Whether you’re training for a big race or just maintaining your endurance, a treadmill can be an excellent workout partner. The treadmills shown here are specifically designed for runners: They have advanced shock absorption, spacious running areas and impressive incline/decline options to simulate training on real terrain. These treadmills carry competitive warranties for their price points too.
Choosing the Best Treadmill for Running
Compared with walkers, runners need to set higher treadmill standards in order to get great workouts. Here are details about seven qualities we consider when choosing the best treadmills for running.
The Need for Speed
A typical treadmill for runners has speed settings from about 0.5 to 12 mph. For comparison, treadmills built especially for walkers
have top speeds of about 10 mph -- and treadmills for serious runners
are even faster. A minority of elite treadmills can handle 15 mph or more.
While you probably don't plan to run a four-minute mile, choosing a treadmill
will speed to spare can work to your advantage. The machine will perform more smoothly and may last longer compared with alternatives.
A Commercial Motor
A good treadmill for running has at least a 3.0 CHP (continuous horsepower) motor. The more you weigh, or the more intensely you plan to train, the more you should consider choosing a treadmill with even more power, maybe 4.0 CHP.
Horsepower isn't the only factor though; all 3.0 CHP motors aren't created equally. The best motors have effective cooling systems to avoid wire burn, for example, and they're balanced for minimal vibration in order to operate quietly.
A big benefit of treadmill training
is the reduced risk of health hazards. Running inside, you not only avoid cars but also protect your joints! The best treadmills for runners are equipped with better than average cushioning. Their decks can absorb impact roughly 30% more effectively compared with grass or asphalt. The estimated percentages vary among brands.
Usually the cushioning is consistent throughout the length of the track. Sometimes it is especially plush at the front of the track (where a runner lands) and firmer at the rear. A few treadmill brands offer on/off cushioning too. This feature especially appeals to serious runners who want to prepare with more road-like shock absorption for a competition.
A Low-Maintenance Belt
The quality of a treadmill's belt (or track) has a big effect on how smoothly the machine operates and how long it will serve before needing maintenance. Cheap treadmills
require belt lubrication pretty regularly, but the best treadmills for runners and walkers have belts described as "prelubricated." These belts are infused with silicone or otherwise designed for especially smooth running with little maintenance required. They're also thicker compared with belts that don't endure as long.
If you choose a commercial treadmill
then you can expect about 15,000 miles of training before the belt needs to be changed. One elite brand has 150,000 mile belts. On some of the best treadmills the belt swap only takes about 20 minutes.
A Power Incline
Our favorite treadmills have power inclines. In other words, they let you simulate uphill training with ramps that can be controlled by preset programs or with buttons on the handlebars and console.
Using a slight incline (one or two percent) is recommended to produce the equivalent of wind resistance. Beyond that, the incline is excellent for interval training and for replicating the challenge of any outdoor route.
The best treadmills for runners have power inclines with up to 15 or 20 percent maximum angle. Some have slight declines too.
Monitoring the Ticker
Treadmills are also called cardio trainers, and the best treadmills
make it easy to get accurate data about your cardiovascular performance. While treadmills in all price categories can monitor pulse through grips on the handlebars, the better treadmills have wireless pulse receivers too. Wireless heart rate monitoring is more accurate than grip monitoring, especially at speeds above 4 mph.
When purchasing a treadmill, note whether a wireless chest strap is included with your purchase. Often the chest straps are sold separately.
Keeping a Profile
From low budget treadmills to elite treadmills
, all are equipped with training programs. An important difference among quality levels though is that only the better treadmills let users save profiles.
One big benefit of having a profile is getting better data, especially in terms of estimated calorie burn. Another key benefit is the ability to save custom-made workout programs.
In general only the higher-end treadmills support user profiles. However, treadmills with wireless iFit programming are sold at all price points. Each iFit subscription can support four user profiles.
Best Treadmills for Running: The Rundown
Find Your Best Treadmill for Running
The treadmills listed above are some of our favorites for runners, but they're not the only winners. For more great choices see our lists of top treadmills by price or explore our other treadmill review categories.