Running is one of the most accessible and effective forms of exercise. It burns calories, builds endurance, and boosts your cardiovascular health. While nothing quite compares to an outdoor run, a treadmill can help you become a stronger runner when weather, limited daylight, or other factors keep you indoors.
Choosing the right treadmill optimized for running is key to getting a robust cardio workout and improving as a runner without having to battle the elements. In this comprehensive guide, we will cover the top treadmills for every type of runner, what to look for in a running treadmill, and frequently asked questions to help you select your perfect machine.
Whether you are a beginner runner or a seasoned marathoner, we will outline the ideal features that cater to your goals and running style. Read on to discover the best treadmills that will help you log more miles and unleash your inner Usain Bolt.
Power Through Intervals, Tempo Runs, and Everything In Between with the Best Treadmills for Runners
Any experienced runner knows that simply logging miles is not enough. Targeted speed work and hill training are essential components for increasing speed and endurance. An optimal running treadmill will allow you to safely perform demanding interval workouts or sustained uptempo runs without compromising form.
Here are the top treadmill models on the market equipped for runners of all abilities to take their training to the next level.
NordicTrack Commercial 2950
The NordicTrack Commercial 2950 is a top choice for runners looking for an extra wide belt and ultra powerful motor. With a 22 inch wide belt and 4.25 CHP motor, this treadmill can stand up to the hardest interval sessions without flinching.
- 4.25 CHP DurX Commercial Plus motor
- 22″ x 60″ tread belt
- 15% incline and 3% decline capability
- Up to 12 MPH maximum speed
- Runners FlexTM Cushioning to reduce impact
- 10″ touchscreen with on-demand workout classes
- Integrated control for your home’s WiFi-enabled devices
This treadmill has the endurance for long runs and the responsiveness for speedwork. The decline function also enables you to mimic running downhill. While pricey, the Commercial 2950 is built like a tank – ideal for runners who log high weekly mileage.
Sole F85 Treadmill
With roomy running space and focused shock absorption, the Sole F85 is a great choice for mid- to long-distance road training.
- 4.0 CHP motor
- 22″ x 60″ tread belt
- 15% incline, -3% decline
- 12 MPH top speed
- Cushion Flex Whisper Deck to protect joints
- 9″ LCD display with access to training apps
- Sound system with device speakers and charging
The combination of a powerful motor and Cushion Flex deck provides a soft landing without compromising push off response. The decline feature helps build quad strength while the integrated device cradle keeps entertainment and data tracking at your fingertips.
Bowflex Treadmill 10
Interval runners will feel right at home with the Bowflex Treadmill 10 and its spacious slat belt design.
- 3.0 CHP motor
- 22″ x 60″ Comfort Tech Deck
- -5% to 15% incline range
- 12 MPH top speed
- Runners FlexTM Suspension to reduce impact
- 9″ full-color touchscreen
- Integrated Bluetooth heart rate monitoring
- Burn + Trainer App connectivity
The unique Comfort Tech Deck provides extra shock absorption by using individual slats under the belt surface to disperse impact. This dynamic surface makes the Bowflex Treadmill 10 ideal for improving speed and times without undue stress on joints.
Horizon Fitness 7.8 AT Treadmill
Horizon Fitness sets the standard for sturdy incline training with the 7.8 AT treadmill. This machine can tackle steep hills while providing a cushioned running surface.
- 3.0 CHP motor
- 20″ x 60″ belt area
- -3% to 15% adjustable incline
- 12 MPH top speed
- 3-Zone Variable Response Cushioning
- 10″ HD touchscreen display
- ViaFit connectivity to fitness apps
- Bluetooth heart rate monitoring
The powerful incline range combined with tailored shock absorption gives you the tools to dominate hill repeats or long climbs. Plus, the integrated ViaFit system makes it easy to track data and sync workouts across your favorite fitness apps.
Choose Your Running Treadmill Features Wisely
Now that we have covered some top-rated running treadmills, let’s discuss how to select the ideal machine based on your running goals and preferences. Keep these key features in mind when evaluating running treadmills to find the best match.
A Robust Motor for Responsiveness
The treadmill motor largely determines how smoothly the belt operates and responds to changes in speed. Look for at least 3.0 continuous horsepower (CHP) for a comfortable running treadmill. Higher horsepower between 3.5-4.25 CHP is better for experienced runners looking for snappy speed adjustments.
Also note the type of motor. Light-duty motors can overheat, especially for larger runners. A commercial grade motor is preferable for consistent power delivery during tough workouts.
Cushioning is Crucial for Joint Protection
Running on a treadmill places more repetitive stress on joints than road running. Seek out treadmills with specialized cushioning systems to provide resilient shock absorption.
Brands like Bowflex and NordicTrack use proprietary cushioning under the belt to reduce impact. This helps you run pain-free for longer durations.
