Not all treadmills are designed for running, especially home treadmills. That might sound strange, but it’s true. The best home treadmill for running should be large enough to fit runners of all sizes and it should be powerful enough to reach and maintain sprinting speeds. Unfortunately, there are a ton of home treadmills out there that simply can’t keep up.
If you are looking for a treadmill that has what it takes, continue reading. The treadmills discussed below all meet the essential criteria to ensure they can hold up to elite and beginning runners alike.
Essential criteria? How do we know whether a treadmill is good for running or not? Great question.
What Makes A Good Treadmill For Running?
Before we dive right into the reviews, I think it’s important to know what we should be looking for in our running treadmills. I mentioned in the intro that not all treadmills can handle running (or are good at handling running). Maybe I should start by explaining myself a little.
Which treadmills are not good for running? Well, right off the bat, manual treadmills. They are too small and too lightweight to withstand the forces applied during running. They are also set on a constant incline to help keep the belt moving since there is no motor to do so- nobody wants to run uphill all the time, every time. It’s true, no matter how hardcore you are.
Small electric treadmills are usually too weak to handle serious running as well. Smaller users might be able to get away with running on a treadmill with a 1.5 or 2.0 HP motor, but it’s not a good idea. Just isn’t going to last. And it will probably have a hard time keeping up if you try to run over 6.0 mph.
Treadmills will small belts are also a no-no. If the runnings surface is too short, you aren’t going to be able to stretch out comfortably at higher speeds. And if the treadmill is too narrow, you are going to feel like you have to run in a straight line to make sure you don’t fall off.
So what should we look for on a treadmill if we want to run? Let’s take a look at the top 3 considerations:
The motor should be one of the first things you look at when comparing running treadmills. The motor should be at least 3.0 HP. Horse power is often referred to as continuous horse power, or CHP. For those interested, HP technically refers to the maximum power a motor can reach. CHP refers to the maximum power a motor can maintain over time.
Experts agree that CHP is more important than HP. And really, a motor that has a CHP of 3.0 is more powerful than a motor that can reach a HP of 3.0.
Home running treadmills should range between 3-4 CHP. This power is necessary to reach higher speeds and maintain those running speeds for heavier users. After all, a proper running treadmill should be able to tolerate larger individuals running as well. The stronger motors will also have less chance of over-heating and breaking down with frequent use.
Belt length, or running surface, is another big one. The problem with a lot of smaller home treadmills is, well, that they’re too small to run comfortably. Because after all, the best running treadmill needs to be roomy and comfortable, even when you are stretching out your stride to maintain those higher speeds. But how big is big enough?
That depends on your height and leg length, but generally speaking, you should look for a belt length of at least 55 inches. If you are over 6′ tall, you should be looking for a belt length closer to 60 inches– you’re going to want to be able to comfortably stretch out for a natural stride.
But what about width? You want to make sure you are comfortable side-to-side as well. A great treadmill for running should be at least 20 inches wide. Wider is always better. The more room you have the more comfortable you are going to be.
Running, especially running outside on asphalt, produces a lot of stress through your bones and joints. That’s why so many runners get shin splints and stress fractures, fyi. And one of the benefits of running on a treadmill is that you can reduce that stress significantly. Well, as long as you are using the right treadmill.
The best treadmills for running should have shock systems enabled to absorb some of the shock and reduce the amount of stress going through your body. Some treadmills are very good at this and others are not. When comparing treadmills, always consider the shock absorption system if you are planning on running frequently.
To summarize, the 3 most important things to consider when purchasing a treadmill for running are:
- Motor strength
- Size of running surface
- Shock absorption
Good. Now, on to the treadmills!
The Best Home Treadmills For Running
#1 3G Cardio Elite Runner Treadmill
The 3G Cardio Elite Runner Treadmill is currently my favorite home treadmill for running. Why? Because it effortlessly checks off all the criteria we set for ourselves up above. The 3G Cardio Elite is built like a club treadmill and comes in at about half the price of most commercial machines.
