What is the Best Treadmill for Running?

Like to run or compete, but you can’t always get to the gym? Does the weather often interrupt your training? Are you worried about the pounding your joints take on asphalt or concrete? Do you have children, and need to be at home most nights? Do you live in the suburbs or a city, and don’t want to be out at night because of dogs, drivers, or even muggers?

Time to get an indoor option. Or maybe you have an older, well-worn, model and just need an upgrade.

Click the item in the table below to skip to your most pressing question, or continue to read the whole article.

What are the Best Treadmills for Running at Home?

To choose the best running treadmill, consider not only your needs, but your wants.

What are your fitness objectives? General health and fitness? Or will you be competing? What you want and need in a treadmill should be the driving factors when buying a treadmill. Spend a lot of time assessing what is important to you. It will give you a big payoff in the end. A treadmill is not something you stuff in a mail pouch and send back.

Budget is always important. A more expensive treadmill will generally get you better parts and construction, a longer warranty, and more bells and whistles. If your needs aren’t that great, a less expensive model may suit. Bells and whistles may be some of your needs, so don’t skip over them lightly. This is an investment, be sure you will be happy with it in the long run (literally).

Where will it go? The size of space you have available is a very important consideration. Folding treadmills take about half the length when stored. But whatever you choose, you need empty space around it for access. Most models will be within a footprint of 80 inches long and 36 inches wide.

As a runner, you’ll want to find a deck length of your stride. You need to be comfortable when running, whether your goal is fitness or winning the next race. Fifty-two inches long hardly ever works, and 16 inches wide is too small for most runners. This is very important for runners.

What are your workout needs? 6 miles per hour, 10, or more? Do you want an incline? Or even the capability to simulate your race conditions? What kind of cushioning and shock absorption do you want?

Is the display easy to read? Are the controls easy to reach?

What hi-tech features are important? Many models include standard features for an iPod dock, USB port, and/or wireless internet connectivity. Take a good look at the programs that come with the treadmill. Do they suit your needs?

What kind of warranty is important to you? Most models come with 3-7 years on parts and one year on labor. Some models have a lifetime warranty on the frame and/or motor.

And it is always good to find out about delivery and returns so that you know what to expect.

What is Important to Different Kinds of Runners?

There is a lot of controversy about running and the potential damage it can cause to your joints. While some studies indicate running does damage joints, others show that running provides better muscle control which actually helps with joint impact. In general, runners tend not to be overweight, thereby easing pressure on joints in general.  Several studies have shown that being active actually reduces the threat of arthritis. However, if you have had injuries and/or have a family history of arthritis, you may want to minimize joint impact by training on a treadmill. Most of the best treadmills for runners will have good shock absorption.

If you are a casual runner, it would be good to have some hi-tech features, such as being able to listen to music or an audio book. Some may use this time to watch the news or TV shows that have been recorded. Multi-tasking is a must in today’s hectic world!

However, if you are training for a race, then you will want features that would allow you to simulate actual running conditions. Even if it is only incline adjustments that compensate for the wind, you will want something to give you a competitive advantage. If possible you should opt for a model that will let you simulate a race course. Though treadmill training may not be the real deal, you can come close if you choose the right model.

Our Top Picks:  The Best Treadmills for Running

As always, we’ve done some research for you. We have taken a good look at the manufacturer’s specifications, customer reviews, and done a thorough comparison of many different models to recommend the best value for your dollar. Here are our top picks of the best treadmills for running at home.

1)  SOLE F85

 This model is the top of the line, and SOLE’s number one best seller. There is no wonder why.

When compared with street pavement, this treadmill can reduce impact on your joints by up to 40%. That’s significant! The CushionFlex Wisper Deck technology also muffles the sound, making it one of the best treadmills for runners at home. And the 22” x 60” running surface is more than most runners will need.

This machine will not start without the key. This is a great safety feature since you clip the key on your clothes when you are running, and if you fall off, it will automatically shut down. It also keeps kids from starting it accidentally. But don’t lose it or you can’t start the treadmill!

This model has 30 different levels of incline, with up to a 15% grade. You should be aware that this deck is on a slight incline. It is the way all SOLE treadmills are made. So if you’re not an incline person, this treadmill might not be for you. It has 6 automatic, two heart rate, and two customized programs. That’s an impressive capability whether you are training for health or a competition!

