Best running shoes for treadmill

by Solereview editors


This article has been updated with current models for October 2020. We’ve replaced the adidas Boston 8, Mizuno Wave Rider 23, and Saucony Ride ISO 2 with their updated versions. The Brooks Launch 7 is a new addition. The New Balance 890V7 and Nike Pegasus 36 have been removed.

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 outside will turn your lungs black.

Perhaps it’s a snowy winter, or there are no sidewalks or parks nearby. Or it could be the opposite, with the temperatures outside high 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 so fast.

Before you go shopping, know that there are a couple of differences between road and treadmill running.

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 when compared to road running. Which makes sense; considering how boring it is to run on a treadmill, you want to get it over with.

To account for both of these factors, you need a running shoe that is firm, stable, and grips well. Unless you’re walking on a treadmill (why on earth, though?), an ultra-soft shoe is a big no.

Most treadmills are located inside a gym, so pre/post-run stretching or lightweight training is likely included. Here, a stable shoe that isn’t overly soft is effective. Needless to say, a shoe meant for treadmill running also works very well on the open road.

Here’s our list of top 11 running shoes for treadmill use. We’ve prefixed the shoe name by its category so that you know what you are buying.

1) Lightweight trainer/racer: Adidas adizero Adios 5

The adizero Adios 5 is the most changed version (review coming soonly) to date, but it remains a great pick for treadmill workouts. The Boost and Lightstrike EVA foam midsole is cushioned, lightweight (8-ounces), and speed-friendly. The flat outsole design grips very well over the rubber belts.

The upper fits snug as befits a tempo/race shoe; this narrowness keeps the foot locked down during runs. The adios 5 has an inner sleeve now – this puts an end to the scratchy tongue of the older adios.

We prefer the ride character of the older adios though – the V2 was great, the V3 and V4 were decent too. So if you can grab one of the older adizero adios, you’ll be served equally well.

2) Lightweight trainer/racer: New Balance 1400V6

The 1400V6 has a forgiving upper fit for a racing shoe. It is reasonably priced too – the $100 MSRP doesn’t break the bank.

The lightweight Revlite foam midsole provides excellent feedback and the rubber lugs have a great bite. There’s enough cushioning to see you through treadmill runs of 10K and beyond.

It’s one of the few road-racers that is also available in a wide.

Also see: The New Balance 1500V6.

3) Lightweight trainer/racer: Mizuno Wave Shadow V3

This ultra-grippy and stable racer by Mizuno is in its third iteration now. The Wave Shadow 3’s breathable mesh upper has a snug fit that keeps the foot locked-down during fast treadmill workouts.

The combination of the heel Wave Plate and firm forefoot makes the loading efficient and supportive. The small lugs provide excellent traction over the treadmill belts.

4) Low-profile cushioned trainer: Skechers GoRun Razor 3 Hyper

The Skechers GoRun Razor 3 invariably shows up on one buyer’s guide or the other, and there’s always a good reason. In this context, the GoRun Razor is a good fit for motorized running surfaces due to its hyper-lightweight and cushioned ride.

Here, the cushioning doesn’t equate to mushy. The Hyperburst foam has a rebound quality that is tinged with firmness so there’s plenty of stability for fast-paced runs. The snug upper helps keep the foot locked-down.

5) Low-profile cushioned trainer: adidas adizero Boston 9

The Boston is a running shoe with better long-distance comfort over the road racers listed above. It’s long been our pick as a lightweight neutral trainer, the kind that also works great on human conveyor belts and gym floors.

Last year, the adizero Boston 8 got a brand-new upper, midsole, and outsole. Except for minor updates in the upper fit, the Boston 9 retains all the traits that have made the series successful so far. Except for the ‘Lightstrike’ branding, the midsole is shared with the Boston 8.

The Boost midsole has all the responsive cushioning you need; components like the Torsion shank and Continental outsole provide stability and traction. The upper is snug yet packs creature comforts like a padded tongue and heel.