This treadmill comes equipped with a 4.0 CHP motor. This is on the high-end of the range we should be looking for (at least 3.o CHP). This powerful motor will allow you to reach a max speed of 12 mph and a max incline of 15%. It’s also powerful and durable enough for users up to 400 lb. This is a great treadmill for the larger runners out there.
The 3G Cardio Elite has a running surface of 22″ x 62″. This gives you an extra 2 in of width and length over the recommended size for people over 6′ tall. This makes the 3G a very spacious running treadmill. Also makes it great for the runners who are significantly over 6′. With a length of 62″, you shouldn’t have any problem stretching out during your sprints.
Lets talk shock absorption. This treadmill has an Ortho Flex Shock system designed to absorb the stress created as you land on the belt. This will reduce the amount of force your legs and joints have to absorb, which means less pain and less chance of injury. The 3G Cardio Elite also has an orthopedic belt which is thicker and softer than most traditional treadmill belts. This, in combination with the shock absorption system, makes running on the Cardio Elite a comfortable experience.
The 3G Cardio Elite has a powerful motor, large running surface, and a great shock absorption system. But it also has a few extra features I think you will appreciate as well:
- 1 Touch Inclines gives you the ability to rapidly increase or decrease your incline by 1% with the touch of a button
- The Speed Acceleration feature increases your running speed by 1 mph in 1.5 seconds- this works perfectly for interval running, a great way to get your heart rate up and burn more calories
- Speaking of heart rate, the 3G Cardio Elite comes with grip heart rate monitoring and an included chest strap heart rate monitor
- 10 built-in workout programs will ensure you never get bored with your workouts. You can simply hit a program and start running or create your own with the 1 touch features
- An amazing warranty: lifetime motor, lifetime frame, 10-year parts, 2-year labor. This warranty is one of the best around and will give you peace of mind. This treadmill is designed to last and the warranty is here to ensure it does.
Overall, the 3G Cardio Elite Runner Treadmill is a treadmill designed for runners. This thing is built like a tank. Which is important because you don’t want to feel your treadmill moving under you as you run.
If you would like to learn more about the 3G Cardio Elite Runner and see what other users are saying, click below.
#2 Lifespan TR4000i Folding Treadmill
The Lifespan TR4000i Folding Treadmill combines the function of a great running treadmill with the space saving design of a folding treadmill. The result is a great combination for runners who have limited space in their workout area. When you are finished working out, simply fold the treadmill away with the EZFold technology until it’s time for your next run.
The TR4000i is packing a 3.25 CHP motor. Not quite as strong as the 3G above, but still plenty of muscle to reach and maintain speeds up to 12 mph. The TR4000i also has 15 levels of available incline. High speeds combined with steep inclines will challenge even the most experienced runners. Speaking of power, this treadmill can do this with users up to 350 lb.
The Lifespan TR4000i has a running surface of 20″ x 60″. This is a large belt size that can comfortably accommodate users well over 6′ tall. It should also be long enough to ensure you have plenty of room to stretch out and enjoy your natural gait pattern regardless of how fast you are running.
This treadmill comes loaded with 8 compression shocks throughout the deck, designed to absorb the forces while you run (so your joints don’t have to). This extra shock absorption will make your runs, especially your longer runs, feel more comfortable. More comfortable than road running even.
Additional features the Lifespan TR4000i can offer runners include:
- 21 preprogrammed workouts gives you almost endless variety in your workouts. You won’t have to worry about coming up with your own programs on this machine (unless you want to)
- A chest strap heart rate monitor is included to help you keep tracking of your effort during your runs
- Lightweight frame that is easy to fold and store away when not in use. This treadmill is great for runners with limited floor space.
- Great warranty: lifetime frame and motor, 5-year parts, 1-year labor
The Lifespan TR4000i is amongst the top folding treadmills for runners. It comes with a powerful motor, large running surface, and great warranty. It’s stats aren’t quite as impressive as the 3G, but it’s price isn’t quite as high either.
#3 Proform Pro 9000
The Proform Pro 9000 made the list not only because it meets the essential criteria, but because it offers a ton of other features runners are going to appreciate. The Pro 9000 is a great choice for runners who are currently using iFit, or who want to start. The massive, 10′ HD screen is the perfect companion for the personal training videos and location runs possible through the fitness app.
