Best running shoes for treadmill

by Solereview editors
Published: Last Updated on

The Nike Pegasus 40 on a treadmill.

This article has been updated with current models for March 2024. The Saucony Ride 16 has been updated with its current version. The New Balance Rebel V4 is a new addition. The Asics Hyper Speed has been removed.

The adidas adios 8 on treadmill.

Most people run on treadmills only if they have to. Maybe you’re a business traveler trying to catch a quick workout between meetings. Or you live in one of these cities where the polluted air turns the lungs black.

Perhaps it’s a snowy winter, or there are no sidewalks or parks nearby. Or it could be the opposite, with the outside temperatures hot enough to fry an egg.

Whatever the reason, you’ve finally decided to embrace treadmill running, and guess what, you need a pair of running shoes. Finding one sounds easy, right? Not exactly.

There are two important differences between road and treadmill runs.

We’ll begin by stating the very, very obvious:

On the road, if you stop running, you stop. On the treadmill, if you stop running, you don’t. Also, people tend to run slightly faster on treadmills as compared to road running. This makes sense; considering how boring it is to run on a treadmill, you want to get it over with as soon as possible.

To account for both of these factors, a treadmill-friendly running shoe needs to be firm, stable, and grip well. Unless you’re walking on a treadmill (why on earth, though?), an ultra-soft shoe is a big no. There’s a good reason why the Nike Invincible 3 is excluded from this list.

Most treadmills are located inside a gym, so pre/post-run stretching with some lightweight training is likely a part of the workout. Under the circumstances, a stable shoe that isn’t overly soft is effective. Also, a shoe that’s suitable for treadmill runs works very well on the open road.

Here’s our recommended list of running shoes for treadmill use. We’ve prefixed the shoe name by its category so that you know what you’re buying.

1) Versatile daily trainer: Nike Pegasus 40

This versatile everyday trainer gets nearly everything right. The React foam midsole is cushioned yet supportive, and the embedded Zoom Air bags (one each under the heel and forefoot) make the ride snappy and versatile.

Last year, the Pegasus 39 went back to the dual Zoom Air bag setup, so the cushioning distribution was superior to the 37 and 38. The Nike Pegasus 40 shares its midsole with the 39, so the ride character stays unchanged. Our in-depth review of the Pegasus 40 is here.

The Nike Pegasus 40 on a treadmill.

The just-right cushioning and support of the Pegasus 40 make it suitable for treadmill runs.

The forefoot outsole of the Nike Pegasus 40.

The full coverage outsole of the Pegasus 40 has excellent grip on treadmills.

The Pegasus excels at delivering an optimal blend of cushioning and support, and that’s what makes it a good treadmill shoe. It’s not just the midsole; the aggressive forefoot lugs of the rubber outsole offer reassuring traction.

The upper has an excellent fit. The sleeved interior and midfoot straps lock the foot in for stability during treadmill sessions.

2) Versatile daily trainer: Saucony Ride 17

The Saucony Ride 17 is nothing like the Ride 16, or any other version that preceded it. This version swaps the EVA foam midsole for a Pwrrun+ kind – the same expanded Polyurethane foam that works so well on the Triumph 21.

It’s no surprise that the newest model behaves very differently than the V16. There’s more life in the midsole, but with the familiar resilience of the Pwrrun+ foam. The midsole delivers excellent feedback without being too squishy.

This ride character makes the shoe a good fit for treadmill runs, as the cushioning blends comfort with support. Underneath, the rubber outsole offers traction on the rubber belt.

The Ride 17’s upper is exactly what it needs to be – comfortable, conforming, and near seamless. The breathable interior is ideal for running in an indoor environment.

3) Lightweight cushioned trainer: Brooks Launch 10

Runners who found the past Launch (V7 and prior) versions to be overly stiff (one reader even likened it to a plank of wood) will appreciate the increased ride comfort of the newer models like the Launch V10.

Brooks has given the Launch its annual refresh, but retains most of the traits from the previous shoe. That isn’t surprising, as the Brooks Launch 10 is an upper-only tweak with no changes made to the midsole and outsole.

Like the Launch 9, the Launch 10’s lightweight upper is soft and very airy – attributes that work well within an indoor setting.

On the treadmill, the Launch 10 is no slouch. The low-profile midsole adds agility to the runs, and the rubber outsole provides ample traction in both indoor and outdoor environments.

Editor’s note: There are two versions of the Brooks Launch – the standard and ‘GTS’. The GTS variant has higher midsole sidewalls and is marketed as the ‘stability’ version. To be very frank, the difference in performance is negligible.

4) Lightweight trainer/racer: Nike ZoomX Streakfly

The Nike ZoomX Streakfly has most of the ingredients that a treadmill-friendly running shoe should have. At 6.0 ounces, it is extremely lightweight. It is also very cushioned, thanks to the soft and responsive midsole that’s made of nothing but ZoomX foam.

The Nike ZoomX Streakfly on a treadmill.

The ride comfort makes the Streakfly good for long-distance treadmill runs at a consistent pace. As we said in our review, we wished that the outsole grip was better though.

Lastly, the thin mesh upper breathes very well. That’s very helpful when running indoors with no breeze to keep the feet ventilated.

5) Lightweight cushioned trainer: New Balance Rebel V4

The New Balance Rebel has transformed into another shoe, but that doesn’t change its treadmill-friendly nature. The Rebel V4 has many features that make it suitable for treadmill runs.

For example, the wider-than-before midsole has better stability than the Rebel V3. The firmer midsole also makes it easier for the outsole to grip the treadmill (due to the decreased telescoping effect). Finally, the rocker profile makes faster indoor runs possible.

The lightweight and secure upper keeps the foot locked in for efficient power delivery.

5) Lightweight cushioned trainer: Brooks Hyperion

A couple of years ago, we found the Brooks Hyperion Tempo to be an extremely versatile trainer. The Brooks Hyperion is an updated version of the H-Tempo with many of the same ingredients.

The Brooks Hyperion uses a gas-infused EVA midsole foam (DNA Flash) to deliver a lightweight and cushioned ride that benefits the quality of transitions.

Bringing everything together is a rubber outsole that delivers dependable traction over most surfaces, including treadmill belts.

Speed-training shoes typically have a very narrow upper, but that isn’t the case here. The Hyperion’s lightweight upper is accommodating without feeling sloppy.

7) Lightweight trainer/racer: Adidas Adios 8

The adios 8 has a noticeably softer ride and roomier upper than the adios 6 and 7 but it continues to be a great pick for treadmill runs.

The Lightstrike Pro foam forefoot and Lightstrike EVA frame create a cushioned, lightweight (8 ounces), and speed-friendly midsole. Our in-depth review is here.

The adidas adios 8 on treadmill.

The large contact surface of the Continental rubber outsole delivers excellent grip on treadmill belts. The forefoot is fully covered with Continental rubber; that improves the traction efficacy on the treadmill.

The breathable upper fits like a speed shoe should; the secure fit keeps the foot locked down in runs. The adios 8 uses an inner gusset and lightweight lining materials to make the interiors comfortable.

Do you own any of these shoes? Improve this review by sharing your insights – submit a review here.

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