Buying a Running Treadmill

Running outdoors may be nice, but it isn’t always safe or convenient.  Buying a running treadmill for your home can insure that you always get in your workout, regardless of the conditions outside.

What should you look for when buying a treadmill for running?  How much should you expect to spend?  Will just any treadmill suffice?

Running versus Walking on a Treadmill

The act of running creates considerably more impact upon the body than merely walking.  Running creates impact forces that equal at least two times the body weight of the runner.  This kind of force can greatly affect parts of the body, such as the knees, ankles, shins, hips, and back.

Running on a treadmill can greatly reduce the impact upon the lower body, as well as the risk of injury.  However, you shouldn’t settle for just any treadmill if you are a runner!

You may be able to get by with treadmill for walking.  Nevertheless, with all the pounding and impact that accompanies running, a heavier, sturdier, more durable and powerful treadmill is recommended.

What to Look for in a Running Treadmill

If you’re buying a treadmill for running, expect to pay a minimum of $1500 for a decent model.  A really good home treadmill for running could cost as much as $3,000 or more.  If you spend less than $1500 for a running treadmill, you can expect a lot of maintenance issues and a short treadmill life.

The treadmill machine you choose needs to be heavy and sturdy enough to provide a smooth, quiet workout.  If the machine wobbles and shakes and makes a lot of noise when in use, beware!  It isn’t a high quality treadmill machine.  It isn’t durable enough to handle runners, and it probably won’t last very long if put to constant use.

The motor for a running treadmill should be no less than 2.5HP continuous-duty.  (In actuality, a 2.5HP continuous-duty motor is better suited to slower-paced jogging.) Ideally, you should look for a treadmill with at least a 3.0HP continuous-duty motor.  A heavier runner might even want to consider a 3.5 continuous-duty horsepower motor or higher. 

Consider your height, when shopping for a running treadmill.  You need a treadmill machine that has a long enough treadbelt to comfortably accommodate your stride length.  If you are a tall runner, look for a machine that has a 58” long (or longer) running surface.  (The size of the running surface or active surface is the actual length and width of the belt surface that you can run on.)  You certainly do not want to feel confined or feel that you are about to run off the end of the belt during exercise sessions!

Additional Features to Consider

Because a decent running treadmill is large and weighs so much, you might want to consider a folding unit, such as the Smooth 6.75 Treadmill, for easy storage…especially if you have limited space in your home.

A heart rate control is a nice feature to have that automatically adjusts the intensity of your workouts based upon your desired heart rate level.  This feature is standard on a number of running treadmill models.

Various models of running treadmills have a number of additional features that may or may not appeal to the average runner.  These features are often designed to make your exercise sessions less tedious and more comfortable.  However, these options do not necessarily add to the quality of the treadmill.  So, be sure to base your decision on buying a running treadmill, above all else, on the quality and dependability of the machine.  If it happens to have some extras that appeal to you, so much the better!

Written by Cyndi Waters
Fitness Researcher and Writer, Former Personal Trainer    


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