The Pro 9000 has a 4.0 CHP Mach Z motor. At 4.0 CHP, this is one of the stronger home treadmills on the market. This power allows the Pro 9000 to operate at high speeds without overheating. The end result not only feels better for you, but also ensures that the motor will last longer. This treadmill has a max speed of 12 mph and incline settings that range from -3% to 15%.
The running surface for the Proform Pro 9000 is 22″ x 60″. The extra-wide running space gives you more room for horizontal shift- that is, you don’t have to worry about running in a straight line because if you do sway a little (which is normal), you won’t have to worry about stepping off the belt. The 60″ length also gives you plenty of space to stretch out fully at higher speeds.
Deck cushioning is something Proform takes seriously. They have their own system called ProShox. This shock absorbing feature is designed to reduce the amount of shock your body has to absorb regardless of whether you are walking or running. The ProShox system is air-based and, according to Proform, can reduce the stress through your legs by up to 28%.
The Proform Pro 9000 has a few more features I think you runners will find interesting, including:
- 40 programmed workouts ready to go as soon as you turn the machine on. If you subscribe to iFit, you will have unlimited options. This is a great treadmill for people who want as much workout variety as possible.
- Digital quick speed and quick decline controls allows you to instantly set a speed or incline setting with the push of a button. Speaking of incline, the Pro 9000 also declines to simulate running downhill- which is important for the runners training indoors for outdoor events.
- Wireless chest strap heart rate monitor included to accurately monitor your effort during your runs
- A folding frame that will reduce the amount of space it takes up when not in use
- An integrated tablet holder that gives you access to your smart devices while running. This is really handy if you like to watch Netflix while you run.
- Great warranty: lifetime frame and motor, 5-year parts, 2-year labor.
The Proform Pro 9000 is a large, powerful treadmill designed with runners in mind. It offers many high-tech features to make your runs more interesting and more entertaining. It also folds, which is convenient if space is an issue. At its current price, the Pro 9000 is tough to beat.
#4 Sole F85 Folding Treadmill
Sole has produced many high-end home fitness machines over the years, and the F85 Folding Treadmill is no exception. As Sole’s best seller, this treadmill has a powerful motor, a large deck, and the ability to handle users up to 400 lb. All of this and more has earned the Sole F85 a place on this list.
The F85 is rocking a 4.0 CHP DC motor. Similar to most of the treadmills mentioned above, this motor can reach a top speed of 12 mph and an top incline setting of 15% without overheating. The fact that users up to 400 lb can run safely on this treadmill tells us a lot about how powerful and well-built it is.
The running surface on the Sole F85 is a spacious 22″ x 60″. This treadmill also has the extra wide belt for a little more wiggle room during your run. Runners over 6′ tall shouldn’t have any issues here with the 60″ long belt.
Sole’s Cushion Flex Whisper Deck technology was designed to reduce shock during use and keep the treadmill operating as quietly as possible. According to Sole, this cushioning system reduces shock as much as 40% when compared to running outside on pavement. The F85 is equipped with this technology to keep your runs quiet and comfortable, as well as reducing your chances of injury.
Other runner friendly features the F85 has include:
- 8 total workout programs to choose from, including custom workouts you can create
- Grip and chest strap heart rate monitors included to ensure the most accurate readings during your workouts
- Large, 9″ LCD display screen for viewing your workout stats
- A folding deck that can significantly reduce the amount of floor space taken up while not in use
- Great warranty: lifetime frame and motor, 5-year electronics, 2-year labor
Overall, the Sole F85 Folding Treadmill is a workhorse. This treadmill is designed for power and durability. If you aren’t concerned as much with maximum workout variety, this may be a good choice for you. The F85 is priced very similarly to the Pro 9000. Where as the Pro 9000 wins in the workout and tech departments, the F85 is superior in terms of durability.
#5 Horizon Fitness Elite T9
The Horizon Fitness Elite T9 is another folding treadmill that works great for running. The T9 meets all 3 of our essential criteria for running treadmills and is also incorporates several additional features that will make your workouts more enjoyable. Horizon Fitness is another big name in home fitness equipment and the T9 is their most advanced treadmill to date.
