Any advice on transitioning from treadmill to ... - Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K

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Any advice on transitioning from treadmill to outdoor running?


Hi everyone! I'm new here, and already have a question for you :-)

I've been doing the C25K on and off for most of the year, falling off the wagon a couple of times due to minor injuries and illness. I have finished Week 5 a few times though, and was really chuffed to have run non-stop for 20 minutes!

I run on a treadmill, and last week finished Week 6, running for 25 minutes and covering 3km, my best so far. A few weeks ago, thinking I was on target, I signed up to do a 3.3km fun run.... it's a week on Sunday....

So this week I thought I'd better try running outside, to prepare for the fun run. And it was awful. I've run outside twice and couldn't keep going for more than 10 minutes either time. I'm sure it must be a mental thing, considering my treadmill runs, but I'm really starting to panic about the fun run next week!

Do any of you have any advice about making the change from treadmill running to running outdoors? I'd really appreciate it! Thank you :-)

10 Replies

This describes me exactly! I've done a couple of runs outside and once at an inside track and I find it to be so much harder than the treadmill. I haven't signed up yet, but I have a goal of a 5k in late November, which is why, like you, I want to do some running outside. Try to pick a steady pace, but one where you can slow down when needed, and take deep, steady breaths. These are the things I tell myself, and mostly it works. :-) I'm glad to know I'm not alone in this!


Apart from having to cope with obstacles such as kerbs, pot holes, traffic, tree roots etc there is gradient and wind or rain to contend with. The biggest problem however is having to manage your pace yourself.

It takes practice to settle into your stride and the best advice is to slow it right down, particularly when running with a crowd of people. It will improve with experience. The atmosphere on the day will help carry you through and it won't be a disaster if you need to walk a bit. It is supposed to be a fun run so relax and enjoy it. I'm sure you'll be fine.


I do both treadmill and outndoors and the treadmill runs are always easier and further but I do prefer the outdoor runs. The treadmill running you don't actually have to "propel" yourself forward just pick up the feet where as outdoors you have to to go forward. I set myself different goals for each run and do not expect to do out side what I do inside and it works for me. I tend to think of my treadmill running as helping me to feel comfortable at a certain pace and use it for stamina and then the outside ones for the distance as I am not convinced the treadmills distances are accurate for example I can run 5k on a treadmill in 30 mins where as outside it takes me 37:28 mins. Don't worry about it what ever your doing it's better than doing nothing!


I just echo Ullyrunner , slow and steady.. and really watch out for those obstacles..just get a pace going and really take your time.

All my runs are outdoor, ( I run and then write rambling posts about what i see outside) !,but I have just started using my cross trainer ( a present to myself) to improve my stamina and core strength, I find it totally weird... so different... loving it, but so very different.Just have a few practice outdoors and I think you will be fine :)


I've never run on a treadmill so can't give advice except make sure you are dressed for the weather when running outside. You may need to think whether you need a windproof jacket, baselayer long tights, hat , gloves etc which I guess you don't think about when on the treadmill. You wil warm up quickly and it's a pain having to remove items and carry them when running though , but I know being warm has helped me. Especially in biting winds rains and gales.

I made the transition three years ago and the biggest piece of advice I can give you is to run very, very slowly outside. We don't think about pace on the treadmill because we just hit a button and away we go but we have to consciously think about our pace outside and it's just harder to do it ourselves.

The other thing I did was to ease into outside running as it uses different muscles and your body has to get used to that. So for example if you run three times a week then do one outside run and two on the treadmill, then the next week do two outside runs and one treadmill run. This worked well for me.

Good luck with the fun run, just keep the pace slow and you'll be great 😊


Just open the door and go. Have fun! ☺


Great advice in previous posts. Only thing I can add is that originally it was very difficult for me to move from treadmill to outdoors, but now it feels easier outdoors than inside. You just need to find your pace. As a transitional measure, if possible, increase the incline on your treadmill and have few runs that way. After that you'll be flying outside.

I'm not much help but reading these comments I think I'd be great on a treadmill - not that I have one or belong to a gym!

Just go and have some fun, take it easy and remember to relax and smile. You can do it 😊

Thank you so much for all your replies. What a great group! Just hearing that I am not the only one to experience this has helped me so much :-)

Today I took it back a notch and tried the last run with a walking break - 10 minutes running, 3 walking, 10 running (Week 6 Run 2), and I did it! It wasn't easy, and it certainly wasn't fast, but I made it to the end. I took it slowly, and knowing that I was going to report back here helped to keep me going too!

With the fun run coming up in a week I want to do all my running this week outside, so I'm hoping that today's run has put me back on course. I'll try 20 minutes non-stop next, and then increase the time if it goes OK. Hopefully the atmosphere on the day of the run will help me keep going too. Thanks everyone!!

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