Some notes on long runs outside & transitioning back to outdoor running from the Treadmill

I had wanted to include this in yesterday’s post since it is reflections on last weeks’ runs… However… If I did that, the post would’ve been wayyyy too long. So pretend you just finished reading about my mileage totals (Short recap: 47.9 miles/long run of 16 miles/4 days outside)

This winter is, without a doubt, the coldest one I can remember.  This year will be my 9th Boston Marathon. This means that I have trained through hundreds of cold, unpleasant days in order to get to Marathon Monday. I decided to compare my winter runs from last year to my winter runs from this year. I realized that the majority of last year’s long runs were done outside, in 25-35 degree weather, and that it was, overall, a heck of a lot more pleasant to run outside in that weather. It is no wonder I’m feeling like I’m getting seasonally depressed! I’ve spent more time indoors than I ever have before. Sure, there have been weeks at a time where I’m stuck inside, but usually I can get out for at least 2 runs a week.

Last week was my first week since.... actually…I have no idea since when, that I have been able to run outside MORE days than I have run INSIDE. That is actually pretty amazing. I had February vaca last week, so I was able to structure my runs around times when the roads were apt to be traffic free, along with being able told sleep a bit later (8:00 am!).

I think my body and my soul NEEDED that week of outside running! There were so many things I had forgotten about that go on when you are mainly running outside. Each run from last week is permanently etched in my brain. It’s funny how sacred something becomes to you once it’s returned. Just to be able to be outside made it into an awesome running week for me! Even though, YES. . . my goal marathon was cancelled. But, last week, I saw the beginnings of the transition back to outdoor running, and I began to break free of the shackles formed by spending three + months with my treadmill.

Some notes for you!

First….Some long run notes.
My 16 miler on Saturday was my first outside long run (over 10-11 miles) in a while. Over the past month- month and a half, I’ve had to either split my run up with some outside/some inside, or just treadmill-ed all of it. Yes, mentally, it has made me a much stronger runner…But there really is nothing like the feel of accomplishing a really hard, long run with your own two feet hitting the roads/trails. That sense of accomplishment- I live for that!

Things I noticed…
-Fuel. I noticed that I was hungrier/thirstier MUCH more quickly than I would be on a treadmill run. I was also using a different fuel than I normally do : Honey Stinger (I usually use GU). I’m not sure if this is why I was so hungry?

-Wind. Saturday was extremely windy, and for a while now, thats not really an element my body has been exposed to lately during long runs. I don’t know if the wind made me feel like I needed more fuel? But I thought it was worth mentioning to you so that you can make a mental note of that for your future long runs/races! When you are only running on a treadmill-you have zero wind resistance. Research has shown that setting your treadmill at a 1% incline helps simulate the outside environment. And while I DO set my treadmill, always, at a 1% incline, I have to say there is nothing like battling wind in the actual outdoors. In my own mind-> there is nothing my treadmill can do that will make me feel like I am running through 20 mph winds…

-Exhaustion/soreness. Since my original long plan had been to do 17-20 miles, I planned to hop on treadmill for another 2-3 miles. 16 miles is usually nothing for me. It certainly has never left me feeling achy or exhausted. Right when I walked through my front door- it was clear that there weren’t going to be any more miles for me that day. My body felt SO tired and beaten up from being in the elements. But, being the trooper stubborn pigheaded runner I am, I forced myself down to the basement, and onto the treadmill. Two steps in–muscles were hurting that NEVER hurt. I quit right then and there and opted to do more stretching than running. The way I feel after a 16 miler on the treadmill is completely different than how I feel after an outside run. Also, I think its important to note that my body isn’t used to multiple days outside yet. I know  if I had been running outside every single day, that I probably would have felt stronger at the end of my run.  My body has to adjust back to different terrains, and wind. Transitioning back to pavement will take time, and apparently, leaves me more stiff and sore than what I am used to!

-Running outside vs inside. I have always had a little lag in paces when I return back to outdoor running from indoor running. The temperatures/ air/ pavement-its a tough transition. I have to say i’m really happy with how it is going so far. I’m pretty proud of myself for being able to nail certain hills at certain paces. It’s weird how I’m sore in different areas though…The treadmill makes my lower back hurt. But with outdoor running, my calves are sore. I know my stride is different on the roads. Its longer outside, but it also has to change depending on the inclines and the declines. When I come home from outdoor running, I feel more of an “all over” body/ muscle soreness. Even when I include steeper inclines– running on the treadmill is a different kind of sore.

