We are walking on the Isles of Lobos, a small, uninhabited island close to the island of Fuerteventura in the Canary Isles. Following the islands way-marked paths, my twenty-one month old son, Ewan, is growing heavy in my arms. My brother and Dad have already carried him on their shoulders for some time, now it is my turn. Regrettably, my Boba sling lies in our chalet, forgotten as we packed in haste for our day-trip. As a baby-wearing advocate, slings are an essential piece of equipment for us which I have used almost every day since I discovered them when Ewan was small. This is why I am missing the sling so much today, wondering how we can improvise in order to still explore this island thoroughly, with a sleeping toddler in tow.
Ewan is sitting comfortably in his baby jogger, his father pushing him as they speed along a canal path, sights and sounds whizzing by as they overtake other joggers, families and walkers. Ewan checks his Mummy is still running beside him, then squeals with delight as Daddy suddenly runs at top speed, the scenery falling away before him, fresh air hitting his face as he laughs hysterically. He loves being in the baby jogger. Just another typical afternoon out with his parents!
Running; a shared passion
My husband and I have always been very active, outdoor people, meeting on a university mountaineering trip over a decade ago, and since then walking and running up countless mountains and hills together. Richard has been a keen fell runner since his teens, having raced in dozens of mountain marathons in the UK over recent years. Fell running is a specialist kind of running, where sportspeople run or race off road in the hills and mountains. This shared passion did not stop when I found out I was pregnant; I simply listened to my body, going at a slower pace until the point it was too difficult for us to continue running together as my bump was proving too heavy for high impact sports! The third trimester of pregnancy involved long walks, swims and yoga, ensuring I retained a good level of fitness in preparation for the birth.
The new arrival
Ewan James was born in June 2010. We both fell instantly in love with our beautiful son. The early months of parenthood involved a period of adjustment, as we learnt to live with a child entirely dependent on us for survival. However, having a child has never stopped us pursuing our own passions. Our son has fit into our lifestyle as much as we have adjusted ours to meet his needs. Ewan is taken almost everywhere we go; he is very ‘elastic’ in that he accepts wherever he is, whatever we are doing, as long as he is comfortable and secure. To achieve this we practice attachment parenting, sustained breastfeeding, baby-wearing and bed-sharing, all practices which lend themselves to being in close proximity and responsive to our child.
We usually transport Ewan in a sling, rarely using a conventional pushchair as we find them impractical for the terrain we walk on and the activities we do. Because we live in a hilly area of Derbyshire, baby-wearing is also by far the easiest way of getting about. However, we use a specialist running pushchair whenever we go running with Ewan, as it is not advisable to run with a baby in a sling. Although I have jogged for short periods with Ewan on my back, slings are not designed for running, and are bodies would suffer with the extra weight and impact of a baby on our backs.
Buying a baby jogger
We therefore decided to buy a running buggy, so that we could still pursue our love of running, taking Ewan with us on family runs. Richard’s parents offered to buy us a pram as a newborn present, so after much research we decided to buy the Performance Baby Jogger, which fitted our needs of a lightweight pushchair specifically designed for running, with the added bonus of easily being put into and out of the car. This is great when most of the family runs we do are not from our doorstep but are further afield, due to the local terrain being unsuitable for travelling far with a pushchair.
Ewan’s first ride
A few months later, when Ewan was strong enough to sit upright in the baby jogger, we took him for his first ride, to a disused railway track a few miles from home. Fortunately he is used to being in a pushchair when Grandma takes him for walks. However, he did look surprised as we set off at a slow running pace, but soon got used to this quicker speed, settling into his new chair and surroundings, looking around him at the passing countryside.
Using the baby jogger in daily life
Since then we have taken Ewan in his baby jogger as often as possible. Sometimes we run from our doorstep around the village; we much prefer being able to pursue our hobbies locally and simply, whilst also reducing our fuel output. We have also found local canal paths and disused railway lines in the area, which are suitable for pushchairs and bikes, because they are flat and don’t have any styles, which would limit the accessibility of the footpath. We go out in all weathers, except when there’s a lot of snow on the ground, using the rain cover and thick ‘cosy toes’ cover to ensure Ewan is kept warm and dry. This was particularly useful when we were running in minus temperatures during the cold spell last winter, and in the recent April showers!
Meeting our family’s needs
Ewan is fully integrated into our lives, sharing our love of exercise and being outdoors. We both much prefer to adapt our activities and lifestyles so that our son can be with us as much as possible. Richard trains for and attends a number of mountain marathons each year, events which certainly aren’t child-friendly, using the baby jogger means he can do a little of this training with his family.
The baby jogger certainly meets our needs as a family who love running; it means we can share this sport together instead of practising it separately. We are fortunate to live in a society that designs speciality baby equipment to meet the needs of a wide variety of families. Baby joggers are one of these niche pieces of equipment, which happen to match our lifestyle and parenting philosophy. Toddler slings are another example, fitting a small but growing area of the children’s market.
Realistically, Ewan cannot yet accompany us on long fell runs in the hills and mountains, but by being with us in a baby jogger he is learning and accepting his parent’s love of running as part of his life. We anticipate that as Ewan gets older he shall be keen to join us in our activities, whether that is fell running, mountain walking or simply visiting a local nature reserve. Who knows, perhaps one day he shall even follow in his Daddy’s footsteps by doing mountain marathons. However, this shall be entirely his choice; even if he never runs as an adult, those years when he accompanied us in the baby jogger will contribute to his appreciation of exercise for health and happiness, as well as a wonderful way to experience the great outdoors and nature.
We look forward to many more years using our baby jogger with our growing family; hopefully one day a new baby will sit in the baby jogger as Ewan runs alongside it! The fact we can pursue our love of running alongside our son enhances the experience of running because we are sharing it with the person we love most in the world, our son.