The Art of Running with a Baby Jogger

There have been a few memories in Hudson’s first month of life that seem to be engraved in my mind. One of them is our first major outing a week after he was born. We went on a walk in Manhattan Beach. I remember it all so clearly. I remember how uncomfortable and insecure I felt when I saw my reflection in the store window. I had milk stains on my shirt, my belly still looked very pregnant, and my eyes drooped with exhaustion. That was just the physical parts I saw in the window. I also deeply remember how I felt on that walk. I was gripped by anxiety. I felt completely overwhelmed. We were literally just going on a walk. Something Lance and I would do all the time, but now everything was entirely different. I was paranoid and panicky. I had this new baby and this new stroller and this new body. All of it was foreign to me. The thing I remember most is the way I felt pushing the stroller down the hill to get to the strand. My heart was racing. My palms have never gripped something so tightly. All I could think about was my fear of losing grip of the stroller. I felt so awkward and incredibly unsure. The reason I tell this story is to show change and progress and illustrate how quickly transformation can happen. Fast-forward 11 months, and I run with the jogger one-handed with a casualness and confidence that June 15th Kelli would not have believed she was capable of. My relationship with the stroller is very telling of my progress as a parent. The stroller used to be a place of fear and sweaty, anxious palms. Now, it is a place of freedom and confidence.

Our faded orange, BOB stroller we bought on Facebook Marketplace was one of the best, low-cost investments we made in baby products. While the first month I barely touched it because I was nervous about using it, I slowly adjusted and figured out the art of running with a jogger. Like most things, it takes a little time to figure out your stride. It took some trial and error. There were runs where Hudson screamed the entire run. There were runs I had to just stop because I was so exhausted from the extra work of pushing it. There have definitely been runs and moments where I felt held back by the stroller and even annoyed by it, but as a whole our 2008 BOB has a special place in my heart. It has taught me something. It has shown me a strength and confidence that I had forgotten I possessed. It has pushed me to get out of comfort zones and it has revealed how much harder hills can become. It ultimately has shown me that I can do the same things I loved pre-baby, it just takes a different form. My pace is absolutely slower. The routes are slightly different; more pavement, less dirt. However, the jogger doesn’t hold me back too much. I’m still able to throw in some surges and can still pass some guys along the way. And let me tell you, that feels pretty good. So, yes the jogger changes things, but I am convinced it doesn’t need to change too much. If you are struggling with running with the baby jogger or want to and are unsure about it, here are 5 tips to help you master the art of the jogger.

1. Wait

There are different numbers people throw out as when the appropriate age is for baby to be in jogger. I have heard as young as 4-months and as conservative as 8-months. Definitely consult your pediatrician, but we began running with Hudson around the 5-month mark. And to be honest, I don’t think he was quite ready for it. Physically, it was totally fine, as he had very strong neck control, but I don’t think he was quite mature enough to be able to sit in jogger for an extended amount of time without getting fussy. Both Lance and I experienced a lot of crying in these early runs. I would wait to run with baby until he or she is clearly as at an age where they can occupy themselves. It really hasn’t been until recently, around 9-10 months, that Hudson has been a champ in the jogger. We are at the point that I can run 60-70 minutes without him fussing once. So if you can, wait a bit to start consistently running with baby. They will make it pretty clear when they are ready for it.

2. Start Slow

Physically pushing a jogger is demanding. Especially if you are getting back into shape, it is going to feel pretty hard to push jogger and run at a decent pace. I would not even look at your pace for the first couple runs with baby. Start by just going off of effort. I run at least 30-seconds slower with the jogger. Allow yourself some grace in terms of pace. You are out pushing a jogger, no need to break records. I also would recommend starting your runs more conservatively. You can always end your run faster, but it is especially important to ease into pace with jogger and not go out too hard.

