Running: Treadmill vs. Open Road

For the first time since starting the Couch to 5K (and maybe my life outside of High School gym class), I ran outside.  We don’t live in a large neighborhood and the streets outside our neighborhood have bad curves near them and no sidewalks.  But we do live near a very large neighborhood/area of town that has sidewalks everywhere.  So I parked at the emergency care center in the area and took off.  I didn’t really have a plan of where I was running.  If a street looked like a big hike, I’d wait for the next one.  If one street looked like it was getting too steep, I simply turned around.  I didn’t have much of a plan.  So did I miss my treadmill?

  • The Hills: The neighborhood was much more hilly than I thought.  At the gym, I’m still running on a flat treadmill and it was very hard for me uphill.  The very worst is when I spent my recovery on a hill and when I was supposed to run my big 3 minutes (HA), I was not at all prepared to do so.  Running that last leg was really hard.
  • The Paraphernalia:  Once I got out of the car I realized that I really didn’t have a good place for my water bottle or keys.  I ended up leaving my water bottle and of course had to stick my keys in my jacket pocket.  Thankfully it was cold outside and I had a jacket that had pockets.  Also my phone was a bit of an issue.  I don’t have a running band for it so I ended up holding it the whole time.   I do like checking in on my time on my C25K app though so I think an armband might have been even harder to maneuver so I could see it.
  • Time: I did find I was looking a lot less at my phone to count down the seconds until I could stop and I found the minutes went by so much faster.  The hard part about the time was timing my return to my car.  Because I didn’t follow the same back as I did going, I actually had to walk a little extra to get back.
  • Weather: It was probably 35-40F when I ran this morning.  Without much experience in running, I wasn’t entirely sure what to wear.  I ended up with my yoga pants, long-sleeved undershirt and my hoodie as well as fingerless gloves and hat.  I was surprised to find that by the end, I was hot and actually enjoyed the cooler weather.  However, I wouldn’t say it was entirely enjoyable either.

So what will I do on my next run?

I’m going back to the treadmill. 

I know all you runners are already wanting to scroll down to the comments and tell me I’m crazy.  But here’s the thing.  The treadmill provides consistency, something as a beginner I enjoy and almost need.  I know exactly what to wear, have a place for my things, don’t have to think about where to run and don’t get stuck on hills that zap me of my already low energy.  Not to mention the gym provides other equipment to work on ab and arm work after the run.  While I did enjoy the scenery and a sense of pride knowing I was one of those runners on the road I so often pass, it just wasn’t enough for me at this point.  I think if I could get a water belt and have a very flat route mapped out, I would be much more inclined to run outside again.  Until then, it’s back to the gym for me.


  1. I prefer a treadmill too, most of the time. I did almost all of my training for a half marathon on a treadmill and still did fine the day of the race.

    You can put your keys in the gas tank when you are running outside, that is what I do when at a race by myself. Sure someone could think to check there, but so far no problems.

    Keep up the good work!

  2. Congrats for getting out there! I totally understand where you are coming from – for years, I ran on a treadmill. In fact, it wasn’t until I started doing races that I forced myself to get outside to run – I knew that I would be unpleasantly surprised on race day, facing all of the things you described above. Plus, the “green” part of me thought it was silly to drive to the gym to go run. It took me a LONG TIME to get comfortable running outside – but now that I am, I prefer it immensely. When I’m on a treadmill, I feel so confined. I miss the wind in my hair. I miss the sights. I miss running TO something. I love driving seemingly far away and looking out the window and thinking “I RAN to there yesterday.”

    All that said, I say do what’s comfortable for you. Once you master the treadmill, you might want to give it another go outside. Like I said, it took me a few years to get there. Either way, you’re out there doing something great and that’s all that matters!

    P.S. I so love that you parked at the emergency care center. Just in case, huh? 😉
    .-= Melissa´s last blog ..You are getting very sleepy … =-.

  3. nicole, It’s good to know you were ok without much experience on the road.

    Melissa, I will definitely give outside another go. Especially when we have beautiful days around here.