The Donts In Buying
Though competitive runners are advised to run on the road, there
are several reasons why you should buy treadmills anyway. You might have a
family which means that your schedule does not have the flexibility it once
had. A treadmill would solve that bit of a problem. Or you might be worried
about suffering injuries. Running on a treadmill is generally less likely to
cause a running injury than running outside. We could go on and on about the
merits of buying a treadmill, but when you do get to buying a treadmill, what
are the important things that you should remember?
A treadmill is a
big investment. It might not be a car. It certainly isnt a house. But you
do spend around $1000 of your hard-earned money on a piece of metal that is
supposed to help you burn down calories and generally stay healthy. Why would
you waste your money on something that doesnt work, or has very low shelf
So before you put down your credit card, consider all the
factors involved. The first thing you should concern yourself with is budget.
But second to that are several more variables and the thing you should and
shouldnt look for in a treadmill.
Listed here are some of the
donts you should think about when you buy a treadmill.
Dont Skimp on a Weak Engine
The treadmill is
made of seven components and each one of these is important in their own
sphere. However, what really makes a treadmill work as it does is the engine,
or its motor, as what its more commonly called. When you buy a treadmill,
dont try to save money by buying a cheap treadmill with a weak engine.
Not only do you have to avoid weak engines all together, but you have to make
sure that the treadmill you choose has the continuous duty
horsepower, abbreviated as CHP in the specs.
A decent treadmill would
have a horsepower of around 1.5. Commercial grade treadmills could as much as
5.0 horsepower (HP).
One way to find out how much HP you need is to
ask yourself how often youd be using your treadmill. If you are only
planning to use it occasionally when running outside is out of the question
because of bad weather, then you can probably get away with something less than
2 CHP. However, if you plan on putting lots of mileage on your treadmill, or
perhaps youre a heavier runner, then look for something that has more
than 2 CHP.
Dont Overlook Speed
treadmill would have a maximum speed of 10 MPH that is 6 minutes per
mile. If youre like most people (who run twice every week or some such),
that should be enough. However, if you tend to run repeats or you run at a much
faster pace than that, then dont overlook speed when you go treadmill
shopping. Obviously, you want a machine that can keep up with your pace, and
you cant have that from a machine that is only capable of 8 MPH or below
in terms of speed.
If speed is what you want, choose a machine that
will move at your pace. That should be the rule. Stay away from machines that
cant even move at 10 MPH, because thats very telling on how the
treadmill was constructed. Hey, we all want to move faster and if the treadmill
cant even keep up with the average speed, then why would you want
something like that?
Dont Settle for Short and Narrow
One question: Can you keep an even line when you run? I
dont think anyone can. Besides, if that were the case, wed all be
running in treadmills six inches wide. Wouldnt that be a picture? Just
imagine running while focusing on burning calories, while keeping an eye on the
timer, while concentrating on staying on the thing
. Its just not
viable. So when you buy a treadmill, make sure that you dont settle for
one with a short and narrow deck.
Your treadmill doesnt even
have to be too wide. Remember, youre placing that thing in your house so
unless you bought a treadmill that can be folded (much more expensive!), then
youd better pick one that is wide enough for you run effectively, but
narrow enough to save space in your home. Of course, the rule always would be
the wider the better, but pay attention to space anyway.
When it comes to length, your choice depends on how steady your pace is, as
well as how long your stride is. If you find yourself always slowing down and
drifting off the back when youre almost done with the run, a longer deck
would be a wise choice. That way, youll have time to catch up before you
The length of the deck also depends on your height. Taller
runners tend to have longer strides and, hence, need longer decks. But then
again, if your goal is to improve your form, shorter decks are excellent,
because they will force you to keep the strike turnover quick and snappy. A
treadmill with a deck that is somewhere between 52 inches and 60 inches is the
average. Anything shorter than 52 inches would be too short and youll
find yourself feeling a bit like a hamster on a wheel. A treadmill over 60
inches long would just be impractical.
Dont Fall for
Products without Money-back Guarantees
Two things you must
consider when you buy a treadmill: cushioning and foldability. The first has to
do more with avoiding injury. The second really isnt a word (but you get
One of the main reasons why people buy treadmills today
is to avoid injury. Many running injuries happen because the ground really is
not suitable for running (but you run anyway, because, well, calories are
aplenty and you need to get a-burning). Treadmills are one way of avoiding
getting leg injuries and the reason for this is the cushioning provided.