The quality of construction of this unit is outstanding. But note, it is a very heavy unit to move. So find a specific place for it, and plan on it staying there. The track is 2 ply with 2¾” rollers and a 4.0 HP continuous duty motor which allows you to run up to 12 mph. Rated at 400 pounds, this unit will easily accommodate large people. The warranty is among the best in the industry. Lifetime on the frame, motor, and deck, 5 years on electronics, and 2 years on labor.

The user console has a large 9” LCD display, with a message board for instructions and feedback. You can see your speed, incline, time and distance traveled, as well as how many calories burned. Note that the distance is only measured to tenths. So, for example, you can only see 8.5 miles run in the display. This may or may not be a concern for you.

There is a peak and valley graph for various programs and a ¼ mile track feature. The console has built-in speakers including iPod and MP3 compatibility, a wireless heart rate monitor, and fans to keep that sweat evaporating!

It’s no wonder this treadmill has 4½ stars on Amazon. To quote one reviewer, “If you are serious about using it, spend the money and get a decent machine like this one.”

The bottom line: Though pricey, this model has it all. Sole isn’t kidding when they tout that this treadmill is, “The best folding treadmill on the planet”. For runners, we recommend the SOLE F85 Treadmill. For the best price on Amazon, CLICK HERE.

2)  ProForm Pro 2000

You get a lot of bang for your buck with this treadmill. Though it is the least expensive of the new PRO series, it is a great choice for runners at home.

The distinctive feature is that this unit inclines AND declines. It is also packed with the latest technology, this unit is iFit® Compatible, which means you can download a Google Maps™ route anywhere in the world, simulating inclines and declines of a particular route. This is a great training feature if you run competitively. You can also create routes of your own or use one of the 32 preset workouts designed by certified personal trainers. You can even compete with your Facebook friends!

You can quickly select any speed from 0 – 12 mph to the tenth of a mile. If you hit 10, then 7, the speed instantly changes to 10.7 mph.  If you like interval training, this is a big plus. You can run full out, drop it down for a minute or two, then quickly go back up. However, there is no pace option, which might pose a problem if you are a competitor and used to seeing minutes per mile paces.

With an EKG grip pulse and a wireless chest strap, you can easily track your fitness goals. The display is a 7” backlit LCD unit, which shows time, distance, and speed. It is iPod, iPad, and smartphone compatible.

This model has the ProShox cushioning deck, which provides cushioned running surface for people up to 350 pounds. The 2-ply belt is a roomy 60 inches x 22 inches. It has a 3.5 HP motor, which will let you run up to 12 mph. Throw in the fans, and your workout is complete.

When you’re done, this unit easily folds up for quick storage with the SpaceSaver® Design with EasyLift™ Assist. In order not to damage the treadmill, it has to be brought back to 0% incline before folding. Note that this treadmill does not fold completely up, but stops at about 70%, so that has to be a consideration for where you will put it. It also must be unplugged after use.

Be aware that this is a very heavy unit, and you may need help getting it in the house, and/or up and down stairs.

The Pro 2000 has a lifetime warranty on the frame and motor, 5 years on parts, and two years on labor.

This unit is well liked, with 4½ stars on Amazon. Says one customer, “I purchased this over a year ago and have logged a couple hundred miles on it. Since I weigh 210, that’s a good test of reliability and workmanship.”

The bottom line: This model has a lot of innovative features for the competitive runner, and is priced aggressively. We recommend it as a good treadmill for runners. CLICK HERE to find this great treadmill on Amazon.

3)  LifeSpan TR4000i

For nearly 20 years, this company has been making exercise equipment, and it shows. And LifeSpan customer support consistently gets good reviews.

This model has 8 compression shocks to absorb impact, giving you a great run. With 15 incline levels and a speed of up to 12 mph, it meets all your needs.  The 20” x 60” running surface is adequate for a serious runner. The 3-speed fan is a definite plus. A 3¼ HP continuous motor with a cooling fan ensures years of use. Designed for a 350-pound user, this is a solid piece of machinery.

The EZfold technology is among the best to lift and lower. Using a hydraulic shock, the deck lifts easily for compact storage, and a soft-drop system will support the weight as the treadmill is unfolded. Beware that this is a very heavy unit, so make sure where you put it is where it will stay.

The 6” LCD display monitors time run, distance, speed, and heart rate, as well as elevation changes. However, there is no pace option.  The Active Trac app will sync your fitness data wherever you choose, whether on an iPhone or Android. A LifeSpan Bluetooth adapter is sold separately, and supports Active Trac™ and Train & Trac™ apps.