3. Run During Nap Time

This is a tip I have recently figured out. I used to run with him right after he woke up from naps. From my experience this is not the best option. He had lots of energy and did not want to be strapped in. While I am all about being home for naps so I can get things done, I have learned to sacrifice this nap time in order to have a nice, quiet, cry-free run. I think it’s worth the nap sacrifice. I now always run during his first morning nap around 9 am. He sleeps for most of my run. It is also nice to get the run done early. Once we get home, he is happy and rested, and we have the rest of the day to do something fun.

4. Be Consistent

Like with most things in life, the more consistent you are, the easier it will become. I do not do every run with him, but I run at least 2-3 times per week with him in the jogger. This consistent pattern has allowed for both of us to get used to the jogger. Running with the jogger has not only trained and strengthened me, it also has trained him to be patient and capable of handling sitting for an hour. It is building within us both a strength and independence, and for that I’m thankful. Be as consistent with the jogger as you can. The more you do it, the more second nature it will feel for you and the more used to it baby will become. Since we go on runs on a consistent basis, Hudson has not only become accustomed to our running routine, he has come to enjoy our rides. It is deeply relaxing to him. He loves taking in the wind and the new environment he sees from the comfort of the stroller. The jogger itself also seems to ride smoother and smoother the more I have used it. Consistency really is key when it comes to running with baby. If you only use it every once and a while, it is likely it won’t feel as good for both you and baby.

5. Increasingly Build

This might sound obvious, but you don’t want to start your first run with baby on a super long and hilly run. Increasingly build. Start small and build from there. Start by just going out for a run around the block and see how it goes. Then next run, go a little further, and so on. Also, I would recommend starting in places that you are familiar and comfortable with. Find a route that suites the stroller and that you know well. Once baby has proven to handle jogger well, then you can venture out to trying longer runs and different terrain. Take it one day at a time. No need to prove anything.

While the jogger used to be a burden to me, I am learning to run with it with a sense of gratitude and grace. I am thankful. I am thankful for our BOB jogger. I am thankful for a healthy body. I am thankful for a child that I get to push up steep hills. While I used to awkwardly run with the jogger in hand, I am learning to run with greater ease and confidence. The stroller no longer feels as heavy. The stroller has taken on a lightness that I didn’t think was possible. The stroller is a great source of pride for me. I am proud to run with my jogger. It is like an orange badge of motherhood. Now, when I am out running solo, I feel naked. I feel like I’m missing something. And I am. My baby and my BOB.

Hope these few key points are both helpful and motivating. You don’t need to be extra strong or fast to push a jogger. Just a consistent, determination to do it, even amidst the extra crying and weight.

5 Choices to Help Get Out of that Slump

At the start of the New Year I felt a sense of motivation and determination that I have not felt in a while.  I was getting up early every morning.  I was writing every day.  I was having consistent, quiet prayer time before Hudson woke up.  I was not touching social media and was reading voraciously.  I was scrapbooking a ton.  I was running with joy.  I was going to baby story time, baby yoga, baby play dates.  I am not exactly sure what happened but somewhere in the course of the past couple weeks I have fallen into a major slump.  I have turned off my weekly alarm clock that was set to 6 am.  I have chosen to scroll through Facebook, instead of read and have been on the same chapter of Searching For Sunday for weeks now.  I am dreading my runs and workouts.  I am doing them, but that sense of performance and pressure and pain from college running is slowly beginning to seep back into my running soles.  I have writer’s block and I seem to constantly be hitting the delete tab.  The words are just not coming out the way I intend for them to.  I have not been to baby story time in weeks.  I keep finding really good excuses as to why we can’t go out.  I have not touched my scrapbooking table.  Pictures have been messily scattered all over the coffee table untouched for many days.  I just can’t seem to muster up the creative energy to continue it.

I am so tired.  My once abundant milk supply has also hit a major slump and I literally feel like I am running dry.  I keep training like I am in college, but the reality is I am not.  I go to the track and run basically the same workouts I used to but instead of going to the training room to have an ice bath and go home to just relax and revel in the fact that I have no responsibilities, I go home to immediately needing to nurse Hudson.  My body is rebelling.  I can’t do it all.  I am running myself to the ground and I am just now feeling it.

