How to Get Faster When Running with a Stroller
Running with a stroller is difficult to say the least. Often when I’m pushing the double BOB stroller up a hill, I hear my daughter taunt “Mom, are you even running right now?” Yes, yes I am, sweetheart. But the workout is no joke.
In fact, studies show that running with a stroller doesn’t just feel hard—it is hard. One study in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness found that running with a stroller results in a significantly higher heart rate, perceived level of exertion, and lactate concentration. Another study in the International Journal of Sports Medicine added a higher VO2 max to the mix.
Stroller running burns more calories.
Extra bonus, especially for new Mother Runners trying to get back to their pre-baby weight, a study by researchers at Seattle Pacific University broke down the amount of calories burned by how you push the stroller:
- pushing the stroller with two hands increases the amount of calories burned by about 5 percent,
- pushing with one hand increases it by about 6 percent,
- and the push-and-chase method increases it by about 8 percent.
On average, that means a 150-pound person can expect to burn about 30 more calories per half hour of running.
Running slow with a stroller is the same as running your usual pace.
The researchers also found that runners can run slower than their usual pace but still burn the same amount as if they were running faster without the stroller. (These sweet researchers even developed a calculator to estimate calorie expenditure based on pace, distance and pushing technique.)
Ok, so if running with a stroller is so hard? Why try to make it harder by doing a speed workout? Because, #Goals. Many of us Mother Runners have goals, racing dreams, and big PRs to chase. But running with a stroller can impede these goals because trying to run a 6-minute mile pushing a stroller around a track is likely impossible for most of us.
Swap threshold pace for threshold heart rate.
So, if you must do workouts with a stroller—it’s time to shift your thinking and forget about paces. Instead, start thinking about your heart rate.
According to Bobby Holcombe, running coach and founder of Knoxville Endurance, heart rate zone training is where it’s at when training with a cutie in tow. Here’s how it works.
Say you have a training plan that calls for 3 one-mile repeats with one-minute interval rest. Instead of trying to run those at your threshold pace, run them at your threshold heart rate which is about 85-88 percent of your max heart rate.
To calculate your heart rate zones, check out this calculator, or use the standard formula of 220 minus your age. (Or get really fancy and get a max heart rate or VO2 test for accurate zones.)
Many Garmin watches have heart rate monitors built-in, but they aren’t always accurate since they take your pulse on top of your wrist. The best monitors use a chest strap which you can buy to go with your Garmin watch or separate like this Polar one.
Don’t think you can do speed with a stroller? This guy ran a 2:31 marathon training with a stroller—and then pushing one in the race. Not only is it a better (albeit different) workout, it also gives you killer arms.
So there’s that.