Transitioning from Treadmill to Trails

From Treadmill to Trails

You’ve been logging the miles on your treadmill, putting in the time, effort and all the hard work laid out in your training plan, but as soon as you head outside – holy cow! What’s happening?

Many people try to transition from training on a treadmill to running outdoors as if there is no difference, but your body will definitely let you know that perception is wrong! The impact forces of running outside are far greater than what you’ve become accustomed to on the forgiving surface of a treadmill. In addition, running out of doors entails propelling yourself forward, a different movement than keeping up with a tread gliding beneath you. Also, let’s not forget varying terrain and weather – these affect your pace, which is why your treadmill mile speed doesn’t translate into the same once you head out the door. So, how can you overcome these issues when transitioning from treadmill to trails? Follow these tips to make the change safely and effectively:

  1. Ease into it. Gradually introduce running outside to your indoor routine, slowly increasing time spent on trails vs. the treadmill.
  2. Focus on effort, not pace. Remember, pace does not translate, but your effort does!
  3. Consider terrain. Trail running can entail hard surfaces and hills. Look for softer, flat courses at first while you adjust to a change in impact.
  4. Stay patient. It will take some time for your body to adjust to the transition. Know that you will feel slower and it will seem harder for a while, but not forever!
  5. Listen to your body. If you are sore or experiencing aches and pains, cut back your outdoor running and readjust your training plan.
  6. Plan for the adjustment period. If you know you need to transition from treadmill to trails, make sure to allot enough time in your regimen to be ready for race day.

Follow these helpful hints to avoid injuries and other setbacks in your training. You can also order our free book, Keep Running, for additional advice.

Hey, you put in all that work -- make sure it doesn’t end up for nothing! If you need help with a foot or ankle injury, or would like more tips, contact our Austin, TX office at (512) 328-8900 and we’ll be happy to assist you. 

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