Choosing the right track shoe is crucial for optimal performance. Sprinters use tall spikes for explosive boosts, while distance runners use smaller spikes. Jumpers and pole vaulters wear lightweight shoes with spikes on the toe. Shot put and discus throwers require shoes with foot and ankle stability.
There are various types of track shoes available to athletes and choosing the right shoe is one of the most important considerations when choosing track clothing. The type of shoe needed for optimal performance generally depends on the event you are participating in. Special shoes are available for sprinters and distance runners, as well as participants in other field events. Spikes are common for track athletes.
Various lengths and shapes of track shoe studs are available with tall studs and small or no studs for elite sprinters. The use of spikes allows sprinters to grip the track and get an explosive boost with every stride. There is often no heel strike in a sprinter’s stride, negating the need for spikes on the heels of sprint shoes. Beginner sprinters should use smaller spikes until they are used to this type of trail shoe.
Even non-sprinters can use spikes, but shoes for distance runners often have smaller spikes that are spread across the bottom of the shoe. Spikes help a distance runner grip the trail, but running longer distances usually requires a stride with some sort of heel strike, making tiptoe-only spikes ill-suited. For much longer distances, some runners prefer spikeless trail shoes to get the extra cushioning provided by a spikeless road running shoe. Compared to traditional running shoes, trail shoes designed for all types of running are lighter.
There are trail shoes available for non-runners as well. Participants in the long or triple jump often wear lightweight shoes with spikes only on the toe. This allows the jumper to get a strong, well-gripped push off when he jumps. Pole vaulters wear a similar type of shoe to get good traction during pole running and a strong take off.
Athletes who participate in shot put or discus throw events wear completely different shoes than runners. Spikes aren’t important in these events, as the athletes don’t require any kind of push. Foot and ankle stability, however, is critical for these events, so shoes designed for throwing often include a supportive strap across the top of the foot and a solid area around the ankle. An athlete participating in multiple track and field events might own several pairs of shoes and change footwear appropriately for specific events.