Until the 1980’s, a baby stroller was a slow-speed parent powered baby vehicle (PPBV) intended for small strolls with a baby, especially on trips to the supermarket, among other errands. Strollers had small wheels and were intended for slow speeds. During the 1980’s, parents developed more active lifestyles. Stroller wheels were enlarged and baby strollers moved into the territory of becoming Jogging Strollers. Strollers adapted to active lifestyles and are now seen as baby buggies. Throughout the year, in parks and side streets, jogging with baby strollers have become more common.
Jogging strollers are usually at the high-end of the PPBV market. It’s built for safety and performance. Yet, what’s great for jogging may not necessarily be the best all-purpose stroller. Jogging strollers tend to use three large wheels instead of four smaller ones. Lots of stress is placed on stability, maneuverability, and speed, due to the design. What’s good on the road may not be as suitable for supermarkets.
Stability is a good attribute for a jogging stroller that will carry your precious bundle for many miles. A well-balanced stroller is not a runner’s friend. Turning a stroller when running depends on uneven distribution of weight among the three wheels so that the runner can easily and smoothly lift the front wheel incrementally to turn the stroller around a corner or bend in the road. We observed that many of the strollers that are made for walking as well as running were much more stable, making them more difficult to maneuver when running. Take into consideration how much of your stroller time will be spent running versus walking.
Several jogging strollers offer a front wheel that can be either locked into the straight-ahead position that is best for running, or set free to swivel, which makes steering when walking much nicer. This decision is related to the stability issue above. If you will be using your stroller only for running, then you don’t need to spend the extra dollars to get one with a swivel option on the front wheel. Running with the wheel in swivel mode is dangerous because running over even a small pebble with a swivel wheel at running speeds could send the stroller quickly veering in an unplanned direction. But who uses the stroller only for running? If you live in a city or other area where space is limited, you’ll find the swivel wheel of great assistance in maneuvering the stroller around stores, sidewalks and anywhere else you might take your child.
Runners are also aware that roads and paths are subject to changes in terrain. Wheels aren’t the only factor.
A hand brake allows the runner to maintain form and pace when running downhill with the stroller, rather than having to sit back and act as the brake to keep from losing control of the stroller. This may not be a big deal on small or shallow hills, but with long steep hills, lacking a hand brake could create a significant break from your normal (and healthy) running form. Having an adjustable handle height is also critical.
The tendency, then, is to view the stroller concept as a tool. Some families have one stroller for shopping and another for running. More parents today are really into fitness and wellness than those of previous generations. A jogging stroller is like considering a purchase of running shoes and clothing. For with your baby’s safety and security in mind, jogging and running shouldn’t need to be restricted.
You can imagine my chagrin when I considered entry into the ING New York City Marathon, this year. Inquiring about the use of strollers in a race, the New York Road Runners Association had this statement:
“The Road Runners Club of America voted at its annual business meeting on June 10, 1989, to recommend a guideline against the use of baby joggers or strollers in road races.
The Road Runners Club of America strongly recommends against the participation of baby strollers/joggers in road races and against race organizers creating baby stroller divisions. The reason for this recommendation is that the inclusion of strollers in races increases the potential for injury to race participants and children.
The RRCA has no objection to and does not discourage the safe and prudent use of strollers or baby joggers in individual training situations. If allowed in a race, stroller or baby joggers or similar devices should be started in the back of the runners and walkers.”
This edict, decided 22 years ago, appears on the entry to the 2011 marathon. Many jogging parents are equally disappointed. Web forums are filled with parents inquiring about competitions that include jogging strollers.
Physically challenged individuals, using wheelchairs and walkers, are permitted lead time ahead of runners. Why should active joggers with kids be placed in the back of the pack?
Many jogging strollers are designed for high levels of mobile performance for baby safety as well as rapid parental mobility.
When examining perspectives, one can envision why most large races exempt use of jogging strollers. Competitively, strollers are full of differences and there are many features required for safety along long stretches. After all, baby comes first.
There are stroller friendly races and I suggest you might want to get together with other active parents in forming local races in your community. Perhaps, someday, stroller racing will be respected and recognized as a responsible sport. For now, the needs of the other outweigh the needs of the one. Enjoy jogging with your baby for pleasure and mutual wellness.