Test driving with Running Buggies

I was initially unsure as to whether or not I wanted to run with Oscar when he is a little bigger.  (The advice is to not run with a baby before they are able to hold their head up on their own – at approximately 6 months old.)  However, although I would like to keep running primarily as ‘Me-time’ and the thing that I do on my own/with my friends, I am definitely coming round to seeing the benefits of purchasing a running buggy so that I may bring Oscar out on my runs…

  1. I will be able to train during the day, whilst it is still light so no need to pull out my headtorch each time.  (Oscar will turn 6 months old just before the clocks change next Spring so it will still be fairly dark in the evenings when I’m able to start running with him.)
  2. I won’t be restricted to running only when Dan is around to look after Oscar.  (Work meetings and football training on weeknight evenings and football matches on a Saturday afternoon mean that I’m pretty limited to when Dan can have him at the moment, and if I get an opportunity to run I’ve just got to go with it!)
  3. I’ll be able to train whilst spending time with Oscar. (Even if he does end up sleeping through the run!)
  4. Oscar and I will both benefit from being out in the fresh air each day.
  5. I will hopefully be setting a good example to Oscar in that exercise is good for you but can also be fun.
  6. Running without the buggy will be so much easier than running with it and, therefore, hopefully Hello PBs come race season!

The week before last a friend messaged to ask if I was aware that Wendy, of Running Buggies would be visiting Stanwick Lakes with a selection of running buggies and a wealth of knowledge regarding the different models available.

I hadn’t been aware and, at a time when I had only driven with Oscar in the car once before, I quickly added the event to my calendar and messaged Wendy to find out further details.

She immediately messaged me back asking what my requirements for a running buggy would be.  I told her that I would like to be able to run long distances and off-road with ease and that it didn’t need to be a buggy that I could have for every day use.  Wendy informed me that the key to off road running buggies is suspension and big wheels, and suggested two models for me to test drive based on my requirements; the Out n About Nipper Sport V4 and the Thule Glide.

Thule Glide and the Out n About Nipper Sport V4I got out of my car on that Friday morning to what felt like the first proper cold snap of the season.  The wind was brutal – really ice cold.  I’d layered Oscar up as best I could.  He was wearing a vest, sleepsuit, trousers, super thick cardigan, hat and was wrapped up in a blanket.  Despite being 9 weeks old now (7 weeks at the time), the majority of his 0-3 clothes still hang off him and he’s still wearing newborn size with ease.  Everybody said it would only be a matter of days or weeks before he would grow out of newborn outfits, although we didn’t find that happened for us.  I know some of my friends’ babies weren’t able to fit into newborn sized clothes at all!  (Luckily the smaller of his 0-3 snowsuits now fits without losing his legs so I have been able to put him into this for walks in his pram over the past couple of days.)

As it happened Wendy was more prepared than I had been for the sharp cold snap and pulled out a spare fleece blanket enabling me to double-wrap Oscar, and holding him so that I may try out the buggies she had suggested.

There were a couple of other parents there, all with children much older than mine who they were able to test out in the buggies.  As Oscar wasn’t big enough to go in one yet, I just had to pretend that I was pushing a child around the path at the lakes as I jogged backwards and forwards testing them out!

Before trying the running buggies out I had no idea how they differed from regular buggies and would have not had a clue where to start looking for one if I had been left alone in the shops.  I wasn’t aware that running buggies should have a fixed wheel (so that if you hit a bump which lifts the wheel up off the ground whilst running, your wheel doesn’t spin off into every direction upon coming back down to land) and that you actually steer by pushing down on the back of the buggy to lift the front wheel up.  It sounds like it should be really hard to steer but in actual fact, when I tested both buggies with 90° turns, it was much easier than I expected it to be.  The buggies all have handbrakes within grabbing distance of your hands for downhill running as well.

The Out n About Nipper V4 comes with a smaller price tag but Wendy pointed out that the sun could often become a problem at certain times of the day and she had often hung muslins over the front of the canopy to try and resolve the issue.  The Thule Glide comes with a higher price tag but consistently seems to help runners break records and definitely felt much smoother to drive.

Wendy was incredibly knowledgeable about all of the running buggies she had brought with her for people to try and was able to answer all of the questions that I had.  When asked which ones she had chosen to use with her children she informed me that depending on what she was doing, she had used them all, which definitely makes her qualified enough in my eyes to advise on the pros and cons of each buggy!  She also recently shared her knowledge with Women’s Running magazine on things to look for when buying a running buggy.

I shall be looking to purchase a buggy at some point in the New Year but for the next few months at least, whilst he’s still so small, if Oscar has to come with me to parkrun it will be in his regular pram and we will be walking around, having a good old gossip with others at the back!

Dan, Me and Oscar at his first parkrun at 4 weeks old

Here he is at his first parkrun with Dan and I when he was four weeks old.

What are you wearing to run in now that it’s so cold out?  My tights and long-sleeved tops have definitely made it to the front of my drawers!

Late night reading #1

Breastfeeding is fantastic for so many reasons – but it’s also incredibly limiting, especially at night time when I can’t put an episode of Dexter on in the background to keep me entertained without waking Dan!  (Although to be honest, as he seems to be able to sleep right through Oscar’s cries, I should probably give up tiptoeing around the room in the middle of the night!)

I’m exclusively breastfeeding Oscar at the moment and although I no longer dread the cry indicating that he needs feeding, the time goes by much faster when I can read articles on my tablet during the night feeds whilst I wait for him to be done.  (This sometimes takes up to 30 minutes, and in the early days it could take him up to an hour at a time!)

Here are some articles I have found interesting/funny/entertaining/relevant/disturbing over the past couple of weeks and thought I would share…

I’m not the person you married – This article rung very true when a friend shared it on Facebook last week.  During the week when Dan comes home from work I hand over Oscar, before cooking tea, washing up and then getting on with all those tasks I couldn’t do during the day because I required two hands and to not have a crying baby on my shoulder!
On Friday night we actually sat down to watch a film once Oscar had settled down to sleep and all I could think about was ‘I need to get the washing up done whilst he’s asleep, and I also need to make sure Oscar’s changing bag is restocked for our trip out in the morning!’  Needless to say I left Dan watching the film alone, although he assured me that he didn’t mind.  (I think he was probably annoyed at how fidgety I’d been during the first 15 minutes anyway!)

The 6 easy graphs of parkrun – Some fabulous graphs displayed on a whiteboard illustrating ‘findings’ from those who enjoy parkrun.

Parkrun graphs

Points league announcement at parkrun – For those who haven’t heard, parkrun have decided to stop the points league generated on their website.  Although I can see why some people might be disappointed, parkrun have always ‘prided themselves in breaking down barriers to participation and welcoming people no matter what their background or ability’, and I personally think this decision is a great one that truly fits with the whole ethos of parkrun.

Exercise and postnatal depression – I spent six weeks feeling trapped in the house with a new baby that I knew nothing about!  Although I have learnt so much about Oscar now, and feel that we have established a solid bond, I was more than ready to get out and about and exercising again once I was given the go-ahead from the doctor.  If only there had been a photographer about to capture my grin as I completed my first run back post birth.

Does treat food always have to be unhealthy? – I find it pretty horrific as a teacher (and now also a parent!) that 26,000 children in the UK had to have rotten teeth removed in hospital last year!  I fully intend on providing natural food choices for Oscar as far as possible, but restaurants are making things harder and harder for when you want to eat out as a ‘treat’.

And lastly, not an article, but check out this awesome PB tee* which came up on my Facebook feed the other day.  It comes in ten different colours with both child and adult sizes, and has space for you to add your current PBs for all to see!

PB t-shirt

My first parkRUN post baby

On Saturday I headed over to Northampton parkrun for my second run since Oscar was born.

Dan didn’t have a football match until later in the afternoon last weekend.  So after getting up, changing and feeding Oscar, and then expressing so that Dan would be able to feed whilst I was out, (no more lying in until 7:30am on parkrun mornings!) I headed over to the Racecourse at Northampton for another week of parkrun.

