Struggling getting back to running - Bridge to 10K

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Struggling getting back to running

pinkaardvark profile image
40 Replies

I haven't been running regularly since about september. Although I have been doing 2-3k on the treadmill 4 times a week during this fallow period.

I'm really struggling running outdoors though. I stopped running as I think I over did it and started getting calf niggles. I have always had calf niggles and shin splint like tenderness which have always effected my running enjoyment. But no amount of squats, calf raises etc in the gym has ever really helped.

That aside though I don't want to lose what I gained from running, but I am struggling to just get back out and running. It's not a lazyness problem, I think as I do 2hrs 4 times a week in the gym and I used to also run 3+ times a week minimum. If anything as the running reduced, I have just done more in the gym.

To that end I went out to run(outside) last night and my calfs were knackered, so had to return back indoors after less than 1k. Being -1 and wearing a t-shirt did help mind you lol.

The day before I had done 20mins on the treadmill doing sprints at 4k per min. Which is the problem I have with treadmills, in that I find them so boring and not really running, I just end up upping the speed until I outrun myself lol.

Maybe I need to restart with the c25k program as i'm not sure my mental position would allow me to complete 5k outdoor at the moment.

Any thoughts?

40 Replies
MikeJones68 profile image

Sorry to hear you are struggling, Mike. To think you ran HM distance last year too (something I still haven't managed). I guess doing the later weeks of C25K again would be of some benefit. I can't stand gym work, and loathe treadmills. I only ever use one if the weather forces me to.

Tbae profile image

Hi Mike,

I have missed your posts, and advice replies to all on here.

Where to start my friend.

I am a novice and have an old frame to look after.

Not sure Mike if any of this is relevant or useful to you, but I am going to reply to you a list of things, I think are helping me.👊💥🏃‍♂️💥👏👏

happysouls profile image

I wrote a long reply and the computer ate it. hmph! Anyway I said that with all my aches and pains I have found slow running works for me and fast running annoys my legs. I'm improving distance and hills rather than speed for the moment but in a really casual way if I feel like it when I get out there. I wear an extra layer to keep my legs warm and do some exercises at home and a good warm up walk before starting. Used compression socks for a while to help crampy calves which I found good. Also wondered if you were overdoing the gym as you did treadmill and then your outdoor run without a gap day? Maybe you could ditch the treadmill and reduce gym time and just get outdoors and have a slow run and see if you can get back to enjoying it? Forget about speed and distance and targets for a while and see if you can recapture the enjoyment of running?

GoGo_JoJo profile image

Good to see you. 🖐😁

My best advice... find the happy. I agree on treadmills. I do the same when I have one... run hard, run fast!

Far better to get out... properly dressed and look for the fun. Aim to run slow and easy. Take the right music. If possible incorporate skips hops and a sprinkling of jumps. Doesn't matter at this stage how far you go just that you renew your relationship with running outdoors.

I hope you find it 🌻

Madge50 profile image

Blimey pink, 4K a minute? Or do you mean 4 mins per k? , anyway, sounds like you’re doing loads, and if anything, I’d say too much......not enough recovery time.

I hate the dreadmill, I never find it a natural run. I’d suggest having a break from running, maybe a week? do loads of stretches, then start back again with no goal in mind, just a gentle slow run, take the C25K later podcasts with you if you want, outside and see how you go...., it would be horrible to carry on and end up hating it....

Whatever you choose to do, I hope it improves for you


Tbae profile image

You are tall, lean and a quick paced runner.Also very knowledgable and have taken time to know how stuff works.

I am a pedestrian trotter.No responsibilities,retired with plenty time, unlike you.

My slow pace on the cardio side and low weights on the strength side leave me completely energised and fully recovered and ready to go next day.

I do 15 x one hour sessions per week.One hour at a time is enough

for me and I think anyone at a time really.Ignoring of course longer distances particularly at my pace.

Sprinting, intervals, etc,great for mitochondria.As your post Get Fit in 6mins.But the proper warm up running and stretching cannot be ignored.Of course not just a case going eyeballs on stocks for 12x30 seconds in a week.

For me it is all about the daily load or weekly load and what I decide to pursue that is the limiting thing.

My 5k daily trot is not demanding, if I ran it at your speed I would be on the IC.I can’t anyway.🙈😂

One hour strength or gym everyday, mixed around, for me found it makes no difference which ever order.Cardio first, strength first , etc.

I have low settings,just maintain good muscle not trying to build muscle,I do 15 resistance m/cs x 1set x 30 reps= 450 reps in 20 mins and just treated as a cardio session.🤔🙈😂

Always generally stick with exhale on exertion.👍

Doing plyometric jumps with the sprints , 15 jumps daily with the plyo boxes.Doing it as a HITT session to support the mitochondria along with 30 sec bursts.

Dropped the sprints in favour of the trotting 35- 40 k/ week,

Getting final 11 kg off the middle

and doing 9x20 reps= 180 core exercises daily.

Montoring indicative V02 max also2-3 times per week minimum.

For me that is like standing on the scales daily.

Anyway I am beginning to believe, conclude some stuff, and Mike we are all different with different needs and pressures.

Personally I do not think you need to go through the C25k adaption programme again.

Yes follow GAS again, general adaption syndrome again,go and walk 5k,brisk using active 10, then when you are ready just trot 5k, and when you are ready canter 5k and finally if you really have to go and gallop at your pace.Dont go to the gym for strength days before you do that gallop.

Have a modest adaption programme.

Must say,sleep, hydration , nutrition , thorough warmup, dynamic stretching, and static stretching a must for me.

Never had to use a foam roller.

Come back to a point where these short sessions energise you with the endorphin rush,and the static stretching disperses excess Adrenalin, loosens tight muscles so that you do not cramp or tear.

So do not overload you, modest adaption, energising shortish sessions, excellent next day recovery, muscle maintenance not building.

Mike I have gone off on one, but this has helped me trot twice daily for a month 9k/day, 63 k/week, continuously twice per day sessions of cardio and strength and if I wanted to double both I could for a month before resetting.

Just feel at my go all day pace that’s exactly what I could do.Just like for strength and a nuetral spine could do outside standing up exercises all day.

Nothing wrong with doing C25k over again, at least it is a tried and tested adaption, running body building programme, do not have to think, just get out and do it,


TedG profile image

Hi Mike, I did wonder where you’d got to. I’m sorry to hear your plight. The only advice I can offer is to get out there and take it easy....start enjoying it again 😊

I hope you do crack it, I liked the banter when you were really into it 🏃‍♂️🏃‍♂️

Irishprincess profile image

Have you thought about joining a running club? If you find the right club you would have lots of choice with different paced groups, sprints, long slow runs, etc and all in different locations. But I also agree with Madge50 and think you need more recovery time for your body. It sounds like you're really pushing yourself and maybe your body just needs a little ease-up. Do you take an easy week every 3/4 weeks? That makes all the difference to the training when you get back to it because you're refreshed.

ChrisAllen1 profile image

Not sure what to say mate, I don't really think at your standard you would get much out of redoing couch to 5k? Just hope you can find a way soon of enjoying running and be pain free 👍

Sadie-runs profile image

Hey Pinkie. Well I would never put you as lazy, so that’s obvs not the problem. What I could imagine is that the calf niggles are playing with your head, which is not a surprise. I mean, do you go outside for a run wondering how they are going to fare? Worrying that they will cut the run short? That would be enough to ruin the pleasure of running outdoors for me. It must sort of put a dampener on things, and your brain is probably trying to protect you by associating running with potential pain to come.

It’s just my guess. But if this at all resonates, maybe getting to the root cause of the shin/calf issue could sort you out? By this I mean seeing a specialist sports physio. One who loves running too and wants to get you out there and having fun again too!

I really hope you get to the root of it, buddy. x

Dexy5 profile image

You have far more experience than me pinkaardvark, but just wondering whether you have tried compression socks or calf sleeves. A lot of men seem to wear them at parkrun. UTS has had a few calf niggles over the last few months and tried some compression socks on a run this week. No probs at all. That’s just one run so more running needed to confirm they were the answer.

pinkaardvark profile image
pinkaardvarkGraduate10 in reply to Dexy5

I have tried them, I started using them early on during 5k. But ditched them when the weather got warm enough for shorts. I don't think they have ever done much for me though. maybe I will try getting some tighter ones though.

JoP61 profile image

Sounds like you are doing a huge amount very fast on the treadmill. I've never used a treadmill, doing all my pretty slow running outdoors, which is fantastic for variety and novelty (scenery, weather, other runners, walkers, dog walkers, etc). I recommend getting outdoors for a slow and steady run - just a short one. I'm not an expert, and don't know about injury except don't run when you have one. Hope you find a solution and have some happy running. 😀👍🤞

Ang33333 profile image

I've enjoyed reading all the replies to your post. My sister is in the same situation as you. She just can't do 30 mins outdoors at the moment. She was poorly and hardly ran for a month and now she's getting very down about running.

Just try to enjoy it again. Long or short, just go for it. Doubt you need to start again!! I'm not as fast as you but slow and steady is working for me as I creep towards 10k.

Tbae profile image

Hi Michael,

Wanted to say also how fickle fitness is , hard earned, and quickly lost.

Definately finding that VO2 max drops off quick and takes, for me ,the longest time to regain following a drop off in outside km’s, with an interruption for any reason.

It’s a bit like your quote and past wisdom, in order to run faster you first have to run fast but applied to distance, time , stamina and endurance.

Definately have to reduce your overall exercise load and come gently and with modest adaption

through once again.

No doubt you will

find it, lots of advise and concern on here, we want you back.👊💥🏃‍♂️💥👏👏

SANDI_runs profile image

Personally I struggle to motivate myself to run outside on the the cold dark evening's. So tend to treadmill run evening's in the week and do a nice run outside in the daylight on a weekend. I find the treadmill runs sooooo very boring though, struggle to understand how people prefer them.

Bluebirdrunner profile image

Hi Pinkaardvark, sorry to hear this.😐

I really hope you discover why running outside has become so uncomfortable. I remember you loving all those runs you did down at Padstow in Cornwall, and don't think you had calf problems then.

*You like the On shoes I think, but had problems picking up stones in the tread...

*I know you run fast, could this be causing the cramps in your calfs...

You have so much experience, and you have helped me to improve my own running form by supplying the link to how to engage the glutes, which has taken so much pressure off my knees and calfs and made me more powerful and I thank you for that.

I miss your banter on the forum too, like Chris and Ted said and hope you find a happy pace that brings back the joy into running outside. 😊xx

pinkaardvark profile image
pinkaardvarkGraduate10 in reply to Bluebirdrunner

Hi BB. I don't think the calf cramps are the real issue here. They just were what pissed me off enough to post hehe. Niggles were what slowed my running journey back in september last year, but that was in hindsight due to running too much. Who would have thought running 70k a week was too much lol, well I learned that lesson.

But when I fell off the wagon I found myself, running along behind desperately trying to get back on hehe.

Back to basics, slow and steady with plenty of rest seems to be the answer, with the only aim being to re-discover the pattern before any thoughts of running to the moon and back again :)

Bluebirdrunner profile image
BluebirdrunnerGraduate10 in reply to pinkaardvark

Yes, that will do it Pink. You knew the answer. Less is often more !😉xx

Looking forward to giving you kudos for some gentle outside runs on Strava.. and do keep posting how you are getting on.😊xx

GoogleMe profile image

Well, if re-doing C25K meant listening to the exhortations to ease off on the pace, and, for now at least, enforcing non-running days, I reckon it could be a big help in untangling your current knot.

Covered calves definitely worth trying.

Also worth bearing in mind that despite the usual benefits to emotional health of exercise, it can also affect one's biochemistry negatively if pushed too hard for the individual and have a depressing effect. I am wondering too about what the opportunity cost is of all that time in the gym - what you are avoiding or missing out on. Sorry if that sounds a bit intrusive or psychobabble, but from your posts over recent months it is clear that this isn't one of those brief blips that just needs a bit of a kick up the bum, and we do want our pinkaardvark to be sorted and happy.

pinkaardvark profile image
pinkaardvarkGraduate10 in reply to GoogleMe

Good point about the psychobabble. I was going to the gym 4 times a week and running for the other 3 days. That then included yoga 1 day and eventually got up to 5 days a week running, so yes it was in hindsight overload and I certainly overloaded on the distance.

I am historically quite an inactive person, so emotionally my fitness journey and related weight loss are significantly in the forethought of my thinking. I do have a busy life and it has become harder recently to fit the running in, but I don't want to lose sight of the benefits I have gained from it.

I think my failing may be that I have viewed fitness as something that will just keep increasing over time until i'm running the sahara, rather than reaching a healthy and manageable level. I will give that whole area some more thought.


Langley-Loper profile image
Langley-LoperGraduate10 in reply to pinkaardvark

I get this - at what point in our lives do we stop achieving PBs? We can't keep improving forever. I am guilty of this too. I also need to be satisfied with my activity level and do some running for pleasure sometimes rather than trying to squeeze yet more seconds off a segment on every run.

Razouski profile image

I thought I hadn’t seen you in here for sometime, but I thought it was because I’d had a problem with my Mojo going awol after I completed my half marathon back in October . I’m sorry to hear you’re struggling.

You’ve had some good advice on here already. The gym work sounds good, but I can understand the problem with the treadmill. I haven’t been near it in my gym since I learnt to run outside as it bores me rigid. However I do include cross trainer, static bike, ski machine, rowing machine and/or arm bike - only a selection of 2 and for about 10-12 mins each as part of my gym workouts.

Maybe it’s worth checking out some of the advice about compression socks, and also checking your running shoes don’t need renewing (gait analysis?). Then maybe just try a really gentle jogette, wrapped up warm and not setting a target of more than a km. While I’m sure you don’t need to repeat all of C25k again, doing one or two of the early interval runs would be a good way of gently easing your body and mind back into running in the great outdoors.

Hope you start to work things out.


Fionn42 profile image

Hey Pink! Good to see you back 😊.

I only have three pieces of advice - and you already know these because you are such an experienced runner, but they bear saying anyway:

1. Yoga. Find the right yoga class again and stick with it. Running shortens your calf muscles, especially fast sprinting. A good yoga session will gently but firmly stretch those muscles back out again.

2. Ditch the dreadmill. Running outside is so much better for your whole health, and gives you a much needed dose of vitamin D during the winter.

3. (You’ll like this one!) New Shooooz! Sounds like your current ones are not giving you quite the right amount of support on the road, which is translating to pain in your calves with the impact. Check and if needed get some better cushioning.

Good luck my friend - you will get there!!!

pinkaardvark profile image
pinkaardvarkGraduate10 in reply to Fionn42

Yes, I would like to get back to the yoga. I found I didn't have enough time in my calendar to continue with my past yogi as her sessions were 1.5-2hrs and not at great times. I will try and find someone else or just do some yoga with adrienne.

2: Yes, treadmill will be getting ditched.

3: Lol, you clearly don't know how many shoes I own hehe. I don't think the calf issues are the real problem here, just what brought me to posting about my general malaise.

Sandyscroll profile image

So sorry to hear your are struggling to get outside. The advice here is so varied but all sounds good to me. I agree with GoogleMe and others who have said that redoing some some of C25k will at least give you enforced breaks and hopefully a slower pace, as I also agree with those who have said it sounds like you need to ease off a bit. My concern is that you'll continue to do all the rest, as well as C25k. I'm not sure that would help much. We fear stopping as we know how much work goes into gaining a good level of fitness in the first place. I was worried I'd not get back to it after a break, but it's not a problem and I'm really enjoying C25k second time around.

