Own the Track in the Best Sprinting Shoes (2024)

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Own the Track in the Best Sprinting Shoes (1)

These racing shoes will inspire you to kick it up a notch.

By Adam Schram and Jeff Dengate

No matter your pace during a race or workout, it’s fun to feel fast. Whether you’re doing short intervals on the track or racing up to 10 kilometers on the roads, you can find some extra motivation in a snappy sprinting shoe that unleashes your top gear.

This used to mean lacing up the lightest pair you could find, since the fastest options typically offered just a stiff sole with tread or spikes to grip the track. But serious innovation in recent years has radically changed what speed shoes look like—even road-racing models with thicker midsoles and tall stack heights are well-suited for your speedwork sessions.

The Best Sprinting Shoes

What to Consider

Should I Get Spikes or Racing Flats?

For serious racing and training on the track, you’re best served by a pair of track spikes—extremely lightweight, stiff-soled shoes that envelop your feet and have spikes (a.k.a., pins) underneath the forefoot. Track spikes have minimal structure in the heel, while spikes for middle and long distance have fewer pins at the forefoot and thicker midsoles for comfort. There’s no faster footwear for track running—but you can’t wear them anywhere else but the track.

Racing flats, which are lightweight shoes meant to maximize your effort, are more versatile than track spikes—you can wear them to run and race both on the track and on the road. Unless you’re a pro, even lightweight running shoes will work just fine on the oval, though they’re not quite as fast around the turns as track spikes. Your legs (especially your calves) also don’t get beat up as badly in road shoes compared to spikes.

Own the Track in the Best Sprinting Shoes (2)

We hit our local track on a rainy afternoon to see how these spikes performed at fast speeds in wet conditions.

How We Selected

Between our staff and a 250-strong wear-test team, we’ve laced up almost all of the spikes and road racers we recommend below. We hit our local tracks to see how they performed in both wet and dry conditions during demanding speed sessions including ladder workouts, wind sprints, and 400-meter repeats. On the pavement, we evaluated the racing flats on this list for their fit, cushioning, and comfort during longer tempo runs and in real race situations.

For those we couldn’t get on our feet or in the lab, we researched best-selling sprinting shoes and selected our picks based on cushioning, spike layout, and any standout technologies we recognized from other shoes we’ve tested.

TRACK SPIKES

Best for All-Out Speed

Under Armour Sprint Pro 3 Sprinting Shoe

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Best for All-Out Speed

Under Armour Sprint Pro 3 Sprinting Shoe

Pros
  • Own the Track in the Best Sprinting Shoes (4)Incredible traction and stiffness
  • Own the Track in the Best Sprinting Shoes (5)Breezy upper
Cons
  • Own the Track in the Best Sprinting Shoes (6)Pretty uncomfortable off the track

Key Specs

Weight6.3 oz.
Target DistanceSprints

When you’re trying for a standout performance in a race that lasts less than a minute, you want a spike that never falters. Every errant strike or low-traction toe-off can sneakily tack on milliseconds that could put you just a whisker behind where you need to be. According to our testing, the superior responsiveness and traction in these spikes from Under Armour won’t leave you second-guessing your times.

With eight solid pins, an aggressively forward-leaning geometry, and an upper that molds to your foot, you’ll be locked into your perfect stride for every precious second of your competitive sprints. The one compromise this sprinting shoe makes is in its comfort-enhancing features, which effectively don’t exist. This is one seriously stiff shoe, and it won’t feel good if you put it on right before you’re in the blocks. However, if you’re looking to knock every possible decimal point off your most blistering race paces, comfort isn’t necessarily most important.

Pros
  • Own the Track in the Best Sprinting Shoes (8)Reduced weight from previous version
  • Own the Track in the Best Sprinting Shoes (9)Extra comfortable for beginners
Cons
  • Own the Track in the Best Sprinting Shoes (10)Only 4 pins

Key Specs

Weight7.1 oz.
Target Distance400m to 5k

Newcomers to the track might want a sprinting platform that’s more forgiving and budget-friendly. After all, track spike geometry is a fairly dramatic departure from any other running shoe silhouette, especially modern road shoes with a chunky heel.

This entry from Nike doesn’t have a full plate like many of its higher-end siblings, resulting in a sole that’ll flex more naturally under your foot. Even better, it’s still durable enough to last a full season, and its weight is still manageable at high cadences. Just know that this shoe runs a bit small, so notching up a half-size will likely feel more comfortable.

Best Foot Security

New Balance Sigma Harmony Sprinting Shoe

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Best Foot Security

New Balance Sigma Harmony Sprinting Shoe

Pros
  • Own the Track in the Best Sprinting Shoes (12)Interchangeable pins
  • Own the Track in the Best Sprinting Shoes (13)Boa system provides the perfect fit every time
Cons
  • Own the Track in the Best Sprinting Shoes (14)Dial system is heavier than laces

Key Specs

Weight6.2 oz. (Unisex)
Target DistanceSprints

At a glance, these spikes look like they’ll clip into a set of road bike pedals—you can thank the Boa dial lacing system for the unorthodox look. Unlike traditional shoelaces, a Boa system ratchets the upper together in tiny, tiny increments, which means you can quickly and consistently fit your shoes as tight as you need, one-handed, without worrying about squeezing too hard and starting all over.

That lockdown pays dividends when combined with the shoe’s eight interchangeable pins that offer superb traction on varying terrain.

ROAD SHOES

Fastest Road Racing Shoe

Nike Nike Women's Vaporfly 3 Road Racing Shoes in White, Size: 10 | DV4130-102

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Fastest Road Racing Shoe

Nike Nike Women's Vaporfly 3 Road Racing Shoes in White, Size: 10 | DV4130-102

Pros
  • Own the Track in the Best Sprinting Shoes (16)Unmatched energy return
  • Own the Track in the Best Sprinting Shoes (17)Lightweight despite plenty of cushion
Cons
  • Own the Track in the Best Sprinting Shoes (18)Upper isn't particularly comfy

Key Specs

Weight7.0 oz. (M), 5.8 oz. (W)
Target DistanceMile to Marathon

When you make the world’s fastest shoe, you don’t mess it up. And, good news: Nike didn’t. In fact, the changes to this third version of the Vaporfly, while expansive, do little to change the shoe’s overall silhouette and feel—the biggest change longtime Vaporfly fans will notice is a boost in stability, especially on corners.

You still get exceptionally lightweight, soft, and springy ZoomX foam underfoot and a rigid, carbon-fiber plate to help you bound down the road at high speeds with less effort. This shoe’s optimized to help elite marathoners who run at a sub-5 minute mile pace consistently, but it translates well to shorter distances for those of us with a little less octane.

Buy Men’s Buy Women’s

Best for the Mile and 5k

Nike Streakfly Sprinting Shoe

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Best for the Mile and 5k

Nike Streakfly Sprinting Shoe

Now 30% Off

Pros
  • Own the Track in the Best Sprinting Shoes (20)Extremely lightweight
  • Own the Track in the Best Sprinting Shoes (21)Everything you need for race day, and nothing you don't
Cons
  • Own the Track in the Best Sprinting Shoes (22)Heel strikers might prefer firmer foam

Key Specs

Weight6 oz. (Unisex)
Target DistanceMile to 5k

While the Vaporfly is versatile on the roads all the way up to a marathon, some runners want even less shoe for short road races like the 5k and 10k. Enter the Streakfly. It’s Nike’s lightest racing shoe, harkening back to the time when we all believed a shoe had to be lighter to get faster. But unlike the old, thin racing flats, the Streakfly uses ZoomX, the brand’s springy foam compound.

There’s no carbon-fiber plate here; instead, the shoe uses a short Pebax plate under the midfoot only, designed to stabilize your foot as you roll through your stride. Based on our testing, where one runner used this shoe on tempo runs and even a 20-miler, we find it best suited for speedy runners with an already efficient stride who land on their midfoot or forefoot. If you’re a heel-striker, you’ll feel the foam bottom out—there’s a noticeable thunk as the foam compresses as far as it’ll go and your foot runs out of room to travel.

Best for Training and Racing

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 Sprinting Shoe

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Best for Training and Racing

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 Sprinting Shoe

Pros
  • Own the Track in the Best Sprinting Shoes (24)So. Much. Foam.
  • Own the Track in the Best Sprinting Shoes (25)Aggressive rocker sole keeps you rolling through every strike
Cons
  • Own the Track in the Best Sprinting Shoes (26)Lofty geometry can feel precarious at first

Key Specs

Weight8.1 oz. (M), 6.4 oz. (W)
Target DistanceMile to Marathon

Building atop the common skeleton of most other carbon-plated racing shoes, New Balance’s sprinting shoe stands out as an option that doesn’t skimp on the midsole foam.

