Can You Run On A Manual Treadmill? (& How)

Photo of author
Published On

Regular treadmills have speed limits because of their limited motor power. Find out whether you can run on a treadmill and how fast.

Motorized treadmills often only go up to 12 miles (19.31 kilometers) per hour. This can offer good workouts but you may be interested in sprinting too.

Luckily, the good manual treadmills with curved belts typically do not have a speed limit.

That means you can theoretically use them for walking, jogging, faster running, and sprinting.

One thing to keep in mind is that curved belt manual treadmills do have a different feel than regular running. You may need to get used to them before you can safely go up to these higher speeds.

There are also cheaper manual treadmills with straight running decks. These are generally more for walking only.

This article will also provide some tips about how to run on manual treadmills and examples of how long you can do so.

Tips for running on a manual treadmill

So while you can definitely run on a quality manual treadmill it will likely be more challenging than running on a regular surface.

Below, you can find some tips specifically for manual treadmills and more general tips that also apply to the motorized version of this piece of fitness equipment.

Specific manual treadmill tips

The first thing to keep in mind is that manual treadmills are often not as precise in their speed adjustments as regular models since you adjust this with your own movements.

Before going straight to the highest speeds, you likely first want to get used to how adjusting your leg movements and positioning influence the speed.

Generally speaking, you will have to adjust your speed more slowly when both speeding up and slowing down.

Additionally, users mention that a disadvantage of the belts of some manual treadmills like the AssaultRunner is that they feel a bit heavier and tend to slow down more slowly.

Lastly, some manual treadmills like the TrueForm manual treadmills promote front foot strike running. In simpler words, this means you want to focus on and get used to landing on the ball (front parts) of your feet.

More general treadmill running tips

Besides the specific tips, you also want to keep some general running tips in mind.

This starts with warming up at a slower pace before going straight to fast running and sprinting. Warming up will not only help you avoid injuries but also improves performance.

Next, you generally want to point your feet more or less forward while running. This will generally be more comfortable and help you avoid muscle endurance imbalances.

Lastly, you want to keep your upper body more or less straight up. Slouching forward and/or tilting your body can feel uncomfortable and negatively influence balance.

Especially this last point would not be great when using a manual treadmill.

How long you should run on a manual treadmill

Some people also wonder whether there are any general guidelines about how long and how fast you should run on a manual treadmill for optimal results.

For a few goals like weight loss, this can be put into rough numeric estimations.

30 minutes of running at 5.2 mph (8.4 kmh) on a treadmill can help you burn around 266-457+ calories depending on weight, intensity, and much more.

Besides that, the guidelines about how long you should use a manual treadmill are equally vague as regular running.

There are some general principles like that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) seems to be good for improving VO2 max but nothing too precise.

One thing to note is that some users find some manual treadmills better for long-distance running than others.

More specifically, some people find the AssaultRunner more convenient for sprints and the TrueForm treadmills more convenient for long-distance running.

Can you run barefoot on a manual treadmill?

You may also be interested in barefoot running or at least running in minimalist shoes and wonder whether manual treadmills can be used for this.

Different manual treadmill models can have different belts which could be better or worse for this purpose than others.

That being said, as the person in the video below demonstrates, you can definitely run barefoot on at least some manual treadmills. Similar to regular barefoot running, technique adaptions like front foot strike running still apply.

One manual treadmill, the TrueForm Runner, even allows you to choose between different running belt textures. Some of these are more comfortable for running barefoot.

Photo of author


Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.