The T9 comes with a 3.25 HP motor. This is a little weaker than the other treadmills we’ve looked at so far, but that’s part of the reason it’s coming in at number 5. It’s over 3.o though, so it will be powerful enough to reach and maintain those higher speeds comfortably without blowing out the motor. Like all of the others discussed thus far, the T9 can reach a max speed of 12 mph.
The running surface on this treadmill is 22″ x 60″. I think you will appreciate the extra 2 inches in width offered by this and some of the other treadmills already discussed. With a 60″ long belt, even taller runners will be able to run comfortably with their normal gait pattern.
The Horizon Fitness Elite T9 has a unique Variable Response Cushioning system. The firmness of the track varies based on the location- it’s softer near the front and more firm near the back. The idea is that it gives you more cushioning at the front when your foot is landing (where most of the shock would be) and less at the back where you are pushing off. The result is a great shock absorbing track that will make running more comfortable.
Here are a few more key features the T9 offers for runners:
- 40 programmed workouts for ultimate variety- no way you are going to get bored on this treadmill
- Inclines up to 15% for added intensity
- Passport ready- connect the passport player (sold separately) and you can connect your tv to the treadmill to see footage of different environments while your treadmill mimics the terrain automatically
- Good warranty: lifetime frame and motor, 5-year parts, 2-year labor
Overall, the Horizon Fitness Elite T9 is a solid folding treadmill. It’s large enough and powerful enough to run comfortably on, but I think the price is too high. Unless you are sold on the passport player, I see no reason to choose this treadmill over the F85 of Pro 9000.
#6 NordicTrack C 1650
The NordicTrack C 1650 is one of the most affordable treadmills that can actually handle serious running. At almost half the price of some of the treadmills already discussed, the C 1650 offers a ton of high-tech features you wouldn’t expect to see in this price range. The features are great, but it also has the power and size that a proper running treadmill should provide.
Speaking of power, the NordicTrack C 1650 comes loaded with a 3.5 CHP motor that can comfortably maintain a max speed of 12 mph. It also reach a max incline of 12% and handle users up to 300 lb. The strong motor will make your treadmill operate smoothly and quietly at any speed.
The C 1650 has a 20″ x 60″ running surface. Not quite as roomy as some of the other treadmills on the list, but big enough for most of us to feel comfortable. This is also a folding treadmill, so storing it out of the way when not in use isn’t an issue. The lightweight frame makes it easy to roll away if you have to transport it from room to room.
NordicTrack includes an interesting shock absorption system on their treadmills. It’s actually adjustable– giving you the ability to increase or decrease the amount of cushioning to your liking. Simply turn the dial to choose between a cushiony run or a firmer, more road-like experience.
Here are a few of the high-tech features the C 1650 includes:
- 10″ full color touchscreen display that is compatible with iFit for unlimited workouts, maps, and other goodies
- Adjustable tablet holder gives the ability to access entertainment from your smart device during your runs- this is great if you like to watch movies or tv shows while you exercise
- 34 programmed workouts, each designed by a certified personal trainer- even if you don’t want to pay for the iFit subscription, you will have plenty of workouts to choose from
- AutoBreeze fan adapts the intensity of the air to match your workouts (or you can set it manually) to keep you cooler during your runs
- Warranty: lifetime frame and motor, 5-year parts, 2-year labor
On paper, the NordicTrack C 1650 has everything you need and more for a great running treadmill. It’s also reasonably priced, but user reviews vary greatly. It has a good warranty, but customer service is a common complaint.
#7 Precor TRM 223 Energy Series Treadmill
The Precor TRM 223 Energy Series Treadmill comes in at number 7 on our list because it does have many of the features we should be looking for in a running treadmill, but it would work best for smaller runners. Precor is another high quality manufacturer who produces both home and commercial fitness equipment. Precor tried to incorporate some of the commercial grade features into their Energy Series machines.