Also see: The Reebok Floatride Fun Fast. and the adidas SL20.

6) Lightweight cushioned trainer: New Balance Fresh Foam Tempo

The Fresh Foam Tempo sounds like a new shoe that came in from nowhere, but names can be deceptive.

For all practical purposes, this 6 mm drop shoe is Zante reincarnated; it carries forward most of the physical attributes that made the past Zantes a success.

The midsole cushioning delivers the sweet spot between firm and soft, and the overall ride experience isn’t distracting at all. Though the Tempo lacks the responsiveness of newer Balance models, this isn’t a negative when running on motorized surfaces.

The seamless upper fits true to size and has a soft exterior that wraps the foot securely in comfort.

7) Firm Lightweight trainer: Asics Dynaflyte 4

The Dynaflyte 4 is based on the same midsole and outsole as the 3. In functional terms, that translates into a firm and supportive ride that is suitable for running inside the gym.

We like what Asics has done with the new upper. The external logo placement makes the midfoot fit smoother, and the segmented eyelets keep the lacing flush over the foot. The heel and tongue are plush for a lightweight trainer.

There’s plenty of rubber outsole coverage for excellent grip. Also consider the Asics DS-Trainer 25 as a mild-stability option with a medial post.

8) Lightweight trainer: Brooks Launch 7

The Brooks Launch 7 is a rather unique shoe with a noticeably firm ride. It’s marketed as a trainer for faster training, which it is – and that comes in useful when running indoors. The snug upper has a no-nonsense design that gets the job while being sufficiently comfortable.

The one-piece midsole isn’t soft like the Ghost; the insole notwithstanding, the foam is high-density for better efficiency. This means that very little energy is lost during those fast treadmill sessions, and there’s a better connection with the surface.

The Launch also has a full-length outsole that grips well over rubberized surfaces.

9) Lightweight cushioned trainer: Saucony Kinvara 11

The Kinvara has always been an excellent low-drop and lightweight trainer to do it all, including in-gym runs. The 11th edition of the Kinvara retains most of the good stuff from the Kinvara 10.

Though the K-11 is a mite softer than the V10, its firm undertone is a good fit for treadmill sessions. The breezy upper sits softly over the foot and the inner sleeve keeps the shoe locked in.

10) Daily neutral trainer: Mizuno Wave Rider 24

The thermoplastic ‘Wave’ plate is what makes a Mizuno a ‘Mizuno’. The Wave Rider 24 may be softer than the 23 due to the new foam and lower midsole density, but one thing hasn’t changed. A Wave plate is still part of the midsole, and with it comes the familiar and supportive ride character.

This level of support makes the Rider 24 an excellent candidate for a treadmill-friendly shoe. The hard insert keeps the softer midsole in check and also helps the foot transition towards the forefoot. At the same time, the flat outsole geometry helps create a better connection with the treadmill belt.

The spacious and smooth upper keeps the insides comfortable during the indoor sessions.

Also see: The Mizuno Wave Inspire 16.

11) Daily neutral trainer: Saucony Ride 13

The Saucony Ride has always been the firmest within the mid-priced neutral trainer category, a trait that is just perfect for treadmill runs. While there’s step-in comfort in the form of the insole and the ‘Topsole’, the midsole is firmer when compared to the likes of the Asics Cumulus, Brooks Ghost, and the New Balance 880.

The previous generation Ride ISO 2 also had a similar ride; one that made 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.

Both shoes being equal on the ride aspect, we’d pick the Ride 13 due to its simpler upper. If you’ve been in these parts before, you’d know that Solereview wasn’t exactly a fan of the ISOFIT midfoot system. The Ride 13’s upper is exactly what it needs to be – comfortable, conforming, and near seamless.

The Saucony Guide 13 is also worth considering as a medially-posted shoe option.

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

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