Best track shoes

Footwear

Just like any other athletic shoes, you’ll need to break in your track shoes. Take some time to break them in before your first meet, or you’ll be sore afterward.

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Which track shoes are best?

Your choice of track shoes will mainly depend on the event. If you run in distance events, sprint spikes won’t work and vice versa. That said, a good pair of shoes can take your track season to the next level, and they’re worth the investment. Runners participating in multiple events will get the most use out of the Nike Zoom Victory 3 Spikes.

What to know before you buy track shoes

Track shoes are event-specific

If you’re a jumper, you won’t wear the same shoes as a sprinter. Many track athletes have some crossover in their events. Maybe you sprint but also long jump or hurdle. Make sure you know which events for which your spikes are intended. You can use sprint spikes for hurdles, but they won’t be ideal for jumping events.

Athletes running distance events have it a bit easier. You can use the same shoe for anything from 400-meter events and up. More competitive athletes may have different spikes for mid-distance and distance events, but that isn’t required. Again, should you compete in events that aren’t distance races, make sure you have shoes appropriate for those other events.

They’re uncomfortable initially

This is especially important for sprint and distance athletes to note. If you’re a first-time track runner, you’re likely to have sore calves after your event. Your shoes may feel strange on your feet, and take some time to break in. This is entirely normal, so don’t worry. You don’t want to panic and buy a larger size, thinking that will solve the problem. You want your shoes to fit snugly.

Durability can be an issue with distance spikes

This doesn’t ring as true for other events, but distance runners will want to be aware of this. Since the goal of distance spikes are to be as light as possible, they can get small tears on the side of the shoe. Nike has especially had this problem in the past. While usually, this isn’t an issue, it is something on which you should keep an eye. High-level track athletes may want to consider a cheap pair of spikes for practice and only race in their nicer pair. Thin athletic socks (or going sockless) can help.

What to look for in quality track shoes

Weight

If you throw discus or shotput (or javelin if you have that), this may not be as much of a concern. For running-based events, a lighter shoe can make a difference. Distance spikes can be as light as three ounces even!

Responsiveness

Jumpers and sprinters will want to heed responsiveness. You want your spike to “spring” back when you hit the ground to maximize speed. Distance athletes will want to pay attention to responsiveness, especially in shorter distance events, but it isn’t as crucial.

Spike pattern

A classic mistake made by first-time track athletes is buying the wrong style of track shoe. If you’re a distance athlete, you don’t want to buy sprint shoes accidentally.

If you aren’t sure what to look for, here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Distance shoes have four to six spikes (or pins). Some mid-distance may have seven occasionally.
  • Sprint shoes have above six pins.
  • Jump shoes tend to have more than six, and high jump-specific shoes have spikes on the heel (as do javelin shoes).
  • Shotput and discus shoes have no spikes.

How much you can expect to spend on track shoes

Depending on your event and competition level, you can spend from $65-$150.

Track shoes FAQ

If I run multiple events, what type of shoes should I get?

A. If you run 400-meter events and up, assuming you don’t jump, get mid-distance spikes. Sprints and hurdles can use the same spikes. If you sprint and run mid-distance events, you’ll probably want shoes for each. The same goes for any other combination of events.

Is it better to buy track shoes with more pins?

A. Not necessarily. For sprinters, more spikes can help you grip the ground better. If you’re a high-level distance athlete who wants to take turns aggressively in shorter distances, you’ll probably want a six-pin setup instead of four or five.

What are the best track shoes to buy?

Top track shoes

Nike Zoom Victory 3

Nike Zoom Victory 3

What you need to know: These are the gold standard for the all-around distance/mid-distance athlete.

What you’ll love: This is one of the lightest spikes on the market at four ounces in a men’s size 9 or women’s 10.5. With a six-pin setup and aggressive stiffness, these spikes are always responsive when you need them to be.

What you should consider: These spikes push you up onto your toes. Athletes not used to them can be tired out over longer distances.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods

Top track shoes for the money

Nike Zoom Rival S

Nike Zoom Rival S

What you need to know: For the entry-level sprint athlete who may want to try some jumps, this is a budget, all-around shoe with seven pins.

What you’ll love: These have the rigidity necessary for shorter sprints but aren’t so aggressive that you can’t run longer sprints or hurdles in them. If you aren’t sure about the track, these are one of the cheaper options.

What you should consider: High-level sprinters may want something more aggressive and specific to their events.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods

Worth checking out

Nike Zoom Rotational 6

Nike Zoom Rotational 6

What you need to know: This a high-level choice for hitting new marks if you throw shotput or discuss.

What you’ll love: The Nike Rotational has always been toward the top of the throwing shoes of conversation, and the sixth iteration is just the same. Nike has designed the rubber on these to spin more efficiently than previous models.

What you should consider: It’s nitpicky, but they aren’t the best-looking shoes out there.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Joe Coleman writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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