Ran Outside for the First Time - HARD! - Couch to 5K

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Ran Outside for the First Time - HARD!


I finished the C25K program a few weeks ago using just my indoor treadmill. And thought I was doing great running 30 minutes at a time!!! Tonight though, for the first time ever I ran outside. OMG what a difference. It's so much harder on real pavement. To make matters worse I am agoraphobic, so the anxiety of that combined with the physical demands made it really hard. I managed to get about 20 minutes done at a pace so slow that my long-legged daughter was able to just walk alongside me! She finally got bored and ran off like a gazelle! LOL. Oh to be young again! All in all it went about as well as I expected. My hat is off to all of you who are running successfully on pavement. I have a LOT of work to do.

32 Replies

You'll soon get used to it and be running 30 mins again. And it's much more fun than the treadmill!


Well done for getting out there. I ran on a treadmill for the first time this week after getting to week 7 running outside. I agree that running outside is definitely more challenging! I hadn't realised. You'll get better at it quickly though. 


Well done you..! 

Goodness.For you, surely, just getting out there, is a fantastic achievement. Brilliant.

Slow is no problem...slow is something I do well...:) 

Outside running is amazing, for lots of us...so, do you want to do it again? Maybe, are there areas outside which would be easier for you to run, terrain, location etc. Then, would running with music of your choice help, something that makes you feel good, something familiar...a sort of cocoon/support between you and the outside?

If your daughter will come out with you... could she walk by you for so long, then run ahead and return at intervals, until you establish a routine? Just suggestions... :)

As folk say every run is different... and you have taken a massive step... be kind to yourself... focus on the positive. 

Remember. you may not be there yet, but, my goodness, you're further ahead than you were yesterday ? :)

I'm doing the c25k on a treadmill as well, and hadn't appreciated that it might be a lot harder. I'm just at the end of week 4 and was aiming to complete indoors and then shift it outdoors for summer. 

Apart from the agoraphobia, which thankfully I don't have, what is it about outdoor running that you found so tricky, was it just the hardness of the road and therefore impact on knees etc, I think that is my major concern.  

As everyone else says, it will get better I'm sure, and maybe the confidence you get from the running will help with the agrophobia. 

Good luck

AnnieW55 in reply to peteparfitt

Running outside is different in a number of ways but running on the treadmill is still good many people are TM runners only for lots of reasons and it's definitely better than doing nothing.

I think the main differences are that the pavement/trail stays still under your feet, you propel yourself along with no help from the machine and the ground outside is not continuously flat or even. With running shoes that are suitable to you there should be no real impact on your knees.  Also you control your pace (tip slower than slow is the only way to go). In the beginning and until you graduate the only numbers that matter are the minutes Laura calls out until you can stop. There have been occasions when I'd swear she's forgotten how long a minute is!

Unless there are other reasons for running on the treadmill, there's no need to wait until you've finished c25k and graduated before going outside, just lace up those shoes and have a slow shuffle outside - see the sights, breathe in that fresh air (unless you are city centre obvs 😀).  Of course outside, there are no screens to distract you just what's around you which can be pretty amazing.

If you think your shoes may not be up to outside running, get gait analysts (search this site, there's lots of posts about it or I'll be writing for ever more 😀).

Sorry for the long reply, I get carried away. But honestly, with the lighter nights just have a go if you can, no need to wait until summer. Incidentally, if it is a hot one, I struggle to find time to run as my body tells me it doesn't do exercise in the heat.

peteparfitt in reply to AnnieW55

Thanks Annie, as you say it's now light enough in the evening and warm enough to go outside. I think it may be a worry thing as I know my pacing will be weird without the treadmill to keep me honest, but as everyone says it's the running time, not speed that's important. Just need to get that thought into my head. 


Hidden in reply to peteparfitt

I changed from treadmill to outside at the end of week 4. I had caught a cold, had a week off, then redid week4 outside. Theory being I knew I could do the running, just had to do it outside.  Much prefer running in the fields. Maybe try it and see, just remember go slow. Good luck 

peteparfitt in reply to Hidden

I think I will, maybe do one at the weekend. Don't really know why it's such a big deal but seems to be

John_WAmbassador in reply to peteparfitt

It was big deal for me also Pete - I hadn't run outside for 20 years until last April, 1 month after completing the whole of the C25K on the treadmill in the works gym.

secanGraduate in reply to peteparfitt

From a physical point of view, running outside involves a greater engagement of your core muscles in order to keep your balance on the uneven surface.

Furthermore you are likely to make a lot of tiny variations to your stride and speed as you move on different surfaces (pavement, compact ground, mud, grass, sand).

From a psychological point of view, when you move from the treadmill to the road you are likely to underestimate your speed and try to run faster than you are used to. On the other hand, I think (I don't know for sure as I've always run outside) that if you can run 30 minutes or more on a treadmill without "dying" of boredom, you  have probably built a stronger psychological endurance compared to a beginner road runner.