I was meeting my friend Steph there.  Steph is currently returning from injury and the parkrun at the weekend was also one of her first runs back.  (Why does everyone seem to be injured at the moment?!)  Having already run since having Oscar (although for only just over a mile) I knew that I should be able to stick to Steph’s plan for parkrun, whatever that may be, despite Steph usually being a much faster runner than me – we both needed to take things easy this week.

Steph informed me that she’d had a successful 20 minute run earlier in the week with a run/walk technique so we decided to go ahead and run for as long as possible without causing Steph’s knee any niggles.  Our initial aim was to reach further than the mile mark.  We managed to achieve this before Steph commented that she could begin to feel her knee, so we dropped down to a walk for a little while.

At about 1.5 miles we tried a little jog again, but decided to drop back to a walk when Steph began to feel uncomfortable as there was no need for us to go breaking any speed records.  We then walked the remainder of the event.

On the final lap at the bottom corner, one of the marshals tried to gear us up by telling us that we had no excuses to be walking.  I know he was only trying to be encouraging, but for some reason I felt the need to point out that I’d had a baby seven weeks earlier, and that Steph was returning from injury!  We did have genuine reasons for needing to walk!

Garmin time: 43:28
Official time: 
Gender position: 
Age category position: 

As always, a trip to Magees was had post-parkrun where I indulged in my regular salted caramel tart and hot chocolate with homemade marshmallow.  The marshmallows even had sprinkles in them this week!

Hot chocolate and salted carmael tart from Magee street bakery in Northampton

The rest of my Saturday was spent dozing on and off with Oscar and Bella, trying desperately to catch up on missed sleep and attempting to tidy the house in-between seeing to a needy baby and a needy cat!

Me with Bella and Oscar

Anna is currently putting together a compendium of personal insights into parkruns all around the country, which is a fab idea.  I submitted a review of the Northampton parkrun which Anna published last week, but you can find several more parkrun reviews on her website.  If you know your local parkrun quite well and fancy submitting a review for Anna’s blog, then I know she would be more than grateful, so get in touch with her via her blog.

Have you ever justified a walk to a marshal/pedestrian?!  A couple of times during recovery periods when I’ve been speed or hill training out on my own I’ve really wanted to pipe up about why I must look like I’m shuffling along on the footpath!

Finding a routine – bathtime with HiPP

Oscar doesn’t spend much time in his nursery at the moment.  He sleeps in his moses basket downstairs during the day and in a little crib next to me in our bedroom at night.  He has the biggest room in the house as his nursery, and although not fully complete yet, (what room in our house actually is?!) we’ve been able to add some lovely touches with the gifts that friends and family have given him.  I love this hot air balloon and clouds mobile gift he received which hangs in the nursery over the spot where his cot will eventually be placed.Oscar at bathtimeNow that we’re past that magic six week mark I’ve felt the need to get Oscar into some sort of evening routine.  We’ve spent the last eight weeks listening out for his cry before then running through a mental list of nappy, food, burp, and cuddle – hoping that one of them is the magic answer to quieting him once more.  It’s not the best method and it has been accompanied by several sleepless nights when Oscar has been under the impression that 3am in the morning is the time to play!

Not having a clue where to start when it came to getting him into a routine, a friend recommended The New Contented Little Baby Book: The Secret to Calm and Confident Parenting*.  We’ve been roughly trying to follow the 6-8 week routine over the past few days, including the section about helping him to wind down with a bath, massage and dimmed light feeding before bed each night.

When HiPP first got in touch way back even before Oscar had arrived I was already aware of them as a company which produced baby food.  My only purchase of their products as a non-parent had been to test out baby food on ultra runs!  I had no idea that HiPP were also branching out into bathtime products though.

