And baby comes too
Forget the long-distance endurance runs. The real test of a man, writes HARRY McGEE, is adding a buggy to your kit list
MY VERY first run with a jogging pram followed a route past the new Central Criminal Court complex near the Phoenix Park in Dublin.
As I lumbered up the steep hill a wiseacre of a guard (a Dub to boot) quipped: “Keep it up. The pregnancy fat is falling off you.” To that there was no answer (not at that moment anyway). He had caught me with a beaut and I spent the rest of the run wondering just how ridiculous I looked and thinking unsuccessfully of the instant retort I should have delivered.
The sad reality is that when you make the decision to invest in a jogging pram – especially if you are male – you need to be brave or use it in such remote locations that nobody will see you.
In the US they are mandatory kit for any parents who run. In Ireland they are still relatively uncommon and have a bit of an image problem. A recent TV ad portrayed a guy running with his pram as a kind of smug and annoying sort. I don’t understand why, because the idea is a brilliant one. Once your baby is old and strong enough to support his or her own head, they are ready to ride shotgun.
For them, there is the pleasure of experiencing a (bit of) speed or (more often) being quickly lulled to sleep by the motion. For you, there is the satisfaction of getting out for a run that you would not otherwise have done, especially if you are minding a baby for the day.
A jogging pram differs from ordinary prams in several respects. They have much larger wheels and much thinner tyres – giving them a look that gives more than a nod to a gladiator’s chariot. The wheels are usually the same size, and are fixed and don’t swivel. That’s to stop the whole pram toppling over when you hit a bump or a root (a quickly swivelling wheel will act like a break). Suspension is, ergo, another big feature. Most are three-wheeled and streamlined, and they also tend to be lighter than conventional buggies.
The other feature is a good leash. Again there is sound logic behind it. If you fall at speed the buggy will continue at speed.
Some, like the Bob Ironman (above), have very long leashes that are attached to the bottom of the pram.
On that subject, the American-made Bob is one of the marque brands (they are hard to get and expensive in Ireland). They are very light and very fast and are favoured by serious runners. My own is a slightly less streamlined “out and about” running buggy that I bought in Tony Kealy’s for about €300.
Given the amount of times I’ve used it, it’s one of the best investments I have ever made.
Granted, it is strange running with it at the start, because you find it awkward to have one or two hands placed in a fixed position. And because they have fixed wheels they are not as manouverable as conventional buggies so you have to be careful on crowded footpaths or going around steep corners.
For that reason it’s better to use a route that’s traffic free (for me it’s the Phoenix Park). So they take a bit of getting used to.
The strangeness of running with one (and the slightly uncomfortable sense of looking weird) quickly wears off and you begin to enjoy it (perhaps not so much going up a steep incline with your daughter shouting “go faster daddy, go faster“).
Of course, your times will slow down but not by all that much. Surprisingly, it doesn’t take all that much extra effort to do 8km or 10km. In fact, I often enjoy it more than the conventional run. And proving that they don’t inhibit you that much, Gary Crossan of Amphibian King in Bray finished fifth in the Streets of Galway 8km run a few years ago while pushing his child in a buggy.
The one thing that still puzzles me a little is why they are not more popular here. And the pregnancy fat? Dropped off me, I swear to God.