Why I love my Out ‘n’ About Nipper Sport running buggy

It was always going to be the case that I purchased a running buggy.

Out 'n' About Nipper Sport V4

Despite saying during pregnancy that I thought I probably wanted to keep running as my ‘me time’ during the week, having a running buggy makes it so much more practical to fit runs in since Oscar arrived and it helps me remain a regular attendee at parkrun on a Saturday morning.

When Oscar was just a few weeks old, a friend from my running club told me about Wendy from Running Buggies coming to Stanwick Lakes the following week.  She was going to be demonstrating some of the different running buggies that her business sold and be on hand to offer advice to buggy runners.

I think it might have been my very first trip out on my own with Oscar in the car at that point, and I still had no clue what I was doing as a Mum with a new baby (do we ever really know?!) but I was determined to get to Stanwick Lakes, just 2 miles up the road and a regular running haunt for me – as I felt it would be so helpful to view the buggies in person and to be able to chat to other Mums as well as Wendy, who had a wealth of knowledge about the different buggies available.

The day before the event I messaged to say that I would be going along and Wendy asked what my requirements were in a buggy.  I told her that I would mainly be running short distances with the buggy – plenty of parkruns and runs around an hour in length, including some off road running.  The buggy wouldn’t be used for town trips, but would potentially also be used for weekend walks in the countryside.

The two buggies which she suggested I try out that (very cold) Friday morning were the Thule Glide and the Out ‘n’ About Nipper Sport V4.  Both would be suitable for my requirements, with the Out ‘n’ About weighing in slightly heavier and the Thule sporting a larger price tag.

Thule Glide and the Out n About Nipper Sport V4Wendy helpfully held Oscar for me (and found an extra blanket to wrap him in as I was totally unprepared for the chilly wind that was raging that morning!) so that I may run along the track (childless!) and test out each of the two buggies.

Although I didn’t purchase a buggy immediately following that visit, I took sets of information packs home with me to weigh up my options and check my bank balance ready for the day I inevitably did purchase a buggy.

Had it not been for Wendy putting on an event I wouldn’t have known where to begin when it came to testing out running buggies or knowing the difference between all the makes and models.  Where do you go to try out a running buggy?!  I had assumed that all three wheeled buggies were suitable for running and in all conditions, but that is not the case at all.

It is recommended that you do not run with a baby in a buggy, even a dedicated running buggy, until they are at least six months old and capable of holding their own head up confidently.  Similar to the time that you are confident in placing them in a high chair at the table with you for dinner.

Just before Oscar turned six months old I spoke to Wendy again.  She was headed back up to my side of the country and offered to bring along a couple of buggies for me to try out now that I would be able to test them out with Oscar as passenger.  I thanked her for her kind offer but had already decided to invest in the Out ‘n’ About Nipper by this point, so headed over to her website to make my purchase.

And I haven’t looked back!

Oscar and I with the running buggy

Having my own running buggy has been great for so many reasons, mainly:

  • I can easily take Oscar out on walks so that we may both enjoy the fresh air along bridleways and footpaths – some tracks which a regular buggy would not be able to cope with.
  • I can fit in runs during the daytime when I’m a lone parent, or during weeks when Dan is working away from home and I otherwise would not be able to run.
  • I can run Oscar to sleep on all those days when he refuses to take a nap!

Some of the features of the Out ‘n’ About Nipper Sport I have found really useful are:

