New treadmill: Signed, sealed, but not yet delivered

Emotion for FreeMotion

Today’s workout (elliptical): 50 minutes

The absence of a working treadmill prompted me to obsessively research replacements for our Sole F63. It’s always a good idea to look at the models around your price range and then find the best value based on your requirements. That doesn’t always guarantee success as evidenced by our Sole. Despite its high recommendation it didn’t live up to its hype.

My starting point was to consider every treadmill brand in the universe (except for Sole) and work backwards from there. I am fortunate to have resources for research that aren’t available to many people and quickly learned that most treadmills priced under $1,000 are really a crap-shoot. I was told that I should be willing to pay $2,000 or more for the quality that I’m expecting. I decided to reject that and focus on machines that are reasonably priced and structurally sound. I don’t need built in fitness programs because we never use them, so why pay for them?

After coming close to pulling the trigger on a LifeSpan TR2000e that I could get for the price of a 1200i, I decided to wait until I had a chance to try out a few in person. We went over to Sports Authority to see what they had to offer. Big box retailers tend to stock the same brands: Bowflex. NordicTrak, Pro-Form, Sole and HealthRider. We had a Pro-Form treadmill before the Sole and we currently have a Pro-Form elliptical. Pro-Form equipment can be a good, inexpensive choice, but they sometimes feel cheap and rickety.

Sports Authority sells FreeMotion treadmills, a brand whose commercial grade units are often found in fitness centers. After looking at the Pro-Forms, we concluded that we’d do better paying a little more for a middle-tier FreeMotion 850 model. The differences in construction between this unit and the similarly-priced Pro-Form were noticeable. For example, the salesperson pointed out how the FreeMotion has shock absorbers all along the tread bed, while the Pro-Form only had them in the middle. That could make a big difference in how long the rollers will last.

I liked that the 850 had a basic interface but was iFIT compatible for people who want fitness features and device connectivity. I also liked the feel of the bed when I ran on it and the fact that this unit can incline  up to 15% and decline 3%. There was free delivery for treadmills at that price and we opted to have them assemble it. A 20% off coupon that I got for buying a box of Girl Scout cookies outside the store made it a pretty good value.

I spent 50 minutes on the elliptical this morning. Although it’s a tedious workout, the session went by fast because my daughter kept me company the entire time. My wife and I are anxious get the new treadmill as we both view the elliptical as an occasional cross training tool rather than a primary means of working out. But until we take delivery, it’s going to be our only option.

What’s your running shoe’s medical history?

 

Today’s run (treadmill): 25 minutes

When you go to a medical office for the first time, they usually present you with a clipboard loaded with forms that you have to fill out before you can see the doctor. Among those forms is a checklist for your family medical history. It makes sense since the best way to predict future health problems is to know your areas of risk. I’m applying the same concept in assessing the useful life of my main pair of running shoes.

I’ve always been skeptical about the commonly-held view that trainers should be replaced between 300 and 500 miles. Just as people may carry greater risk for certain illnesses, some shoes and brands seem predisposed to wear out sooner than others. My first pair of running shoes were some Nike Foot Locker specials that only lasted about 400 miles. But I ran in a pair of Brooks Adrenalines for 700 miles before I retired them.

People tell me that they notice when their mid-soles have worn out after a few months. I think it’s all in their head. Unless you are a large person, it’s unlikely that you would significantly compress EVA enough to matter. I’ve come to believe that it’s the out-sole that determines the life of a shoe. When I’ve needed to replace a pair, it’s usually because the wear pattern on the bottom has caused a change in my foot strike.

Of all the running shoes I’ve owned, the pair I’ve liked the most were the original Saucony Kinvaras. Unfortunately I loved them past the point where their out-sole could provide me a stable platform and I ended up with a knee problem. After 466 miles, I took them out of the rotation. I’m currently running in the Kinvara 3’s, a great shoe as well, but I’ve reached 436 miles with them. That’s only 30 miles less than what I got out of the first Kinvaras.

Saucony’s new Virrata looks interesting

So far, I’ve experienced no knee issues when running in the 3’s, but the wear patterns are starting to show. Should I be proactive and replace the 3’s in case they go from good to bad in the next 30 miles? Or should I put faith in the idea that Saucony may have engineered a more robust out-sole in the two generations since the first Kinvara? I’m on the fence about it, but it doesn’t take much to get me back into shoe-buying mode.