10 Best Treadmill Running Shoes in 2021

Jovana Subic
Jovana Subic on
10 Best Treadmill Running Shoes in 2021

Running on a treadmill resembles road running more than trail running, because there are no twists, turns, puddles, obstacles. Ideal for speed runs! But, the surface is softer than roads.

That’s why nearly all road running shoes (which is ⅔ of the market) can be used for running on a treadmill. We have tested more than 100 running shoes that are treadmill-ready to pick out the best ones for you.

We have selected five categories depending on what you may consider a priority. It is the shoe’s versatility? Cushioning? Support? Ability to go fast? Price? You’ve got the top pick in each of these.

In this guide you will also find expert advice on how to choose the best treadmill running shoes.

How we pick out the best treadmill running shoes 

With nearly 500 shoes for treadmill running, it is our goal to help you choose the right one.

Our team spends hours scrutinizing every single release through our independent shoe testing lab:

  • Our committed testers log 30-50 miles in each pair to provide extensive feedback.
  • We then slice the shoes up into pieces and measure over 30 different parameters to translate "performance" into comparable data.
  • All tested shoes are purchased with our own funds to help us stay unbiased.
  • To make it even more comprehensive, our system collates thousands of expert and user reviews on all treadmill running shoes.

In the end, each shoe gets a CoreScore. It is a number from 0 to 100 that allows us to compare and rank all running shoes.

The best shoes for running on the treadmill end up on this list.

Best overall

Now on its 38th iteration, the Nike Pegasus continues to convince us that it’s the GOAT of all workhorse shoes. It has surpassed everything we threw at it with flying colors! 

We love to put our shoes to the test to really see how they’d perform, and this shoe has been nothing short of AWESOME. From daily runs, tempo sessions to gym training, it eats them all up. 

To reach this rank, of course, we had to evaluate it as a treadmill shoe, and it’s been fantastic! When it comes to blending comfort and pop, nothing does it better than the Pegasus 38. 

And its stability was just as great. In our lab tests, we have gathered that it’s 109.5mm wide in the forefoot and 80.7mm wide in the heel. In essence, it’s as stable as you can get! 

Like a true Pegasus, this version doesn’t skimp on durability. Although its React midsole is 18% softer than average foams, it still is dense. After a series of rough wear tests, it’s still not bottoming out. Because of this, we’re estimating it’s going to last well between 400-500 miles. 

If you think the party stops there, it only gets better! 

The traction of this shoe is INSANE. Even on dirt, we felt confident. And its superb lockdown takes everything to a whole new level. The upper hugged our feet so well, we had NO issues with slips. 

At $120, the Nike Pegasus 38 is terrific!

See our full review and facts

Just when we thought Hoka is all cush, the Mach 4 came right into our doorstep. Having tested tens of Hoka shoes, this is everything we didn’t expect from a Hoka - and it’s all in the best ways possible! 

First off, it’s not fluffy heaven. Nope. Unlike other Hokas, its focus is on optimizing the mix between plushness and rigidity. The result? A VERY stable ride. 

And if you want to be surefooted and steady on your treadmill, this shoe won’t disappoint! 

For context, it’s almost like a more supportive version of its bigger sibling - the Clifton. It’s a touch stiffer, but it’s just as superb in keeping the feet and legs fresh after hours of running. 

If there’s one thing this shoe lags behind, it’s weight (which is always good news)! At 7.85 oz, we were surprised. Normally, shoes weigh in at about 9.4 oz, and they don’t even have as much cushioning as this one. So, good job on this Hoka!

See our full review and facts

Best cushioning

The Brooks Glycerin 19 is dubbed as Brooks’ softest running shoe yet, and we couldn’t disagree. Seriously, its cushioning is just out of this world! 

We’re telling you, this shoe’s comfort is just a solid 10/10. It’s very plush underfoot, it’s almost like our feet were enveloped with fluffy clouds! And because we’re geeks for everything shoes, we’ve measured that it’s 75% softer than other shoes. 

If the feet had dreams, it’s this one right here. 

And the upper only makes this shoe streets ahead! It’s soft and well-padded, it’s been giving our feet nothing but pampering from the first stride down to the last. 