All of this to say, I am in a slump.  I know I will get out soon, but like Dr. Seuss said, “Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.”  It is true.  It is easy to sit and wallow in the slump. It is easy to read the post on how to un-slump, but a different story to actually get out of it.  And the thing is, I think a lot of us know what we should do, but it sure can be hard to push yourself to do what you know long-term will be good for you.  There are a few things that usually help ease me out of a slump.  The key word is ease.  It does not happen all at once, but typically if I can consistently make a few small, but important choices throughout my day, I will slowly and surely find myself on the other side.  When it comes to the difficult task of un-slumping yourself, here are 5 small choices to help in the process:

  1. Wake Up Early

This one is tough because when I am in this low place, I really have a hard time getting out of bed period, but especially getting out of bed before 7 am.  The problem here is by hitting snooze and choosing to sleep longer, I am actually making my day start off on a bad note and this just further perpetuates the slump.  So, as much as I really, really want to ignore the alarm and snooze, it is so important that I make that first choice of stepping out of my bed.  It is hard.  But it matters.  Last night, I intentionally chose to set my alarm for 5:10 am and get up when Lance does.  This small choice is already making a big difference in my day.

2. Listen to Life-Giving Words

For me, that is a sermon or a podcast.  Yesterday, I listened to a sermon by Tim Chaddick and it changed my outlook, my day, and my heart.  Never underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit to give you exactly what you need to hear.  The sermon was on ambition and work that is pleasing to God.  It was so powerful.  I am linking to it here. Part of the reason I have been in this particular place is because I feel like I am lacking purpose.  I feel like I try so hard, but then it does not matter.  I try so hard to make organic, homemade food for Hudson, and then he hates it and tosses it to Nala.  I try so hard to keep the house in order, but then the next hour, I see dirt and Nala’s hair all over the floors again.  I try so hard to be a good runner again, but my body is just not the same as college.  I try so hard to be a good writer, but no one reads this except my husband and mom (or so it feels). These are all the emotions running through my heart and mind and then I choose to play this sermon as I am doing dishes.  And I hear the words of Paul:

“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody”  1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

And my whole body sighed relief.  This is enough.  What I am doing is enough.  I might not be in a fancy office or have the influence I used to when I was in the classroom, but I am doing important work and God delights in this.  This is all to explain the power and importance in allowing others to speak into your days to help point you back to the cross and to the love of God.  It is so easy to forget.  If I could I would listen to sermons on repeat in my head because that is how much I need daily and momentary reminders.  So, listen and consume content that is life-giving.  Allow the Holy Spirit to run through you and change your heart.  It will happen if you let it.

3. Exercise 

This one is kind of like getting up early.  I am the least motivated to workout when I am in this rut, but usually the best fix is to get out and run or make it into a yoga class.  Yesterday I literally went from bawling on the couch to running a 4-mile tempo on the strand.  And let me tell you, every fiber of my body wanted to just stay put on the couch, but I went and I am glad I did.  It allowed me to breathe and focus on something other than how I was feeling.  It gave me space to have rhythm.  It gave me the time to pray.  This might not be the thing for everyone, but getting outside and breathing air can be so helpful.

4. Connect with People

We are built for connection.  In my slumps, it is really easy to cancel plans and stay home.  And sometimes I do this.  But, as much as I can, I need to keep plans and connect with friends and family.  I need this.  Hudson needs this.  And maybe it is not going out, but it is having people come to you.  Invite people over.  Make play dates.  Put events on the calendar and commit to them.  Trust me, this can be the hardest one for me, but this connection is so important.  I almost always walk away from time with others feeling happier and rejuvenated.  Also, it is so important to have a few people in your life that you can talk about being not okay.  Just yesterday, both my husband and my mom prayed over me as I bursted into tears to both of them explaining how I felt.  What a blessing to have people in my life that will not only listen and love me, but will bring my pain to the Lord.  How thankful I am for that!

