Best Track Shoes Reviewed & Rated for Performance
When every second in the race counts, the difference between victory and defeat may come down to your track shoes (see all other running shoes here). Finding the right pair of track shoes depends on the style of event you’re doing, the distance you’ll be running, and your skill level. They feature elements designed specifically for racing and sprinting, whether a few hundred meters or a few thousand.
Track shoes have a spike plate that can feature either five to eight spikes depending on the distance you plan to run, and are made with materials like mesh and carbon rubber to give you the ultimate in aerodynamic comfort. They also often have unique technology designed to help you handle curves and blaze through straightaways, as well as tear out from the starting block with the most force possible. They should have the appropriate cushion and padding for your midsole and have a low ankle profile to prevent any irritation. All your focus needs to be on making those seconds count!
- Saucony Vendetta
- Carbon Rubber Outsole
- 6-pin Pebax Spike Plate
- Saucony Velocity
- Air Mesh Construction
- Puma TFX Sprint V4
- One-piece Microfiber Upper
- EVA Midsole
While selecting a track shoe may seem daunting to the novice racer or athlete, there are incremental differences in every brand’s footwear that will help you make the decision that’s best for you based on functionality, performance, and durability.
10 Best Track Shoes
1. Saucony Vendetta
Unlike the Saucony Spitfire, this track shoe has a six pin Pebax spike plate, as opposed to 7 spikes. It has a carbon rubber outsole, making it ideal for those wearers needing a truly aerodynamic design. It also means the shoe is easier to clean. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the same perforations for ventilation, meaning that for higher velocity speeds, your feet might become overheated quickly. This also may contribute to foot fatigue.
The carbon rubber outsole and synthetic materials inherent to its construction deliver a snug fit, and like all track shoes, it has an EVA midsole that delivers extra cushion and padding. Unlike other track shoes, it doesn’t have a padded tongue or collar, however, which may lead to some minor discomfort at the ankle. Its lace closure system isn’t as adjustable since the laces are elastic, but that does ensure the shoe won’t slide off your foot anytime soon!
Cost and Value
Saucony has developed several different track shoes to meet the needs of its customers, from entry-level to mid-level and beyond. The Saucony Velocity shoes are designed for mid-level racers, and for the price, are a fantastic shoe. They can accommodate wide feet while still delivering a snug fit, and while they only have six instead of 7 spikes on their plate, less is more in this case.
- Lightweight and Aerodynamic
- Carbon Rubber Outsole
- 6-pin Pebax Spike Plate
- Great Price
Runs a half size small
2. Saucony Velocity
While slightly more streamlined and simplified than other Saucony track shoes, the Saucony Velocity’s are no less impressive on the track. Though they may be considered an “entry level” track shoe, they are as high functioning as any shoe geared towards more experienced athletes. Their mesh upper and welded quarter frame won’t feel like a lot on your feet, but they’ll give you the support you need so you can go the distance.
These sleek track shoes have an EVA insole to keep your feet well cushioned no matter the ferocity of your athletic activity or your rate of impact. Everyone’s pace is different, but these shoes were made with a variety of distances in mind. And while they are entry level track shoes, they have been designed to provide the comfort and stability of a more advanced runner’s shoe.
Cost and Value
Saucony is a brand that constantly tries to take the needs of its athletic customers into account, creating and designing athletic footwear that gives them the confidence they need to complete their activities no matter their skill level. For an entry level shoe, the Velocity is very moderately priced and will last a long time before the need to purchase the appropriate shoe for more advanced training.
- EVA Insole
- Textile and Synthetic Design
- Entry-level Shoe
- Can fit tight
3. Puma TFX Sprint V4
The PUMA TFX Sprint V4’s are made from top quality mesh and synthetic textiles, featuring an all-in-one, one-piece microfiber upper, and an eight-pin Pebax spike plate with cutouts. This differs from other brands like Saucony and ASICS that use a seven spike plate. These shoes are incredibly lightweight, with perforations along the toes to allow for air circulation and cooling airflow. Their microfiber design, uncluttered with extra materials, allows them to be much more aerodynamic.
These shoes have a die-cut EVA sock liner cemented with a Strobel board for a tight fit. A snug fit is expected for track shoes considering the speeds of sprinters and racers. The compression-molded EVA midsole adds cushioned comfort in the form of extra padding, as well as some stability for such a thin shoe.
