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transitioning from elliptical/treadmill to the pavement?

My goal is to run a 10k this September and, the past few months, have been diligently working out in order to build up my endurance. I knew that switching from the elliptical/treadmill to pavement would be an adjustment, but I didn't know how much of one! During my training time on the machines I have always worked at an extremely high hills level/incline thinking it would help me when I began running outside. Umm...not so much. I find that I run out of breath significantly quicker and my endurance isn't quite as high when hitting the pavement. Are there suggestions for transitioning? Do you think my issues are just the need to re adapt my breathing methods or else wise?

4 answers

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Hi Brooke-

Congrats on your hard training up to this point-- you will do great in your 10K in Sept.
You are right, training indoors in a climate controlled environment on a treadmill is way easier than running outdoors on "land" in the heat/cold/wind/rain, etc. Running outdoors you have several factors to get used to.

First, and foremost, the ground that you run on isn't as forgiving as the treadmill which has a "flex-deck" shock absorption system. You will feel more of the pavement on your knees/hips/ankles, etc., but you will get used to it over time just like you got used to the treadmill running over time. I, too, run outside and inside on the treadmill too and when I run outside sometimes I like to run on the grass besides the road since the grass is more softer than the hard pavement.

The second factor that you have to get used to is the outdoor climate that you are running in: heat, humidity, wind resistance, sun in your eyes, etc. That can make a difference for sure. I live in Florida and I run much better in the cooler weather than the heat and humidity of the summer (not looking forward to the heat and humidity coming up here soon). When it is really hot and I sweat a lot I like to take a water bottle with me on my run so I have something to drink outside. Obviously when you are running outside you don't have a built-in cup holder like the treadmill has. I also like to run outside with a sweat towel to wipe off my sweat as it pours down my face. I just tuck the small towel inside my shorts so it is sorta hanging off my waist band (like flag football) and then reach down for it from time to time like you would if you had a towel draped over the treadmill.

Overall, it will take some getting used to running outside, but you will do fine. You have plenty of time before your race to practice and it will still help you if you run inside on the treadmill too.

Good luck and have fun!

Jennifer Barbarino 54k
6 years ago

Hi Brooke,

I live in MN & the first spring run is always……unique. I used to run outside year-around, but then I thought, why? I too add in intervals & inclines on the treadmill with the hopes of prepping myself for the outdoor elements & it’s never made a significant impact. You simply have to adjust & you will. I think the biggest factor with regards to the elements, is the wind & the air & how it affects breathing, pace & timing.

Good luck, you'll be just fine.

Tony Nicholson 141k
6 years ago

I live in the midwest so i know how you feel. I trained to run a 5k at first indoors and thought i was doing awesome but once i got out on the pavement, it was a different story. Their is so many factors that effect our body when we are outside, such as the air, wind, the hills are so much harder and the impact on your feet hitting the pavement, just makes those muscles more sore. Just try to get out there as much as possible in the nice weather so your body can get used to the adjustment. Good Luck

Courtney Murzyn 28k
6 years ago

Thank you for your advice, everyone! Was going to hit the pavement today but we had wind gusts ranging from 50-75MPH today. Figured I could probably wait one more day!!Happy

Brooke Secoy 7.3k
6 years ago

add your answer!

Brooke Secoy member since Jan '11


MemberLawton, OK
4/14/2011 at 7:44 PM