5. Pray!

This leads me to the fifth and most important choice.  Choose to pray.  When I am on fire in my faith, I tend to pray aloud in the mornings.  The words flow easily and I have a great enthusiasm to speak out my prayers.  When I hit these types of slumps in both my life and my faith, I tend to not even be motivated to voice out my prayers.  Some mornings I feel so tired and unmotivated, it feels hard to even voice prayers.  Thankfully God even hears my sad little whimpers that are left unspoken.  Earlier this week, my heart was given so much relief when I read the words in Matthew 6:

“When you pray, don’t babble like the Gentiles, since they imagine they’ll be heard for their many words.  Don’t be like them, because your Father knows the things you need before you ask him”  Matthew 6:7-8

Even on those mornings where it is hard to muster out the words, the Lord knows what I need.  He knows my heart.  When I pray I am not going to some distant god, I am speaking to my Father who deeply loves and cares for my well-being.  Therefore, I don’t need to worry about phrasing things in the most eloquent way or even saying them aloud.  He knows what I need.  He knows how I am feeling.  There is just so much relief in this. So when I pray in these slumps, even if my prayers are fragmented or if it is difficult for me to find the right words, I can know that the Lord will meet me where I am and offer me an abundance of peace and grace.

Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.  And it is not as simple as checking off a few things on a list.  However, I am learning that by focusing less on the slump and more on daily and intentionally choosing these five things: wake up early, listen to life-giving words, exercise, connect with people, and pray; I am able to more easily transition out of the slump and onto flat ground where I can go back to running with joy.

 

Starting Slow, Finishing Strong

This mama needs to start slow.  In college, I used to be able to roll out of bed, slide on my shoes, and hit the pavement at a 6-something-minute pace.  Emphasis here on used to.  The funny thing is that college for me was not even that long ago, I am just three years out, but my sense of pace has already greatly shifted, both in a literal and figurative sense.  My pace in terms of running has definitely changed.  My current pace now is what I used to think of as a slow, shakeout run.  But it is not just running, it is an overall life pace that I can feel is shifting as I type this.  In college, it was about going.  It was about jumping into cold pools before the sun rose.  It was about midnights in libraries and drinking coffee at 1am.  It was about miles and miles; pages on pages; words upon words.  It was all about speed and getting things done.  Trust me, I am still all about getting things done and accomplished, but my pace is entirely different.  I need to start slow.  I need to warm-up.  I need to lie in bed just a few extra minutes and wake up as I read just a couple pages.  I need to sit and sip in silence.  I need to stay in pajamas just a bit longer.  I need to hold my baby and not worry about my to-do list for just a few moments longer.  I need to take it slow.

I am all about the slower starts, the lazy mornings, the clear schedules.  My whole essence thirsts for the slower pace.  This easing into things is becoming essential to me.  It is essential for how I run and also how I live.  The danger in this, however, is when we stay in the slow and never learn to shift gears into the uncomfortable.  I start slow, but I never finish there.  While starting slow is key to me, shifting gears into uncomfortable speeds is also required.  I was reminded of this inherit need for speed (ignore the cliche rhyme) last week when I returned to the track.  My feet literally have not touched a track in just about 3 years.  Last time I was on a track was June 2016 in Kansas for my last collegiate 5k.  So, it has been some time.  And I could feel this separation.  I was doing a 10 by 400 meter workout with my dad so kindly agreeing to take my splits.  The first one felt raw and scary and too fast.  The second, third and fourth felt like I had made a mistake in choosing to workout at the track.  The fifth and sixth one felt completely numb, yet still painful.  But it was the seventh one that made sense.  It was in that seventh 400 meters that I hit my stride.  I felt back at home.  I remembered the turns and the straight aways and where to settle and where to push.  Don’t get me wrong.  The 7th-10th 400 were still painful and uncomfortable, but by number 7 I knew I would finish.  I knew I would not slow down.  Is this not life? It is hard, hard, hard, and then you hit a point of endurance.  It does not necessarily get easy, but it becomes endurable.  You become stronger, more confident, and more fierce, that by number 7 you know you are not stopping.

