So so so slow how to progress from treadmill

Hi - I am new here! Having started C25K and being dogged by severe calf cramps I have managed to get to W7D2 :) I always had to walk longer than I should to walk off the cramps but have completed all the runs and am very pleased with myself to have got this far. I am female, 51 with 5 kids and about 3 stone overweight.

My worry is that my run speed is so so slow and I run on the treadmill. I have ventured outside in the last week to see how I felt but couldn't run 50 yards.... the jolting sensation was awful and it felt totally awkward - not to mention embarrassing. My mental goal is to be doing 5k outside by September - at a speed where my 11 year old daughter can't overtake me walking!! It has been such a struggle to get this far - the cramps would have me in tears and almost collapsing for the first few weeks and I don't want to lose heart but am starting to worry that I wan't ever be able to manage running outside.

Anybody have any words of wisdom to get me past this stage? I have bought decent trainers and had my gait checked so that part is covered.


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13 Replies

  • Well done for getting this far! It shows your mental strength, especially needing to adapt the programme a bit to ease your cramp. I did up to week 7 on a treadmill then moved outside but luckily I didn't find it too bad. People say that setting up a 1-1.5% incline on the treadmill is enough to make up for the wind resistance, propelling yourself along the ground, etc, that happens outside but not on a treadmill. I did this for the first number of weeks on the treadmill so that may have helped. Perhaps if there is a week you feel comfortable it could be worth setting this up? It would be a bit harder at first but would make it easier when you do run outside.

    The other thing is that the treadmill sets your pace for you whereas outside you have to do that yourself. It's very tempting to go off quickly outside as otherwise it doesn't feel like you're running! The mantra is go slow, slow down, then slow down some more. However slow you need to go to get through the programme.

    Perhaps you could also look at your running style? That jolting you talk about can be brought about by overstriding perhaps? The best advice I've had is to make sure your feet fall beneath you as you stride rather than stretch forward too much. Littler steps and midfoot striking might help. If you can try to be light on your feet and that will minimise the jolting as your feet hit the floor (which effectively stops your momentum and makes it more effort to push off on the next stride). I know Laura says to heel strike but I've read that this can add to injuries and I know a lot of people don't advocate it.

    Lastly, try to enjoy being outside and soak up the distraction around you. I used to watch telly on the treadmill and wasn't sure how I'd run without it but the world outside is so much more interesting! Others may have better advice but from what I've heard, read and experienced these things may help. Don't be disheartened, running outside it just a little different but if you want to, you'll get there, just like you've got to week 7!

  • melly4012 Thanks for your efforts to help - much appreciated. I will try to look at my stride. I am not light on my feet for sure. The treadmill seems to help me correct that but outside I'm in trouble.

    My treadmill baseline is 1% but maybe I need to go a bit further than that. I was finding it hard enough at that so I had chickened out if raising it in a bid to get to running for a length of time..

  • I am the other way, I found using a treadmill uncomfortable when I did it. I am also overweight but hopeful that when I complete and start regularly doing 30 minutes it will start to fall off. I am on week 9 now.

    With regards cramps there are suggestions that you are short of salts or something else. If it continues then maybe a visit to a doctor might help or get you pointed in the right direction.

    I have not suffered from cramps myself but I was walking some 4 miles a day commuting to work before starting the C25K. I have one of those vitamin tablets (berroca for example) after my midweek run.

  • It takes practice to switch from treadmill to outside or vice versa. Just keep it slow, and feel free to practice with an earlier week in the program.

    I'm not sure why outside is jolting you so bad. Could you be running differently outside? You could try running in a field - harder going but easier impact.

    Someone once said on here to run like a ninja sneaking up on someone. Soft and quiet as you can, no foot-slapping.

  • So my fairy elephant gait is not helping then? Oops :) The velcro feet don't help, nor does having no natural bounce! I never could creep up on anybody.

  • Well, even if I could silently creep up, my heavy tractor breathing would give me away.

  • I have every sympathy because I ran outside for the first time on Saturday and it was a disaster. I was managing up to 5.6km/hr on a treadmill and today I have managed around 5.2km/hr outside for 30 mins, with a couple of little stops. All I can say is that today was better than Saturday because I slowed down and it was a ridiculously slow speed, but from there I can only get faster right?! I am 45 and at least 5 stone overweight. I have a looong way to go and outside is so much harder. Keep going .... that's the only thing that is going to help you improve :)

  • But you did it! Well done you :) I just stomped off home to stroke the treadmill! I am only running about 4.5 on the treadmill - just how much slower can I get than that? Not really a run at all - as I've said somewhere else, more of a stagger with arm actions!

  • Yep, that's exactly how I feel about my speed lol. Not a run at all, but who cares?! I am enjoying having a go at it and there's loads of time to get better. Yesterday I realised I wasn't using the same kind of movement outside as I do on the treadmill. On the treadmill I am really engaging leg muscles (what there is of them) and landing on balls of feet. Outside I wasn't doing that, and that was hurting the tops of my feet in particular. I changed my stance to try and use the same kind of action outside as I do on the treadmill, and was able to shuffle along for 20 minutes without stopping. I am hoping next time I can do a whole 30 minutes outside ... maybe Saturday or Sunday. Fingers crossed :)

  • So now I realise why you are bored.........I replied to your other post before I saw this one. My response to both posts is to get off the treadmill, find a nice environment to run in and go for it........ slowly. Your speed is of no significance, you've missed selection for Rio. Run at a pace so that you can breathe easily and don't worry how slow that is. The outdoors will provide distraction and stimulus and you will actually go somewhere, maybe somewhere you have never been before.

    As for cramps, lack of hydration and lack of salts can cause this. A glass of water and a banana (potassium rich) is favoured by many runners. I also recommend that you do your own research. Learning to run also means learning about our bodies, for most of us, so Google calf cramps and you will make a start.

    Awkwardness and embarrassment will soon disappear and you will have a great time getting fitter. Stick with it, it is such a worthwhile thing to do for both you and your family.

  • Thanks IannodaTruffe for your encouragement. I am absolutely intending to get off the treadmill but as I found the outside running so hard and had already made it to week 5 before I tried (and failed) I decided to finish the program on the treadmill and then have given myself about 6 weeks to work up to doing a park run. I thought I might start the program again or at an early point but outside and in between continue on the treadmill. I really feel the need to graduate first to have that sense of achievement. As I am on the C25K from Zenlabs app, having just done W7D2 that is only 4 runs away!!

    The cramp seems to be a combination of not drinking enough - and for the last 3 weeks I have consciously made sure I drank loads of water and reduced my copious tea intake which has helped - and just lack of fitness. Before I started this I couldn't do a brisk two minute walk without getting cramp. That is not an exaggeration, it was awful and I got close to collapsing in the centre of town once. I went to my GP who sent me off to have the blood pressure in my legs checked and I have seen a couple of physios. No real problems. Even my gait is neutral apparently although one knee is very slightly twisted which won't help but the cramp was in both legs.

    I am very happy and proud to have got so far and just want to work out the best way to get to my September goal now.

  • I used to get bad cramp in my legs just in normal day to day stuff, it drove me mad! Then somebody recommend a magnesium spray and it worked wonders, I haven't looked back since using it!

  • LonelyWalker - thank you for this. I have just ordered some. Fingers crossed :)

    Really is frustrating. I know am unfit but a two minute brisk walk should not be crippling. I can wander all day or walk my dogs for an hour at a time. Its only when I step up the pace that I get the cramp.

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