This week we’ve got a hard core “stroller runner”! While this post contains practical tips around how a parent of a young child can still get out there and train, we think the real message is the inspiration of not giving up the outdoors because life changes. Devin Featherstone is an endurance runner and outdoor adventurer with an insatiable love for the world. He didn’t go inside when he started a family. Now he just brings the family with him! Here’s Devin…
When I found out I was going to be a dad I was bursting with excitement. I was thinking of all the things I would do with my son and all the memories we would make as a family.
I was surprised though to have so many people tell me that I wouldn’t be able to trail run. I wouldn’t be able to travel. I wouldn’t be able to ….. you finish that one.
Well I laughed inside and told those people that “wouldn’t be able to” was not a phrase that would apply to us.
I set a goal to be the dad / parent that would continue to pursue my life passions but also include my son Kai. I wanted to promote being an outdoor parent; one that showed people you can hike and explore your own backyard with kids no matter the age. That you can travel across the world. And for me, that had to include maintaining my fitness as a competitive endurance athlete.
When Kai was born my wife Elise and I patiently waited for the okay from the doctor to hit the trails. As anxious as we were to get out there and resume our lifestyle of outdoor adventure, we knew we had to be smart. We wanted to be sure Elise got the OK and of course, that Kai was healthy. We were also adjusting to having a new baby in our house (and waking up every two hours).
At 5 weeks postpartum we took Kai on his first hike. It was slow, and steady, and Elise carried him halfway up a tough summit before we turned around. Success!
Feeling slightly more confident as parents, we chatted about starting to run with Kai. Of course we could only do this if we could keep our little guy completely safe and comfortable. We had to do some research but we did find the right gear that allowed us to continue.
After a few days of looking into dozens of strollers, we chose a Thule Chariot. Very smooth and easily controlled with no effort, this is an amazing running stroller. It comes with great storage and if you get the baby sling – a hammock like attachment that provides full support for baby – you can be active right out of the gate. (Most other strollers recommended that you wait until your infant is 3 months before running.)
The Thule also has a bike and ski attachment available for purchase. It’s a little on the pricier side but with the amount of running that I do, and the amount of time that my family and I spend out doors, I felt it was a good investment. This stroller protects my little dude from all the elements (wind, snow, rain and bugs), and gives him a great, comfortable ride!
I take Kai running with me, usually when its roughly time for his nap. In Finland most parents take their babies for a nap outside. The fresh air is so good for them. Generally he takes his morning naps at home in his crib, but the afternoon is for fresh air!
Many of our friends told us that we had to have our baby sleep in his crib every nap or else we would have a monster baby that would cry all the time, never sleep, grow, crawl, smile or laugh. Fortunately for us, this hasn’t been the case. Kai actually seems to sleep better at night when he’s napped outdoors on one of our runs!
Running with a stroller might be very intimidating to new parents (it was definitely intimidating to me) but it doesn’t need to be! Here are some tips about running with a stroller that I’ve picked up so far in our ten-month journey.
Obviously, your child’s well-being and comfort is always the top priority and there are multiple factors to consider. Remember that it is important that both you and your child enjoy this!
Stroller Running Tips for Mom or Dad (Runner)
- Take it slow. Start out with a slow pace, smaller distance and progress into it.
- Always run at a comfortable pace so that you can always hold on and control the stroller
- Use the safety strap incase you trip or lose grip
- Run with a straight back. This is something that will help you continue to improve your running. (So many times I see people hunched over. This is because they are tired, maybe running too fast, or might not have the strength in the core and back. Good posture prevents injuries.)
- Pack water and snacks for yourself. Your child is number one but take care of yourself too so that you can enjoy and finish your run.
- Add a bell to your handle to let people know you are coming. It will help you navigate the stroller around people especially on a busy summer day.
Tips For The Kiddo
- Make it fun for them. You don’t have to run and not stop for a break. Just like you, your child may want a break to look around, play in the elements and get a snuggle with mom or dad.
- Dress them for the elements. Warm, cold, rainy. Prepare them to be comfortable no matter what you come across. If your child is happy you will have a better run.
- Pack food. Snacks, bottle for when you take a break or in case you have an emergency.
- Music can add a fun twist to your run for your child and you. You can get a pouch that hangs on the handle where you can play your phone on speaker. Your child might enjoy the sound of music and you get to enjoy your favourite tunes. This also takes away the headphones allowing you to hear if your kid is upset.
- Pack toys and soother so that your child will be entertained
Tips For Running With The Stroller and Dog
- Train your dog to run on your right side. This keeps your dog out of the main traffic area (the middle of the path) and out of the way of other people.
- Recognize when your dog needs to stop for the bathroom vs waiting for them to hammer the breaks on and jolt you to a stop – that might wake your child up or throw you off balance.
- Never attach the leash to the stroller no matter how trained your dog is. Keep them tethered to your waste so you can have two hands dedicated to the stroller.
It’s also really important to remember that every once in a while you might have to cut your run a little shorter than you planned and that’s okay. We all have our good and bad days (including our babies) and sometimes it’s easier to take a crying baby home then to keep running. You’re always a parent first!
Our first summer together as a family of three was full of smiles and laughs. Some of my favorite memories of those warmer days are when Kai would head into the stroller, my wife would jump on her bike, I would lace up my running shoes, and we would take over the bike paths close to our house.
Every so often we would stop at a beautiful spot by the river and have a snack. Kai would feel the grass, or stare at the shadows that the clouds were making and take everything in. The experience of watching him see and feel things for the very first time was unbelievable. The wonder and awe in his face was magical.
I strongly believe that because we chose to not let having a baby stop us from enjoying the world, we’ve been creating experiences that we otherwise would never have. My heart is fuller, seeing my son grow and seeing my wife become the mother that she is.
Devin Featherstone is a fire fighter and ultra marathon runner. He has completed races literally around the world and always been drawn to sport and the outdoors. After getting married to his wife Elise and having their first child Kai, Devin keeps finding ways to pursue the lifestyle he loves – his family comes with him! Kai was in six countries before his first birthday and has summited more mountains than most people will in a lifetime!
Meet TBA Ambassadors Devin and Elise Featherstone. If they aren’t actually out in nature creating outdoor adventures they’re always planning the next one! Devin and Elise live in Calgary Alberta where they have always been lucky enough to be literally just minutes from the trails, ski slopes and nature they love..