Sprinting is one of the most exciting events in athletics and due to the continued rise in popularity of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) it is becoming more and more popular with members of the public. But while sprinting as fast as you can on grass or on the road will get you far, you’ll quickly reach a point where you want more out of your sprinting.
Either you’ll want to measure your distance properly, or you’ll want the excitement of competition. At this point you’ll have to start track running, this is where all amateur athletics clubs hold their sprinting competitions/practices. But to perform properly on the track you’ll need the correct footwear. Running shoes are good but track shoes are a cut above.
What is a track shoe?
Not to sound too irritating but a track shoe is a running shoe that is specifically designed to be used on a running track. They have a plate containing spikes on them. This helps you gain traction which allows you to use more force in each step and therefore travel faster. There are different types of track shoe, and there are also spiked shoes (such as cross country shoes) that are not designed for the track.
The difference between a track shoe for sprinters and a track shoe for long distance runners is in the weight and where the spikes are placed. A sprinter’s track shoe will have spikes placed at the toe end of the shoe to encourage the runner to run on the balls of their feet, while a long-distance runner will have an even placing of spikes to reflect the different running style they require.
Track shoes for sprinting will also be as light as possible, as any additional weight could add time to your run, while a long distance runner’s ideal shoe will have a lot more cushioning (while still trying to be relatively light). There are also track shoes for steeplechasers which have small holes in them to allow water to drain (steeplechase involves jumping over a hurdle into a ditch filled with water).
One thing that all track shoes need to be though is tight, particularly for sprinters. Find a shoe that fits very well – some sprinters actually wear a size smaller, but you can probably use one that is the correct size or maybe half a size smaller.
|Saucony Showdown Track Shoe||Yes||Yes||Yes||8/10|
|Nike Zoom Rival S 7 Track Shoe||Yes||Yes||Yes||6/10|
|Puma TFX Sprint V4 Track & Field Shoe||Yes||Yes||No||4/10|
|Asics Hypersprint 6 Track & Field Shoe||Yes||Yes||No||10/10|
|Asics Sonicsprint Track & Field Shoe||Yes||Yes||No||4/10|
Track Shoes for Sprinters #1: Saucony Showdown Track Shoe
Saucony are a really big player in the track shoe world and you’ll usually find at least one of their shoes on any list of the best sprint spike shoes. The Showdown Track Shoe really is a thing of beauty, with 10 removable spikes situated at the front of the shoe, a tight upper that holds your foot in place, and a close fitting middle that will prevent any lateral movement.
They aren’t an out and out sprint shoe like some of the shoes we will be looking at, and some athletes would use them for slightly longer distances (800-1500m max). This makes them quite versatile. The design is beautiful, and the rigid heel has tiny spikes on them which is a nice touch (which won’t negatively affect your sprinting, but could help with an 800m race).
Track Shoes for Sprinters #2: Nike Zoom Rival S 7 Track Shoe
Nike have an excellent offering when it comes to track sprint shoes, with the Zoom Rival S7. There’s a lot of flexibility around the middle which is perfect for sprinting and seven well placed spikes clustered around the front of the sole will really help gain traction. The heel of the shoe is rounded which is an interesting decision, and will help prevent excessive heel striking. The material is very breathable around the middle, with mesh covering the middle of the shoe.
The stitching is the only let down in this shoe making it look a little cheaper than it actually is, but this is a cosmetic issue and will not affect your running time. A very good sprint shoe at a reasonable price.
Track Shoes for Sprinters #3: Puma TFX Sprint V4 Track & Field Shoe
If there’s one thing you can say about the TFX Sprint V4 from Puma is that they are LOUD. Yellow and blue stripes with orange and bright yellow laces, you’re going to get noticed wearing these on the track. The upper part of this shoe is one piece, which is different to a lot of sprint shoes that are usually made up of a few different materials stitched together.
There are eight attachable spikes on the top of the sole, all covering the balls of your feet and your toes. The heel is very flat with almost no arch, and the whole shoe only weighs 198g. These are very good racing shoes and will definitely be effective at improving traction, but you’ll mainly be influenced by the design.
Either these are the ugliest shoes you’ve ever seen, or they are incredible. There is no in between. Most shoes should be picked on performance not aesthetics but in this case I’d have to make an exception.
Track Shoes for Sprinters #4: Asics Hypersprint 6 Track & Field Shoe
If the Puma TFXs are designed to look fun and exciting, then the Hypersprint 6 by Asics is designed solely to be the most businesslike sprint shoe around. The colour scheme is either black and green or red and black, which gives the shoes a classical look. They have a five spike plate with the spikes arranged in an arc around the top of the sole.
The shoes are made to be sturdy but also flexible and have a rubber sole, the shoes are also supposed to fit you like a glove. These shoes are aimed at distances of 60-200m only, so please don’t purchase them if you’re looking for a great 400m shoe.
Track Shoes for Sprinters #5: Asics Sonicsprint Track & Field Shoe
Another Asics shoe to look at because (personal opinion here) I really like their sprint shoes. They are so specific in their function, so while the last set we looked at was specific for distances of 60-200m, these shoes are specific for 100-200m sprints and also short hurdles. Because of this they have seven spikes whereas the Hypersprint had five, with the extra two spikes being placed where the balls of your feet are.
One downside of these shoes (another personal opinion) is that they are kind of ugly. The pearl white design will age these shoes after about 3 races, while the black and gold design looks cheap. So why are they on the list? Because 1) People have different tastes in shoes, and 2) If they make you that extra 1% faster then who cares? As a sprint shoe these are excellent.
There are a lot of different shoes here, the Saucony is a great all rounder that can improve both 100m sprints and some middle distance races, while the Hypersprint 6 from Asics is clearly a short sprint only shoe. Each shoe will help improve your racing and is worthy of your hard earned money, so pick the one you like the most and get racing!
My personal favourite and top pick for 100-200m sprinting would be the Asics Hypersprint 6, it is clearly made specifically for short sprints only, has a beautiful, clean, and classic design, and some well placed spikes. If I were looking for a bit more of an all rounder (possibly if I were a decathlete) I would look at the Saucony track shoes as my favourite, but in fairness the Nike and Puma shoes would also be fantastic.