling those babes around. Hard work pays off!

Width.  Fitting two babies next to each other means a wider stroller. Most double jogging strollers are designed at the width of a wide wheelchair to ensure they will still fit on most sidewalks and through most doorways. It never looks like they’re going to fit, but you’ll often be surprised. The margin for error by you, however, is greatly reduced. Less time for daydreaming while running; you need to pay attention to the boat you’re now steering. Just like transitioning from running alone to running with a single stroller, the first several runs will feel awkward and exhausting, but you’ll soon figure it out and adjust your stride and posture as needed for a smoother run.

Flexibility and Creativity.  It sounds like you’ve had a pretty easy child to run with thus far, as he usually sits back and enjoys the ride. Although most babies enjoy the movement of a stroller and are soothed by it, but there are always exceptions to the rule. Some babies don’t want to be mom or dad’s running partner, and won’t hesitate to let you know. This next one may be as easy as your first, or it not have the patience for daily runs. Furthermore, with two kids on board, the chances of someone crying, needing a sudden diaper change, or arguing amongst themselves are heightened.

I’m not trying to scare you, just encouraging you to keep (or find) a fluid mindset that understands these things will happen at least occasionally, and the result is a shortened run or even a missed run. Be flexible in when a run may work each day, and be open to creative approaches, such as splitting a run into two shorter ones or resorting to playing “I Spy” the last few miles to keep the kids entertained.  Hell, I’ve been spotting gasping, “Twinkle, Twinkle” for my final mile in an effort to keep my daughter’s melt down at bay until we were home where I could properly comfort her.

Like most aspects of running, if you want it bad enough and work hard enough, you will accomplish it.  It sounds like you’re a dedicated mom and a dedicated runner; I’m sure you’ll make it work with two.

Best of luck!
Audra Rundle

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