The Precor TRM 223 comes with a 3.0 CHP motor. This is on the smaller end of our preferred range, but should still be strong enough to provide a comfortable and confident feel. It can still reach a max speed of 12 mph and offer inclines up to 15%. The TRM 223 has a max user weight capacity of 300 lb. This treadmill obviously isn’t as powerful as some we’ve discussed, but should still accommodate most of us.
The running surface on the Precor TRM 223 is 20″ x 57″. The belt width is fine, but I’d like to see the length a little longer to ensure a comfortable fit for taller runners. At 57″, if you are under 6′ tall you will probably fit just fine. But if you are over 6′, I would recommend considering a treadmill with a longer belt.
The Precor excels in the shock absorption category. Precor took the Energy Stride cushioning technology from their commercial machines and included it on the 223. This system is similar to the Horizon Fitness Elite T9’s system where different parts of the deck are cushioned more than others. The result is more comfort where you need it without the entire deck feeling like a trampoline.
Here are a few extra features I think you will appreciate:
- 5″ high contrast LCD screen for viewing and tracking all of your workout stats
- 2 stored user profiles for keeping track of your workout preferences, it also gives your more accurate stats and saves time at the beginning of your workout
- 9 programmed workouts
- Chest strap heart rate monitor compatible, but not included
- Warranty: lifetime frame and motor, 5-year parts, 3-year console, 1-year labor
The Precor TRM 223 is a solid running treadmill for smaller folks. If you are under 6′ tall and aren’t worried about all the high-tech features, this could be a good choice. Precor produces great fitness machines, but the price on the 223 is pretty steep.
#8 Matrix Fitness T50 Treadmill
The Matrix Fitness T50 Treadmill is a well-built machine that is durable enough to handle folks up to 400 lb. The T50 also happens to be the fastest treadmill on the list, so if you are a sprinter, this could be the right machine for you. Matrix also develops commercial machines, so they know what it takes to build something that lasts.
The T50 has a 3.25 CHP motor that can reach a max speed of 12.5 mph. This is 0.5 mph faster than any other treadmill on this list. If you are fast enough to reach 12.5 mph on a treadmill, my hat is off to you! The T50 can also reach an incline of 15%. This combination of speed and incline is the perfect recipe for a brutal workout.
The running surface on the T50 is 20″ x 60″. This is large enough for users of all sizes to comfortably run. You are going to need that full 60″ long belt when you are sprinting all out at those higher speeds.
The T50’s patented Ultimate Deck System is the same cushioning feature they use in their commercial grade treadmills. This gives you the comfortable feel of running on a club treadmill. It will also make you less likely to be achy during and after your runs.
Here are few additional features that make this a great running treadmill:
- Built-in “Sprint 8” HIIT workouts- if you like sprinting, you can use this workout for high speed running- guaranteed to burn loads of calories
- Console variety- you have choices with which console you choose. From the simple standard console, to the advanced XIR option, you can pick a display screen that fits your needs. The XER and XIR options have large touch screens designed for high-tech workout apps and web browsing
- Chest strap heart rate monitor compatible, however one not included
- Great Warranty: lifetime frame, motor, and cushioning; 7-year parts, 2-year labor
The Matrix Fitness T50 is a durable treadmill designed to feel like a commercial grade machine. This treadmill is big enough and strong enough to accommodate the biggest runners and it comes with one of the best warranties out there. If you are looking for a treadmill that will last, this is a good choice. It’s a bummer you have to pay more for the console upgrades.
#9 3G Cardio Pro Runner Treadmill
I’m a big fan of the 3G Cardio treadmills, after all, the Cardio Elite made my number one choice. I’m just impressed with the combination of quality and price 3G seems to be able to pull off. Anyway, the Cardio Pro Runner is a smaller version of the Cardio Elite Runner. The belt is a little smaller and the motor is less powerful, but it’s still a great running treadmill for your home gym.
The 3G Cardio Pro Runner has a 3.0 CHP motor. This is a full horse weaker than the Elite Runner, but this treadmill can still reach a max speed of 12 mph and a max incline of 15%. Although this motor is a little less powerful, the Cardio Pro can still accommodate runners up to 350 lb, which is pretty impressive for a folding treadmill.
