Couch to 5K
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Grass vs concrete

Hi, on the advice of a clinician i did week4 run1 on grass, this was the first time i had not run on pavement, it was definitely less jarring but my foot slipped on an uneven bit a few times, and got some slight strains, really felt it the next day, sore everything! I needed 3 rest days. I am lucky enough to have the choice of grass or pavement. Did week 4 run 2 on pavement tonight, will see how i feel tomorrow. What is the consensus re grass vs pavement?

7 Replies

Interesting question indeed. From my own experience I started my C25K programme on grass for first three weeks. Found it very tiring, legs worked harder due to impact on grass where foot is cushioned into the surface further, making takeoff for the next stride that bit harder. I felt like I consumed a lot more energy and felt I was making very very slow progress. I was seriously thinking I couldn't not cope even though I was only running 1, 3 and 5 mins respectively. I found it a struggle but didn't know any better during the first three weeks as I had not run on pavement.

Having reviewed some sites before I started the programme - I decided to train on grass as the impact isn't as hard on your feet/legs.

However, by week 4 I completed my first 5k gunrunning on concrete (pavement) and felt a lot more comfortable. I knew training on grass would be tougher so I told myself I would toughen myself up on more challenging conditions on grass and then I could reap the rewards for faster times when running on road.

PS I was always thinking about what if I plant my foot in a divet on grass and was thinking of other things rather than concentrating and enjoying my run. I personally found it harder to run on grass as you have to use more energy to propel yourself forward. Takeoff is tons easier and more natural on pavement. The best way to view it without insulting your intelligence is that grass gives way, pushing your feet into the ground and therefore making it harder to take off. With concrete you dont have this issue. Grass is probably a better shock absorber as it is a softer surface - but the energy output on grass being higher has to be taken into account. Plus to get the best put of each surface, you need the appropriate footwear for each. I suspect almost most of us run on grass with normal running shoes and though I'm no expert this will cause issues due to density of surface - footballers (and other sports people) use studs/spikes for a reason.



Thanks so much, that is really good advice and makes a lot of sense, i feel 10 times better after my second run on pavement compared to Tuesdays on grass so i think i will stick with it, especially as i'll be running in the dark now and even though i have ordered a head torch it will still be hard to miss the divots. I also have fab scenery around me and it would be a pity not to look up and enjoy it!


In an ideal world we should mix up our surfaces during a run, i.e. pavement, forest track, grass etc. but we don't live in an ideal world (well most of us). I try and mix up my running and alternate between pavement, forest track and on a rare occasion grass which is my least favorite as its harder going. On joining a running group recently their regular outings were run all on grass, very tiring, very hard on the muscles and totally changed my body posture were I found I leaned back more and tended to take shorter strides due to slipping. You always have to be aware too of uneven surfaces which can be hidden.

I have a 5K run which is one of my favorite routes and gives me a mix of all 3 surfaces (not a lot of grass) but I can say that after the 500m grass run its always wonderful to get back onto a tarred surface. Everyone is different though so experiment for yourself, will be interested to hear your findings too.


Thank you. It makes sense now as to why i was so much more tired and achy afterwards, it didn't help my knees so will do back to the pavement!


I don't know if you live in a city or very busy town, but for those times when you're not able to run on grass, the actual road surface is better than the pavement - if safe from a traffic point of view! Asphalt is a softer surface than concrete.

See this article:


Hi, that's a great tip, i could run a fair bit on the road actually, there are some quiet roads arounds. Thank you!


Grass is a tricky surface. I avoid hard surfaces for the sake of my joints. In my year and 8 months of running I think I've done a run on roads/pavements once, but grass can be slippy and the ground underneath it uneven as you've found. I love a woodland floor best, cushioned with fallen leaves or needies although splashing through deep puddles is fun too. Even a few too many runs mainly on the forest tracks I start to feel it and know it is time to get back in the bogs. I wear trail shoes which really help.


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