Couch to 5K
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From Treadmill to Outdoors

Due to the lingering Michigan winter (ugh) I've been doing my C25K training on my treadmill. Fortunately, when we purchased our treadmill a few years ago we decided to get a nice one that is good for running. Anyway, I've been anxiously anticipating the move to outdoors, not really having any idea what to expect. In preparation for some nice days I knew were coming, I started doing some reading online to see what I could find about the transition process.

My first attempt at some outdoor jogging was a trip to the grocery store early one evening about a week ago. I started out with a walk to the end of our block, then started running. About a block later I was tired, huffing and my legs were in pain. I walked about a half mile, then started running some more. About a half mile later I stopped again. Ugh! The next half mile is all uphill, so I walked the rest of the way.

In retrospect, I think I might have been running too fast, and I really had no idea how long or how far I was running. I did some planning for my next outdoor run:

1) I mapped out a 3-mile run through my neighborhood, trying to keep hills to a manageable level.

2) I identified some landmark location to make sure I was keeping a fairly steady pace that was at a speed that would allow me to complete the run.

3) I jumped back to W4D3 of my C25K app and started out. I wanted to have a successful run outdoors, so it didn't matter to me that I was going backwards.

It worked. I started out walking from my house for about 3 minutes, paused to do some stretching, then complete the two minute warm-up walk. I started running, trying to keep myself slow enough not to get too tired too fast. I had already figured out about where I should be at each interval based on how I ran on my treadmill. I knew I wouldn't make it through the entire course within the 30 minutes, so I jumped back a few intervals when I got the end and continued on, alternating running and walking. Once back to my block I knew that I had a perfect 5-minute cool down back to my house to complete the day.

I felt very successful and plan to begin running outdoors at least once a week. I will keep with my place in the program on my indoor runs until I finish (just starting W7). My next outdoor run will begin with W5D1. If that goes well, I might move on to W6D1, and will hopefully soon be running outdoors at the same pace and time that I am running indoors.

A few things I noticed while running outdoors:

The biggest thing that bothered me was the curve of the surface of the road. It's designed so that the water will run to the sides of the road, but clearly that curve was putting stress on my legs that was not there running on the flat treadmill. About ever half mile I had to switch to the other side of the road to give my legs a break.

The pounding of my feet on the road was definitely noticeable. I remember when I first started C25K feeling like the treadmill (which was supposed to be a more cushioned surface for running) felt stiff, but now that I've run outdoors the difference is clearly noticeable. My treadmill has adjustments to make it more or less stiff — too bad the road doesn't come with the same feature. Ha!

One tip I found was to run on a high school track with the rubberized surface. I had planned to do that initially, but changed my mind at the last minute. I knew I needed to be able to run on the real road at some point, and I really want to be able to start right out my front door. So, in the end I just decided to go for it. Glad I did.

Well, I hope my writing about my experience moving from the treadmill to the road will help others who are wanting to do same thing. I really didn't find much out there on the subject, especially for C25Kers.

So glad I started this journey!

5 Replies

I agree about pacing yourself, I did most of C25k on the treadmill and on the rare occasion that I got outside I travelled much further and as a result found it hard going on the legs and lungs, I have to really consciously slow down to the point where I feel I'm going too slow but I still end up' travelling' further than I would have in the garage!


Everything in reverse for me!! Dreadmill running (my pet name for those darn machines) I find my stride is shorter therefore appear to be moving faster and then I find to my disappointment that is not the case and my distance covered is shorter overall. Outside running takes a little getting used to as you have the weather elements to contend with also the terrain can be rough, uneven, puddles and darn dangerous in places due to tree roots etc. But for me its much nicer and not so boring, time passes more quickly and I feel invigorated after an outdoor run. But your doing the right thing jbroox your mixing it up so you can do either/or its wise to do this early on, I didn't try a dreadmill for 18 months and it took me about 6 weeks to get to grips with them. Good luck for the rest of the programme and keep us updated on your progress. :)


I'm another one who finds outdoors easier than the dreadmill. :-) Great post though, I'm sure lots of people will find useful advice from it. Enjoy your outdoor running, it will be nicer once the weather warms up a little.


Thanks for sharing! I'm on week 5 and still haven't ventured outside yet. My tentative plan was to finish the 9weeks on the treadmill and then go back a few weeks in the program wheni move outside. If I wanted to run out I would have to drive 30 mins first, so I'm lazy!


Great post! I'm like Oldgirl, it took me nearly a year to learn to use the dreadmill and I still hate it. I agree about the camber of the road though - that's really difficult because unless you can change sides you're always running on a slope :( I hope you enjoy your outdoor running now that Spring is here :)


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