Best running shoes for treadmill

by Solereview editors

The adidas adizero 6 on a treadmill

This article has been updated with current models for November 2021. The adidas adizero adios 5 and Mizuno Wave Rider 24 have been replaced with their updated versions. The Skechers GoRun Razor Excess is a new addition. The adidas Boston 9, Mizuno Wave Shadow 3, New Balance 1400V6, and the Skechers GoRun Razor 3 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 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) Lightweight trainer/racer: Adidas adizero Adios 6

Adidas completely overhauled its adizero assortment recently, and that led to many changes.

For example, the Boston we knew no longer exists, and in its place is a softer running shoe with a taller midsole. That’s the reason for the adizero Boston’s disappearing act on this guide.

adidas adizero adios 6

The Lightstrike EVA foam and Lightstrike Pro work together to deliver a quick and stable ride.

Though the adizero Adios 6 is the most changed version to date, it remains 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 lug geometry of the Continental rubber outsole grips effectively 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 6 uses an inner sleeve and plush lining materials to create a comfortable interior.

On the treadmills we rather have the ride character of the older and slimmer adios though – so if you can grab one of the older adizero adios, you’re golden.

2) Lightweight cushioned trainer: Skechers GoRun Razor Excess

Despite its name, the Skechers GoRun Razor Excess’s midsole is merely 2 mm taller than the Razor 3. However, the midsole has a wider base – thus increasing the outsole contact area for a planted grip on the treadmill.

Also, Skechers’s Hyperburst cushioning is a good fit for motorized running surfaces due to its hyper-lightweight and cushioned ride.

Here, the cushioning doesn’t equate to a mushy ride. The rebound from the Hyperburst foam is tinged with firmness so there’s plenty of stability for speedy runs. The relatively low-profile midsole with its 30 mm (heel) and 26 mm (forefoot) stack heights help too.

The snug upper keeps the foot securely held in place. The raised midsole sidewalls also create a ‘cupping’ action in the midfoot and heel to support the foot during the gait cycle.

3) Lightweight cushioned trainer: Brooks Hyperion Tempo

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

Just like the Skechers Razor Excess, 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.

4) 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.

5) Lightweight cushioned trainer: New Balance Fresh Foam Tempo

The Fresh Foam Tempo sounds like a new shoe with no history, 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 original 2014 Zante a success.

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.

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

6) 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?

7) Lightweight trainer: Brooks Launch 8

The Brooks Launch 8 stays true to its brief as a lightweight daily trainer, but takes a different path than its predecessors. We’re not talking about its attractive retail price; that, thankfully, stays the same.

What’s new is the ride quality that changes from noticeably firm (the Launch 7) to a more compliant and softer midsole. Our detailed write-up of the Launch 8 is here.

Brooks Launch 8 DNA sole

The Launch 8 has a much softer midsole.

Owing to the reformulated midsole, the Launch 8 feels noticeable softer under the foot. Runners who found the past Launch models to be too stiff will appreciate the increased ride comfort of the V8. The lightweight upper is soft and very airy – attributes that work well within an indoor setting.

Despite the updates, the Launch 8 is no slouch. The low-profile midsole adds agility to the runs, and the rubber outsole provides ample traction over the treadmill.

8) Lightweight cushioned trainer: Saucony Kinvara 12

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 12 performs better on the treadmill than the 10 and 11. Here’s our review for readers who want to know more about the Kinvara.

Saucony Kinvara 12 midsole heel

The flared heel makes the midsole more supportive.

The midsole acquires a refreshed geometry that includes a flared – and therefore more supportive – heel and forefoot.

The midsole also feels a mite firmer than the last version while retaining enough cushioning for high-mileage treadmill sessions. Grip-wise, the updated outsole texture is an improvement.

What’s also new about the K-12 is the smooth and well-ventilated upper that creates a secure fit environment.

9) Daily neutral trainer: Mizuno Wave Rider 25

The thermoplastic ‘Wave’ plate is what gives a Mizuno its ‘Mizuno-ness’.

The Wave Rider 25 (and 24) is softer than the older Wave Rider versions due to the softer foam and absence of a midfoot shank, but one thing hasn’t changed. A Wave plate is still part of the midsole, and with it comes a familiar and supportive ride character.

The stable midsole makes the Rider 25 an excellent candidate as a treadmill-friendly shoe. The rigid insert complements the soft midsole to make the transitions smooth.

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 indoor runs. Mizuno finally decided to put an inner sleeve on the Rider 24, and the 25 benefits from a similar treatment as well.

Also see: The Mizuno Wave Inspire 17 – a supportive version of the Rider 25.

10) Daily neutral trainer: Saucony Ride 14

The Saucony Ride has always been the firmest running shoe within the mid-priced neutral trainer category. Guess what; that’s just perfect for treadmill runs.

While there’s step-in comfort in the form of the insole and ‘Topsole’, the midsole is firmer than the likes of the Asics Cumulus, Brooks Ghost, or the Nike Pegasus.

The said firmness 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.

The Saucony Ride 13 and 14 share the same midsole and outsole, and only the upper has been refreshed for 2021. The Ride 14’s upper is exactly what it needs to be – comfortable, conforming, and near seamless.

Since both versions are equal from a ride perspective, it makes little difference if one gets the Ride 13 at a bargain instead.

Also see: Consider the Saucony Guide 14 if a firmer ride is preferable.

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

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