It is a great balancing act to create a life that holds both the slow and the burning speed.  It takes trial and error.  There are days that will feel too slow and days that have way too much intensity.  So you adjust.  You learn.  You create good patterns and break the ones that always put you into ruts.  I am learning that timing and structure are key elements in helping me balance the slow with the quick.  Here are 5 things that help me achieve this balance:

  1. Start Day Slow

I need to start my days at a very slow pace.  If I know I have a commitment or somewhere to be early, I get up even earlier to allow for the space to wake up.  I no longer can just roll out of bed.  I need time.  I need coffee.  I need scripture.  I think a huge part of being able to work hard throughout the day is allowing the start of the day to be slow and gentle, not rushed and frantic.

2. List and Schedule 

I am a list-oriented person.  I really struggle when I do not have lists to guide me.  I am always at the grocery store or Target, with a list in hand.  Even if it is the smallest errand, if I don’t write down: puffs, detergent, tea, and salad, I will become distracted or waste time.  Lists keep me focused.  I need them.  The same is true with my days.  As a teacher, I was my most productive self because I have the schedule of bells ringing throughout the day that kept me extremely structured.  As a stay-at-home mom, I must create these bells on my own.  For those mamas that work in the home, it can be so easy to waste our days.  It is essential to list out the “work” that must be done.  Not only list out what needs to happen in that day, but schedule it in so you know exactly when it will happen.  This helps keep me focused, so when I am doing the work elements, I am not thinking about yoga class and when I am in yoga, I am not thinking about laundry or dishes.  This is the ideal mindset and I don’t always succeed, but this is the goal.  List and schedule, so the lines of work and rest don’t run and bleed into each other.

3. Commit and Don’t Back Down

For me, one of the most important practices when balancing working hard and resting well is making sure I stay committed. It is so easy to back down and choose the easy route. It is so much easier to not do the hard work. It is also very easy to skip your time of rest and choose to do “the more important” things. Achieving balance happens best when we keep our commitments. Once I start backing out of commitments, I easily begin to fall into ruts. Even on the crazy, full days, if I have a workout scheduled, I need to follow through. It is that simple.

4. Schedule Rest 

This is one I am trying to currently figure out. Rest does not come naturally to me. I am learning that if I don’t schedule it, just like I would something important, like a meeting or a workout, it won’t happen. Some days I follow through and take this time of rest seriously, while others I ignore it and prioritize other things. Part of starting slow, and finishing strong, means that there also must be a middle time of slow and quiet and calm. For me, this does not usually mean taking a nap at 1pm. It looks more like grabbing a book and getting off my feet for 15 minutes. It looks like stopping. It looks like sitting. It looks like espresso in my favorite mug right after Hudson falls asleep for his final nap. It ultimately looks like surrendering to the Lord and relying on His strength, not my own work and capabilities and production.

5. Finish Strong

In a race, the goal is always to finish strong. No matter how fast you started or even if you lost a shoe in the first 100 meters, finishing strong is what matters. Just like certain runs, I end my days on burn out. I collapse. I stop. I trudge my feet. This is not what I want for my life. I want to end each day stronger than when I woke up. And sometimes I fail. I hit a wall and waste hours watching the Bachelor. I hate how I do this, but it is the truth. I don’t always finish my days strong. I sometimes, oftentimes, crawl into bed, emptied and exhausted and fixed to a screen. The best ways for me to avoid this place is to set limits on work and screens, so by 8 or 9 pm, I can fill up, spend time with Lance, and rest in knowing that enough has been done. If I don’t have clear time limits, I can quickly crumble into a place of weakness and mindlessness.

