I’ve been wondering how I can get faster at running and what I could do differently this year to help. One of the things that I’ve discussed on and off with my coach is to do some training on a treadmill. I’ve tried to do this from a gym but because it’s not been very convenient for me, particularly if running off a bike ride it hasn’t actually happened.

So in that end of season break where I’m usually looking for the next exciting thing to add to winter training I added “project treadmill” to my to-do list and scurried off to do some research about buying treadmills.

The first thing I discovered is that you can spend £100 or £8,000! So how on earth do you decide what to buy and what sort of features do you need to look for? Here are a few things that I discovered.

The main thing you need to look out for is the maximum speed and maximum gradient. Cheaper treadmills below £500 often do not have a very high top speed or a very steep gradient.

Higher horse power will give the treadmill more speed, make it quieter and last longer. I bought a treadmill with a top speed of 18kph and a 2.5 CHP motor. Not the fastest but enough for me.

Consider the size and dimensions of the machine and how much space you have. More expensive machines are usually bigger.

If you’re short of space a folding treadmill is a good option.  Lots of people told me not to have a folding machine but the one that I bought is folding and in the end I’m happy that it does as it gives me more space in my garage. It’s has a hydraulic spring so folding it is easy and simple which is something I’d been concerned about so this is definitely a feature to look for.

In thinking about the size also consider the running surface area and how much space there is either side of the belt. For intervals I like to put the treadmill up to the speed I’m after and then jump on to the belt and jump off when I’m finished (lots of benefits to this for another blog). But the space either side of my treadmill is a bit narrow!

My treadmill only goes up to a gradient of 10% and it turns out I might have like it steeper. It’s also rather slow at winding up to that gradient compared to a commercial treadmill I might have once used in a gym.

Think about what you’ll be doing on the treadmill and If you want to have structured workouts and programmes to download and follow. My machine has all that functionality with the software that NordicTrac uses but I’ll be doing my own structured workouts from my coach.

If you’re a triathlete with a smart turbo connected to Zwift you might be hoping your treadmill will do this. However, this technology hasn’t filtered down to treadmills in the same way and very few treadmills are fully smart yet. However, it is easy to get connected to Zwift with a footpod if this is something you think you want to do.

Once you’ve done some research do think about where you’re putting your treadmill, the dimensions of the machine, if it will fit through the door and how heavy it is to lift! We didn’t think these things through with enough detail. Lucky for us the men who came to install the electricity meter didn’t mind giving us hand lifting the thing down to the garage.

A reconditioned machine is often a good option because you get a decent machine for less money with a guarantee attached. I bought a reconditioned Nordic Track S20i for £500 (originally £1000). I’m incredibly pleased with it and feel like I spent about the right amount of money for what I need it to do.

Since 2012 I’ve helped hundreds of people reach their goals from complete beginners through to ultra long distance triathletes. To find out how coaching with me could help you book a FREE 15min call here.