Love it or hate it, if you're a runner, you've probably logged miles on a treadmill. Maybe you have access to one at the gym or while traveling, but do you need one at home? Like a lot of things, there's no simple answer, and it depends on a variety of circumstances. Ask yourself the following questions if you need a little help deciding!
What's Your Schedule Like?
If you work from home and have some flexibility with when you run, you might be able to get by without a treadmill (i.e. a lunchtime run during the day might feel safer and more do-able than a run in the dark). Do you have little ones at home? If so, a treadmill might be a way to ensure you'll always get those miles in; even on days when school is canceled or your little one wakes up early!
Where Do You Live?
One of the most important things to consider is your space. Do you have a spare bedroom, basement or garage that can house the machine? Or do you live in a tiny studio with downstairs neighbors (hello noise complaints)? Even with minimal space, you might be able to find a foldable model, but it's definitely something to consider. Beyond the physical space you inhabit, think about your region's general climate. If you live in temperate northern California, you can probably run outside most (if not all) days of the year. But if you live in the deep south or the far north, certain seasons might make running indoors a lot more desirable.
What Are Your Fitness Goals?
Do you enjoy running a few times a week to stay in shape? If so, you can probably schedule your runs to optimize good weather and daylight. However, if you're training for a goal race and have a heavy training load, a treadmill can remove some barriers and limit excuses. You might also consider any other activities you enjoy doing. If the weather tends to be snowy and cold in the winter, would you prefer cross-country skiing to running on a treadmill? Both offer good workouts, but the treadmill can help you with race-specific fitness in a way cross training can't.
Finally, What's Your Budget Like?
A good quality treadmill can cost upwards of a few thousand dollars (for example, the popular Peloton Tread+ model clocks in at $4,200), and for some, the cost just isn't worth it. If your own personal treadmill isn't an option right now, consider joining a no-frills gym like Planet Fitness. For a few bucks a month, you'll have access to a treadmill if you really need one, without having to find space for your own machine.
Whether or not a treadmill will be a big quality of life upgrade really depends on how and when you like to run. For very early morning runners, parents of small children—or people who live in extreme climates—a treadmill can be invaluable. But whatever you do, if you make the investment, don't let the 'mill turn into a coat rack!
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