Couch to 5K
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Treadmill to Outside

Hi everyone I started the couch to 5k at the beginning of the month and I'm currently at the end of week 3. I've done all my runs on the treadmill so far, as the gym is a 5min walk from my office and I wanted to have no excuses. Whilst I feel good at my progress and like going to the gym I've tried twice to do a run outside and failed both times. It's a lot harder than the treadmill and my legs started hurting on the first run for both so much so that I gave up and then went back to the treadmill.

Whilst I'm happy to carry on the treadmill ultimately I want to do some park runs once I complete the c25k program. Has anyone else started on the treadmill and managed to successfully transition to outside? Should I just keep going on the treadmill to increase my stamina etc and hope that my legs will be fine outside in a few weeks as they'll be more used to running? I'm aware that weeks 4 and 5 seem to be the hardest so I'm reluctant to try another run outside only to fail again.

Guess I'm just looking for some reassurance that it was just that my legs weren't fully used to running and thats why they hurt so much and the further along I get in the programme it will beomce easier?

6 Replies

I am in a similar boat. Looking forward to replies to this post from the experienced ones. 👍


I had a bad fall and tore the ligaments in my ankle , I was new to running prior to this , and managed to go from 27 seconds to 4 miles , so my accident was devastating for me , but anyway it's done and I'm slowly trying again .

I was contemplating a treadmill thinking it would get me back into it and got advice off my physio , he said that whilst a treadmill will give a good cardio work out , it doesn't mimic proper running , you are in effect like Tigger , bouncing on the spot, where as running outdoors you have to propel yourself forward , it's physically different . I didn't buy one and I've just been patient whilst my ankle heals . ( 6 months of no running ) and I've started the plan again .

My friend can run 5k on a treadmill but can't do 1k on a road run .

I would try outdoors , when I started the plan it sounds minuscule but I tried to increase my time by 10 seconds each run , to joe blogs it sounds nothing but 10 seconds is a lot when you can't run in the first place .

Good luck , you can do it xxx

1 like

I started outside then after week 3, due to various injuries, took to the treadmill and only ventured outside again after graduation. The secret to a successful transition is to run even slower than you think you should outside. It's much easier to pace yourself on the treadmill as you just push a button and go but it's harder outside. So go slowly.

I transitioned over a few weeks by running one run outside then the other two on the treadmill and increasing the runs outside gradually. That way my body got used to a different surface as you do use different muscles on a treadmill.

A lot of people say running outside is harder but I didn't find that, just different. Although now I'd probably say that I'd find running on a treadmill much harder than running outside!

Just go slowly and transition at your own pace. It's a big, beautiful world out there just waiting for you to explore 🤗


Hi there

I started on the treadmill and finally plucked up the courage to run outside at end of week 6. Like you I had 2 ahem *practice* runs with the accompanying peculiar aches and pains afterwards. But I kept trying and on the 3rd attempt I did it (went back to the beginning of w6). I am now just about to start week 9. Being outside is so much more fulfilling- things to look at- actual distance to cover- other runners to nod and smile at. I haven't looked back!

Give it a whirl... you can do it😊


It is just so different... and as the wonderful Irishprincess says..the trick is, as ever, go slowly... really !

Lots of pitfalls ( literally) outside and so much to watch out for and think about... So, don't use the 'f' word... you didn't.. you had a go!

So out you go again, but this time. think snail on a go slow... look around and start to enjoy the world around you :)


I did the programme inside on a treadmill but since graduating have switched to running outside - mainly because I couldn't stand the heat in the gym now the weather is warmer. I have found the outdoor runs a bit more challenging but also more enjoyable. My route is mainly trails but also has a pavement section and I find the trails much more comfortable to run on.


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