We all love the freedom of running outside — being in nature, covering entire cities on foot — but sometimes our outside runs don’t quite look like freedom. While I suspect none of us would choose running inside over a glorious park on a 50º day, sometimes the treadmill makes more sense. Maybe you have to run during rush hour and your route is jammed by distracted drivers and traffic lights. Maybe you’re too crunched for time to drive to a favorite park or path.
Or maybe you’re just sick of dew points above 70º. Yes, it’s spring now, but summer is coming. Professional runner and South Carolina resident Esther Atkins calls it the “dreammill,” because in southern summers it can be the best option for those workouts crucial to fall racing season.
That philosophy helped me learn to appreciate the treadmill as another training tool, and not only for avoiding winter weather. It’s a great place to practice pacing, nutrition, or race day outfits that might be impractical outdoors (like running in racing buns through my neighborhood, as if people don’t already think I’m crazy), while also eliminating stoppage time.
When we moved into our house, we knew eventually we’d get a treadmill. It wasn’t an urgent need, but we spent about a year researching and testing. Here’s what I learned from choosing a treadmill for our home and setting up our workout room.
Choose a Treadmill Model for Serious Runners
Choosing a model is a very personal decision, so research is important. After our research, we decided we needed at least a “light commercial” model, akin to one you might find in a hotel or apartment-building fitness room. A residential treadmill wasn’t going to cut it for several reasons:
- I wanted a wider base and more stable platform.
- We also needed it to go more than 10 mph, which is the top end for many residential models. (Not, like, all the time, please don’t think I’m just jogging 6 min pace all the time because that is not the case!)
- Most residential treadmills aren’t meant to be run on for hours on end, and we wanted something that could accommodate at least 2 hours of run time without straining the components. That’s a realistic request if, say, I ran on it for an hour and then my husband got on right after.
Fortunately we were able to purchase a commercial treadmill from our gym when they replaced equipment last summer. Your local gym might do this, or there might be another retailer in town that sells used commercial treadmills. Be sure to test-run on it and ask how it has been maintained.
You can definitely save money this way, but remember, buying a used treadmill means you likely will not have a warranty or service agreement. You’ll want to ask the seller about regular maintenance you can do on your own, and make sure you know who you can call if you need service (and how much it’ll cost!). For us, the savings between buying the used commercial treadmill and a new light commercial one was about $800, including delivery and installation.
And speaking of installation, make sure to measure your home! Not just the room where your treadmill will live, but also any doorways or hallways it will have to travel through to get there. Make sure to go over this information when discussing delivery details.
Setting Up Your Treadmill Space
Before your treadmill comes home to you, it’s important to prep your space. We installed rubber floor tiles that are easy to clean and very inexpensive. If the treadmill damages the floor, it’ll be easy to replace the individual tiles.
Also in the workout room we installed a television — of course! I might not hate running inside, but I still need all the distraction I can get! We mounted it on the wall and used an Amazon Fire Stick for programming. The great thing about the Fire Stick is that you can connect Bluetooth headphones directly to the Fire Stick, no additional equipment needed. I can watch television through my wireless headphones! THIS IS MAGIC.
You may also want to keep a broom handy in this room. Sweeping regularly will ensure your treadmill isn’t constantly sucking up pet hair and other debris, which helps it stay cool and well-ventilated. The amount of stuff that comes off my shoes is incredible.
For runners who train regularly, a treadmill at home can be a game changer. If you’re thinking about adding a treadmill to your home, be sure to check out light commercial and used commercial options to give you the best experience. Even when you can’t run outside, you can still enjoy the ride.
Do you have any tips for buying a treadmill or setting up your workout space?