Can You Wear Trail Running Shoes on a Treadmill

woman running on a treadmill

As you are probably already aware, I do a lot of trail running. But now and again I just need to train indoors due to time, the weather, training, etc. so the best option to hand is a treadmill.

Over the years I have bought so many different types of shoe for different occasions, I didn’t want to buy one specifically for the treadmill.

With this in mind, I spent a fair amount of time researching to understand if a trail running shoe could be worn on a treadmill. I would like to share what I found.

Can you wear trail running shoes on a treadmill? Simply put, yes you can wear trail running shoes on a treadmill. There are of course many differences between a road and trail shoe, but ultimately a trail shoe can easily do the job for you when it comes to running indoors.

So now that we have established that we can wear trail running shoes on a treadmill, lets look at this in a bit more detail as there are certain trail shoes that will work better than others.

Why Run On A Treadmill

As I have said previously, there may be many reasons that we are going to train on a treadmill. If I’m being honest, it isn’t something I enjoy greatly, but it does have it’s benefits now and again.

A treadmill might be great for winter training when it’s dark and wet outside. It can be very difficult getting onto a trail in the pitch black in the middle of winter – unless you have a great head torch of course.

It’s not just when it’s cold and dark either. There have been times in the past where the heat has just been crazy and going out on the trails for hours might be too much.

The other reasons you might run on a treadmill, which have certainly been ones I have used in the past is when you are just really time constrained and can’t get to a run, or, you might be doing some strength training prior to a short run.

In terms of when you are strength training for trails running, the treadmill is a fantastic option for your run in the gym.

Why Trail Shoes Are Ok On A Treadmill

Lets get this one out of the way first. Trails vary a lot when it comes to what is underneath you feet. Anything from hard packed trail, to rock, grass, mud, and anything else nature can throw at you.

The pavement however is generally pretty hard and unforgiving underfoot so your body takes quite a lot of impact with each stride if you have the wrong shoe.

The treadmill kind of sits between the trail and the road when it comes to what’s underfoot. Now I don’t mean a treadmill has rocks and mud of course, but it is far more forgiving than a road surface.

Nowadays, trail shoes come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and materials which can in fact make them very good for multiple disciplines away from the trails themselves, particularly treadmills.

Due to this reason alone, trail shoes can easily be used on a treadmill with no issues at all.

What Type Of Trail Shoe Is Best

From my own experience, the majority of trail shoes will be fine for running on a treadmill (I will give my recommendations later).

The main differences between road and trail shoes are that trail shoes often are more robustOpens in a new tab. and may not quite be as well-cushioned as a road shoe.

Apart from that, when it comes to running on the treadmill I don’t think you will have any issues. The other thing to consider as well is that if your shoes are quite new then you have the perfect opportunity to ‘break them in’ before hitting the trails at a later date.

The only thing I would say is that shoes with lugs on the sole designed for muddy surfaces might not be great for a treadmill. The grip on these shoes is designed to really bite into the surface they are on so they can feel a bit awkward – certainly when I have tried them anyway.

Shoes with lugs that may be awkward are ones like Salamon Speedcross and Inov8 Mudclaws.

Will My Trail Shoes Wear Out Quickly

As a general rule, most trail running shoes are fairly robust so the answer is no, they won’t wear out quickly at all.

A treadmill is just a belt turning at a speed you set as opposed to running over multiple surfaces on a trail.

The trail shoe is generally designed to cope with such different terrain that a mere treadmill won’t have any effect that will cause them to wear out quickly.

What Are The Best Trail Shoes For Running On A Treadmill

pair of altra lone peak zero drop trail shoes

Ok, so after many hours of running and walking on treadmills in the gym, I have really found that I will run with any of my ‘current’ shoes with no issues.

My favourites on the treadmill have been zero or low drop shoes, mainly because they are what I run on the trails with.

I have used multiple versions of the Altra Lone Peak shoes and they are very comfortable on pretty much any surface I have run on over the years. You can check out the latest reviews and prices on Amazon hereOpens in a new tab..

The Inov8 Terra Ultra has also been a great shoe on the treadmill. This particular shoe was designed to run up to Ultramarathon distance on more hard packed trails so it’s ideal on a treadmill as well.

The Terra Ultra is my go-to shoe for the gym in general and can be reviewed here on AmazonOpens in a new tab.. When doing strength training, especially squats and deadlifts, this shoe has been fantastic due to the zero drop design and the fairly firm cushioning.

The final shoe I have been using on the treadmill is the Hoka One One Challenger ATR 5Opens in a new tab..

I have to admit that in years gone by I haven’t been able to wear any Hoka’s because they were historically quite narrow and I have fairly wide feet. However, this has recently changed and they offer a wide fitting with the Challenger 5.

At the moment this is my go-to shoe for trail and road running as it is quite good as a road to trail type shoe and is fantastic on a treadmill too. The cushioning is excellent so it makes for a very comfortable ride in general.

The challenger is definitely not a shoe I would use for general gym use though, as the cushioning doesn’t work for compound lifts when strength training.

In Summary…

So, we now know that just about any trail shoe is capable of running on a treadmill, with the exception of those with aggressive lugs on the soles in my opinion.

It’s always good to know that it’s possible to have a shoe that can do many tasks like running treadmills, roads, trails and even some gym work. This can save a fair bit of money in the long run as I have learnt over the years.

My go-to shoe over the past few years has been those made by Altra, specifically the Lone Peak models. A great all-round shoe in my opinion if you don’t mind a zero drop shoe.

If the plan is to go to the gym and strength train as well as running then the Inov8 TerraUltra might be a shoe worth considering.

Running on a treadmill is a great option if you really just can’t get outside or you want to compliment your gym session with a run afterwards.

Please feel free to check out any of my recommended gear hereOpens in a new tab..


Hey! Mark here. Welcome to my blog. At the age of 47 I was a 212lb unhealthy mess. At the age of 50, I had run an 86 mile trail ultramarathon and converted to a Plant-Based Diet. I had turned my life around in 3 years. This blog is set up for those of you who want to make that change and I'm here to help.

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