Best Treadmill for Runners On A Budget
Over the last few years, the prices of a treadmill has really come down! In this guide, we take a look at 5 of the best treadmills for runners on a budget
Maybe the weather has taken a turn for the worst and put an end to any plans you had of a long run outdoors. Maybe you’re stuck for time and need to get a fast interval session in the bank before heading off out with the family.
Either way, a treadmill is the perfect training tool for runners of all abilities.
In this post, you’re going to find out about:
- Exactly what you need to look for in a budget treadmill.
- Some useful workouts tips.
- The 5 best treadmill for runners on a budget.
For those just looking for the best treadmills for runners on a budget, you can’t go wrong with any of these below:
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What to look for in a budget treadmill
Buying a treadmill, even a budget on can be a huge investment for any runner. In this section we take a look at some of the “must have” features along with some “nice to have” functionality.
Must Have Features
The features listed below are crucial for any machine:
A Good Motor
A treadmill without a good motor isn’t going to be a good buy and can stop you from getting the most out of your indoor running workouts.
Always look for at least 1.5 horsepower as this will provide a good amount of speed, however, you should always aim to get the most power for your money!
For heavier runners, a good motor is even more important – if you know that you’re carrying a few extra pounds, consider a minimum of 2.5 horsepower.
While there will always be some wobble when your foot strikes, it shouldn’t be excessive. A good rule of thumb is that if it feels unstable when you’re running then it probably is!
Depending on your ability, the treadmill should always have a max speed higher than you normally run at.
If you’re normally run 12-minute miles, a top speed of 10mph would be more than adequate, however, if you’re an 8-minute miler then you might look for a higher top speed.
Again, belt size will play a factor in your running experience. A longer belt will give you more distance to play around with (useful when you’re flagging). You should aim for a minimum width of 16 inches and a minimum length of 48 inches.
A Good Control Panel
Using your running watch can be difficult on a treadmill given that it primarily works off GPS so a good control panel is a must. Being able to easily see your workout data such as distance covered, time run and current speed is a must!
While the features above are essential, the features below are more “nice to have”.
Just like the motor size, you should aim to get as many features as possible for your budget.
Incline – Manual or Auto
The trouble with treadmills is that unless you use an incline of 1%-2% then your sessions are going to be much easier than running on the road.
While a manual incline is fine and common on most budget treadmills, if you can find a machine with auto incline built into the control panel then you’ll definitely want to consider it.
Pre-installed Workout Programs
While some runners really like the ability to follow a pre-installed program, we personally find the 90% of our treadmill workouts are either done at a steady pace or done as interval sessions where we control the speed, distance and time.
Ability to fold away
We were tempted to add this under the “must have” heading but decided to add this one under optional.
If you’re short on space, the ability to fold your treadmill away for storage is extremely useful.
Heart Rate Monitor
If you’re following a training plan like 80/20 by Matt Fitzgerald or want to keep your heart rate in certain zones during your workout but lack a running heart rate monitor then you’ll certainly want to consider finding a machine that can display your heart rate data.
While this is sometimes awkward to do at speed, typically, you’ll have to put your hands on the control panel bar for a few seconds to see the data.
Top Tip: If you’re looking for heart rate data when running on your treadmill, it’s often cheaper to just buy a basic heart rate monitor watch and strap. You’ll also get a constant and more accurate reading.
Okay, so budget is a little subjective and will play a big factor in the functionality that your treadmill delivers.
While you can pick up some great budget treadmills for a couple of hundred dollars, typically these will be extremely basic – basically just a motor, a belt and a basic screen.
To really get the best balance of functionality, build quality and practicality, you really need to be spending between $300 – $500.
Top tip – If this is more than you can currently afford, check out sites like eBay and Craigslist where you can sometimes grab a bargain! However, it’s worth noting that you should always try to test the machine before buying as they are notorious for often needing repair and maintenance!
