The Best Home Fitness Equipment for Runners

Long days, better weather and the promise of 5K’s to come,  make early spring an awesome time for running.  Depending on your running goals, the right piece of home fitness equipment can help you to fit in more quality training, avoid injury, or simply add to the enjoyment of your cross training workouts.   If you’re already a home fitness enthusiast, you may also find yourself wondering how to best combine your outdoor workouts with your treadmill, elliptical or recumbent bike.  New runners, and those contemplating a fitness equipment purchase, may also need to weigh the benefits of one piece of equipment over the other.  As a runner, choosing the right piece of fitness equipment, whether that’s a treadmill, elliptical, or recumbent bike, depends on what you wish to accomplish from your indoor training sessions.

Treadmills: For a serious runner who wants to make sure that nothing gets between you and your training time, a treadmill is probably your best bet.  While running on a treadmill is a bit easier than running outside, you can increase the difficulty by pushing your incline up slightly.  Including a treadmill in your home gym means that spring rains, summer heat, or simply a long work day won’t throw your training off track.  Treadmills also have the advantage of providing more cushioning than running outside, which can be easier on your joints.  You can use your treadmill as a back-up to your regular, outdoor workouts or schedule it into your training plan.  This might mean planning recovery runs on your treadmill to take advantage of the added cushioning and controlled environment  or challenging interval runs utilizing pre-programmed settings that get your legs moving and your heart rate out of its comfort zone.  You can also schedule days of simply walking on your treadmill, to assist your muscles in their recovery after a particularly long or difficult run outdoors. Space efficiency is another advantage of treadmills.  Many models fold up, making them easy to move out of the way, a particular advantage if your home gym space doubles as a living area.

Woman Exercising on Elliptical

Ellipticals:  An elliptical trainer can also be a terrific complement for both new and serious runners.  Elliptical trainers offer a simple, low impact movement that allows joints and muscles to recover from the stress of running, while continuing to burn serious calories and challenge the cardiovascular system.  If you’re new to running, are concerned about the impact of running, or simply want to burn as many calories as possible while minimizing the wear and tear on your joints, an elliptical trainer is a great option.  Virtually any workout that you can do on a treadmill can be adapted to an elliptical trainer.  Additionally, you have the option of strengthening the upper body at the same time, improving your running form.  Elliptical trainers can also be used in a backwards pedaling motion…a factor unique to this particular piece of equipment.  This allows you to strengthen the posterior muscles of the body that provide the power needed for other athletic endeavors (think beach volleyball or 3 on 3 basketball), while allowing the quads time to recover.

Recumbent Bike:  If you see yourself completing a few runs outside each week and would like a way to recover from your runs that will keep you active, or if you like to mix up your workouts with different types of training, a recumbent bike is a good addition to your home fitness equipment.  Recumbent bikes are also a great, no impact option for continuing to work out through or following injury.  The position of your body in this piece of equipment takes the stress of your workout off of your low back and your knees, so if these are vulnerable areas for you, mixing recumbent bike workouts into your running or walking just makes sense.  Some of these machines take up a bit of floor space and the seated position can make it harder to get your heart rate up if you don’t make a conscious effort to overcome that through increasing the resistance and speed of your workout, but if you’re looking for a convenient, no-impact workout that you can use for cross-training or recovery, the recumbent bike is a great option.

Tell us your story:  Are you using your home fitness equipment to add training options and variety to your running?  What do you use and how?