However, the bad thing about it is that theres really no way for you
to determine this accurately. The store may let you run on a treadmill but
probably only for 30 minutes or less, and thats just too short to make an
accurate assessment. Worse if youre buying the treadmill on the Internet.
Then theres really no way for you to know how cushioned the treadmill is.
That is why it is important that you dont buy products that do not have
money-back guarantees. The product description can only tell you so much, but
once you get the package at home and test it out, you find out that the
cushioning isnt enough and there isnt a lot to support each
The other fact about treadmills that is difficult to
ascertain (if youre buying online, that is) is its foldability. Having a
treadmill that folds up and out of the way is great. Its space-saving,
perfect if theres already too little space in your house. And dont
even think backyard because thats never going to work (Hello?
Treadmill?). So unless you have ample space in your basement or your garage,
you need a treadmill that can be folded and takes as little space as possible.
Dont Sniff at the Other Specs
treadmill is mainly for running. Why spend an extra Benjamin or so for
something so wacky as a drink holder on a treadmill? You have an end table. Use
it. But the thing is that while you can make do without all those unnecessary
frills in a treadmill (e.g. walkman holder, drink holder, arm rest, etc.),
dont outright place all other equally unnecessary specs out
of the picture. Because it might turn out that they arent as unnecessary
as you think.
Take the heart rate monitoring feature, for instance.
You dont need it that much. However, if you really want to fine tune your
performance, then you will want to run with a program that measures your heart
rate. The same HRM may be used indoors or outdoors. Some treadmills may even
display your heart rate on the main display so you can keep a constant eye on
it as you run. Its a minor convenience to be sure, but you will soon find
that it isnt as over-the-top as you believe.
So how does it
work? It varies from one treadmill model to another. But basically, the
treadmill will pickup the signal from your Polar monitor or from a chest strap
provided. Other treadmills monitor the heart rate of the runner through their
hand grips (not very practical though. Who wants to run while gripping fixed
handrails?). Still other treadmills have added a slick new feature in their
heart rate monitor by making it so that the belts speed adjusts to a
predefined heart rate range.
Another nifty feature of a treadmill
that you should probably consider is programmable workouts. Its not an
absolute must, but if you have a set of favorite hill, interval, or repetition
workouts, you can do them now on your treadmill through the programmable
workout feature and save them for use on a regular basis.
Dont Go For Shakes and Shudders
The answer is pretty much
obvious. Hey, if you wanted to run on a surface that shakes and shudders, you
could always do that
on a skateboard on top of a high-rise building, you
screaming like crazy. Jokes aside, you dont want to run on a treadmill
that shakes and shudders with every step. Make sure that the frame of the
treadmill is steady and is even supported.
It is a widely accepted
fact that the heavier a treadmill is, the steadier it will be, and the less
likely it will shake and shudder. However, this isnt always true, so be
sure to double check. Look at the footprint and at descriptions as to how the
deck is built. If you want a clue to finding out the stability of a treadmill,
check out the maximum user weight. That should give some idea on how stable and
solid a treadmill is.
Dont Do Too Much Incline
Generally, treadmills have a maximum incline of between 10 and 15%. Anything
more than that could involve safety issues which you have to check with the
manufacturer first. So just to be safe, dont overdo inclines.
Consider what you are running for. If you are running to train, then also
consider the course you are training for. If its for hilly courses, then
you will really need to train on a hilly course. A treadmill with a 10% incline
should be able to do the work. It will give you the illusion of pushing your
an experience that will be somewhat different from an actual
run up a hilly path.
However, if youre running a course that
has a lot of down hills (like the Boston Marathon, for instance), then a
treadmill is not going to be of much help. You can probably try propping the
back up with a couple of 2 x 4s but that would involve another set of
safety issues, so again, check with your manufacturer before doing so.
Dont Forget the Red Button
Safety is the most
important thing to consider, on par with motor, when buying treadmills. This is
especially true in households with children. There are two main safety features
found in treadmills and so when you buy one, dont forget to check for
these: the safety key and the emergency off button.
offer only the safety key. Others offer both the emergency button and the
safety key. It is best that you get a treadmill that offers both of these. If
not, then weigh down the merits of each feature carefully before buying.
A safety key treadmill requires that the key be in place to turn the
treadmill on. It usually has a way to attach the key to the runner so that if
the runner falls or gets too far away, the key will pull out and stop the
The emergency off button on the other hand is just a red
button that you can push to turn off the treadmill immediately.