Practical Advice for when you start running or cycling with your little one

By Wendy, Running coach

Nervous? Excited? I remember all those feelings as I squeezed back into the lycra for my first buggy run. As a working mum of 2 girls and an England Athletics qualified running coach, here are my top tips to help you get started when heading out with your little one in the running buggy or bike seat.

Don't ignore pain

Make sure you have had your 6-week sign off from the doctor to start gentle exercise. Literally 'walk before you run' and if you experience any discomfort in your pelvis or lower back, then slow down. Build up gradually, especially if you haven't been regularly exercising pre-birth/pregnancy.

Once walking is easy, try a run/walk (2mins/2mins) pattern. Many people have found Jeffing (a run/walk technique) a useful way back to fitness. Couch to 5k is also a popular plan too.

Posture-wise run tall with your shoulders back and relaxed. Lift those knees up and drive your elbow back at 90 degrees. Ideally hold the buggy with one hand and swing the other.

Pelvic floor! It's one of those British things that isn't openly discussed but do your pelvic floor exercises regularly to ensure there are no leaks. Remember running is a high impact sport! 

Baby's age

The standard recommendation is 6 months to run with your baby, but it's all about neck control. Having good head control also means they can move their head should the raincover become dislodged and cover their mouth. An older child will prefer a more upright position to look out.

What is my baby cries?

This does happen to us all. Like any parenting diagnostic, it begins with asking if they are hungry, tired, have a dirty nappy, cold/hot, unwell? After that, you can deal with crying while running by:

• Time it around a sleep & when tummies are full.

• Allow them time to get used to it with some short trips to start with.

• Having dry snacks for them to munch on. (If they are of a suitable age)

• Providing toys but attaching them securely! Sophie the giraffe will have long escaped back to the safari otherwise.

• Dress them in a few more layers than you, factoring in a wind chill.

• Using the raincover! Many a windy run has been saved by getting bubba out the elements.

• Nursery rhymes or a Disney soundtrack blasting out the phone.

• Rebasing your expectations: a short run may be more likely, something is always better than nothing.

• Split the outing with a park stop for older kids.

Finally, find other parents you can exercise with and/or join a Facebook community group like The Original Buggy Runners to share your experiences and be part of this special band of brothers (& sisters)!