Cost and Value
Considered by many to be a champion of “sports lifestyle wear,” PUMA is heavily influenced by today’s track stars and sports figures. It incorporates the features and functions they love in their training right into their footwear, making track shoes like the PUMA TFX Sprint V4 stand out for performance, functionality, and comfort. They are slightly more expensive because of their association with celebrity, but the added features they possess makes it worth the investment.
- EVA Sockliner
- EVA-molded Midsole
- One-piece Microfiber Upper
- Runs a half size too small
4. Nike Zoom Pole Vault 2
This is a full-length midsole which is lightweight. Moreover, it provides ample cushioning to help absorb the shock associated with the field and running.
8mm Heel-to-Toe Offset
The heel-to-toe offset is set to aid a runner's transition to the upright position. This promotes faster times and better posturing during the run.
Cost and Value
Made for performance, this pair is worth the upper end of cost these fall under. They are well-built and provide great features, such as a dynamic fit system, Pebax® spike plate with removable pins, a Phylon midsole, and has an 8mm heel-to-toe offset. They are worth the purchase for both competition and training.
3/8-inch Compression-tiered Spikes
Dynamic Fit System
Pebax® Spike Plate
A bit pricey
5. Saucony Spitfire 4
A lightweight track shoe with a welded quarter, these shoes will support your movements on the turns as well as the straightaways. They have a three quarter spike plate that holds seven spikes, gripping the track with optimal hold. Like the best running shoes, they’re made of synthetic material that allows for the foot to breathe in extremely athletic conditions, as well as have perforations and stripes along the toe for proper air circulation. Their aerodynamic design means there’s no chance of you slowing down.
Like other great brands that specialize in athletic footwear, they’ve done their homework. They have noted that whatever level of fitness you are on track, you need stability and you need comfort to achieve maximum performance potential. That’s why they constructed the Saucony Spitfire’s with a Grid and sole-based stability and cushioning system that is the first of its kind, to provide an advantage to every athlete regardless of skill level. They also have EVA cushioned insoles for a padded footbed and excellent comfort.
Cost and Value
Making the most out of your time at the track means investing in the best track shoes available, which give you the best features for the price. With the attention to detail Saucony pays in their design, and developmental research to create the ultimate in athletic footwear technology, you get a one of a kind track shoe featuring the Grid system, that makes sure you stay stabilized and comfortable no matter your athletic prowess.
- Aerodynamic Design
- Grid Stability System
- EVA Insoles
- Welded Quarter
- Can run small
6. Asics Throw Pro
The ASICS brand is known for innovative athletic footwear technology to put you ahead of your competitors. And even if you’re only competing with yourself, you can’t go wrong with these shoes on the track. The Rhyno skin leather they use is abrasion and tear resistant, giving you extra durability. The synthetic leather they’re made from makes them easy to clean and to keep them looking fresh. Finally, their Spevafoam midsoles give you greater energy return and less midsole breakdown over time.
Where most track shoes have a simple lace closure system, this shoe has an added velcro strap for customizable comfort and fit. It is adjustable at the instep for greater versatility. The Throw Pro has the patented Rhyno skin technology, which is a rubber that grips like it means business along the sole and outsole. You won’t miss a step with these shoes on your feet.
Cost and Value
Since 1949, ASICS has been committed to delivering you the best athletic shoes possible, beginning with basketball shoes and pushing the design innovation with every other sport. Their new technological advancements give their wearers the confidence they need to train hard and train well, never sacrificing durability, functionality, or performance. For the price, there’s no better track shoe for your athletic needs.
- SpevaFoam Midsole
- Velcro and Lace Closures
- Leather Upper
- Runs half size small
7. Puma Complete TFX Sprint 3
The PUMA Complete TFX Sprint 3’s are constructed of a firm synthetic and mesh textile combination. They feature a secure, glove-like fit that provides enduring comfort as you round turn after turn. This means less foot fatigue so you can train longer and harder and get the most out of your running experience. The lace-up vent allows for customizable comfort and fit, and the seven spike quarter plate at the forefoot of the outsole gives you expert grip.
The solid rubber of the heel provides firm and steady grip, and the synthetic leather construction of the upper allows for easy cleaning. These track shoes don’t utilize metal spikes, which while different from the usual metal spike design for track shoes, still provide excellent grip and support. They have a padded tongue and collar for added comfort, and they fit low on the ankle, which means they won’t chafe your ankle bone. This means less pain for you and less wear on the interior of the shoe itself.
