Since starting to run with my little training partner in the buggy, I’ve become more aware than ever of my running form. I really don’t want to be putting any extra strain on my body, or allow myself to get an avoidable injury, especially as I’m still relatively new to postpartum running. So I decided to do a bit of research into improving running form, with or without a buggy, and share my findings here.
Let’s start from the bottom. Feet are arguably the most important body part for running after all. To run correctly, your feet should be parallel, not turned in or out. With a buggy, it can be tempting to angle your feet to avoid hitting the wheel, but changing your position behind the buggy should resolve this easily. In fact it’s not necessarily best to run directly behind the buggy but better to angle yourself slightly off centre, swapping sides depending which hand is pushing. You should aim for your heel to be striking the ground directly below your hip with each stride. A great thing about running behind the buggy is that you are automatically prevented from over striding as, unless you’ve got extremely long arms, the wheels are in the way as you have to stay close enough to hold on!
Running with a buggy, it’s also particularly important to focus on finding strength in your lower body, the leg and bottom muscles, as well as keeping a strong core and a straight back, standing tall, the same as any runner. The temptation with a buggy is to start to lean onto it, or slouch over the handlebar, especially towards the end of a run when you are starting to get more fatigued. This should be avoided. Focusing on keeping those glutes engaged will help you keep momentum, and using your legs and core will give you more power to push forward.
Arms also play a key role in helping you propel yourself forward, but with not only the buggy but also the precious cargo to control I was very reluctant to release my tight, two-handed grip for the first month or so. I needed a bit of practice to get used to steering and the general feel of buggy running. However, several people told me that it would actually feel a lot easier to go one-handed and once I braved it a couple of times, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t let go sooner! I also automatically thought it would be best to keep the hand in contact with the buggy in a central position, but I’ve discovered that’s not necessarily the case. Keeping your hand closer to where the handlebar starts to curve can help you feel more in control and able to push and pull the buggy as needed to weave around obstacles, or through crowds (once lockdown is over!). You should adjust the height of the handlebar so that your elbow makes a ninety degree angle when you hold it. You can also tilt the buggy and lift the front wheel off the ground more easily if you need to turn more quickly, especially if you need to do a complete U-turn. The only time where it might be useful to push the buggy with two hands is when you are running up a steeper incline.
As for your free arm (or both arms if you are running solo), the aim is to pump it forwards and backwards from the shoulder joint, without letting your arms swing across your body. Hands should be relaxed and shoulders down to reduce any unnecessary tension. Since doing more one-handed buggy running I have already noticed that I find it easier to push with my right hand and pump my left arm, but it is important to swap arms regularly (as you would do if you were holding a water bottle for example) to avoid becoming too dominant with one hand. It’s a bit tricky to swap the wrist strap over smoothly but I’m sure I’ll get better with practice.
Finally, your head should be lifted and you should be looking forwards to watch out for obstructions and not down at your feet. Try not to worry about tripping over or kicking the wheels, you will soon get used to running with your own buggy and your confidence will grow. Looking ahead also helps you to keep your core strong and reduces the chance of the dreaded slouch! As a bonus, standing tall and proud will give you the opportunity to smile at any passers by, and enjoy and share the surroundings with your little co-pilot(s).
Try not to let yourself compare your pace with your pre-baby or non-buggy runs, as even though your body will become accustomed to it, you are still pushing an increasingly heavy load as your little one(s) grow.
If you are interested in trying out buggy running but aren’t sure where to start with purchasing an appropriate model, have a look at my recent blog post The Good, The Bad and The Buggy here. It includes everything you need to know about what makes a running buggy fit for purpose along with a review of my Mountain Buggy Terrain.
To read more about my postpartum running journey, please click here. Don’t forget to subscribe to be the first to know about any news and updates, just enter your email address at the bottom of the page. Thanks!
Useful links with more advice about running form: