Best running shoes for treadmill

by Solereview editors
Published: Last Updated on

The Nike Pegasus 39 on a treadmill

This article was updated for October 2022; the adidas adios 6 has been replaced with the updated version.

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.

The Continental rubber outsole lugs of the adidas adios 6.

The adios 6’s outsole grip is phenomenal – just what you need on a treadmill.

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 ZoomX Invincible Run doesn’t get a mention.

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: Air Zoom Nike Pegasus 39

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.

And if you have to know, the Pegasus 39 is a significant improvement over the Pegasus 37 and 38. The cushioning distribution is superior, and so is the new upper. If you’re interested, our detailed review has more.

The Nike Pegasus 39 on a treadmill

The side profile of the Nike Pegasus 39.

The just-right cushioning and support of the Pegasus 39 makes it suitable for treadmill runs.

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

The upper fit also helps. The sleeved interior locks the foot in for stability during treadmill sessions.

2) Versatile daily trainer: Saucony Ride 15

The Saucony Ride had always been the firmest running shoe within the mid-priced neutral trainer category.

All that changes with the significantly redesigned Ride 15. The taller midsole has a higher level of cushioning, and even has a thick insole made of Pwrrun+ foam. For those who are unfamiliar with Pwrrun+, it’s an expanded Polyurethane foam – the same material that adidas Boost is made of.

The Pwrrun midsole foam of the Saucony Ride 15.

No matter what Saucony claims, the Pwrrun midsole has a firm ride.

Despite the sweeping updates, the Ride 15’s midsole is still firm, and that makes running on motorized surfaces less of a chore. The single-density firmness feels efficient when clocking higher speeds while providing enough comfort – should your runs be longer than 10 km. To know more, read our in-depth review of the Ride 15.

The Ride 15’s upper is exactly what it needs to be – comfortable, conforming, and near seamless. It’s a lot more breathable than any of the previous ride, and that’s ideal for running in an indoor environment.

3) Lightweight cushioned trainer: Brooks Launch 9

Last year, the Brooks Launch 8 stayed true to its brief as a lightweight daily trainer, but took a different path than its predecessors. The ride quality changed from noticeably firm (the Launch 7) to a more compliant and softer midsole.

Runners who found the past Launch models to be overly stiff (one reader even likened it to a plank of wood) appreciated the increased ride comfort of the Launch 8. Well, guess what – the 2022 Launch 9 is here. Brooks has given it a top-to-bottom redesign, but retains the essence of the Launch 8.

Like the Launch 8, the L-9’s lightweight upper is soft and very airy – attributes that work well within an indoor setting.

Despite the softened ride, the Launch 9 is no slouch. The low-profile midsole adds agility to the runs, and the rubber outsole provides ample traction over the treadmill.

4) Lightweight cushioned trainer: Saucony Kinvara 13

The Kinvara has always been an excellent low offset and lightweight trainer to do it all, including in-gym runs.

However, our view is that the Kinvara 13 performs better on the treadmill than the 10 and 11. The 13 has the same midsole and outsole as the 12, so both the models perform well on the treadmill.

The heel view of the Saucony Kinvara 13.

The Saucony Kinvara 13 on a treadmill.

The midsole has a flared geometry that results in a more supportive heel and forefoot.

While firm, the EVA foam midsole has enough cushioning for high-mileage treadmill sessions. From a grip point of view, the grooved outsole doesn’t disappoint.

The breathable toe-box of the Saucony Kinvara 13.

The Kinvara 13’s interiors have excellent ventilation.

The inner sleeve of the Saucony Kinvara 13.

The half-sleeved upper is soft and breathable.

What’s also new about the Kinvara 13 is the smooth and well-ventilated upper that creates a secure fit environment. Unlike the 12, the K-13 doesn’t have a full sleeve, so the air circulation is better.

Here’s our in-depth review of the Kinvara 13.

5) 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 treadmills runs at a consistent pace. As pointed out in our review, we wish 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.

6) Lightweight cushioned trainer: Brooks Hyperion Tempo

During our detailed testing, we found the Brooks Hyperion Tempo to be extremely versatile.

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

Outsole lugs of the Brooks Hyperion Tempo

The dense colony of rubber lugs on the Brooks Hyperion Tempo’s outsole offers excellent grip on the treadmill.

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

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

7) Lightweight cushioned trainer: New Balance Fresh Foam X Tempo V2

For 2022, New Balance has updated the Tempo with a brand new upper and midsole. The Fresh Foam gets a ‘X’ suffix, but it’s not a huge step forward, but rather a fine-tuned version of the previous midsole.

The Fresh Foam X Tempo V2 delivers the same value proposition as the Tempo V1, except that the semi-stretch upper offers a higher level of interior comfort. There’s a bit of the Zante Pursuit in the Tempo V2, if you know what we mean.

The midsole cushioning delivers the sweet spot between firm and soft, and the overall ride experience feels very smooth. Though the Tempo lacks the responsiveness of newer Balance models like the Rebel V2, that isn’t a negative trait on motorized surfaces.

8) Lightweight trainer/racer: Adidas adizero Adios 7

Just like the adios 6, the adizero Adios 7 continues to be a great pick for treadmill runs. The Lightstrike Pro forefoot and Lightstrike EVA frame are cushioned, lightweight (8-ounces), and speed-friendly.

The adidas adizero 6 on a treadmill

The aggressive lugs of the Continental rubber outsole delivers excellent grip on treadmill belts.

The snug upper fits like a tempo/race shoe should; the narrow fit keeps the foot locked down during runs. The adios 7 uses an inner sleeve and lightweight lining materials to make the interiors comfortable.

Both the adios 6 and 7 share the same midsole and outsole, so their performance on treadmill doesn’t change.

9) Lightweight trainer: Asics Hyper Speed

The Asics Hyperspeed is an affordable version of the plate-equipped Metaracer. This version also marks the reset of the eponymous shoe series; this model bears no resemblance – functional or otherwise – to the Hyperspeed 6 or 7.

It may not have an internal plate, but it has several qualities that make it suitable for treadmill runs. The EVA-foam midsole has sufficient cushioning for extended treadmills workouts, all while delivering a transition-friendly ride character. Our in-depth review is here.

Asics Hyper Speed outsole

The well-defined lugs of rubber outsole deliver a satisfactory bite over the motorized belt. Most of the outsole is covered with a single piece of rubber, thus making the transition process smoother.

With a design that’s inspired by the Metaracer, the well-ventilated upper has plenty of interior comfort and fit security.

And did we mention that the Asics Hyperspeed retails below $100?

10) Carbon-plated cushioned racer: Asics Metaracer

Don’t let the word ‘racer’ in the shoe’s name scare you. Unlike most speed shoes, the Asics Metaracer doesn’t have a harsh ride.

If anything, the Metaracer is one of the softest racers we’ve had the pleasure to review. By soft, we mean a cushy layer of foam above the Carbon fiber plate – a design that makes high-paced runs comfortable yet blazing quick. The internal plate adds stiffness to the ride, and in doing so, it makes the turnovers quick and connected.

The outsole of the Asics Metaracer

The outsole may have an unusual tire-like design with a lug-less geometry, but it has an excellent grip over the road and treadmill.

The upper fit and comfort also belie the standard expectation of a ‘racer’ design. The interiors are soft, seamless, and breathable – and that makes the fit very comfortable. The collapsible heel is a bonus.

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

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