Cost and Value
PUMA is a company devoted to creating athletic footwear that is both innovative, technologically advanced, and in keeping with the latest trends in sports. Because they take note of the preferences of sports figures and professional athletes, wearers of their shoes receive the same equipment as the pros for a fraction of the cost. The PUMA Complete TFX Sprint 3 proves that you don’t need metal spikes on your track shoes to be competitive, and that durability and aesthetics can come together to make one of the most daring track shoes on the market.
- Padded Tongue and Collar
- Rubber Spikes
- Synthetic Rubber Upper
- Excellent Grip and Support
Runs a half a size small
8. Saucony Showdown 4
This Saucony track shoe gives the wearer the ultimate in stable grip thanks to its full-length 10-pin Pebax spike plate that grips the track like no other. Be prepared to dig deep and hard as you zoom past on the track shattering all of your previous records.
Saucony knows how to make a lightweight shoe and the Showdown 4 is the perfect example of this. It’s barely-there, feather-like feel will have you maxing out at top speeds like never before.
Cost and Value
The Showdown 4 costs only a small fraction more than some of the other shoes on the list but does bring a ton of performance boosting features. Designed for speed, these Sauconys will have you reaching your goals and leaving the competition behind in the dust.
- Full-length 10-pin Spike Plate
- Secure Lacing System
- Designed For Speed
- Flexible Overlays
- Higher price
9. Reebok Twistform Blaze 2.0
Since these track shoes don’t have a spike plate, they can be comfortably worn off the track. They are not particularly narrow, and have a thick rubber sole, as well as a typical lace system, giving them a slightly more casual look and feel. Like track shoes, they have an EVA midsole for extra cushion, and the collar and tongue have extra padding. The collar also rests higher than the ankle bone, not in line with it, making for a more comfortable fit. These shoes can be worn for a variety of athletic activities, not just sprinting, but are a good gateway shoe to build up to it.
A spiral midsole that has 16 different and uniquely designed transition waves propels you forward faster and more smoothly. It makes sprinting on the straightaways fulfilling, and also means that rounding turns doesn’t put as much strain on your joints. The midsole is also higher in the heel, allowing for maximum cushioning, and a way for beginners to “push off,” gaining speed and traction.
Cost and Value
Most consumers don’t associate Reebok with track shoes, but with the Twistform Blaze 2.0 Bright, the running shoe and track shoe have become one, joining forces to provide the perfect shoe for young athletes to learn the principles of sprinting with the best footwear available. There is no need to worry yet about the grip of spikes, as you learn how to push off and access your running power, while handling turns comfortably and not losing traction.
- Spiral Midsole
- EVA Cushioned Midsole
- Higher Heel for Extra Cushioning
- Ideally suited for younger athletes
10. Asics Gunlap
The upper is made of ripstop nylon, reinforced by hot-melt TPU overlays that give wearers a snug, glove-like fit. Reinforced perforations allow for proper ventilation and air circulation, also allowing for the drainage of moisture and perspiration during the most hardcore athletic activities. It has a decoupled Pebax spike plate much like what PUMA uses, perfect for traction at a variety of angles.
The ASICS Gunlap have a Solyte midsole that makes for a lightweight but well-padded material, more lightweight than their standard ethylene vinyl acetate midsole. It not only adds extra cushion and comfort to your heel, but it also makes the shoe more durable. The SharkDuo outsole provides maximum traction on the track and ensures your stability during intense sprints.
Cost and Value
ASICS always tries to stay ahead of the game when it comes to the development of athletic footwear, and their track shoes are no exception. Building off their other track shoes and finding ways to improve them has culminated in the ASICS Gunlap, a technologically advanced track shoe that is incredibly lightweight, extremely durable, and ensures that with the addition of features like ripstop nylon and a Solyte midsole, no track is unconquerable.
- Ripstop Nylon
- Solyte Midsole
- SharkDuo Outsole
- Weighs only 4 ounces
- Runs small
Though the range of track shoes may seem broad, the differences in their construction are subtle. Most brands make footwear with every skill level in mind, from the novice to elite sprinter, and spend vast amounts of time researching their customers’ needs so that they can deliver the best footwear possible. Whether you race a few hundred meters or man more, there is a track shoe that will help you break records and go the distance. All the various features that they have are designed around specific events and specific lengths and are designed in such a way that you can upgrade your footwear as you get better, or want to branch out with your racing.
Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Track Shoes
When it comes to performance on the track, there are a couple of things you need to consider; the comfort of your shoe, the materials of your shoe, and the style of spikes of your shoe. Spikes are a lightweight feature of track shoes that help you grip the track better, allowing you to get the most out of your stamina by giving you the force for a full range of motion. The type of spikes you need depends on the events you’ll be doing, which are an indicator of the distance you’ll be running. There are entry-level spikes (sprint), mid-level spikes (mid-distance), and long distance. Now, these distances can vary greatly, so a mid-level spike can be significant for a variety of events because its spikes are designed for use from 800 to 5,000 meters. Track shoes intended for sprinting are stiff, whereas long-distance track shoes have more give and specific materials like mesh fabric promote breathability, while EVA midsoles provide the padding and cushion you will need for putting your feet through so much.
Other considerations in performance, also, include your style of running; or better yet, the type of race may dictate form, as well. If you run on the forefoot, as typical sprinters do, then you want footwear which pads well in this area to help absorb the shock you are placing with each and every step. Likewise, for longer distance racing, a heel-to-toe stride may be the running preference. In situations, such as these, you will find better performance with track shoes having a midsole conducive to giving you the best in shock-absorbent properties, such as an EVA midsole.
Track shoes need to fit snug; not tight enough to restrict blood flow or cause cramping in your muscles and nerves, but not loose enough to wear your heel might slide out. You don’t want your toes to feel pinched or cramped in any way, because this pressure will cause foot fatigue and may result in injury. Wherever possible, try on several pairs of track shoes at a specialty store so that you can get a feel for them. Padded tongues and collars, as well as specific lace closure systems with added velcro straps, can all add to how well a track shoe fits.
Also, there is specific footwear with midfoot straps in place to help the track shoe stay a bit more secure. They, usually, can be found in pole vault or long-jump footwear and is a nice attribute to have after leaving the ground. In addition to this, tuck-away lace system is recommended to not only add to your secure fit but to, also, add to your safety, as well.
Since different track shoes are designed for varying levels of skill and various events, they will all function slightly differently. For sprinting shorter distances, track shoes will have a hard, firm sole all along the bottom of the foot, designed for pushing off and generating the most power and momentum possible. For running longer distances, track shoes will have more give and are made with rubber components that are flexible, and midsoles that bounce back, giving you the maximum amount of energy return. The spike plate on a pair of track shoes will have a varying amount of spikes. The maximum allowed for sprinting is eight, while for mid-distance or long distance track shoes, the count is between five and seven.
Proper ventilation in your track shoes is critical if you run for more than a few hundred meters. For sprints, it’s not as vital because the time spent on the track is minimal. However, for mid-distance or long distances on the road, perforations and mesh fabric along the toes and uppers allow for better circulation and airflow, decrease heat friction, and prevent discomfort.
In addition to these things, a breathable environment can help prevent athlete’s foot and other foot ailments, as well. Track meets can last over multiple days and you may participate in more than one event. So, it goes without saying that proper foot health is vital to making it through to the next day. With this in mind, you should consider breathable footwear environments for daily training, as the hours are a bit longer during training sessions than that of actual meets. In this, you and your feet will be much happier together.
With track footwear, support is important, according to the type of gait you have. Most of the pairs listed are for neutral runners and, therefore, do not provide adequate support for underpronators and overpronators. If you are not a neutral runner, then it is advisable to find footwear specific to your pronation type. If, however, you absolutely must have a certain pair which catches your eye but does not support like you need, then make certain the insole is removable. If it is, then you can replace it with an orthotic that will support your feet during your run and will help your overall foot health. Furthermore, the proper support for your pronation type will lower the aches and pains associated with a few hard days at the track meet and/or daily training regimens. Also, you may find your performance time may become better after inserting the proper support for your pronation type. It is amazing how the right kind of support can translate into precious shaved seconds out on the track.
Furthermore, in addition to these precious seconds gained, as it were, you will gain the added benefit of a healthier lifestyle. The wear-and-tear on your feet and ankles may not be immediately noticeable, especially for those who are younger. But as the years begin to pass by, the devastation from wearing the wrong gear will start to rear its ugly head. Problems will be noticed in the feet, ankles, and hip area. Most of this is in relation to load-rate; the measurable amount of shock endured with each step. Thankfully, however, a lot of these problems can be avoided by simply wearing the proper gear. Healthy training attitudes can go a long way in prolonging the time in which you can enjoy your favorite activities.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How tight should my track shoes be?
A: Ideally you want your track shoes snug, but not so tight that they cut off your circulation. If you can, go to a specialty store and try on several kinds, getting a feel for different brands. Some beginning track shoes feel a little looser, and sometimes it will be a matter of preference how tight you want your shoes for competition, but your shoes should never pinch your toes, and many brands come to a half size smaller anyway.
Q: What are the best track spikes?
A: There are different sorts of track spikes for various events and distances. Pyramid spikes are great for cross country. They’re thicker, won’t deteriorate as fast, and give you a nice bounce back on the track. Needle spikes are used on all-weather tracks, are thinner, and provide excellent grip. Compression spikes are a combination of the two, offering both significant bounce and traction, ideal for sprinters.
Q: Are there different sizes of spikes available?
A: Spikes should always be custom fit whenever possible because they require a snug fit. Running shoes can afford to be a little looser, but with track shoes, any amount of feet slide in the shoe can mean seconds lost on the clock, possible discoordination, and even injury.
Q: How often should spikes be replaced?
A: The frequency with which you compete in events or races will determine how often your spikes should be replaced. They will deteriorate over time as they rub against the track, requiring them to be replaced every so often. It may seem expensive to do this, but in the long run, it’s much less costly than a hospital bill gained by getting injured running with faulty shoes.
Q: Why should I wear shoes specifically for the track?
A: Track shoes feature a spiked design that provides the wearer with traction and allows for top speeds. Typical running shoes lack the proper grip needed when running at such a fast pace on the potentially slippery surface of the track.
Factors such as weather conditions can drastically affect how slippery the surface of the track is going to be and wearing a pair of spiked shoes will prevent any accidental slips or falls which could potentially lead to more severe injuries. Running shoes just aren’t designed to provide a firm enough grip for this type of terrain.
Q: Do I still need a spiked shoe for running on an indoor track?
A: This will depend on the rules of the specific indoor track that you plan to run on. So long as it is an actual track than spikes should not be a problem, there are, however, some indoor tracks that do not allow spikes at all, or that have strict rules for what lengths and styles are acceptable.
Regarding there being a difference between indoor or outdoor track shoe spikes, there isn’t any. If you are running on an actual running track than any spike is excellent no matter if it’s inside or out.
Q: Wouldn’t running on a spiked shoe be uncomfortable?
A: Spiked track shoes are designed with a thick and hard rubber or plastic outsole which the spikes are attached to by being fitted into specially chosen locations. The way these shoes are made is so they will not cause any discomforts and certainly won’t dig into the wearer’s foot.
Q: What shoes are the best for sprinters?
A: Shoes that are geared towards sprinting will usually have the highest number of spikes possible, which is presently eight. Any standard track shoe that has six or more, but preferably eight, will work great for sprints.
Q: What brand makes the best track shoes?
A: No one brand makes the best track shoes, there are some high-quality and trusted names in the field who deliver time after time when it comes to quality and performance-enhancing features. The shoes chosen for this list are all examples of some of the very best options available on the market today.
- EVA: Ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) is a humanmade foam material that is lightweight and ultra-flexible.
- Lace system: Refers the style of shoelaces that a particular model of shoe is designed with.
- Midsole: The middle section of the shoes which sits between the outsole
- and footbed.
- Microsuede: Is a polyester microfiber material that is similar in its properties to the suede material.
- Support Shank: A piece of metal which rests between the mid and outsoles of a shoe. It offers stability by distributing weight more evenly across the entire foot.
- Spike plate: Metal or rubber spikes on the bottom of a track shoe that help to improve overall speed, balance, and take-off.
- Synthetic: Something that closely mimics the form something else but is not genuine.
- Textile: A flexible material made from a combination of natural or artificial fibers (yarn or thread).
- Toe box: The front section of the shoe which surrounds the toes.
- Upper: The top half a shoe which encompasses anything that is above the outsole.
- Zero Drop: A shoe which features a 0mm drop from heel to toe.
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