Contrary to a lot of runners, I love the treadmill. It always bothers me when I see people refer to treadmills as “dreadmills” because the treadmill is my favorite material thing in our house. It has really gone the distance with me. Ha! I started out using the treadmill as a means to walk at an incline and read for my exercise. This was before I became a runner, and it served as a great foundation for me. I ran my first marathon in 2013, and that is when my treadmill finally realized its full potential and helped me fulfill my training.
Here are a few reasons that I love the treadmill:
- I can control the incline (I run at 3% or > for all of my runs)
- I can control the speed (actually really good for intervals)
- The surface is shock absorbing so impact is minimized
- I read and run, so I consume books at a rate of about 1/week
- A bathroom is always near (very helpful when running through pregnancy)
- It is light in my basement when it is dark outside
- Bad weather doesn’t keep me from a run
- I can run without coordinating childcare for my baby
I currently have the Landice L8, and I love this machine! We bought it off of Craigslist in 2014, and it has been my staple almost every weekday morning. A good treadmill for serious running needs to be really solid, and will probably be an investment. I bought my treadmill used, but there is always a risk with used exercise equipment that you might not get as many miles out of it. Used gym equipment has probably been well maintained, but it also probably has A LOT of miles on it. On the other hand, used gym equipment is generally bigger and sturdier, which is a great benefit.
Here are the specifications that you should look for in a good home treadmill for serious running:
Motor power: My treadmill has a 4HP continuous duty drive motor, which is ideal for running. If you only plan to walk, you can get away with less horsepower.
Running area: It is recommended that the running area be at least 20″x60″. My treadmill has a 22” x 63” running area, and it is perfect for both my husband and me.
Incline: My last treadmill only went up to 10%, and I was happy with that. Now that I have a treadmill that goes to 15%, I don’t think I’d want to go back. I like to “hike” at the 15% level for cross training.
Speed: My treadmill goes from 0 to 12 MPH, and that has always been sufficient for me. If you are looking to break 5 minute miles, you may want to invest in something speedier.
Shock absorption: Landice claims to use commercial grade materials for high quality construction. With that, they have a special shock absorption system that they say is 5x softer than grass. I would think that any treadmill that focuses on meeting running needs will also have a pretty robust shock absorption system.
Programs: this is not anything that I have ever used, and my Landice has very basic programming. I have always thought that the more complex the computer, the more chance that it might malfunction. On the other hand, it would be pretty cool to be able to simulate a race day scenario in a treadmill program!
Book Prop: this might sound silly, but it is really important to me that I can see my book on the console of the treadmill. The same should be true for you if you are wanting to watch Netflix on your tablet. Also note where the rails are located to make sure that you feel comfortable with your arm swing.
Warranty: my treadmill has a lifetime warranty on all parts as long as I have a bill of lading. If you invest a lot of money in your treadmill, it is worth it to look into this aspect as well. If you buy used, make sure to ask for proof of purchase!
I always recommend keeping your equipment well maintained. We have our treadmill serviced once a year, and we add lubrication to the belt about every eight months if we’ve been using it for a heavy training period. It is very important to make sure that the belt is aligned and fixed at the right tightness because it can wear out the motor if not. A shot motor is a very expensive thing to fix, and it makes for a very ineffective treadmill.
Do you use the treadmill regularly in your training?