  • Great suspension
    • When Oscar was about 3 or 4 months old I liked to take him out for a walk every day in his day-to-day buggy.  I vividly remember walking along a wide rocky gravel track and Oscar crying so much from the movement of the buggy that I ended up picking him up and placing him on my shoulder to calm him, whilst awkwardly pushing the heavy buggy along with my other hand.  I regularly run down this gravelly track now with my Out ‘n’ About buggy whilst Oscar snores away inside!
      Oscar and I at Wimpole Estate parkrun
  • Handbrake
    • Alongside the handlebar is a handbrake.  I always make sure to have my hand close to this when running downhill!
      Out 'n' About Nipper Sport running buggy
  • Safety strap
    • Sliding my hand through this strap when running gives me piece of mind that if I trip or stumble, the buggy and Oscar aren’t going to continue rolling out into the road, or into potential danger.  Instead, the buggy will stay by my side (and hopefully help to keep me upright should I trip too!)
  • Undercarriage storage
    • There is a fair amount of storage underneath the buggy for items you might need on a run or space for a mini food shop after an emergency run to the shops!  (If you push the sun visor up, it does a great job of holding a french stick in place too I discovered!)
      French stick in the running buggy
  • Top pockets alongside the visor
    • These are great for holding my phone and keys when I run, so that they’re easy to grab should I need them.
  • The adjustable back
    • Although Oscar could sit up unaided from about five months old, I still always made sure to place an array of cushions behind him when he was on the floor during the early days, as he wasn’t always that stable!  The back of the Out ‘n’ About Nipper can be adjusted so that it reclines and this is how I used it when we first started out running together.  Now that Oscar is older, he wants to be able to see where he’s going all the time so I’ve adjusted the back to a more upright position.
      Oscar at March parkrun
  • It’s Lightweight (9.8kg)
    • Following my Caesarean, when Dan returned to work I remained housebound for several weeks as I could not lift or turn the original buggy we owned.  The difference in weight between that buggy and the running buggy is very noticeable, and I am able to hold the Out ‘n’ About easily with just one hand.
      Out 'n' About Nipper Sport running buggy - lightweight
  • Adjustable handlebar
    • I’m fairly tall so have the handlebar set at it’s highest setting.  My friend Jenny is much shorter than me and when I was unable to collect Oscar from nursery one day last Summer she was able to adjust the handlebar so that pushing the buggy became more comfortable for her.
  • 16″ wheels
    • Every non-runner comments on the size of these!
      Oscar in the running buggy
  • Fixed front wheel
    • This takes some getting used to.  My brother still complains that he finds it impossible to push Oscar’s running buggy when out on a walk, but it’s really not difficult when you’re used to it.  All running buggies should have fixed wheels.  If you were running along with a regular buggy which has front wheels which twist and your front wheel hit a large stone, causing the wheel to twist quickly to the side you could soon end up heading into the road, or into other runners if you were at a parkrun or race.  When turning a buggy with a fixed wheel, the way to change direction is to lightly put pressure on the handlebar at the back of the buggy, resulting in the (very light) front wheel lifting from the ground.  You can then angle the buggy in the direction you want to be headed before returning the front wheel to the ground again.
      Sounds complicated and slow, but very quick easy after a few tries.
  • Easy to use foot brake
    • The foot brake is located at the back of the buggy and is bright red, so impossible to miss.  It’s a quite large plastic flap, which is really easy to push down and up again when you want to remove the brake to continue on with your journey.
  • Ease of fitting in a car boot
    • I choose to leave the back seats down on one side in my car, meaning I can literally just throw the buggy into the back of the car and drive off when I want to head out, with the buggy ready to go as soon as I arrive at my destination.  If we travel in Dan’s car, Dan likes to keep the buggy within his boot, but it takes just seconds to unscrew and pop off the front wheel, meaning that it easily fits widthways in the back of his car.
  • Super rain cover
    • I’ve had to use the rain cover a few times whilst out on a run now and found the cover so quick and easy to throw over the buggy.  There is a large velcro strip which runs along the back of the cover, and two sets of poppers which attach around the front wheel support to keep the cover in place.  Oscar sleeps through the whole thing!
      Out 'n' About Nipper Sport running buggy with raincoverOut 'n' About Nipper Sport running buggy with raincover
  •  Breathable back panel
    • Not only does this mean that the buggy doesn’t become so stuffy in the hot Summer months, but it also helps to make the buggy more aerodynamic when you want to pick up some speed.
      Out 'n' About Nipper Sport running buggy with Oscar
  • The viewing pane
    • Very handy to spot when Oscar is falling asleep, or when he is munching on falling leaves he shouldn’t have in there with him!
      Oscar in the running buggy

You can also buy footmuffs for the buggy, which look super snug, but I love this blanket which my friend crocheted for Oscar not long after he was born.  It’s super colourful and you can definitely see us coming on a run!
Northampton parkrun with the buggy

So what does Oscar think?  I’m pretty sure he loves it.  He spends most parkruns waving madly at people as we run by.  Just recently he’s also added the phrase “Bye bye” to the wave.  I really hope that nobody thinks I’m sarcastically commenting on the fact that we’re passing them, and instead realise that it is my child waving and commenting as we run by!

Pacing at the 300th Northampton parkrun

Last Saturday was the 300th parkrun held at the Northampton Racecourse.  I’ve run 45 of my parkruns at the Northampton event and it’s the place I would still consider my ‘home’ course.

Training hadn’t gone to plan during the week and I’d ended up missing a few of my planned runs.  I was back in Norfolk for the Tuesday-Thursday as I had another family funeral to attend on the Thursday.  The first night I was back I managed 15 lengths of the road my Dad lives on before my Garmin beeped to show 6 miles.  A very boring, dark and windy run.  But miles done, nonetheless.

The next two days I was quite poorly, and even had to return to bed for several hours on Wednesday afternoon as I really just did not feel well at all.

My Dad did make me and Oscar a lovely salad to share on the Wednesday to try and make me feel better.  I do love a big salad with lots of different elements to it!

Friday – back in Northamptonshire once more and I was all geared up for my long run.  Oscar attends a full day at nursery on a Friday and it has become my getting-things-done day.  I usually spend a fair bit of time catching up on life admin – essentially computer life and typed work – as getting onto the computer whilst watching a toddler is becoming rather an impossible task!

Because I’d been away for three days though, and Dan had been working away in Basingstoke from Monday to Wednesday so had also been away, I spent the first three hours of the day desperately trying to get our house back in check.  Washing done, post sorted, bins out, all the usual stuff that gets forgotten about when you factor in time spent away from home.  I had just changed into my running clothes with the intention of heading out for a long run, catching up on a few blogs over lunch and then getting tea in the slow cooker before sorting the life admin out when nursery called to ask me if I would collect Oscar and book a doctor’s appointment for him as he had very gunky eyes and they felt he needed to have drops prescribed.  I still had so much I needed to get done that day, and having been poorly myself that week, and attending another funeral the day before I ended up bursting into tears.  I just wanted to feel as though I’d caught up a little!  Is that even possible?  I don’t think I ever sit down and relax, and am so jealous of those who can.

I had already rung the doctors that morning to try and get a set of my test results back, but been ‘in the queue’ to speak to a receptionist for 45 minutes before giving up.  Thank goodness for the speakerphone option on a phone because I would not have sat still with the phone to my ear for that length of time!  As the doctor surgery is on the way to nursery I stopped by to book an appointment on the way to collect Oscar.  After his (less than three minute long) appointment that afternoon we then had an hour’s wait for the prescription and so spent some time at the nearby park, which Oscar loved and really did not want to leave!

As Wednesday-Friday had all ended up as non-running days for me that week I decided to turn Saturday into my long run day for a change.  I had already volunteered as 30 minute pacer at Northampton parkrun that morning, and I would be finishing my nightshift at 7am just a few miles up the road.  Therefore it made sense for me to get some extra miles in before the parkrun rather than just hang around in the car for that extra time.  There was no football match on Saturday afternoon so Dan would be around to have Oscar so that I could catch up on a little sleep on my return before I had another shift that evening.

In the end, Laura mentioned that she was planning on running from her home to the parkrun that morning as she was also volunteering that day and so I invited myself along.  We ended up running four miles before our volunteer brief, then 5k at parkrun, followed by a further two miles back again, totalling just over 9 miles for the morning which I was happy with.

