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Guide for selecting track and field shoes

General Information Track and Field Shoes Track meet necessities Track Terminology/field diagram Track and Field Events Cross Country Running


Track and Field Equipment Needed....

Track and field events require little equipment.  The athlete simply needs a uniform which includes a shirt and shorts worn during the events.

The diversity of  this sport complicates the purchasing of footwear and as the athlete progresses the proper footwear is essential for optimal track and field performance.   Spikes for each event are different in construction so high jumping spikes are not the same as shot putting spikes. Once athletes reach high school age they will have event-specific spikes in addition to their regular running shoes.  A beginner however should simply purchase a good pair of running shoes.  This type of shoe will provide versatility to compete in most track and field events and is a cost-effective way to start.  Be sure that these shoes are worn just for track and field events and not to school everyday.  In addition,  most of the kids will also have a pair of spikes which may or may not be specifically made for that event.

Events such as the shot put, discus throw, hammer throw, weight throw, javelin throw and pole vault all involve implements. As athletes get older they will prefer to own their own implements whereas beginners normally use the implements provided at the meet or by their coaches.

The main thing to consider when buying a pair of track shoes is that they fit properly and are comfortable. Make sure there is plenty of room for your toes in the shoe. Always try a new pair of running shoes on at the end of the day, when your feet are at their largest.  If possible try out the shoes by taking a short run around the store to make sure the shoes are comfortable.  Some tracks prohibit  certain kinds of spikes so check with your coach prior to your purchase.

Details on Track and Field Shoes
compliments of

Sprinters / Hurdlers:

If you're a sprinter or a hurdler, you know the kind of power you can put out. Sprinting and hurdling shoes help you try to transfer as much of this power as possible into forward momentum. They have stiff front soles, with very little material in the heel at all, as ideal form involves minimal heel contact. As a result, if you run a longer event, like the 400m run or 330m hurdles, you may want to test a middle distance shoe as well before buying. Sprint shoes tend also to have high numbers of spikes. Be sure to check with race officials to see how many spikes are legal to use before competing.

Jumping / Pole Vault / Javelin:

Jumping spikes are similar to sprinting spikes, but generally less aggressively oriented toward the toe, to allow for the last second corrections and hard landings that can be part of the jumping events. Javelin shoes far more closely resemble jumping spikes than any other type of shoe, due to the similar approach involved in javelin and long jump. Javelin shoes generally have higher cuffs, though, for more support when stopping to launch the javelin, and have soles designed for use with heel spikes, for added traction.


Dedicated throwing shoes for discus, shot put, and hammer are different from other track footwear in that they have no spikes. Instead, these shoes have smooth, soft rubber soles for better execution of the spin technique. Some models also have high cuffs for better support and more power.

Middle / Long Distance:

Middle distance shoes are like sprint shoes, but with more cushioning and a more flexible sole for a natural running motion. Though different companies recommend different events for their shoes, all middle distance shoes are generally fine for events 400m to the mile. Longer distance spikes come in far more varieties, from spikeless marathon shoes, to fast-drying steeplechase models, to shoes that look almost identical to your average pair of middle distance spikes. Because you'll be wearing your shoes for a while in events 3,000 meters and up, take any footwear you're interested in for a test run before buying.