Their new free-from baby care range includes:

  • Goodnight Baby Bath
  • Foaming Hand Wash (and refill)
  • Head to Toe Baby Wash
  • Baby Shampoo

Hipp bathtime products

We were lucky enough to be given both a baby bath, and a baby bath newborn insert from friends and family.  Without the insert I would not be able to bath Oscar on my own as he is such a little squirmer in the water!  In the beginning I certainly wasn’t strong enough to hold him in place with one hand whilst cleaning him thoroughly with the other.  The insert helps to hold him in place so that I can concentrate on getting him clean without worrying about dropping him into the water or making him uncomfortable.Oscar at bathtimeThey say that bathwater for babies should be around the 38-39° mark.  This handy Tommee Tippee thermometer floats in the tub and flashes red if the temperature increases above that.  I like my baths to be boiling hot (something I really missed during pregnancy), so my awareness of temperature is probably a little off whack when it comes to testing the water before Oscar gets in.  Therefore, it’s very useful to have the starfish thermometer flashing away at me if I have slightly misjudged the temperature so that Oscar doesn’t end up getting burnt or uncomfortable in the bath.Oscar at bathtimeAs it’s early days we’re still getting used to what Oscar does and doesn’t like and his way of communicating with us.  Over the past few days we’ve discovered that he much prefers a fuller bath than one with just a couple of inches of water sitting in the bottom.  A friend suggested that perhaps having only a little water in the bottom made him feel uncomfortable and clammy, like when he had a wet nappy, which I guess would make sense.Oscar at bathtimeAs a first-time Mum, I was advised not to use anything other than cotton wool and water on Oscar’s soft baby skin for the first six weeks.  I stuck religiously to this advice, although it did then make me a little nervous that the first time I would be using products, they would be over his whole body.  The HiPP skincare range has been specifically developed to be free from anything sensitive skin doesn’t like though; and to minimise the risk of allergies. All of their new bath time items hold the ‘no tears’ stamp.
Hipp bathtime productsThe part about bathtime which Oscar dislikes the most is when I take my hands and attention away from him to squirt a product or grab his towel…check out that face…!Oscar at bathtimeIf Dan is around to help with bathtime, we usually operate as a tag team.  One of us takes the top half and covers Oscar’s head, neck and arms, whilst the other concentrates on belly, legs and bottom.

First up, we concentrate on washing all of his (very little!) body.  The HiPP body wash has a subtle, but lovely, clean smell, and the liquid easily glided over Oscar’s tummy and limbs, enabling me to gently massage his body as I went along.

I loved the ducky handwash.  Oscar is a little young at the minute to appreciate the novelty of having a duck head as the dispenser, but it definitely appealed to me!  Refill pouches are also available for the dispenser, to save having to purchase a new one each time you run out, which is a great idea.Hipp bathtime productsOscar’s hands are always filthy.  He went through a phase of having his fingers in his mouth all the time, although this seems to have died down now.  He still grips his hands into tight little fists though, and when they are covered in a mixture of milk and baby slobber they attract all the dust and dirt in the atmosphere.  He ends up with dark little lines across the palms of his hands where the creases lie and then these grubby little hands end up all over his visitor’s clothes when they come to meet him!

The HiPP handwash is dispensed as a foam, which makes it super easy to see which parts of his tiny hands I’ve missed during cleaning.  There is no need to rub firmly against his hands in order for a liquid to bubble or foam up, and the soft foam easily cleans all of those grubby black lines from his palms.  It’s then easy to dunk his hands in the tub next to him to rinse it all off afterwards.Oscar at bathtimeWe always place Oscar’s bath towel on the heated towel rail in our bathroom before beginning his bath so that we can wrap him up snuggly and warm as soon as we take him out.  There’s something really comforting, – even as an adult – about stepping from a bath into a nice warm towel before bed.  If only my towels all came with hoods too!
Oscar at bathtime

  • HiPP Organic’s free from baby care range is available exclusively at selected Tesco stores from 6th September
  • Head to the HiPP UK website for more information on their NEW baby care range.

* I received the above HiPP products, towel and thermometer in exchange for a blog post.  However, all opinions are mine and Oscar’s. *

Hipp BumpsWhat are your favourite memories of your night time routine from when you were younger?