Speed and Incline Needs Scale with Ability
For new runners, a basic speed range up to 10 MPH is typically sufficient. More seasoned runners will want a max speed of at least 12 MPH to allow for faster intervals and tempo runs.
The same concept applies to incline and decline percentages. Beginners will benefit from an incline range up to 10-12% to add hill training. Competitive runners should look for 15% incline capabilities or greater to boost leg strength.
Consoles with Connectivity Keep You Motivated
Basic treadmill consoles will track your time, distance, pace, heart rate and calories burned. More advanced displays provide coaching cues and allow you to access interactive training apps and streaming entertainment.
Look for integrated Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity in the console to sync data to your fitness apps or train with virtual coaching programs. Larger console screens also make training apps more immersive.
Folding Designs Maximize Storage
The amount of free space in your workout area will determine whether you need a folding treadmill. Folding treadmills require hydraulic lifts to raise and lower the running platform.
Non-folding treadmill have a set footprint. However, some incline models have smaller profiles when collapsed to the minimum incline. Prioritize a folding design if space is limited.
Set a Budget Based on Must-Have Features
Basic treadmills start around $400-800, but the ideal running treadmill for dedicated runners costs $1500-2500. Spend up if you require ample cushioning, a strong motor, and robust console features. Top-end treadmills with commercial specs can cost over $4000.
By determining your “must-have” criteria including cushioning, horsepower, size, and tech features, you can find an excellent running treadmill that fits both your goals and budget.
Your Most Frequently Asked Treadmill Questions, Answered
Choosing a new running treadmill comes with plenty of questions. Here we will break down the key questions runners should consider when selecting the best treadmill.
Do I need a specific “running” treadmill or will a regular treadmill suffice?
Treadmills built for running typically offer a wider and longer belt, stronger motor, more durable frame, and adequate cushioning. These features provide stability for a natural gait pattern and absorb more impact from an exaggerated stride at higher speeds. Most regular treadmills max out around 10 MPH and lack the shock absorption for committed runners. Invest in a specialty running treadmill if you want to train consistently.
What belt dimensions should I look for in a running treadmill?
Look for belt widths of at least 20” for room to stride out. A length around 60” accommodates runners of varying heights. Wide, long belts prevent you from having to alter your normal running form.
Is shock absorption really important for running on a treadmill?
Absolutely! Running on a treadmill increases impact on joints compared to road running. Quality cushioning systems soften each footstrike to protect your knees, ankles, and hips from excessive pounding. Brands like Sole and NordicTrack are known for superior cushioning technology optimized for running.
What features should I prioritize if training for a race on my treadmill?
Train for your best race time using a treadmill with speed range to 12+ MPH, inclines of at least 10-15%, and built-in training programs that mimic popular race distances. Having the ability to easily adjust speeds and inclines allows you to perform speed and hill repeats to build racing endurance. Connectivity features are also useful for syncing race training data across devices.
As an experienced runner, how important is the motor power and maximum speed?
Very important! The motor determines smooth speed adjustments critical for interval training. Look for at least 3 CHP continuous power and max speed of 12 MPH. Commercial treadmills used in gyms often start at 3.5+ CHP to support consistent power output. Test different speed settings to ensure the belt responds quickly without delay before purchasing.
Still feeling uncertain about selecting the ideal running treadmill? Keep these key buying considerations in mind:
- Cushioning – Prioritize shock absorption for joint protection and injury prevention
- Belt Dimensions – Seek at least 20” wide and 60” long for a comfortable, unhindered stride
- Speed and Incline – Choose capabilities that meet your goals whether training for your first 5K or gunning for a Boston Qualifier
- Motor – Invest in at least 3 CHP continuous power for responsive speed adjustments
- Connectivity – Sync your data across platforms to track progress
- Budget – Allot $1500-2500+ for a specialty running treadmill with advanced features
Hit Your Running Goals Faster with the Best Treadmill for You
We hope this detailed guide provided you with the knowledge to choose the ideal treadmill tailored to your running abilities and aspirations. Investing in a treadmill designed for runners makes it easier to train consistently even when life, weather, or daylight limit your ability to run outdoors.
The NordicTrack Commercial 2950 stands out as the ultimate machine for seasoned runners training for their next PR. With its commercial-grade motor, extra wide belt, and deep cushioning, it provides the responsiveness and resilience for intense speed work. Though the price tag exceeds standard consumer models, the 2950 was built to withstand the demands of competitive runners logging high weekly mileage.
Yet all of the treadmills covered offer benefits for runners of varying experience levels. Evaluate your own needs and running style. Seek out cushioning for injury prevention, the appropriate motor power and speed capabilities, and any tech features that will enhance your training. By selecting the best treadmill tailored for you, running indoors provides the same stellar workout as your favorite outdoor routes.
The right treadmill will keep you chasing new PRs and reaching your running potential even within your own four walls. Use this advice to find the perfect running partner ready to go stride for stride with you towards better fitness and performance.