First run outside: Complete crisis of confidence! - Couch to 5K

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First run outside: Complete crisis of confidence!


So I graduated last week and went for my first outdoor run today. I fully expected it to be a bit more difficult than the treadmill, but I was not expecting the utter sense of failure that has followed!

After an initial warm-up, I think I only ran for about 6 minutes before succumbing to a walk; after that I interspersed running and walking but when I was running I just got so out of breath so quickly! I suspect I was going too fast, but don't really have a clue what my pace was ... I also don't know how far I went - anyone know of any handy websites that would help me track that on a map (note I was in a park so maps that are limited to roads won't help)? Next time I'll wear my phone on an armband or something.

I don't know where to go from here. I really really want to do a park run, but would just embarrass myself if I went without feeling a bit better prepared. What should I do? Keep trying to run outdoors, or just stick to what I know and try to get my pace up in the gym? A relatively new friend at work has offered to come running with me and I think it sounds like she might be good at helping me set a steady pace (she does 5k in about 40 mins which is about what I'm on track to do at my 'gym' pace ...). But will I just end up feeling more of a failure if I can only handle a few minutes of running with her too?

Sorry for the rambling post. I'm hoping someone on here can help!

16 Replies

Sounds like you are used to a treadmill telling you how fast to go and need some practise at controlling that yourself. I find it really hard to judge but I am getting better. Your friend sounds like a good option as she does the right speed for you.

I downloaded map my run onto my phone and that monitors how far and how fast you run.

MaryJoMacGraduate in reply to Hidden

If I was going too fast, I am astonished at how slow it needs to feel for me to be going my usual pace! I'm sure you're right though. Yes, I think I'll chat to my friend tomorrow and explain my woes so she doesn't have high expectations!

I'm annoyed about the tracking thing. I could've tracked it on my Fitbit if I'd had my phone on me; I didn't realise it wouldn't work if I didn't have my phone.

HiddenGraduate in reply to MaryJoMac

I was really surprised how hard I found it to know what speed I was running.


Okay... well I think you just went too fast. :(

So easy to do...the treadmill is so different to the outside...I would be very surprised if you did your 40 minute treadmill pace outside too... ( you know best, but I know, my pace when I have had to use my Cross-trainer, because of injury, is far better than outside)

In the gym, there is control, outside there is none really... terrain, weather, etc etc. Some practice runs...outside...You only graduated last week... some 30 minute consolidation runs are essential.. then some shorter and even longer runs... building up our running legs, as the Graduates will tell you takes a lot of time. As does stamina and strength!

I would advise, just get out there, but slow and steady...consolidation and just running gently until you get used to the great outdoors:)


You are most certainly not a 'f******!!!!!

MaryJoMacGraduate in reply to Oldfloss

Thank you! I do slightly feel like I'm back at square one, that I haven't quite achieved what I thought I had achieved because I've done it on a treadmill. But I think I need to try to banish those thoughts and focus on the journey that I've been on rather than that idea of having reached a 'goal'!

So would you recommend I still go to the gym occasionally to make sure I am still running 30 mins? I'm worried if I focus on outside, I will lose some of that mental stamina as I just can't do that at the moment. Maybe I need to mix it up a bit. Definitely need to try and work on this outdoor running thing - my legs are feeling it much more despite running less!


If you want to run outdoors, then you have to run outdoors. Going back to the gym is not going to solve the problem.

Just set off very slowly and maybe just aim at ten minutes to start with, then gently increase your time, maintaining the pace and you will soon be back up to thirty minutes.

All that work in the gym has done lots of good, but you need to develop the skills for outdoors.

Good luck.

MaryJoMacGraduate in reply to IannodaTruffe

Yes, I think I have to aim for shorter running times while I get used to it.

To be honest I'm not really aiming to be an outdoor runner, and enjoy spending time on the treadmill. That said, I would like to be able to take part in the odd outdoor running event, and I think this is an important step I want to take. I want to be able to do this!

