When the temperatures plummet and the weather isn’t on your side, you’ll be forgiven for wanting to do your running on a treadmill. Actually, treadmills are fantastic tools that can complement your outdoor running at all times of the year.
Treadmill workouts can offer lots of benefits for recreational to advanced runners, interval training, running at a specific speed, simulating inclines for uphill runs, and more. However, if you’ve never done it before, treadmill running might feel a little odd.
Read on to find out how to get started on one, what the best shoe options are for the treadmill, and a buyer’s guide so you know what to look for if you want to make a new purchase.
Personal preferences and circumstances vary widely, so treadmill running might not have been in the cards for you until now. In fact, it was during the Covid-19 lockdowns that sales of indoor exercise equipment went through the roof and brought lots more people onto the treadmills.
Research and Markets reported a 170% spike in fitness machine sales – understandably, given that you couldn’t hit the trails anymore for your dopamine fix. And it’s not just because of lockdowns that many have turned to motorized running machines. But how do you start running on a treadmill?
As a beginner, take it easy with the run-walk method to boost motivation, improve endurance and avoid injury. Warm up before jumping on the treadmill for alternating one-minute jogs and walks. Aim for ten or more reps if you’re feeling strong enough and less if your lungs are burning after the first few reps.
Don’t be hard on yourself; everyone has different starting points. You’ll get better over the weeks, but as you do, keep the increase in mileage under 10% to avoid injuries and burnout
Running on a treadmill affords you more control over your workout. You can adjust the elevation and speed and keep track of your pace, heart rate, and calories lost. Treadmills have better shock absorption than roads or pavements, which means your knees and ankles are under less stress. This is especially important for beginner runners and individuals prone to injuries.
Additional advantages for trail and road runners:
Ok, you might be hooked on the concept by now, but two questions remain: should you buy a treadmill (as opposed to running at the gym) and how do you get started?
If you’re a daily runner who needs to get their fix every morning, then buying a treadmill is a perfect choice, rather than relying on going to the gym to use theirs.
However, you should be aware that owning your own treadmill comes with some drawbacks.
Once you’re ready to kickstart your treadmill running routine, here are some great tips to keep in mind:
1. Safety first
No matter what, check the safety instructions on your new machine or, if at the gym, make sure you are given a safety intro by a member of staff.
Treadmills usually have a safety clip you can attach to clothing to ensure that you don’t fall off if you struggle with the speed – don’t neglect it!
2. Warm Up
Start off by walking and slowly increasing the pace to warm up. Then, when you’re ready, move into an easy running pace before mixing it up with speed intervals and more. You can find all this information on the console in front of you, so it’s easy to keep track of how you’re doing.
3. Take it easy
Don’t jump on your treadmill and hit the highest speed you can sustain right away. The same goes for inclines. Start off slowly, get used to walking on it first, then increase speed and incline gradually.
Most treadmills have in-built training programs you can follow, which will give you a good starting point and some ideas for workouts.
4. Wear the right shoes
This is a hot topic because repetitive strain from running on a treadmill can be harmful without some extra cushioning. You want to be wearing comfortable shoes that are designed for road running, but we wouldn’t recommend racing shoes. We’ll have a look at some top shoes below, but here’s what you should check for when buying a pair:
5. Don’t hold on to the handrails!
This is a big mistake we see people making when they use a treadmill. Holding the handrails is counterproductive and reduces your effort, so you’re getting less benefit from your workout.
Holding the handrails will lead to developing bad running form and can be quite destabilizing as well.
6. Entertain yourself
Compared to outdoor running, the treadmill can be quite dull. You’re looking at the same walls in the gym or at home, and you’re not getting any stimulation from variables like the wind, or birds singing.
To avoid becoming bored and starting to dread your treadmill, try to position it facing a TV where you can watch your favorite shows. Bring your headphones and listen to podcasts or audiobooks while you run. Treadmill running is great for catching up on things like that since you don’t have to be careful where you step!
Finally, most gyms will have in-built systems whereby you can hook up your headphones to TVs they have in front of the treadmills. It’s just one more way to bring some fun into your treadmill running.
We mentioned you’ll need a cushioned shoe that feels good when running on a treadmill, to avoid injuries and discomfort. Here are 3 great options for your first indoor runs.
This pair of running shoes will have you feeling like you’re on Cloud 9 when running on a treadmill. New Balance’s Fresh Foam midsole is fantastic, with foam that keeps any type of runner comfortable on all types of terrain.
It’s a stable shoe that suits neutral runners, but it will also help pronators thanks to the medial post designed for that. Finally, the X860 v13 features a special no-sew design on the upper to ensure optimal breathability.
Mizuno makes great athletic shoes on a relatively smaller budget. The Wave Rider 26 is a versatile shoe you can take to the streets or on the treadmill, feeling soft and responsive while also cushioned. The outsole is made of great-quality rubber that shows durability, which means you’ll get more miles for your money, too.
The Mizuno Wave Rider performs just as well as some more expensive shoes like Nike or Saucony. It’s breathable thanks to the engineered mesh upper and it’s just generally a reliable and fun daily trainer.
There’s no arguing that Brooks has had some of the best road running shoes for decades. Some greatest hits like the Brooks Adrenaline simply never fail to make it onto the best shoes list, and the Ghost is another staple just like that.
We love the Ghost 14 for the enhanced cushioning from the DNA Loft signature midsole. The soft blown rubber outsole combines with the midsole to give a feeling of airy, soft landing and forward propulsion at the same time. While Brooks Adrenaline is a better choice for runners with flat feet, the Ghost is great for neutral runners and will suit almost any level of experience, too.
How can you make sure you pick the best pair of shoes for running on the treadmill? Because of the similarities between treadmill and road running, as long as you’ve found shoes that you’re comfortable with outdoors on the pavement, you’ll probably be ok indoors, too.
However, if you’re still doubting your decision-making, here are a few tips for what to always consider:
Given that many of us may have treadmills at home, and that the trend for barefoot running is still very much alive, you might be wondering: Is it better to run barefoot or with shoes on a treadmill?
This is a difficult question, as it depends on your own experience of barefoot running. But the first thing that comes to mind is the severe friction and possibility of accidents if you don’t wear running shoes on a treadmill. Your feet will be coming in contact with a rapidly moving band that’s unforgiving, the fast it goes. Additionally, the smallest trip could land you on your back, or worse.
At the same time, you could argue that running barefoot on a treadmill is relatively safe thanks to the controlled environment. You’ll be able to ensure that the treadmill band is clean and you’re not having to change anything about your surroundings, so you’re less likely to twist an ankle or step on broken glass.
So, ultimately, whether you should run barefoot on treadmills depends largely on your own experience and abilities.
Road running shoes are the best kind to wear on a treadmill. This is because treadmills are very similar to road surfaces: you have a relatively unchanging surface and your running motion is quite repetitive and controlled.
Moreover, because of the repetitive motion and the impact on your body, more cushioned road running shoes work best to protect you from injury on a treadmill. If you are still on the fence, find out how to find the right running shoes for you here.
Many people wonder, “How long do running shoes last on a treadmill?” We’ve already established that running on a treadmill is generally pretty similar to road running. With that in mind, we can also agree that “miles are miles” and that the more you run in your shoes, whatever the surface, the quicker the outsoles will wear out.
However, as running on the treadmill involves moving with the band and there is absolutely no variation in underfoot conditions, there could be slightly less abrasion against the outsole than outside. So, while popular advice suggests that running shoes should be changed every 300-500 miles, we think you can get a little bit longer out of treadmill shoes.
To know if your shoes are wearing out, check the following: