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Couch to 5K
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Treadmill to outdoor running

I am currently on week 4 and do my training on a treadmill at home. I prefer this at the moment as I cannot always get outdoors to run and after a disasterous outdoor jog last night, I have decided to stick to the treadmill!

I am also extremely overweight so don't always want to be seen jogging outdoors!!

Anyhow, my question is how easy is the transition from a treadmill to outdoor running. My plan is to get through the programme on the treadmill then in the new year, venture outdoors.

How difficult will this be for me?

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It will be straightforward, so long as you listen to your body and not your head. The ideas in your head are what makes it hard. Let me explain:

1) Pace or speed. On the treadmill, you've had a speed for walking, and a speed for running. You know the exact numbers to dial in, then the treadmill then relentlessly turns at that speed, with nothing for you to think about. But those two numbers don't have any relevance outside. Your head will say "but I run at this speed on the treadmill" but that is not the speed that you run outside. So don't let your head get in the way: you will run much much slower outside. So after your warm-up walk, just get into a very gentle jog with no expectation of pace. Your body will naturally fall into its natural rhythm of running, and this is your 'outdoor speed'. I guarantee that it will be less than your speed on the treadmill.

2) Your head will say 'it is 5 degrees outdoors' and so you'll layer up, go running and get too hot. Instead, use the '10 degree' rule: dress appropriately for a temperature 10 degrees hotter than reality. So if the temperature outside is 5 degrees, dress for 15 degrees - perhaps a long-sleeve top and light jacket. If you are prone to cold extremities, wear gloves, a hat and a buff, particularly if there is wind. But if you go outside and say "gosh that's freezing' then you are dressed OK.

3) The treadmill turns, you run, simple. Nothing to think about. Outside, your head is going to say 'why are you doing this, I can't keep running, you can stop if you want'. Don't listen to these gremlins. Listen to your body, and if you feel that you need to stop, conduct an audit: what and where is the pain... is it real... can I go on for 1 more minute. And repeat. You may like to refer to my allowable reasons to cut a run short:

healthunlocked.com/couchto5... (half-way down the post).

The transition is not difficult... it is setting artificial expectations in your head that makes it difficult. Good luck!


I'm on week 8, have done the whole thing on a treadmill and due to asthma and safety around where I live, i don't intend to go outside until it is warmer and lighter! However, when I get there I'll let you know ๐Ÿ˜‚

Having read up lots on this however, the best advice seems to be to always run on a gradient to mimic the conditions of air resistance and hilliness you get outside. I do my warm ups on 5%, and run on 2%. I know it wont prepare me entirely, but every little helps. I think the hardest thing will be pacing ourselves instead of having a treadmill pace us. Anyway, good luck, and see you on the other side!!


While I've never run on a treadmill, it doesn't appeal to me, but never say never!.. here's some info I've picked up..๐Ÿ˜Š

Running on a treadmill feels somewhat easier physically because the ground is being pulled underneath your feet and there's no wind resistance. On a treadmill, the smaller stabilizer muscles in your lower legs don't have to work as hard. Running outside demands more from your body because you're propelling your body forward stride for stride.

Your calf muscles have to work much harder than when you're on a treadmill. As a result, many runners find that they experience calf muscle pain, shin splints, Achilles tendonitis, and other issues when they run outside after exclusively running on a treadmill for a long period of time.

If you've gotten in the habit of running exclusively on the treadmill, you should gradually ease back into outdoor running to avoid getting injured. Start with some short runs outside once or twice a week before you start running outside all the time. Be sure to stretch, especially your calves, after running.

While running outside may be a bit harder physically, treadmill running poses some mental challenges. Mentally, you may have a tougher time dealing with the monotony of the treadmill. Some runners find it much easier to distract themselves when running outside.

So incorporating some treadmill running into your training may actually help you improve your mental toughness as you push yourself through some boring runs.

And there are numerous other benefits of treadmill running. Treadmills are a much better option than outdoor running when the conditions (bad weather, darkness) are dangerous.

Many treadmills are padded, making them a good option if you're overweight or are injury-prone (especially with knee issues) and want to decrease the impact. You can also easily track your distance and pace, and set up your pace and course to be exactly what you need. You shouldn't ever think of running on a treadmill as "cheating" since there are definitely some advantages to it.


Dreadmills. Ugh ๐Ÿ˜ฉ

Give me Land, lots of land, donโ€™t fence me in. Tra la la ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

I think the sooner you get off the machine the better but thatโ€™s just me

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... we just need to be mindful that some members here have health/mental health/anxiety/societal issues that mean they cannot run outside. And yet we still love them and encourage them to run.


Yes MarkyD!

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Surely if a treadmill is the only option, then its better than nothing!!

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Of course it is ๐Ÿ˜

I did say it was just me ๐Ÿ™‚


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