5 Best Treadmills For Runners on A Budget
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T7515 Smart Treadmill
Okay so this is probably one of the most impressive treadmills on our list. It’s fully integrated console allows you to adjust gradient from 0% to 12% with just a few presses of the buttons.
The powerful motor allows you to take the SF-T7515 up to 8 miles per hour. This should be ample for the vast majority.
The easy to read LCD screen features all the functionality that you’d expect such as time, distance, speed and calories burned. You’ll also be able to keep an eye on incline and heart rate too.
Storage is fantastic and not only is the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T7515 Smart Treadmill easy to store away but it’s also extremely easy to get into position thanks to the transportation wheels.
Now for the really geeky parts, as this is a “smart” treadmill, you can seamlessly connect your smart device which means not only can you play your music through the built in stereo speakers, you can also use it to take phone calls too.
- Easy to setup
- A true pleasure to run on
- We really liked all the connectivity and LCD display options
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T7603 with 9 Programs, 3 Manual Incline Levels
The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T7603 electric treadmill comes packed with features you’d find on a high-end treadmill only without the price tag.
With 9 preset programs and the ability to manually set the SF-T7603 to one of three preset heights, this really is a piece of kit that gives you everything that you need for a proper workout.
Powered by a 2.2 horsepower motor, there’s certainly no issue with getting enough speed up and the 16×49 inch belt gives you just the right amount of surface to run on.
- Powerful motor delivered more than enough speed, even for the toughest interval sessions
- Very stable when running
- 9 built-in programs provide challenging workouts
- Good incline adjustment
- Folds away nicely.
- If you’re a heavier runner, the 220lbs weigh limit may not be enough
If space is an issue for you then you’ll certainly want to consider the Merax JK1603E.
The Merax JK1603E comes loaded with functionality, all packaged away in a stylish design.
Power is delivered by a from a whisper quiet (well, relatively quiet for a treadmill) motor that will allow you to run at up to 6.2MPH.
The crystal clear LCD control unit allows you to keep an eye on the time, calories, distance speed and heart rate. There are also a good select of in-build programs for both low and high intensity running.
- Quiet when in use
- Manual inclide was easy to set
- Easy to read display
- Smooth oporation
- Easy maintanence
- Max speed wasn’t the highest in our tests
- Again, with a weight limit of 220lbs this might not be suitable for all runners.
Shayin Home Treadmill
If you’re a heavier runner and the two options above aren’t suitable then you’ll certainly want to consider the Shayin Home Treadmill!
Suitable for runners up to 243lbs, the 2 horsepower motor delivers a top speed of 14.8MPH which also makes it a great choice for those runners looking for a way to really crank up the speed.
The LCD screen is good, allowing you to keep an eye on all the typical metrics such as speed, distance and time and the Shayin Home Treadmill also comes with heart rate monitoring which can be checked by placing your hands on the bar.
What we particularly liked about the unit is that it comes with spring shock absorption that really helps to dampen the impact from foot strikes.
- Good shock absorption
- Perfect for heavier runners
- Impressive top speed
- Doesn’t fold away with the ease of other treadmills.
APP Bluetooth Control Electric Folding Treadmill TRM003
While this treadmill is certainly at the higher end of the budget range, one look at the number of features that it comes packed with might persuade you to spend that little bit extra.
Let’s start with the good.
In terms of functionality, this treadmill is certainly right up there. Offering two different manual incline levels 3% and 5%) and a top speed of 8.6MPH, this machine is perfect for the majority of runners.
Running on the TRM003 is a true joy, with a lot of the control managed through the useful G-Fit app.
Setup was a piece of cake and once assembled, we found the unit to be incredibly secure.
- Easy maintanence
- Fantastic functionality
- Great use of an app to manage running and training
- Price was a little high.
So there you have it, five of the best treadmill for runners on a budget. Whether you pick one of the five or choose to do your own research – make sure that you follow our buying guide and you won’t go far wrong.