Anyway. I wanted to make sure I told you all about these things because like me, alot of you have spent a ton of time inside this winter because DUH, you have to because its been the Snowpocalyse, or perhaps you feel like Antarctica has become your home lately. I noticed these changes in my body last week and thought I would pass them on to you to remember that when you start transitioning to outside running, these things can happen to you too and its important to keep them in mind. If you run solely on your treadmill, your body isn’t getting any exposure to natural things that you can’t plan for via the treadmill. And you know what they say: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just soft people.” I don’t necessarily think that’s true about ALL types of weather (like a blizzard it a hurricane), but most weather situations are only going to strengthen your running and help you adapt to any situation.

SO in short: I hate wind, but it makes me stronger. I like to experiment with different fuels, maybe Honey Stinger is not the one for me and I should stick with GU. Transitioning back to running outside makes me feel more tired/sore! It is awesome to know that I am able to handle paces outside that I have been forced to hold only on the dreadmill!

Some pics for you:

Boston’s elevation:

I found this comparison chart of the five world major marathons to be fascinating!

Some Do’s And Don’t’s for Boston … (its the same as last year)


Yoga Pants, and cool new sweatshirts are really my favorite thing in the world right now…I am obsessed with this wrap sweatshirt!
When you find your favorite wine has a NEW limited release–> YOu must buy at least 2 bottles! (and plan to go and stock up on more cause this one is yummy!


Do you notice changes in your running when you start to transition back outside?


10 thoughts on “Some notes on long runs outside & transitioning back to outdoor running from the Treadmill

  1. I’ll let you know in a few days. 🙂 I haven’t run outside at all in nearly two weeks and don’t have it on my radar until next week when (hopefully) there will be a slight warm up. I’m glad you posted this today though. I’ve been trying to pace myself a little bit faster than I normally would on the treadmill to hopefully make the transition back to outside a little less jarring pace-wise. But we shall see I guess.

  2. I think I really want to try that wine! I’ve actually been keeping outside as much as possible, so when I’m on the treadmill, that’s when I feel different! I swear my stride is different on the treadmill because I feel things differently afterwards. I think once you’re used to one thing, the other winds up giving you a tougher workout when you do it.

  3. I’ve been going back and forth from upstate NY to WPB Florida the past two months, and so I’ve done alternating weeks outdoors and on the treadmill. I’ve been running much faster on the roads than on the treadmill and it feels easier, which is the opposite of what it used to ge when my treadmill calibration was off. I don’t run with an incline (I used to and ended up with a fort injury from the pullback of the belt). I do feel like my stride is different off the treadmill & lately my hips get tight the weeks I’ve been treadmilling it.

    It was hot today in Florida and I still averaged about 15 sec/mile faster than on the treadmill with equal effort. It’s so weird to me that there is such a difference. I really want to buy a Woidway because I’ve heard they are almost like running on the road.

  4. So I haven’t been running/training much lately in general so I can’t completely relate… but I will say that it is not fun to go from running on an alter-g to running outside or on a regular treadmill! My body gets used to running at 85% body weight so when I go back to regular running everything feels so heavy!!
    I will definitely look out for that wine!!

  5. I transitioned from running outside to running inside today. Ran just 4 miles on the treadmill…and HATED EVERY SINGLE MINUTE!!!!!!!!! I felt like I was working SO hard, and I was running at a way easy pace for me. I have 5 miles to do tomorrow that I wanted to do during lunch but lugging my winter running stuff to work doesn’t quite appeal to me. Sigh. Sunday was so glorious; I wish I had my long run then…instead I shoveled…and shoveled.

  6. Oh hell yeah I notice differences. Particularly in my calves. The Chicago elevation chart illustrates all my issues with my glute activation 😀 Glad that you had a bombtastic week of running!

  7. Those maps make me so pumped to run Chicago in the fall! Flat and easy. Fingers crossed I get in through the lottery 🙂

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