There were two things that made it really different - one was the hardness of the asphalt (apparently my treadmill really absorbs a lot of shock!) and the fact that I had to set my own pace! On the treadmill it's basically telling you "here go THIS fast and keep up!" but outside it's just yourself making you move. It was also chilly and I don't think I properly warmed up first, so being stiff and anxious made for the perfect storm. I expect it to be a little easier next time. Overall it was  nice to actually be outside :-)

Yes, I think for me the biggest concern was how I would set the correct pace, my suspicion is that I will be substantially slower on tarmac and I hate the idea of not being as 'fast' as I am on my treadmill (which is still pretty slow)

John_WAmbassador in reply to peteparfitt

Without the speed control, I was actually faster outdoors - but everyone is different.

peteparfitt in reply to John_W

I'm hoping to use my GPS watch to determine pace. If I can work out how to programme intervals in.


Well done for getting out there - especially with your phobia!

The pavement does have small inclines every now and again which you wouldn't have or can control on your treadmill.

Don't give up though - try to start slow (you may have set off a lot quicker than you thought due to the different environment and you ran out of steam) you can always pick up the pace later if you feel you can/want to.

The spring is (finally) here and its getting beautiful outside - you don't want to miss it by running inside.

Congratulations and huge respect for getting out there. You had a lot to contend with but you did it 🌟.I hope you can continue to run outside - baby steps will get you through c25k and I hope getting through that will help with the agrophobia. 


Gosh, well done you on all counts. Hope you get to enjoy it more and more.

Keep up the good work! :-) 


Oh I remember that transition. I did exactly the same. I had to slow down so much outside and once I hit my pace right I was fine and absolutely loved it, until I got injured! Running outside is so much nicer and cooler. Preservere. You'll get there! Although 20 mins is fab!! Think you're there already!!! Xx 

keep at it you are doing great

Really well done for making the transition. It's so much nicer outside especially at this time of year. The secret is to run very slowly outside, even slower than you think you should. It's much harder to pace yourself on the pavement because the treadmill does it for you. 

Apart from the first few weeks I did most of the programme on a treadmill. When I was making the transition I ran alternate runs outside to get my body used to running on a different surface and then eventually increased the time/distance. That worked very well for me. 


Invirginia thanks for this as I too am a treadmill runner with the goal of running outside once I've completed the training. I wondered if it would be harder due to the surfaces and am a bit worried about my back. However I do find what secan says is interesting in that it's so boring running on a treadmill does the scenery make up for it.

Big respect for going outdoors to you especially with agrophobia  😃

In spite of it being hard, it WAS more enjoyable to be outside wih fresh air and nice scenery! And it went faster as well. I just gotta get the hang of it!


Well done you!  I suffered with agoraphobia 17 years ago so I understand how hard it is to get out and run.  I still have anxiety but it's been made so much better from running.  It all seems safe when I'm running, not sure why!

It's funny you find it harder.  I find the treadmill much more difficult.  We are all different.  

Keep at it, you will be able to run for longer and more comfortably but have faith in yourself that you can do it........because you can!

Love Elsie xxx

I've run outside since beginning C25K.  I accompanied my husband to the gym once recently and tried on the treadmill - and it made me feel really sick.  I had to stop.  Weird.  I suppose it's what you get used to. I think whatever works for you is good, but I like outdoor running - especially before breakfast.  Since graduating, I also treated myself to a GPS watch, and I get great delight out of uploading my runs and looking at them on the map.  It's particularly helpful in motivating me to carry on running when I'm away from home - different maps!!  (Las Vegas Boulevard, Death Valley, the Circus Maximus in Rome, amongst others)  It adds fun.

I have  a GPS watch and use it to track workouts at the gym on the treadmill, but love using to track bike rides as well outside where I can see where I've been.

Congratulations for getting out there! :-D 

I completed up until week 4 on my elliptical trainer before going outside- I too have agoraphobia. I don't know about you, but some of my anxiety turned into speed and I had a hard time trying to slow down so I could complete my initial outside runs strongly. 

In the end I became much more confident and was able to go outside by myself without worrying too much and the difference in my self belief was huge. 

Keep at it, it's more than fitness to gain and you've already done the hardest bit which is getting out there for the first time. :-)

You all are THE BEST! Thanks for the encouragement! It means a lot to me!

I started running outside but occasionally run on a treadmill which i can't say i enjoy and tend to avoid.  I suppose it is what you are used to. My speed is much faster outside than on a treadmill so i guess your body adjusts to the environment.  It is so much more pleasurable running outside even if the route isn't scenic you appreciate the sun, wind, scent and for some the rain.

Well done to you for overcoming your agoraphobia and going out to run. I salute you-It takes a lot of strength to do that.  Don't worry about slow- Practice makes perfect- Just keep plugging away and you will improve.

 So Well done and keep up the good work!


I ran on a treadmill once for the purposes of gait analysis and hope never to need to get on a treadmill again.... and I don't run on pavement or roads either (well, a handful of times in four years) Would you feel more confident running somewhere less public? I love running with the wood to myself (and the dog, to be fair)

Running on a wooded trail sounds very nice! There is a park not too far from me. I might give that a try just for the nice surroundings. No dog though and my cats already turned me down ;-)


Very well done for overcoming your agoraphobia and running outside! I think it is much better than running on a treadmill. I hope you find an enjoyable route - that will make a big difference.

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