treadmill suggestion for 50-60 mi/week; step-up height considerations (tall guy)


Hi everyone, I have a fairly unique treadmill need situation and I’m hoping the numerous experts out there can help. I have a Healthrider Softstrider 600 HRC that I’ve used for more than a decade and love(d). The 600HRC felt like running on a cloud compared to numerous gym machines and it’s extremely solid and shake-free. I’ve always noticed that when I’m away from home and have to use other machines, my pace and perceived effort suffer noticeably. I use a GPS-calibrated Garmin footpod, so it’s not a matter of my home treadmill being “off”. The limiting factor on my treadmill runs is usually knee/leg joint discomfort as I ramp up speed and distance. About five years ago, the deck cracked lengthwise and I got a third-party/generic deck from TMD that was a downgrade. It had to be cut down substantially with a jig saw and it lacks the ¼” rubber/felt substance and the mylar plastic “glider” the original deck had. So that made the machine noisy with me on it and the run noticeably harder. The deck has cracked again and the unit has a squeak I've been unable to stop, so now I’m considering a new treadmill.

I run 50-70 miles/week year round and 99% of my miles are on the treadmill. I do a mix of steady distance (9-10mph average pace) and interval (6-8mph recovery, 11-12 for “sprint”) type work, usually 45-75 min per session. I’m not training for outdoor running races, so not only do I not care about a treadmill mimicking hard surface outdoor running, I’m actually looking for the opposite: soft and impact-free. My HRC 600 has buttons for each integer between 1mph and 12 mph – one press of the big button and it goes right to that speed. This is really nice for interval work when I’m pushing myself close to max HR. Seems like most current machines you have to press three or four buttons which is hard when you’re moving that fast and close to exhaustion. Also, the buttons on many machines (eg Spirit) are relatively tiny. When it comes to budget, I am willing to pay a lot for value.

The other factor is that I’m 6’5” (185lbs) and my home gym in my unfinished basement has 7’6” between the concrete floor and the engineered trusses. What is recommended for head clearance? My 600HRC step up height is roughly 6” and I feel totally fine there. I think I could lose maybe up to 2” (i.e., step up of up to 8”) without a real problem?

I've run on a number of ‘mills including recently the Spirit XT, Precor 4xx, and Life Fitness T5. A few years ago, I tried the True PS100 & PS300, Landice L7, Sole F80, and Life Fitness T5. Pretty much anything and everything and I’ve been sorely disappointed. The Landice felt noticeably hardest and the LF T5 and True PS300 felt the softest but harder than I'm used to. Many of the machines seemed to shake more than my current and, as mentioned, many have poor speed adjustment options.

What do you guys recommend? I wish I could get my current machine repaired properly!


  • If you honestly want to keep the expense down and keep your beloved treadmill running you should order another deck from TMD.

    If you let us know your exact measurements and where your drill holes are located we can get an exact replacement for your deck.

    Give us a call - 800-750-4766 option 2
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