I'm determined to take some kind of tracking device (if not a friend!) next time to get to the bottom of what's going on with my pacing.

IannodaTruffeAdministrator in reply to MaryJoMac

There are lots of free tracking apps to chose from...... Runkeeper, Endomondo, Strava, Mapmyrun.etc. they all do slightly different things but all will tell you how far you have run, as long as you have a GPS phone.


So, think of it this way. How many tennis players are truly as good on clay as they are on grass and vice versa? It's different - but it doesn't mean that someone who always wins on clay is any better or worse than someone who always wins on grass - it's just different. I run both on a treadmill and outside. On a treadmill you have a wonderful steady rhythm - and don't underestimate how much easier that makes it - not having to think about whether you're going too fast or too slow. For me that is the best thing about a treadmill. There are no junctions, there are no rubbish pavements, no pedestrians, no dogs or geese...........that's why a treadmill is easier. However, even with music or watching Netflix, you don't have the visual stimulation on a treadmill as you do outside - and that makes running outside easier. When I ran on the treadmill I have to put my towel over the clock otherwise I look at it every 30 seconds! When you run outside give the route some thought - but, at the same time, remember, every hill has a down as well as an up!

MaryJoMacGraduate in reply to RebeccaSK

Thank you, that is so encouraging! Really agree with what you say about the treadmill. As a slightly self-conscious and shy person, I've found it relatively easy to 'switch off' during that steady rhythm, whereas today I felt a mild panic whenever I saw another person! At the moment, I find the treadmill more cathartic, but I can definitely see the appeal of the surroundings of an outdoor run (if only there didn't have to be any other pesky people around!). I think I just need to get comfortable with it. After all, I wasn't comfortable in the gym straight away, so what makes me think I would be immediately outdoors?

RebeccaSKGraduate in reply to MaryJoMac

Exactly! It depends what your plans are now you've graduated and whether you want to continue to build on the incredible progress you've made - but if you do, it's good to challenge yourself by mixing up your runs too. But, at the end of the day, your runs are you YOUR runs. You have to do what you enjoy. And why haven't you got your graduate badge? You've definitely earned it!

MaryJoMacGraduate in reply to RebeccaSK

Oh I don't even know how to get the graduate badge! Thanks for the pep talk. 😊

RebeccaSKGraduate in reply to MaryJoMac

follow this link - it tells you how to get your graduate badge!

I use MapMyRun on my phone to track my run as I'm doing. I have mine set up to tell me after each km how far I've gone, the total time I've been running, overall pace, the current pace etc. I think you can change the settings to suit you. You can also have miles or km. If you don't take your phone with you you can always map out how far you ran on their website, and put in the time it took you too. That might reassure you. And remember it's not about speed, but about getting out there. You probably set off too fast.

It might be worth doing one of the earlier runs from the podcast or C25K app where you are doing intervals just to help you get bused to being outdoors. Perhaps do one run outside then the next two indoors at the usual speed and distance and build up the outdoor runs gradually.

I first started on a treadmill at the gym and didn't believe I would ever run outside, but once I got used to being out of doors I've learnt to love it. I'm sure you will get used to it in time.


The Endomondo app is great. It maps your run and gives you time, distance and you can actually relive it on the relive app.

You don't need a fitbit. Just data on and press start and stop. Good luck. X

MaryJoMacGraduate in reply to Sillyyak13

Thank you! I went for a run again with my phone on me and using the Fitbit app. It seemed to work pretty well. If I were to criticise one thing, it would be that it would be nice if it could auto-recognize when I start running and so 're-count' my pace from there rather than having to hit start/stop whenever I needed to walk for a bit. Still, it worked well and I managed to run for about 15 minutes which, although a lot less than my 30+ minutes indoors, is a lot better than my previous 6 minutes outside! (I just had to stop running once I got to the top of a hill - phew!)

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