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 12 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.
2) Lightweight trainer/racer: New Balance 1400V6
The 1400V6 has a forgiving upper fit for a racing shoe. It is reasonably priced too – its $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 8
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 and ride, the Boston 8 retains all the traits that have made the series successful so far.
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.
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 firm trainer: New Balance 890V7
The New Balance 890V7 isn’t the 890 you were once familiar with. The V7 is a very different shoe by the same name, one that is near perfect for treadmills.
The firm Revlite midsole is quick and supportive enough for treadmill runs; the knit upper keeps the foot ventilated in the stuffy indoors.
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 during runs.
10) Daily neutral trainer: Mizuno Wave Rider 23
With this shoe, we’re heading into the regular trainer territory. The Wave Rider 23 and the two other shoes that follow have a lot more midsole than the models featured so far.
We assume that you have already read our review of the Rider 23, but here’s the gist of why it works well for indoor running. The midsole has a wide forefoot flare along with a rearfoot that has a supportive Wave Plate. With this set-up, you get all the cushioning you need but without the mushiness.
The spacious upper is smooth on the inside and provides a secure fit.
Also see: The Mizuno Wave Inspire 16.
11) Daily neutral trainer: Saucony Ride ISO 2
As far as neutral trainers go, the versatile Saucony Ride has held its own for many years. An Everun layer over a firm EVA midsole leads to a ride experience that blends high-mileage cushioning with smooth transitions. Despite its 10-ounce weight, the Ride ISO 2 is very efficient in its cushioning delivery.
The Ride ISO 2 has been updated with a new, more comfortable upper. You can also look at the Saucony Guide 13 if a firmer medial post is preferred.
12) Daily neutral trainer: Nike Zoom Pegasus 36
Just like the Saucony Ride ISO 2, the Nike Pegasus 36 is a do-it-all trainer. You get the treadmill-friendly cushioning and outsole grip you that need, but without feeling like stepping on play-dough. Zoom Air isn’t as cushioned or responsive as some of the newer foams, but then, the firm-ish ride is what makes the Pegasus good for treadmill runs.
The Pegasus 36’s upper has sufficient room even in the standard ‘D’ width. If you fall short of interior space, there are additional widths. The Pegasus 36 carries forward the same midsole and outsole as the 35, so the medium-soft ride stays the same.
Also see: The Nike Zoom Winflo 6.