You can also enroll in the LifeSpan club, where your exercise data can be tracked and displayed on the console. A tablet (or phone) can be held in the console for easy access. There are both speakers and a headphone plug in. There are 2 heart rate programs, 2 customized user programs, and 17 preset programs for weight, health, and sports training.

Intelli-Step™ is a step counting feature that works like a pedometer.  Intelli-Guard™ automatically pauses the belt 20 seconds after you step off the treadmill deck. Intelli-Key™ simplifies console operation with prompts that step you through program selection/setup.

There is a lifetime warranty on the frame and motor, with 5 years on parts, and 2 on labor.

The bottom line: The LifeSpan TR4000i is a quality treadmill that is impressive for the price. Runners will be pleased with this in home option for running. You can buy it now on Amazon.

4)  NordicTrack C1650

The brand has been around for a long time. The name alone says quality and value. There is a wide range of prices and features. But the C1650 gives you the features a runner needs at a reasonable price.

A large 10” easy to reach touchscreen lets you see your speed, time, and distance. Incline and decline are also displayed. This treadmill is also iFit® Compatible, making it a good unit for serious runners.  The convenient OneTouch™ controls allow you to adjust incline up to 12 percent manually. Or select from one of the 34 programs designed by a certified trainer that are built into this treadmill.

Dual CardioGrip™ heart rate monitor sensors are built into both handlebars to give you a fast, accurate reading, and it is also compatible with Bluetooth chest straps for monitoring. Plug your iPod into the console sound system, and if you don’t want to use your ear buds, you can use the high quality dual 2” speakers. It has a tablet holder, allowing you to use exercise apps, listen to music or watch movies and shows. 

The belt is a bit narrower than the previous units at 20”x 60”. This is quite adequate for most runners, but is probably as narrow as you will want to go. The adjustable FlexSelect cushioning lets you simulate running on a road, or you can activate double cushion isolators to reduce joint impact.

The motor is a 3.5 HP continuous duty, with a large motor case for less vibration, and cooling fans for less heat. With a 1.9” rear roller, the belt is designed for a quiet workout, making it a good choice for home use. The maximum weight is 325 pounds. Telescoping EasyLift™ shock assists, make stowing this unit a breeze.

You may want to have someone deliver, assemble, and set up this unit, as it is very heavy, and several users have reported that this is difficult.

The frame and motor are warrantied for life, with 5 years on parts warranty, and 2 years on labor.

The bottom line: The NordicTrack C1650 is a solid treadmill with all the features a runner needs. CLICK HERE for the best price on Amazon.

Food for thought

It is great to have the option of indoor exercise. Treadmills aren’t just conveyer belts for walking anymore.

For serious runners, there are great models available. Most are “smart machines”, though these aren’t cheap. But as a runner, you need a different machine than a casual walker would. You need a well built, sturdily constructed (this means heavy) unit with features that benefit serious running time. Bluetooth, interactive workouts, there are lots of choices to enhance your routine.

The most important part of buying research starts with you!

What are your fitness objectives? General health and fitness? Competition? Your needs will help you decide which model suits you the best.

  • Budget is always important. A more expensive treadmill will generally get you better parts and construction, a longer warranty, and more bells and whistles. But if your needs aren’t that great, a less expensive model may suit.
  • Where will it go? The size of space you have available is a very important consideration. Folding treadmills take about half the length when stored. But whatever you choose, you need empty space around it for access. Most models will be within a footprint of 80 inches long and 36 inches wide. And a good treadmill for runners will be heavy. So don’t plan on moving it.
  • As a runner, you’ll want to find a deck length for your stride. You need to be comfortable when running, whether your goal is fitness or winning the next race. Fifty-two inches long hardly ever works, and 16 inches wide is too small for most runners.
  • What are your workout needs? Six miles per hour, ten, or more? Do you want an incline? Or even the capability to simulate your race conditions? What kind of cushioning and shock absorption do you need?
  • Is the display easy to read? Are the controls easy to reach?
  • What hi-tech features are important? Many models include standard features for an iPod dock, USB port, and/or wireless internet connectivity.
  • What kind of warranty is important to you? Most models come with 3-7 years on parts and one year on labor. Some models have a lifetime warranty on the frame and/or motor.
  • It is always good to find out about delivery and returns so that you know what to expect. This is an area that seems to get many negative comments from buyers. So don’t overlook this when choosing a treadmill.

Don’t stress, take the time to assess your wants and needs. Then, take the plunge. You’ll be glad to have an indoor running option, or an upgrade if that is what you need.

So go out, or rather stay in, and enjoy your run!

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