With the gusseted tongue, our feet are locked securely in place. No wobbling, no rolling. It’s just pure goodness when it comes to lockdown. 

And if you’re thinking this shoe forgoes sturdiness in favor of comfort. Well, it’s here to prove you wrong. After pacing it through, the midsole is just as lively as it was fresh from the box. The outsole is not wearing out either! With its high-strength qualities, you can easily get 400-500 miles before retiring it in your closet.

See our full review and facts

What? Another Brooks?! 

Just kidding. Having the Ghost 14 in this list is a no-brainer. It’s a certified star in the comfort department, and we just can’t get enough of it! 

It’s MIGHTY cushy underfoot. As in, it’s among the best of the best. At 19.2N, it’s way softer than the average running shoe at 40.2N (in our lab tests). 

And nope, it’s not going to make this shoe less durable and stable. After raking 50 miles in it, the midsole is not packing out, and the outsole is flawless. 

In terms of stability, it’s a true Brooks. It’s plush, but it’s not the sink-in kind of soft. It’s got a balanced ride that will keep your feet supported and your strides consistent whether it be on the treadmill or in the outdoors! 

And if you want one go-to shoe for everything, it’s THE shoe. For easy miles, it’s forgiving and comfortable. For longer stretches, it’s A1. And when we paced it, it handled it with ease. 

For a do-it-all shoe, nothing comes close to the Brooks Ghost 14!

See our full review and facts

Best for speed

It can break records, and it sure has got everything to pace you on your treadmill. If we can pick one shoe that screams fast, the obvious answer is the Saucony Endorphin Speed 2. 

It’s the superlative of bouncy. So much so, we felt like we were zooming through the blocks with each step in it! 

And unlike other speed trainers, it doesn’t fall short on comfort. It’s NOT harsh to the feet at all. If anything, all we got underfoot was pure softness. 

In our lab tests, we have gathered that it’s 39.6N flexible (contrary to the average 37.2N). In simpler terms, it’s more supportive than other daily trainers and it doesn’t lose its ability to be a fun ride! 

At 8.1 oz, it’s got the makings of a dedicated race-day shoe. It’s super lightweight, we totally forgot about it on the run. 

Even better, its lockdown is king! The upper just molded into our feet, keeping everything nice and tucked in. ZERO wobbling and slips in this shoe. 

Ultimately, the Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 is true to its name. It’s made for speed, and it sure does run like it! And if you want one shoe for your tempo training runs and race day, this is THE shoe. 

See our full review and facts

It’s truly a blast to run in! The Asics Novablast didn’t just make us run fast, it also gave our feet all the spa-day comfort they could ask for. 

The fit is everything runners crave. From the heel to the midfoot, the overall feel is locked-in. And up front, it’s sufficiently roomy. In this shoe, NOT once did we experience slips nor wobbling. 

And oh my goodness, what a ride! The midsole made us run like we were bouncing on springs. It propelled us forward, and it got the memo on being fun and lively! 

Whether you want to go slow, or eat up serious miles, this shoe won’t disappoint. It’s very soft and cushioned for easy efforts. And if you want to go the distance, it’s a hell lot protective. 

Yes, it’s got a TON of cushion, but you don’t have to fret over durability. It’s got what it takes to last miles! After putting it through the wringer, this shoe came out unscathed. Expect it to go 400-500 miles before retiring it. 

And if you think comfort couldn’t get better, Asics has got a few tricks up its sleeve. This shoe BREATHES! 

If there’s one thing that held it back from becoming our top pick, it’s the rather hefty weight. At 9.9 oz, it’s just up there. But with the perks the Novablast comes with, the weight is more than justified!

See our full review and facts

Best for flat feet

Being a staple among runners who overpronate, the Brooks Adrenaline GTS sure does everything right. And having tested past editions, the Adrenaline GTS 21 is easily our choice for the best of the best! 

Unlike other stability shoes in our arsenal, it’s not rock solid. On the contrary, it’s a very balanced ride - an amazing blend of support and comfort. In each step, we were surefooted and cushioned. 