The only other thing I thought was that shin splints and calf issues are often associated with forefoot striking. I would be tempted to try short distances of heel striking or at least alternate a bit. I'm a hill plodder though, so my foot strike changes all the time with the change in gradient.

My only other suggestion comes from when I swapped thick soled trainers for really thin ones because my knees were hurting. I haven't looked back since. Not sure this would help for achillies etc, but there's something to be said for barefoot type running to really get back to basics with your feet.

I really do hope you find a way forward.

GoogleMe profile image
GoogleMeGraduate10 in reply to Sandyscroll

Running cured my shin splints, suffered from for years. But heel striking..... owwwwwwwch. I agree with the suggestion (if pinkaardvark doesn't already have any in his collection) to look to a more minimalist shoe, and a trail one at that and getting on some more interesting surfaces if possible. I think it gives a more all round workout and for the mind, break from all the other stuff as you concentrate on your connection with the earth.

pinkaardvark profile image
pinkaardvarkGraduate10 in reply to GoogleMe

I run mostly trail, and my On running shoes are quite low drop minimal, albeit not full out in that vein. All the races I have done have been pretty much steeple chases hehe. I love a dyke or a muddy field as much as the next muddy runner :)

GoogleMe profile image
GoogleMeGraduate10 in reply to pinkaardvark

You've got so much in place and you're obviously well capable of reflection. I can really see why your current struggles are so frustrating for you.

Richard7 profile image

Not having run on treadmills that much I am not sure what the difference is between treadmill running and outdoors other than the obvious temperature and undulations in the paths. When outside not sure if you are on trail or paved areas. I think perhaps as you are "happy" or at least your legs are by the sound of it you need to look at what the differences are as a starter!!

Personally I have had times when I have gone out and had to abort my run and others when I just didn't feel up to a long run and switched it up a bit.

I have found using intervals has helped on occasion because it's not all out for an hour. It might help you too so that you can start to build up your distance but with breaks to allow your legs to not feel hammered. It is after all effectively what C25K did for us all as C25K is effectively a form of interval running.

Good luck in resolving this. Fingers crossed.

Slinkymalinki profile image

Hi. Sorry to hear this. So much good advice given already. I wanted to echo what Fionn said about yoga. I started it in Sept and feel it has really helped my running. All of the moves are good for strengthening but I'm particularly noticing it in the core, glutes, legs especially calves.

I run with compression sleeves as my shins suffer when running too often on hard surfaces - inevitably more often this time of year. I'm also doing specific exercises to strengthen my ankles & foot as I have high arches and bad pronation which I've been told will nearly always result in some degree of tightness in the ankle, shins & calves. So I'm trying to eliminate as much of it as I can.

I got very down about all this coinciding with winter but have decided to do 'no pressure' runs at the moment as much as I can with a view to redoing Ju-Ju's 10k plan for some structure when the time is right. I hope you get out there soon and don't think about it too much. Go somewhere that lifts your spirits and run.

UpTheStanley profile image

You hammered yourself on the dreadmill and next day your calves were knackered? Well fancy that ……. :-) . But then you always broke the rules, even Ju-Ju's when bridging …....

It sounds to me as if you're doing far too much in the gym to be able to run happily and regularly outdoors as well. Especially if your gym time always includes hard dreadmill running (?).

