Moving from Treadmill to Road

Hi everybody. First time poster here in need of encouragement and advice...! I 've bee. Treadmill running for about 3 months now, and am trying to introduce road runs in to my regime. At the moment, I'm running about 5 times a week (misty treadmill). I'm running mostly 4 mile runs, with a longer run once a week (about 7 or 8 miles at the moment). All of this is going well, and I'm able to comfortably run these distances on a treadmill. I did realise that running on roads would be harder but, I'm struggling to run passed a mile..! I'm running at a reasonable pace of 5.5 - 6 mph, so nothing too taxing. I think I'm reasonably fit, and keep to 10 min miles on the treadmill - so I think my fitness is average at present. But surely I should be able to run a little further on roads? My main problem is my legs seem to die on me.......I'm really struggling and getting a little disheartened.... Does anyone have any ideas? Is this normal!?


  • Don't worry too much - you will adapt.  Funnily enough I had the opposite problem, as I've run on the road for years but had to use a treadmill for a week, whilst working away from home.  The treadmill running killed me, and I was only able to achieve about 70% of the distance that I'd normally run and couldn't maintain my normal pace.

    Have you tried increasing the incline on the treadmill?  A flat treadmill doesn't simulate the road, so you need to incline by a couple of % to simulate the resistance from a ground thats not moving under your feet.  

  • You might find that you are running faster than you think on the road, so try slowing down a bit more which might help. You just need to persevere,  it will get easier

  • Hi Martin. I did most of Couch to 5k on a treadmill, then tried to make the transition to road running and it was pretty disastrous to be honest! I then almost gave up, until I was lucky enough to find a local beginner's group, who have been incredibly helpful and I now only run on the road. Biggest thing I have learnt? Slow down!!!!  Simply put, treadmill running requires you to lift your legs one after the other, whereas road running is harder as you also have to propel yourself forwards. So; take it slowly, really slowly, run at the 'speed of chat' (i.e. not so out of breath that you can't hold a conversation), don't stress if you need to take a walk break or two, and maybe do shorter runs until you've got used to running on the road, gradually building up the distance. Above all, don't be put off; all that treadmill training will have increased your fitness, so you can do itimage

    I have gone from a lardy wannabe c25k non-runner, to someone who comfortably runs 3-5 miles, 3 times a week. I'm still lardy, and not very fast, but trust me, if I can run, anyone can!

    Hope this helpsimage.

  • Thanks for the encouragement all...! I will persevere though. I just hoped I was fitter than I clearly am! I have no excuse - as I live I. Oxford and running around the town is lovely. I just wish I could do it a little easier!
  • Well done for getting outside, its a lot better for you in the long run! image

    Are you following a plan? if so, try dropping back a few weeks and starting from there on the road. It is more difficult, so you need to knock back the intensity a bit.

    best of luckimage


  • I've only recently made the transition from treadmill to road (and a good decision it was too!!). Hadn't really run for a few years but used to do 5k daily & 10k weekly on the treadmill.

    i think theres a few big differences which can take some getting used to...pace firstly, on a treadmill its quite easy to just key in your pace and let the treadmill keep you consistant, where as when you move to the road you can have a tendancy to outpace yourself starting out.

    Secondly, (and the one that caught me out most) was the extra resistance provided by running on a hard, static road surface. Being used to a nice soft impact of a moving treadmill track my toes, feet & to some extent my knees took a bit of a pounding the first week of running outdoors. Probably could have avoided this by starting with slightly shorter distances & having longer rest periods until I hardened to it but almost 2 weeks on & I'm already feeling better for it.

    What can I say though, stick with it Martin. As a recent convertee I can already say that the treadmill is only a mere substitute to the great outdoors image

  • I have got a treadmill and get reasonable use out of it on dark winter nights, but I find it is harder than road or trail running.  Some of it is because it is basically tough mentally even if you're watching a TV.  But you do need to use it with a small incline all the time so that it simulates roadrunning.

    Wherever you run you need to find that natural long run pace to build your endurance and a couple of the comments on here are correct in perhaps slowing down to find that.

  • Thanks again everybody. I ran again tonight - this time with a GPS watch (timex global trainer). I think the main problem was my speed..! What felt like a slow pace was actually 8.5 mph......which is a little faster than I'm currently used to! So - keeping an eye on the watch - I made sure I stayed around the 6mph mark, which really helped. I ran 3 miles without any probs. Confidence temporarily restored !!!

    Thanks again everybody for you kind words and encouragement!
  • ..and if you want to do a bit of cross-training to boost your fitness, there's a BMF class in Oxford. I did it once image.

  • Hi Martin!

    As others have said, your legs will get used to it, there's quite a difference running on a treadmill to getting out there on the streets. image

    Just read your latest post - well done! image

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