As winter begins to melt away, and a rainy, potentially muddy spring looms on the horizon, you’re probably still looking at the option of transitioning to running outside with some sense of reluctance. After all, the air-conditioned gym is rather cozy, and the only ice you’ve ever slipped on inside of a health club slid out of someone’s pumpkin-spice protein smoothie. Despite this, you’ve still managed to burn through your only pair of running shoes.
“You know what… outdoor running sucks!” you declare to the reflection in the mirror. “From now on, I’m only running on the treadmill!”
So now that you’ve opted for a cushy life spent running on the predictable, smooth and selectable terrain of your treadmill, upon which a water bottle is always easily within arm’s reach, how should that influence your choice of running shoes?
The Three Main Considerations
1) Relevant Construction: Weather-shmeather — the elements are a non-factor when you run indoors. You may still wish to look stylish if you’re the sort of person who prefers to train with eyes upon you, but the materials that compose your shoes only need to be in service of contributing to your indoor workout, not to resisting muddy splashes or supporting you during treks through mountains.
2) Personal Running Style: If you’re only running on a treadmill, you’re probably going to be far less concerned than a competitive runner would be about whether or not your feet are striking the ground at the right point. Moreover, you may be someone who works their way up to a full-blown run from a much slower walk. If this is your preferred style, there’s a high likelihood that you’re going to end up as a heel striker by default. This means that you may be more interested than others in footwear with additional cushioning built up around the heel since your shoes are going to predictably land at the same place with each stride, and will wear down along those strike points first.
3) Minimized Trade-offs: You want your shoes to be solidly constructed and cushioned, but you’d also prefer them to be lightweight without being bulky or unwieldy. You also desire for your shoes to be stable and fit snugly without them being too tight and compromising your essential comfort level. This is another way of saying you want something that checks all of the requisite boxes on performance without making your life more difficult.
With all that in mind, now we’re off to the races…
Best Treadmill Running Shoe: Puma Deviate
Why You Should Run Straight Toward It: The Puma Deviate is well-known for the cushioning, grip and propulsion it provides, while also equipping its wearers with superior breathability and an interior that reduces irritation. This should be one of the most all-around comfortable running shoes you will ever own.
Why You Should Run for the Hills: Breathability, cushioning and grip are all fine and dandy, but you’re also paying for the sleek style and the color scheme conducive to outdoor safety while running at night. Neither of these are essential features for treadmill running, but they’re still reflected in the $125 price tag.
The Last Lap: If you decide to run exclusively indoors, you’re probably paying for a few unrequired features. However, if you ever end up taking your training outdoors, it wouldn’t hurt to own one of the best all-purpose running shoes in the world.
Best Budget Treadmill Running Shoe: ASICS Men’s Jolt 2
Why You Should Run Straight Toward It: The ASICS Men’s Jolt 2 has breathable mesh fabric, and provides shock absorption from both the interior and exterior. For those with perfectly neutral feet, this should be adequate to help them through their treadmill training for a long time.
Why You Should Run for the Hills: You get what you pay for. The ASICS Men’s Jolt 2 lacks some of the high-end performance features of more expensive running shoes, but you can only expect so much out of a $50 pair of shoes these days.
The Last Lap: If you’re a regular guy with regular feet, these perfectly regular shoes will get the job done at a third of the price of some of the fancier models. After all, when you’re sporting a shiny six-pack, no one will be looking at your feet anyway.
Best Stability Treadmill Running Shoe: Saucony Guide 14
Why You Should Run Straight Toward It: If you’re an overpronator — meaning your ankles roll inward due to the excessive arches in your feet — neutral running shoes can lead to injury. Essentially, you’ll eventually wear out the inner edge due to your imbalanced running style. The Saucony Guide 14, however, will lock your feet snugly into place to stabilize them so that you can run with the sure-footedness of a neutral-footed runner.
Why You Should Run for the Hills: Some runners have complained about these shoes with respect to a lack of lateral support, which makes them difficult to turn and corner in. This won’t apply to you if you only run on treadmills, which means you’re basically running in a straight line of infinite length. Otherwise, this can prove detrimental if you decide to take your Saucony Guide 14s outdoors.
The Last Lap: People with excessive arches need specialized running shoes, too. If your only goal is to run on a treadmill, and you require extra stability, the Saucony Guide 14 will lock your feet squarely into a position of comfort.
Best Heel-Strike Treadmill Running Shoe: Brooks Ghost 14
Why You Should Run Straight Toward It: For many runners of the heel-striking variety, there’s no other shoe they will even consider. The Brooks Ghost 14 provides them with the additional heel cushioning they seek, and several runners with flat feet even find that these shoes supplement the support that disappeared as they gradually lost the natural arches of their feet. Others find that they’re perfect for walking, which means that those who alternate between walking and running will also have their needs met regardless of which method of ambulation they opt for.
Why You Should Run for the Hills: Some customers have complained that the toe spacing of the Brooks Ghost 14 is cramped. This may cause the selected size that ordinarily fits you to feel like it runs small. Others have lamented that the cushioning, while ample, can feel exceedingly stiff when actively engaged in running. We should also consider that heel-strike running isn’t the most desirable running style from a technical standpoint. And so, if you ever decide to go out of your way to run more skillfully, these shoes may eventually serve as a handicap.
The Last Lap: Many people who heel strike quickly wear through the cushioning in their heels, which leaves them unsupported, and leads to unnecessary pain throughout their lower extremities. If you’d prefer to learn to run in a manner that won’t cause you to heel strike, a gait analysis can help with that. But if you’d prefer to go with the flow, these shoes will save your legs from some unnecessary aches and pains.
Best Heel-Strike Budget Treadmill Running Shoe: Reebok Floatride
Why You Should Run Straight Toward It: The Reebok Floatride has the additional cushioning you require as a heel striker, along with breathability and a relatively lightweight design — everything most heel strikers need if the only place they intend to run is on a treadmill.
Why You Should Run for the Hills: Multiple people have complained that the Reebok Floatride seems to run small and pinch the toes. Other common criticisms have included the squeakiness of the shoe when it’s in use. Then again, you’re spending $50 for a specialty shoe, so you can only request so much value from it.
The Last Lap: If you’re interested in accommodating your heel-striking tendency without spending more than a hundred bucks, and you don’t need to be seen wearing the most stylish shoe in the gym, the Reebok Floatride will sufficiently cushion your heels and keep you functioning optimally for far less money than the premium alternatives.