That extra thickness not only improves cushioning, but it gives New Balance more space under the hood to beef up the engine. This update manages to maintain plenty of its predecessor’s stiffness, but it now has enough squish that your feet and ankles won’t feel raw after a few intense intervals.

That extra stack does make the shoe feel a little more precarious in turns, as you can feel the heel squirming, but that shouldn’t matter in an all-out, straightforward effort.

Buy Men’s Buy Women’s

Best Value Speed Shoe

ASICS MAGIC SPEED 3

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Best Value Speed Shoe

ASICS MAGIC SPEED 3

Pros
  • Own the Track in the Best Sprinting Shoes (28)Carbon plates under $200? Sign us up!
  • Own the Track in the Best Sprinting Shoes (29)Responsive traditional design
Cons
  • Own the Track in the Best Sprinting Shoes (30)Toebox can feel small

Key Specs

Weight7.8 oz. (M), 6.6 oz. (W)
Target DistanceAny

The Magic Speed was designed with some trickle-down features from shoes like the MetaRacer, and it has more budget-friendly components from shoes like the NovaBlast, making it a viable race day option with a price tag that falls well below what you’d normally expect from a carbon-plated shoe.

It’s more traditionally styled—it has a lower stack height than most other super shoes—and it’s made to feel less like a lofty lump o’ foam and more like an amped up version of an old-fashioned, minimalist racing flat.

Buy Men’s Buy Women’s

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Adam Schram

Adam Schram is an Assistant Editor of Commerce at Runner's World, though you might see his byline on Bicycling and Popular Mechanics, too. A lover of all things outdoors, Adam's writing career comes after six years as a bike mechanic in his hometown of State College, PA. His journalism experience is steeped in cycling and running gear reviews, and he's also a published creative nonfiction and satire author. When he's not writing, riding, or running, you can catch Adam at home mixing co*cktails, watching Star Wars, or trying in vain to do the Sunday crossword. You can check out his latest work below.

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Jeff Dengate

Runner-in-Chief

Jeff is Runner-in-Chief for Runner's World, guiding the brand's shoes and gear coverage. A true shoe dog, he's spent more than a decade testing and reviewing shoes. In 2017, he ran in 285 different pairs of shoes, including a streak of 257 days wearing a different model.

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Own the Track in the Best Sprinting Shoes (33)

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Insights, advice, suggestions, feedback and comments from experts

As an expert and enthusiast, I have direct access to search results or the ability to browse the internet. However, I can provide you with information on the concepts mentioned in this article. Let's go through each concept one by one:

Cross-Training Challenge

Cross-training is a form of exercise that involves combining different types of workouts to improve overall fitness and performance. It typically involves activities from various disciplines, such as running, cycling, swimming, strength training, and more. Cross-training challenges are designed to push individuals to engage in different exercises and improve their overall fitness levels.

Best Running Backpacks

Running backpacks, also known as hydration packs or running vests, are specially designed backpacks that allow runners to carry essential items, such as water, snacks, keys, phones, and extra clothing, while they are out on a run. These backpacks are lightweight, compact, and often feature hydration reservoirs or pockets for water bottles. The best running backpacks are those that provide a comfortable fit, have sufficient storage capacity, and are durable enough to withstand the demands of running.

Types of Running Shoes

Running shoes come in various types, each designed to cater to different running styles, terrains, and distances. Some common types of running shoes include:

  1. Neutral Cushioned Shoes: These shoes provide cushioning and support for runners with a neutral foot strike and normal arches.
  2. Stability Shoes: Stability shoes are designed for runners who overpronate, meaning their feet roll inward excessively during the running gait. These shoes provide additional support and stability to help correct the pronation.
  3. Motion Control Shoes: Motion control shoes are for severe overpronators who require maximum support and stability. They have features like firmer midsoles and supportive structures to control excessive foot motion.
  4. Minimalist Shoes: Minimalist shoes have a minimalist design with minimal cushioning and support. They aim to mimic barefoot running and promote a more natural running form.
  5. Trail Running Shoes: Trail running shoes are designed for off-road running on uneven terrain. They typically have aggressive outsoles for better traction and protection against rocks, roots, and other trail obstacles.
  6. Racing Shoes: Racing shoes are lightweight and designed for speed. They have minimal cushioning and are ideal for shorter distances or race events.

