Treadmill or the Great Outdoors?: I've been... - Couch to 5K

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Treadmill or the Great Outdoors?


I've been doing my runs in a gym on a treadmill but reading many of the threads on here, most appear to be running outside. I wonder which is best and whether it will be hard to transfer to outside when the weather improves? One benefit I feel with a treadmill is that you can regulate the speed of your running - I think I would find it more tempting to have a little break or run too fast if I was outside. I'm currently on w5r2 but on an enforced 2 week break - very frustrating!

23 Replies

I think that you will find it much more difficult/exhausting to run on the road than on the treadmill. On a treadmill, you are really only moving your legs - and the treadmill surface moves itself below you. When you run on the road, you have to move the Planet surface under you yourself!! :) It really is hard to get the World rotating ! :)

PhilhollyGraduate in reply to Bazza1234

Love it! No wonder my legs get tired! :D

I started in the gym week 1 then did a run outside in week 2 and struggled with pacing myself but have done one of the week 3 runs this week outside and it felt pretty good I found that the time went quicker outdoors I suppose that is due to the fact the great outdoors is better to look at than other sweaty body's at the gym. Good luck with whatever you decide but I would try at least two outdoor runs.


I tried running on a treadmill but it just seemed to boring. I enjoy being able to choose my route outside, if I'm feeling energetic I'll decide to turn up a road that's a bit of an incline etc. It's nice to be in the fresh air too, feels much more of a healthy break from work than going into another room to exercise.

Hidden in reply to Blanket

I definitely agree with this. I've never actually run on a treadmill but I've done miles and miles of 'brisk walking' on treadmills over the last few months, before hearing about, and starting C25K. I joined a gym at Christmas, thankfully only for 3 months, and am going to let it lapse when it ends in March. I'm just finding I prefer the peace and scenery of being outside so much more and I knew it would be better for me to learn to run outside rather than on a treadmill.

Peaceful run by the canal, watching ducks as the sun comes up vs. busy gym staring at a TV screen - no contest. Saying that though, I've been fortunate so far - amazingly all my runs from start of C25K up to day (W3R1) have been in the dry. Whether I'll be saying the same when there's driving rain and gale force wind is yet to be seen :-)

mizuno306 in reply to Blanket

I've been running outside from the beginning but I do the gym now and then 'for the numbers'. It is interesting to see how far I've gone and check my heart rate etc but nothing beats outside. Running in the rain is great, you feel brave and it keeps you cool. Running at night is surprisingly sociable; I suppose lots of us prefer after work rather than early morning in the winter. The big disadvantage of the gym is not being able to have a look into people's houses (or boats on the canal) to keep me interested :D I'm up to 28mins and that feels an eternity in the hot, sweaty gym. Also, outside, you fart and run away from it....very much frowned upon in the gym!!


Try it. My son broke my treadmill at week 5 run 2 so I had no choice but to run outside. Add to that a very wet night and being soaked to the skin and it was an experience.

Since then I have used a threadmill twice but love running outdoors, I don't get bored.

Best advice, try it, if you don't like it get back on the treadmill, either way you're doing great, keep it up!


I used to have a treadmill years ago before I emigrated to France, I haven't jogged since then. I think it's easier on a treadmill, you don't have to keep checking for pitfalls on the road / in the grass.

I started Week 1 in SW London and just went round and round a park, I think I must have gained weight breathing in all the fumes and lead from the cars. The last 2 weeks I've been back in France, on grass, around a stadium. It's a lot easier to breathe! I'm starting week 5 today, have to fly to the UK for an interview, will do R2 on Tuesday before the interview then fly back to France and hopefully finish week 5 on Thursday. Then I will really be able to tell the difference between city jogging and country jogging.


I did most of my programme on the treadmill partly because of the weather and also where I live in the country with no pavements and loads of steep hills! It works in terms of improving your fitness but you need to set the programme to 'hill' to get some variation in the effort required. The main thing for e was that so boring to do more than about 15 mins

I'm at w8 and have done most runs on the treadmill, the few occasions I have been out it's been really hard, not sure of pace and harder on joints, the weather doesn't help either. I've opted to complete c25k on the treadmill then at least I'll have a basic enough level of fitness to manage some distance outdoors and hopefully the days will be longer and weather improved by then. Any running's better than no running!


Writing from an unambiguous position of bias (I have never run on a treadmill) I don't think that you will really feel you are running until you are outdoors and to appreciate the full joy of running you need to get offroad and try running cross country in a beautiful environment. Sure it is harder, although grass stresses less than concrete and tarmac, but all the little irregularities strengthen your all your lower joints and the air is not full of sweat and testosterone.

Good luck and enjoy it, wherever you run.


I have done a bit of both, before I started this programme I was on the treadmill a few times and once I started when we had the really high winds and I didn't want anything to stop me from running I went on it just the once. I found it harder outside on the joints but oh to be outside in my opinion is just great for the mind! I even enjoyed my runs in the rain, its fantastic. Whichever you go with its good that you are doing it so good luck whatever you decide. x


Outdoor runner here too. I have never run on a machine either. It's just not natural. We're human beings, not hamsters. LOL


done both and am another that finds the treadmill boring after being outside. Tonight I went for a run just as it was getting dark and as well as having a really good run, there was a gorgeous sunset as well. What more could I ask for.

Thanks everyone for your comments! Ok now I'm feeling really bad - I've got to confess I live in Brighton - minutes from the prom and have yet to run along it! I went for a walk along there this afternoon and watched several runners and pledged that I will give it a try... Soon!

IannodaTruffeAdministrator in reply to Janey22

You should not feel shamed or pressured into running outside. We all responded from our own personal experiences. However, I am sure you will love it when you get out there. Good luck.

Hidden in reply to IannodaTruffe

Absolutely agree with IannodaTruffle. Plus, if you are overweight and are following the program to start getting fit, the treadmill can be kinder on your joints, or at least help you build up a basic level of fitness before tacking running outside.

Personally, I love running outside as I find treadmill running boring. It is very intense though running outside, and you must make sure you have the proper shoes, as your joints will take a lot of pounding, particularly if running on the road/hard surfaces. I'm back on the treadmill at the moment because I hurt my knee then continued to run through the injury and sprained my hamstring as a result. It's hard work finding the motivation but I look at using the treadmill as helping me keep a basic level of fitness while my leg recovers so that I can get back to the great outdoors. Treadmills are useful things - just make sure you transition when you feel ready, not because you feel you have to.

ashton46Graduate in reply to IannodaTruffe

Couldn't agree more. Try both, which ever you prefer, just do that. You shouldn't feel like you "should" be running outside because of what others do (or because of where you live)

A friend of mine will not run outside because he is too self conscious, which is such a shame. Personally I much prefer it but I know others who aren't so keen and stick to the gym.

My local Parkrun put a photo on their Facebook wall the other day. It read:

"Dead last beats did not finish, which is far better than did not start" - perfect. At the end of the day you're running, it doesn't matter where you do it :-)

carerofGraduate in reply to Janey22

how lucky you are to live by the sea, go for it and enjoy the salty sea air!!!!


I understand that the treadmill is goo to keep an eye on your speed but I find the outdoors much better. I only use the Gym when I'm desperate. The gradients can make it harder and I think you use different muscles going downhill. Besides I can take my dog She's a Shepherd x whippet. Loves to run.

s x

I did c25k on my treadmill last year, and had to stop due to back pain. I have now started the programme again from Week 1 and and I can tell you I feel much better running outside. The benefits are more noticeable, and I believe its because I am putting more effort into it as I don't have a belt regulating my speed. I would definately recommend the great outdoors!


I run outside because I don't want to pay for a gym membership as I am about to move across the country to Wales. I quite like the idea of having my 'gym' just outside my front door too. I may still join a gym when I move but for swimming which I like to do at least once a week. I would still prefer to run outside though because I like the changing scenery and changing levels of steps.


Hi, just came across this and wanted to support the treadmillers! I did c25k completely on treadmill and loved it. Thankfully I have a nice gym very close which is not sweaty/testosterone smelling. I need to run at night so wouldn't see 'great outdoors' anyway. If you want to 'go up a steeper hill' then increase the incline, if you feel you want to push it for a bit then press the button to go faster.

Our treadmills have TV etc so you can check out the news or whatever while running. ( I tend to listen to Laura and music),

Safer on your knees, mirror to check gait and stride.

Then go for a nice walk and really appreciate the outdoors!

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