The running surface is where we see the biggest difference between the Pro and Elite versions. The Pro Runner has a running surface of 20.5″ x 58″. The width is fine, but 58″ could be a little tight for you if you are 6′ tall or taller. I think this treadmill would be more comfortable for runners under 6′.
The 3G Cardio Pro doesn’t have the same Ortho Flex Shock suspension system unfortunately, but it does have the same orthopedic belt as the Cardio Elite Runner. The extra thick, soft belt will add to the comfort of your run, making it more comfortable than running outside.
Here are a few more great features the 3G Cardio Pro comes with:
- Ability to fold away when not in use, great for smaller workout areas
- One touch controls to quickly set speed and incline settings during your workouts
- 8 built-in workouts and 2 custom workouts to keep you busy (and not bored)
- Great warranty: lifetime frame and motor, 5-year parts, 1-year labor
Overall, the 3G Cardio Pro Runner is a great running treadmill that also folds. It’s better equipped for shorter runners due to the short running surface. If you are looking for a folding treadmill and don’t need the high-tech features, this is a nice one to consider.
#10 NordicTrack C 990 Treadmill
Rounding out the list is the NordicTrack C 990. This is a smaller version of the C 1650 mentioned above. The C 1650 is well priced, but the C 990 is even better (price wise). If you are looking for an affordable treadmill that can actually stand up to regular running, the C 990 is a smart choice.
The NordicTrack C 990 comes with a 3.0 CHP motor that can comfortably reach a max speed of 12 mph and a max incline of 12%. This motor is a little weaker than the 1650’s and is on the low end of our desired range, but it’s still got enough oomph for a quiet, smooth experience. For the price range, I think you will be pleasantly surprised with how smooth the C990 operates.
The C 990 is packing a running surface of 20″ x 60″ which is more impressive than treadmills that cost 2x as much. This is plenty of space for a comfortable run regardless of your height.
This treadmill comes with the same FlexSelect cushioning system that is found on the C 1650. This system gives you the ability to decide how much cushioning you get during your run. Turn the dial to decide on a softer run or a firmer run that feels more like running outside on the road.
Additional features the NordicTrack C 990 can offer you include:
- 7″ full-color touchscreen display- this large, beautiful screen is perfect for interacting with iFit or simply choosing your workouts and viewing your metrics
- 32 preprogrammed workouts will keep you on your toes for years to come. It will be difficult to get bored on this treadmill with so much workout variety included
- Adjustable tablet holder for using your favorite smart device while you run
- Option to fold the treadmill in half when not in use for saving space
- AutoBreeze fan that automatically adjusts its speed depending on your workout intensity
- Solid warranty: lifetime frame and motor, 3-year parts, 1-year labor
The NordicTrack C 990 is a great running treadmill at a great price. It has a large running surface, a great cushioning system, and plenty of high-tech features to keep you entertained. The C 990 is a great alternative to the C 1650 if the larger display screen doesn’t matter to you.
The best treadmill for running should meet some fairly specific criteria to ensure that it can a)hold up to the stresses of running and b) feel comfortable while being used. I think the best way to ensure a treadmill can do both of those is to look at the motor, the size of the running surface, and the cushioning system being utilized.
Motors need to be strong enough to reach and maintain high speeds comfortably- a minimum of 3.0 CHP, but 4.0 CHP is preferred. Running surfaces need to be wide and long enough to accommodate different stride lengths- 20″ x 60″ is preferred, but bigger is always better. Cushioning systems should be sophisticated enough to significantly reduce the stresses being applied to your legs.
Although these 3 features are essential for making a good running treadmill, it’s also important to consider the additional features a treadmill can offer. I think you should always pay close attention to max user capacity and warranty, especially. All of the treadmills I chose for this list have weight capacities of at least 300 lb and pretty solid warranties.
Features like bluetooth connectivity, heart rate monitors, and workout programs should be considered as well. These features will definitely add to your enjoyment during use, but not everyone is in to workout apps and high-tech stuff. Just think about what is most important to you to make your workouts enjoyable.
Which may be most important anyway. You have to enjoy using your chosen treadmill or odds are you won’t be using it for very long.