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Couch to 5K
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W5R2: My first bad run - I've been spoilt by a treadmill

When I first started C25K, I did the week 1 runs down a local bridle path near my house. I then went to the states for 3 weeks and was in the gym on a treadmill. I completed W5R1 before I left and felt really good after it, but today, back on the bridle path, I really struggled. During my brisk walk I could feel my calves starting to tighten. I attributed this to me maybe walking a bit faster than I had been on the treadmill, but I've been maybe a little conservative and could have pushed myself a but more. I started the first 8 min run and although it felt tough and my breathing wasn't very structured I felt that my fitness was there and I could complete it. The one thing that was different was that my calves became tighter and tighter. I completed the 8 minutes and hoped that the 5 minute walk would loosen them up. By the end of it, they were tight and uncomfortably painful. I started to run, but the tightening grew and I just couldn't continue. I thought I could walk it off still, maybe stretch it out, but my legs turned to jelly. I can see why Laura tells you to keep walking otherwise my legs would have seized up and I wouldn't have been able to get home! I managed it home disappointed and my legs don't feel so bad. I wish I had see the post earlier when someone had suggested increasing the incline on treadmills to 0.5 or 1 as I think it may have been less of a surprise. I have seen other posts recently around stretching, but not read them as I haven't felt that I needed them.....until now. I was thinking that stretching before would be better, but the sticky link for stretching is after running. Are there any other stretches for before running, or will the ones for after work just as well?

I will try again on Tuesday. Hopefully my hubby will come with me and ride along on his bike. It'll be good as I've had the TV to distract me with the hard parts previously :)

Wish me luck!

5 Replies

I have got tight ankles and calves, and a aching knee and I think maybe it's lack of stretching that's to blame, so I'm going to get to grips with it before and after runs from here on in. When I can actually get back running again. I couldn't run today as I was so stiff.

I Googled for stretches and there are loads. A good little clip is by Nell McAndrew and she goes through her pre and post runs stretches for you, so I gave those a whirl. I was doing exercise DVD's up until recently and I think not carrying on with those has been a mistake. I have the Jillian Michaels ones, one of which is yoga and I think that helps no end. Since upping my running I was not finding time to do the exercises but now I'm going to make the time. I hope you can get sorted very quickly. I gave my calves and feet a massage after my bath this evening as well. I'll try anything!


We all have runs that we didn't finish. Remember you got out there and did your best. W5 took me over 3 weeks to complete. I decided to change my route to a quieter one so me and my dog would have less hassle getting around people and their dogs. This involved a hill! I couldn't get up this hill. I even made it as far as 3 or 4 steps from the top but I couldn't quite make it. So I walked for a minute and started running again. Eventually I made it!

I believe a treadmill works you differently. I prefer running outdoors as you propel yourself as opposed to having the ground moving from under you! I do use them but only if the weather is awful. Also I'm guessing the bridal path is rough? this will be good for strengthening the muscles in your feet and ankles.

Good luck for your next run xx


Those people who have been on this forum for a while will already have heard this story but please please never think you don't need to stretch after running! To cut a very long story short, I ended up unable to run for quite a while because I neglected to stretch properly over a period of time. I can't stress enough how important it is. The muscle tightening/shortening happens progressively over time and you don't even know it is happening until it's too late. Stretching before running is not essential and some physios even advise against it. As for your current problem, it is true that treadmill running is a very different action bio mechanically than running outside. Personally I avoid them but I know that's not always possible. Not sure what the answer is other than stretching and persevering. Good luck!


Hi, I've also been told that stretching before the run is unnecessary, and in fact could cause more problems, but I make sure I stretch afterwards, right from week 1 run 1, when I didn't and regretted it! I run on a treadmill for 2 out of the 3 runs a week, and find it easier but more boring. I also find I run quicker outside (well, the OH's running watch says I do), which probably explains why it feels tougher. I had a terrible Wk5R1 run at the weekend - I didn't enjoy a second of it and didn't get the 'high' I've been getting after completion. I have just completed Wk5R2 and loved it - I actually ran 9mins for the second set due to messing up the podcast on my phone - and so I'm putting the last run down to 'just one of those days'. I would definitely advise a good programme of stretches for after your run. Good luck!


I took to the treadmill the last winter after doing the c25k outdoors. Big mistake. I found I could go much further, but at just a nice steady pace... when I finally got outside again I found it really hard work - you're varying your pace so much more as well as doing hills (even though I'd done incline work on the treadmill). It was like starting again. I also find I run faster outside so I tire quicker as I start off fast. I think week 5 is a hard week - it took me three goes to finish it. Take your time, at least you're out there having a go. A bad run is better than no run!


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