Transitioning from treadmill to outside - Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K

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Transitioning from treadmill to outside


Hi all - first time post here for me.

I'm on week 9 and enjoying running for 30 minutes on the treadmill. However, I want to be able to run outdoors and have dreams of running parkruns and a 10k in July but I am REALLY STRUGGLING to make the transition to outdoors running. I'm not going too fast, but I can only run for a few minutes before needing to walk. I'm sure it's more of a mental thing than a physical one, but I've tried two outdoor runs recently and both times returned home feeling like a big failure.

Can anyone offer any advice to help me hit the great outdoors?

Thanks in advance

6 Replies

Slow.... it is just so different...

Start slow, stay slow.

Indoor runs are usually in a controlled environment. When you head out, there are a lot of variables— weather, wind, elevation, and surface type etc. Start at a pace that is a bit slower than your treadmill runs to get used to the difference. There is always slower:)

Maybe take walk breaks, initially.

A walk break is not a problem.... , it could help you to run longer. Inserting one or several 30-second to one minute walks into the middle of your run can extend your workout and allow you feel stronger.

Just relax... choose your route carefully and try to go gently :)

catralense in reply to Oldfloss

Thanks Oldfloss! I think I'm just getting a bit stressed about it because I have felt so proud of myself for sticking to C25K and it feels like I'm going backwards! But I'm determined, so will have to just stop whingeing and crack on...albeit very slowly!

OldflossAdministrator in reply to catralense

Just take it gently... you will be fine... take care when you are running outside... and once you get the hang of it, there will be no stopping you :)


Slow down ...

Old Floss is spot on - the great things about treadmills is that they offer you a consistent environment - temperature, speed, incline etc. The bad things about treadmills are those same three things. Outdoors is so different, for a start you can’t control the temperature, the wind direction, the people on the pathway etc. These all make a difference to how you run. So take the breaks and build up slowly, one thing I know is that on treadmills the key to making the outdoors transition easier is to constantly increase your incline, so your running ‘load’ is higher.

If you weren’t doing that as part of your progression through C25K, then unless you are very lucky you will be facing a variety of inclines in the great outdoors, that even if they are small hit you at different times than your previous experience has taught you.

Please don’t think you’re a big failure, you’re not - you just have a bit of outdoors learning to do first. Check out your stats if you have them compare what you are doing outdoors on our first 2kms to what you did on the treadmill. You maybe surprised - often the adrenaline hits when you are outside and you set off much too quickly, and the worst thing is you had no idea you were doing it. (yes - that was me!!!)

I heard Steve Redgrave talking over the weekend and he said - rowing is a sport where you improve quite quickly through regular practice. AndI believe that is also true of running - you’ve quite clearly got the treadmill running sorted, now you’re doing some new lessons on outdoor running.

Hit the outdoors slowly and listen to your bod as you get out there and you’ll smash those park runs and 10ks no trouble at all.

Good luck and happy running


Hi well done for going outside. As you say it’s a big leap from the gym to the great outdoors. However I do think it’s better than always running indoors. I recently completed my first run outside and it nearly made me stop the program until i realised that in fact the Park was much more fun than the gym...slow steady and red faced as I was. keep going and enjoy the freedom!

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