Transitioning from treadmill to outdoors chall... - Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K
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Transitioning from treadmill to outdoors challenge


HI all - looking for a bit of advice as feeling a bit deflated! I've successfully completed seven weeks and was feeling really proud of myself to have got to the point of being able to run 25 mins non-stop. As it's lovely weather today I thought I would try an outdoor run for the first time, having done all of my previous runs on a treadmill. I was expecting it to be different, and probably a little harder, but wasn't expecting by how much!!! I've been able to do 25 mins reasonably comfortably on the treadmill but couldn't manage more that around six minutes at a time outside!! I probably stopped after two minutes on my first attempt. I'm really disappointed; am I just having a bad day or is running outside that much harder?! I'm not sure what to do now - my objective in all of this was to get fitter and to the point where I enjoy running in the park....should I start the programme all over again outside, or should I complete the 9 weeks indoors, build up some stamina and then make the transition to outdoors?!

29 Replies

Hello carrollch99, I've never ran on a treadmill so I can't compare . From what I've read on here people to say it's a bit harder to run outside.

My opinion would be to finish the plan on the treadmill then transition to outside running maybe starting at wk4 of c25k.

This is only my opinion, just do what feels right for you. Good luck and well done 😊😊

carrollch99 in reply to Buddy34

Thank you, that sounds like a good plan!


It's not *that* much harder to be honest. It's certainly different and it's likely that you've misjudged your pace. The treadmill gives you great control and going outside for the 1st time can be a bit confusing for the brain.

When next outdoors, I suggest building up your brisk walk to as fast as you can comfortably manage and the try and transition to a really really jog.

Something like this:

carrollch99 in reply to John_W

Sounds like you might be right, perhaps I need to try again and take it super slow..thanks!


Can one of the running apps measure your pace? I’m planning on transitioning outside next week also, so am curious myself.

Buddy34Graduate in reply to dieOR5k

Strava is free if your interested 😊

dieOR5kGraduate in reply to Buddy34

I downloaded Strava and Nike runclub. Because the treadmill thinks for me, I’m not sure how to keep a slow and steady pace.

GranspeedGraduate in reply to dieOR5k

I think this is often the root of trouble folks have in moving to outdoor running. You’ve hit it spot on. 👍 The treadmill does the pacing, an d really it is quite tricky to do it yourself! Most of the running apps will give you a distance, time or pace check st whatever point you set for. Play about a bit and plan to go a bit slower than you’re used to. It’s a lot to think about all at once. But you’ll get it if you don’t rush, and outdoors is lovely for running. 😊 Just don’t be afraid to be a tortoise - it works. 🐢

dieOR5kGraduate in reply to Granspeed

Thanks Granspeed. I plan to try the great outdoors on Wednesday. I figured I’ll start strava and the podcast and see what happens.

GranspeedGraduate in reply to dieOR5k

Just remember that if it all feels too hard, slow down. That’s almost always the best way to go.

Interesting, that's a good point. Will get one of those apps. Thanks!


Yep, I think it may just take a few runs to adapt, so don't give up on the great outdoors 🌼🌲🏃🏻🍂🏃🏽‍♀️🌳🌼 just yet!

I may be a little biased as I don't use a treadmill but as we move in to spring, outside really is the place to be! Good luck.🙂

Thank you! Will keep going.


Hi. I understand your experience. I completed the majority of C25K on a treadmill and ventured outside for the first time after week 9 and found it quite tough, not least because I was very self conscious but also because of the different terrain. I adopt the slow jogging technique and struggle with every little hill or slope! I now mix treadmill and outdoors and just keep slow jogging for 30 minutes knowing my stamina is improving and that everything I do, no matter how slow, is taking me to a better place health wise and that it not all about speed and distance. Keep going and mix it up. Good luck.

carrollch99 in reply to Suesixty

Thanks - and I think you're spot on about feeling self-conscious. You can kind of blend into the room in the gym but I felt really conspicuous in the park!


Bet you we’re trying to go faster than you think! It’s very hard to judge if you are used to the treadmill doing the thinking. Invoke your inner tortoise and go slower than you think you “should.” It’s all a lot to think about suddenly, but you’ll get it. Maybe set one of the running apps to give you a pace check quite frequently at first.... And you can google Japanese Slow Running to get a YouTube video of a good slow running technique.


Do you listen to music? If so, download some really slow tunes, and I mean slow. This is my slow run playlist:

Even that might be a bit fast. Let me know if you don't have spotify and I'll write them out.