As Dexy mentioned, I've been suffering from calf niggles recently and am experimenting with compression socks. First signs are promising. I'm beginning to suspect my calf issues have arisen because I'm consciously trying not to heel strike (due to helpful (?) advice on here) which is perhaps changing the habit of a lifetime (never thought about it before). A definite bonus is suffering less from bruised heels - I suppose the pain has to go somewhere, latest move seems to be to my achilles :-(

One way to a happy 5k might be a Parkrun, if you just go with the flow and don't go looking for PBs for a while. Especially if you can find someone to chat to :-)

All the best, we'll now all be waiting anxiously for news, so don't go away again :-)

pinkaardvark profile image
pinkaardvarkGraduate10 in reply to UpTheStanley

Hehe, yes you are right. I totally smashed the calves with calf raises, dreadmill and many other exercise the day before. So it was totally expected. It was just what got me annoyed enough to post about my annoyances trying to get back to running. I'm gonna ban the dreadmill, try and get out for some easy runs to build up the pattern to 3 times a week and definitely try some park runs again.

Langley-Loper profile image

Pink! There you are! I've missed you and your plans. I don't even have a plan of my own at the moment since the demise of My Asics. No charts with boxes to tick. I am a woman in chart crisis.

As for advice, I went wandering in the wilderness for a while too. Then I did something I never thought I would do - joined a local (free) running club - Sweatshop Running Community. Mostly because Mr L-L didn't want me running around semi-rural roads in the dark on my own. I thought I would hate it but everyone there has been so friendly, from the old timers to the relative newbies. I still get nervous every week about "running with people" due to my GI/poomergency medical conditions but I've done 7 weeks now. Even fee paying clubs usually offer some trial sessions free and if you enjoy it, the fees are fairly modest.

And I've started going to Parkrun regularly. After a first run I hated, I left it 4 months then went back with a different attitude.

Like I said, I never thought I would do it, this running in crowds, but I've picked up some new followers/followees on Strava and recognise a few faces at Parkrun now.

So don't dismiss running with others if you think it's not for you, like I did, give it a try. If you have an "appointment" with other runners you have to keep it and you never know, you might actually enjoy it.

Please start running again, we all miss you!

pinkaardvark profile image
pinkaardvarkGraduate10 in reply to Langley-Loper

Hey LL, good to hear from you :). Yes, I have done park runs before and do enjoy them and have no issue running with others, although it is more like running alone with others in the way hehe, bit like a race :)

I did look into joining my local club but struggled to wrk there calendar around my needs so just never got around to it. I think I will try again if I can get myself out and running again regularly. I will find my way, I always do ;)

Razouski profile image

How’s it going Pink?

Deals1 profile image

Hi. Ah nooo... I hope u can sort it. Have missed your posts.

Loads of good advice already given here by very experienced folk (as are u!😀) I've not been doing this for long ,so have nothing else to add other than as others have said ..maybe just go out (outside) on lovely day when the mood takes you and just run! No aims, distance, speed... Just try to enjoy it for what it is ... And at the same time u might hunt down your mojo.

Good luck 🤞🤞🏃🏃

Ps only tried the dreadmill twice... And didn't like it!!

Keep us posted

icklegui profile image

Hi Pink,

I've also not run much since Sept. Glad to see you back though - no advice from here but sending whatever virtual mojo I can scramble up! Running club sounds like an idea worth exploring x

pinkaardvark profile image

Wow.. So many replies. I'm humbled by your support all!!

Some great advice there. I plan to stop running on the treadmill in the gym so that my legs recover prior to going out for an easy jog.

I am planning to try my absolute hardest to go slow as I recognise that a lot of my demons come from having to stop and walk if i'm trying to run too fast.

My plan then is to try a short 3k ish run on tuesday night(gym tonight with no running) and then gym wednesday(no running) and see if that then leaves me in a position to get out for another short run on thursday.

My biggest issue I think is that I was running regularly through the inertia and momentum of running regularly, and once that pattern broke down it all came apart for me.

So I need to put the pattern back in place without any other goals, be it distance or speed.Again let me say how humbled I am by all you lovely people taking the time to reply :)

GoogleMe profile image
GoogleMeGraduate10 in reply to pinkaardvark

There've been some interesting goals on the Quests you might like to dip into - focussing on enjoyable runs - so particular routes to get views or whatever. So still a goal to tick off.

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