Sunday, April 28, 2013

5 Reasons You Should Be Using a Jogging Stroller

Any parent with young children knows that when you're struggling just to maintain your own standards of basic hygiene, personal fitness can start to seem as unrealistic a goal as that novel you're totally going to write someday. The best strategy I've found for avoiding this pitfall is to annihilate any expectation of exercise as some sort of private, personal endeavor, and instead seek out opportunities to make exercise a family activity. One great way to do that is by pushing your kids around in a jogging stroller.

After making do for a few years with a beat-up old solo jogging stroller we got for free, Joy got me a nice new (well, gently used, anyway) Chariot Cabriolet double stroller for father's day last year. Although it is primarily marketed as a bike trailer, we bought the optional jogging kit as I primarily use it for running. In fact, I only recently found the time (and the nerve) to figure out how to hook it up to my bike, whereafter I towed our gleefully screaming offspring through treacherous, pothole-laden Boston streets.

Here are my top 5 reasons why a running stroller is the best way to nurture the unlikely union of fitness and parenthood:

(1) It's Great Training

Not only are kids pretty heavy, but unless you neglect them, they keep getting heavier over time. After a few months pushing around an additional 80 pounds of children + snacks + stroller on all your runs, you'll be bounding around like a gazelle during your next 5K.

(2) The Brownie Points

Wait until you see how thankful your partner is when you decide to disappear with the kids for a few hours on a sunny Saturday afternoon, leaving them free to relax or work in peace. Little do they know that your seemingly selfless act of generosity is really driven by a desire to get ready for bathing-suit season.

(3) It's Nice to Be Noticed

I've noticed that when I'm out running with my adorable, highly photogenic children, I get a lot more smiles from the people I encounter than when it's just a wheezing, sweaty, crimson-faced dude running by himself. I like to tell myself that every smile is someone thinking, "What a great dad that guy is!" (Unless she's attractive, in which case I change it to, "What a shame he's taken.")

(4) Solidarity

When you run around a marathon-crazy town like Boston, there are plenty of perfect physical specimens tearing up and down the trails at a 5:00-mile pace wearing those weird little hats. When you've got a running stroller, though, you're not competing with those folks—you're in a league of your own. You'll know it from the first time you meet eyes with another stroller-pusher on the trail, as you exchange a look that says, "We're the real heroes."

(5) The Quality Time

Although most children seem to enjoy riding in running strollers, here's a word of caution: at first, your kids will probably scream bloody murder every time you run by a swingset without stopping. However, if you stick to routes that end at a nice park, eventually they'll learn that every leisurely 45-minute carriage ride ends with some quality time on the playground. It's a good way to build some fun with the kids into your busy schedule.

One final tip: when I'm done with my run, I like to tag my kids as accomplices when I enter my workout on RunKeeper. It's all part of my plan to amass a mountain of digital evidence illustrating all the cool stuff I used to do with them back when I was a young, hip urban dad.

How do you make time for exercise? Let us know in the comments!

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