It's only my opinion, but I'd try to persevere with outdoors, but maybe it's an idea to wait until after you graduate just so that you don't get disheartened.

Whatever you decide, keep going! 👍

carrollch99 in reply to Speedy60

Thanks - and good point on the music .I always have fast music to keep me going but perhaps I need the opposite for the great outdoors!

dieOR5kGraduate in reply to Speedy60

I found amazon has music lists by beats per minute. I’m hoping strava will tell me my pace then I can pick the correct list to keep me at that pace. The forum has been v clear that too fast is way worse than too slow.


I started off the first week or two of C25K mixing treadmill with outdoor running.

For me personally I far prefer outdoor running, and there is a little adjustment to make.

Regarding pace, I also preferred outside because I somehow listened to my body and naturally slowed down when I needed to ( which was quite often 🤣) and occasionally stepped up the pace a bit near the end if I had the energy.

Whilst the treadmill is handy for having the buttons to set an exact pace, I prefer the above method but appreciate it’s all personal preference.

Either way, happy running 🏃‍♀️ 🏃‍♂️👍

I transitioned from 100% treadmill to 100% outdoors at the beginning of week 6. I’m now about to start Week 9.

I certainly noticed a difference in my legs after my first run. They ached - a lot - so I took an extra rest day. Then I carried on as normal and never looked back.

I suspect a couple of things are amiss.

Firstly, as others have said, your pace outdoors was possibly too fast. Try using an app such as map my run which will tell your pace every 1km. It works fine with C25K. That will help a bit once you get to understand how pace work as opposed to the treadmill speed. Until then, just slow down.

Secondly, I think you may have just been having a difficult run for whatever reason (pace probably) then your mind tells you it is because you are outdoors, therefore outdoors is difficult so you kind of talk yourself into having a bad run and end up not finishing. Remedy this by running outside and proving this wrong. It isn’t that much harder, especially if you choose a flat run (my first outdoor was mildly hilly) I hope that makes sense - possibly your mind is less crazy than mine, but that’s what mine would do.

From my experience, my advice is to slow down, stay outdoors as much as possible and map your run. I honestly think you will be fine in a run or two if you stick with it. Please don’t feel as though you’ve got to start again, I felt that at first and I was wrong. Mind over matter :)

The mental block sounds totally spot on - I think I was fed up anyway and then found it a bit difficult so felt like a failure and then talked myself out of it completely. Mind over matter indeed!

Ok - am going to try again. Thank you!

This was my first post and I'm feeling the love - what a lovely supportive group!

I think you may have more mind gremlins than leg gremlins :)

So glad you’re going to give it a go. Let us know how you get on.

dieOR5kGraduate in reply to DrEdFullyunfit

I’m going to use the school track as my first run as it is flat. My son volunteered to walk the unpaved park path later this week to gauge if that is viable ie not muddy.


Hi carrollch99 , I just had my first treadmill session and I found it really hard !!! I can comfortably run 7k outside but struggled on the mill to keep going after 2k 😂. I have the reverse problem and I will have to learn to stay slow until I get the hang of it . I was just saying t o Mrs S that I’ll have to wear the safety thingy aswell because I had a couple of near miss events messing with my apps lol. I’ll be forced onto the treadmill in the summer as it is too hot and humid here then 😎👍 A bit of fine tuning and you will be grand 🏃🏻‍♀️🏃🏻‍♀️🏃🏻‍♀️🏃🏻‍♀️

I’m impressed! You managed to fiddle with your apps and not get catapulted off?! Even after many runs on the treadmill, I struggled look at my phone without losing my stride and being catapulted!

I bow to your treadmill prowess......though using the safety thingy is probably still a good move 🤔 🙂.

SteveWebboGraduate in reply to DrEdFullyunfit

I was test driving Zwift virtual running !


Like you, I did a lot of runs on the treadmill and went outside in week4/5. The issue is speed and your perception of it. You feel faster on the treadmill and are in total control. Outside running you only have your instinct. You are probably going too fast! But you can run for that period of time on the treadmill so you can do it outside! Slow it down and you'll get used to it.


Listen to the gang and you'll do just fine! I'm in week 5 and the very idea of you starting again when you have gone all the way to running 25 mins fills me with horror! You worked hard to get there - this is just a glitch. Join the Snail Gang and you'll never look back.

Keep us posted and good luck!

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