Even better, stability is only there when you need it. So if you’re a neutral runner in need of extra support, this shoe is just as enjoyable as it is for those with moderate to severe overpronation. 

And the upper has been nothing but cozy. Even better, it does a stellar job in locking the feet in place, taking support a step further. 

Like a true Brooks, it doesn’t shy on strength! We love to really hammer our shoes on the pavement, and this one is no different. And boy did this shoe wow us! It still looks and runs like brand-new. 

At 10.2 oz, this shoe just tips our scales! But if it means more support and comfort, plus a solid durability, we’d be more than willing to take it any day.

See our full review and facts

The Asics Gel Kayano has truly cemented its name among running households. 28 versions later, it’s still as much coveted as when it was first released. And we just had to find out why. 

Spoiler alert: We love every bit of it! 

The Asics Gel Kayano 28 is just as great as all the Kayanos of the past. But just when we thought great couldn’t be greater, this shoe stunned us! 

It’s THE Kayano among all Kayanos. It still has a fantastic mix of stability and comfort, but what makes it a standout among its siblings is its very peppy ride. 

This is because of its much more flexible quality, amping up responsiveness even more. 

And it still remains as runners’ trusted workhorse. Whether you want to train or compete in it, it’s more than happy to fit the bill! 

At 10.6 oz, it’s way heavier than all the other running shoes we’ve tested (average: 9.4 oz). But in contrast to all the Kayanos we’ve run in, it’s a step in the right direction. Simply, it’s a slimmer Kayano. 

Sturdiness? This shoe was born for it. It’s a tank, and it does a darn solid job at being one!

See our full review and facts

Best budget shoe

If you want comfort that lasts, nothing does it better than the Reebok Floatride Energy 3. For a shoe that doesn’t break the bank, we were more than surprised! 

Upon step-in, our feet were welcomed with a 360-degree plushness. The upper was soft, we swear we could run barefoot in it. And the midsole? It’s as pillowy as it could get. 

The breathability just won us over! When we tested it out under hot temps, this shoe was marvelous. 

And good news to our fellow wide-footed runners, this shoe has more than enough room to open up to our feet. The toe box is amply spaced, you can wiggle your toes with no sweat. 

With its gusseted tongue, lockdown is taken up a notch. The tongue stays in place, and the feet are tucked in. In our test runs, we had NO issues with slips. 

Because we love to really bruise our shoes (to see how good they are), we had to really beat up the Reebok Floatride Energy 3. And amazingly, it withstood everything we threw at it! 

After clocking 100 miles, its quality is A-OK!

See our full review and facts

The Under Armour HOVR Sonic 4 embodies great value for money. At $110, this pocket-friendly shoe does everything right. 

If there’s one thing our feet felt throughout our playtests in this shoe, it’s comfort. 

The combination of the cushy midsole and breathable upper just took our breath away. When we took it out for some spin in hot conditions, the airflow it provided was just magnificent! 

To be quite honest, we weren’t expecting much in the durability department, but this shoe sure did surprise us. After 30 miles of harsh wear testing, the outsole was unscratched.

And the grip was just superb! This shoe just latches to the ground. Not once did we feel like we were slipping or falling. 

If you’re a runner on a budget, and you don’t want to spend extra bucks for another pair of shoes for the gym or for walking, the HOVR Sonic 4 has got you covered! It’s an all-rounder that won’t hurt the bank and the feet.

See our full review and facts

4 things to look for in treadmill running shoes

If you’re new to running and you’re buying your first running shoes, get familiar with the terminology and make the best choice by reading our guide about buying running shoes.

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1. Lightness

The treadmill is great for doing tempo runs, but also long runs. The best thing: it’s running on a somewhat soft surface under controlled conditions. This means you don’t need the features (e.g. fancy grip, rugs, plates) that would make your shoe heavier and durable. Lightweight treadmill running shoes are already ranked and at your fingertips.

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2. Breathability

Running indoors usually means no natural airflow. Avoid too much sweating by choosing highly breathable shoes. On RunRepeat, you can filter only breathable treadmill running shoes.