A little after we arrived at the briefing location, Rachael, one of the other Milton Keynes Marathon ambassadors, turned up with her boyfriend.  He was down to volunteer as photographer that day.  We had a chat as we’d not met before and as it had been a little while since Rachael had run the course Laura and I filled her in on the course changes.

Tim managed to capture my face perfectly when I was told that I would have to climb up a step ladder to wave at the 700+ parkrunners whilst it was announced I was the pacemaker for 30 minutes!

Northampton parkrun pacer

Picture credit: Tim Bullard

The thought of climbing up those steps was probably more nerve-wracking than having other runners rely on me to pace a time!

Northampton parkrun pacer

Picture credit: Tim Bullard

A quick briefing for parkrun volunteers acting in new roles for the day and then to our places ready for the start!

Northampton parkrun volunteersPicture credit: Tim Bullard

Northampton parkrun pacer

Picture credit: Tim Bullard

I knew that to run a 30 minute 5k, I needed to be running at 9:39mm pace – a pace I can run at fairly comfortably.  I aimed to run at around 9:30s to allow for weaving or over-distance.

After giving the New Runner Briefing, Laura had offered to run with me with the intention that between us we should hopefully be able to keep on target to run the time required.

Northampton parkrun pacer

Picture credit: Tim Bullard

The first mile is always a little slow at Northampton – it’s such a mad rush from a wide start onto narrow paths.  We still managed to run the mile in 9:39 though.  Worried that I perhaps needed to pick up the pace by a few seconds to allow for the weaving I inevitably had to do I pulled forward a little and ran the second mile in 9:20.  As I had printed out and worn ’30 mins’ on my back, we had several comments as we passed other runners.  Some I could hear were using me as an incentive to pick up the pace and stay at that speed and others just using it as a guide to what time they would achieve.  One guy had a chat to me about how I managed to stay so consistent throughout and I told him it was due to the constant checking of my watch!

Northampton parkrun pacer

Picture credit: Tim Bullard

As we began the final mile I could feel Laura picking up the pace a little and so called out that I needed to stay steady to not beat the 30 minute mark by a huge amount.  A man running past told me that we were running way too fast and that he was on for 29 minutes, which I found rather frustrating, as he definitely didn’t finish in 29 minutes that day and I knew we would be fairly close to the 30 minutes I had set out to run.  Final mile: 9:37.

Northampton parkrun pacer

Picture credit: Northampton parkrun Facebook

We could see the funnel in the distance wasn’t holding everybody and runners had begun to spill out back onto the track – queuing to get through the finish line.  When I reached the final stretch I had planned on shouting out to those nearby to stick with me if they were aiming for a sub 30 minute parkrun, but I lost my confidence a little when I could see the finish line was backlogged, unsure of what time I would officially record so remained quiet and instead just hoped that those who had wanted a 30 minute time had been following me as they saw the sign I was wearing go by.

My last little nubbin was run at 9:38 pace, although it was then several seconds before the volunteer with the clicker walked back along the line to click us through as finishers.  It took me a few seconds to remember to stop my watch afterwards as well so I wasn’t sure what my official time would be when the results came out.  I was really happy to see how close I got to 30 minutes in the end though!

Official time: 29:58
Position: 410/703
Gender position: 99/292
Age category position: 18/49

There was plenty of cake laid out on a nearby table as Northampton parkrun were celebrating their 300th run that day.  It was my 45 run on the course, which sounds like so many when I think back to last year and how I was really looking forward to achieving my 50th parkrun goal.

After refuelling with a slice of cake each, we were starting to get chilly and I was starting to feel very tired.  Laura and I set off for a final two miles back to hers where I jumped in the car to head home for a post-work/parkrun nap.  I was so ready for that nap!

Have you paced an event before?
Or used a pacer yourself?