2024 Marathon Calendar

The 2024 Marathon Calendar refers to a schedule or list of marathon races that are planned to take place in the year 2024. Marathon calendars typically include dates, locations, and other relevant information about marathons happening around the world. These calendars are useful for runners who want to plan their race schedules and participate in specific marathons.

Master the Half!

"Master the Half!" is a phrase used to encourage runners to focus on training and improving their performance in half marathons. A half marathon is a race that covers a distance of 13.1 miles (21.1 kilometers). It is a popular race distance for both experienced and beginner runners, as it offers a challenging yet achievable goal.

I hope this information helps! If you have any more specific questions or need further assistance, feel free to ask.

Own the Track in the Best Sprinting Shoes (2024)

FAQs

What are the best track cleats for sprinters? ›

Nike Air Zoom MaxFly showed unmatched speed and comfort among all the sprint spikes we brought on track, making it our top lightweight choice for races. It has all the advanced technology to enhance speed while ensuring a light, steady, and comfortable ride.

Do shoes matter in sprinting? ›

If you're a serious runner, buying the right footwear is critical to get your biomechanics and gait exactly right. It could be the difference between a 10-minute mile versus a 9-minute mile or being able to comfortably run 5k versus 15K.

What are the shoes sprinters wear called? ›

Track spikes, or just spikes, are a type of footwear featuring protruding spikes on the soles used by athletes when racing on the track.

Do any shoes make you run faster? ›

Well, running shoes can help you run in a faster, more efficient way. No, they aren't magic shoes that make you run faster; they indirectly help you become a better runner. There are many benefits of the right pair of running shoes. These will become apparent once you complete your run.

Can you sprint faster without shoes? ›

However, as mentioned earlier, since nearly all elite runners race in shoes and not barefoot, the increased metabolic efficiency of barefoot running doesn't seem to equate to faster racing speeds for elite runners.

What cleats did Usain Bolt wear? ›

Bolt competed in Puma track spikes throughout his career, while Bromell does so in New Balance track spikes.

How to run a sprint? ›

That said, Amie Dworecki, USATF and RRCA Level I- and II-certified run coach, outlines the basics to help you nail your optimum form. Run tall with your head, neck and shoulders in line with your hips. Move your arms front to back; don't let them cross your torso. Keep your elbows bent 90 degrees.

Do lighter shoes make you faster? ›

Yes, racing flats and spikes are light because they have less material to provide stability than typical training shoes do. Heavier shoes make runners work harder and slow them down a bit. Also, spikes help provide traction that enhance push off of the running surface.

Should sprint shoes be tight? ›

Your toes should be close to the front of the shoe but still have room to move around. The shoe should hold your heel in without movement and have a solid hold through the midfoot. There should be a small amount of space in the toebox, but with a snugger fit than standard running shoes.

Are lighter shoes better for sprinting? ›

For the researchers, to see a tangible performance difference in a distance as 'short' as 3,000m was quite a surprise and they rightly highlighted the possible implications of their findings - that an elite marathon runner wearing shoes just 100 grams lighter than normal could potentially run roughly a minute faster.

Can I sprint in Hokas? ›

The cushioning in this sneaker is responsive, meaning that the low-profile cushion bed is made of a firmer material so you can really push off while sprinting.

What shoe brand does Usain Bolt wear? ›

Often known for their legacy in track, especially thanks to eight time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt, Puma has a long and storied history in the running space.

Why do sprinters use spikes? ›

Running spikes are ultimately designed to help you run faster on certain, uneven terrain. By providing extra grip to the forefoot you can transfer more force forward, using that stick to push off, improving your stride turnover.

Are flat shoes good for sprinting? ›

Enhance your speed – Flat shoes work exceptionally well for runners looking to improve their speed. Between the lightweight nature of the shoe and the desired alignment it can provide, flats could help you break your long-held records.

Can you sprint with football shoes? ›

Absolutely. I have been using football shoes on all kinds of surfaces for over 16 years, for a variety of sports. They help give you the right posture and over time, you learn to balance on a variety of surfaces.

Is it okay to sprint in Converse? ›

The short answer is yes, you can wear Converse shoes running.

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