The most breathable shoes come with an ultra-thin see-through upper.

3. Pronation control

If this is something you usually look for in running shoes, don’t deviate. Running on a treadmill means more repetitive movements without oscillating, so make sure you have all the control you need.

The table below will help you understand if you need a neutral, stability, or motion control treadmill shoe.

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See how the level of support increases from neutral to motion control running shoes:

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neutral shoe (left) vs. stability shoe (center) vs. motion control shoe (right) 

Still confused? Go with a neutral shoe or read our in-depth guide on arch support and who needs it.

4. Cushioning

Don’t avoid cushioning you’re used to, especially if you’ve been running on softer terrain before.

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Novablast has a visibly thicker cushioning under the heel (7 mm more)

Advanced tip: try running on a treadmill and see if your foot strike changes. Since you’re not moving forward, you might use your heel more. This might call for heel-strike cushioning options.

Expert advice for running on a treadmill

  1. Since there’s no wind resistance nor variation in the terrain, running on a treadmill with no incline equals to running on an easy downhill outside. That’s why setting a 1-2% incline works the best if you want to run as hard as you would outdoors. To learn more, read this study that proved that 1% treadmill grade most accurately reflects the energetic cost of outdoor running. 
  2. The perception of speed differs when running on a treadmill and overground (as explained here). Runners might run slower than in overground conditions while feeling like they’re achieving the same speed. In order not to overtrain, set the treadmill speed according to your running abilities. This might be your perfect opportunity to work on a step count (cadence). Shorter strides, improved cadence. To improve cadence usually refers to getting that number higher.
  3. Keep your hands moving naturally while running and don't hold on to the handrail.
  4. Keep your body in an upright position and don’t look down, it will help with your balance.
  5. Shoes you’ve chosen for treadmill running might be used for easy gym sessions too.

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If you happen to enjoy spending time in the gym and want to level up, RunRepeat has a database of workout shoes, training shoes and weightlifting shoes ready for you. 

Treadmill shoes vs. other running shoes [FAQ]

Can I run on a treadmill in my regular running shoes?

Yes, under a few conditions.

  • You have shoes for road and not trail running. Lugs/crampons aren’t suitable for a treadmill. 
  • Your shoes are comfortable, breathable, and lightweight. 
  • You need to wash/clean your regular running shoes. 

Can I use treadmill running shoes for gym workouts? 

Yes, if you’re doing light gym workouts (easy functional training, easy weight-lifting). If you’re doing specific workouts, you should look for a type of shoe that offers features (stability) needed for such a workout. That’s why we have a collection of CrossFit shoes, weightlifting shoes, training shoes, and HIIT shoes ready for you.

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Saucony Ride (left) is a well-cushioned running shoe that is best for continuous forward movement. Nike Metcon (right) is one of the best-rated gym shoes. It has a low, firm platform for weightlifting and plenty of side support for agility movements.

Can I use gym shoes for running on a treadmill? 

Yes, if you own a regular training shoe that’s a perfect fit for you and you’re not running longer distances. 

No, if you have shoes made for specific workouts such as weightlifting, HIIT, CrossFit. Basically, a shoe needs to fit in the treadmill-running shoe description for you to be OK to run in it on a treadmill. 

When to replace treadmill running shoes? 

A shoe can last only so much. It depends on how much you run, how you run, and shoe features. It’s time to change your treadmill running shoes once you notice: 

  1. Pain or muscle soreness that hasn’t happened before, during, or after a run. Pay special attention to pain in your (both) knees. 
  2. You’re wearing the shoes unevenly (because you overpronate or underpronate) and you start to miss original functionality - stability, control, or cushioning. You’ll recognize this happening because you will feet will be aching after the run, you’ll feel pain at each impact, or your feet won’t feel stable enough during the run.
Author
Jovana Subic
Jovana Subic

Whether it's a vertical kilometre or an ultra, climbing in the Alps or exploring local mountains, Jovana uses every opportunity to trade walls and concrete for forests and trails. She logs at least 10h/week on trails, with no off-season, and 4x more on research on running and running shoes. With a background in physics and engineering management, she prefers her running spiced with data.