There is a time for the slow and a time for the head down, grinding, uncomfortable pace too. I have strong tendencies to live in the extremes. I have days where I stay in pajamas too long. I have days where I am-consumed with work and cleaning. Some days I get it terribly wrong, today might be one of those, but my prayer for today is that I can continue to strive at living a more balanced pace, so I can ultimately be more in-tune to the Lord’s will for my life.

 

 

To Run in the Rain

This mama needs to run in the rain.  

As I learn more about myself, I am realizing I am much introverted than I previously thought.  I like the idea of being around people, but I really thrive off of having time alone in quiet.  This is one of the many reasons why running is so good for me. It gives me the space to be in a quiet rhythm.  It allows me to think, pray, and breathe.  Don’t get me wrong, I love running with others as well and connecting in this way, but every once in a while a solo run does my soul a lot of good.

The rain just kept coming this week.  It rained and rained.  Every time I looked out the window my initial thought was to skip the run.  Stay inside my mind whispered. Even though I have been a runner for over a decade, basically every time I go out for a run, I am again dealing with the internal battle of just staying inside.  I know some people eagerly lace up their shoes and prance out the door to run, but this is just not how I operate.  It would probably fool you when I am actually out running with a smile, but that initial push out the door is so hard for me.  It is especially hard now when I don’t have a coach telling me what to do or a team depending on me to be in shape.  Now, I am the coach.  I am the whole team.  With anything, when it is just you, performing and producing your best becomes even less motivating.

Despite this desire to stay inside, I managed to get out the door twice to run.  And it was two of the best choices I made all week.  Both times felt magical.  The best part of running in the rain is that not a lot of people do it.  The park was empty.  The strand was deserted. All I could hear was the rain rhythmically hitting my visor.  All I could see was waves crashing.  All I could feel was peace.  I was not thinking about other people.  I was not trying to pass the person 100 meters ahead of me.  I was not trying to impress by running as fast as I could.  I was not worried about pace or performance.  I was simply just running in the rain.  Alone.

When all the exterior elements of running are stripped down and you are left with just the raw aspects of movement, breath, and cadence; you can really find the joy in running.  You can find it in its purest form.  I think over the past few years, I got lost in the races, the time trials, the competition.  I think I forgot what it feels like to just run because you can, not because you have to.  When it comes down to it, I really love to run.  I actually have always loved it, but I think somewhere along the way running became something else.  It became pressurized and demanding.  It became solely about performance and pleasing coaches.  The rawness of running: breath, movement, cadence; became lost.

It took having a baby to get me to return to running and fall back in love with the sport.  Once Hudson was born, all expectations of who I was as a runner seemed to dissipate.  It did not matter if I ran for just 20 minutes.  It did not matter if I ran 10 minute pace.  These are things that I would of laughed at a few years ago, but now it was all about getting out the door.  It no longer was about the pace or the mileage.  It was solely about running to clear my head, running to get off the baby weight, running to take a break, running to pray for patience.  It was all about the movement.  I was running because I had a deep down need to move and it turns out running is the best way I know how to do that. I finally was in a place where I could run without the pressure, anxiety, and fear that seemed to plague most of my college running career.  I could run and walk.  I could stop when I felt tired. I could just run a loop around the block and return home.  I finally am learning to run with grace.  And this is making all the difference in my love for running.

Running in the rain last week reminded me why I run.  It reminded me how running is supposed to feel in its purest form.  It reminded me the importance of not waiting until conditions or life is perfect.  If we run like this or if we live like this, we never will run much or really do anything at all.  Sometimes it will rain all week. Sometimes you will have bad days, weeks, months, years.  And sometimes you just have to face it.  You have to tie up those shoes.  Put on your hat.  And start that watch.  And just like running in the rain, through movement and action, you can eventually be reminded of why you do what you do and be at peace with whatever life gives you.