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

Introduction

I'm a knowledgeable enthusiast with a deep understanding of running, including various aspects such as training, equipment, and events. I have extensively researched and engaged in discussions about running-related topics, and I'm familiar with the latest trends and developments in the field. My expertise is demonstrated through a comprehensive understanding of running gear, training techniques, and race events.

Cross-Training Challenge

Cross-training is a valuable component of a well-rounded fitness routine. It involves engaging in a variety of different exercises to improve overall physical fitness, prevent injury, and enhance performance in specific activities. Cross-training can include activities such as swimming, cycling, strength training, and yoga, among others. It's an effective way to target different muscle groups, improve cardiovascular endurance, and maintain overall fitness levels.

Best Running Backpacks

Running backpacks, also known as hydration packs or running vests, are designed to provide convenient storage for essentials such as water, snacks, and personal items while running. They are equipped with features like hydration reservoirs, multiple pockets, and adjustable straps for a comfortable fit. When selecting a running backpack, it's important to consider factors such as capacity, fit, breathability, and stability to ensure it meets the specific needs of the runner.

Types of Running Shoes

Running shoes come in various types, each designed for specific purposes such as road running, trail running, sprinting, and long-distance racing. The different types of running shoes include cushioned shoes for impact absorption, stability shoes for overpronation control, minimalist shoes for a natural running experience, and racing flats for speed-focused events. Understanding the characteristics and intended use of each type of running shoe is essential for choosing the right footwear based on individual running goals and preferences.

2024 Marathon Calendar

The 2024 Marathon Calendar includes a schedule of marathon events taking place throughout the year. It provides information about the dates, locations, and details of marathons, half-marathons, and other running events happening globally. Runners can use the calendar to plan their race participation, set training goals, and explore opportunities to engage in marathon experiences across different regions.

Master the Half!

Mastering the half-marathon involves preparing both physically and mentally for the 13.1-mile distance. Training for a half-marathon typically includes building endurance through long runs, incorporating speed work for improved performance, and focusing on proper nutrition and recovery. Mental preparation involves setting realistic goals, visualizing success, and developing a positive mindset to conquer the challenges of the race. Mastering the half-marathon requires dedication, consistent training, and a strategic approach to race day execution.

The 7 Best Sprinting Shoes for Reaching Top Speed

Sprinting shoes are designed to maximize speed and performance for short-distance running, such as track sprints and road races. These shoes are characterized by lightweight construction, responsive cushioning, and specialized traction systems to enhance propulsion and grip. The best sprinting shoes are tailored to specific distances and running styles, offering features such as spike plates, lightweight materials, and supportive fit for optimal speed and efficiency.

Why Trust Us?

The article emphasizes the expertise and experience of the authors, Adam Schram and Jeff Dengate, in the field of running and athletic gear. Their extensive knowledge is demonstrated through comprehensive wear-testing, evaluation of performance in various conditions, and in-depth research on the best sprinting shoes and road racing models. The authors' insights and recommendations are based on practical experience and a deep understanding of the technical aspects of running footwear.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the concepts covered in the article encompass a wide range of running-related topics, including cross-training, running backpacks, types of running shoes, the 2024 marathon calendar, and strategies for mastering the half-marathon. The article also provides valuable insights into the best sprinting shoes for reaching top speed, along with the expertise and trustworthiness of the authors in evaluating running gear and equipment.

Own the Track in the Best Sprinting Shoes (2024)

FAQs

What makes a good sprint shoe? ›

The weight of the sprinting shoe is important for achieving maximum speed and performance. Lightweight shoes are generally preferred for sprinting, as they allow for faster movement and less energy expenditure. However, it is essential to find a balance between weight and cushioning and support.

What is the best track spikes for sprinters? ›

What Shoes are Best For Sprinting
The Best Sprint Spikes of 2024
Best Overall Sprint SpikeNike Zoom Maxfly
Best for Long Sprint DistancesNew Balance FuelCell SD-X
Best Super Shoe Sprint SpikeASICS METASPEED SP
Best Sprint Spike for Beginners and High School AthletesNike Zoom Rival Sprint
3 more rows
Jan 15, 2024

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.

What shoes did Usain Bolt run? ›

Amazon Live - Puma Ignite XT Running - Usain Bolt.

Do sprinting shoes make you faster? ›

While your regular trainers are built for, well, training, spikes are built for competition. They're lighter which reduces fatigue; they hug your feet for better control; and they provide extra grip where you need it most, resulting in greater responsiveness and powerful push offs that propel you forward, faster.

What are track sprinting shoes called? ›

Track and Field event shoes, more often called Track Spikes, are highly-specialized competition footwear that provide a unique advantage to the athlete. In this guide we'll break down the best track and field shoe options for 2024, by event group.

Can I sprint in Hokas? ›

They're not a versatile shoe – they're not going to help you out on speed sessions or tempo runs, they're an easy run and recovery run shoe. That's it. As a coach, I know how hard it is to get runners to relax and go at their true easy pace – this shoe definitely helped me do that.

Why do sprinters need spikes? ›

The spikes or pins on the bottom of the shoes provide improved traction and stability, allowing athletes to run faster and jump further. This can make a significant difference in races and other events, leading to better times and distances.

How many spikes do sprinters use? ›

As a rule of thumb: The shorter the event, the more spikes you'll need. Traditionally, short sprint spike plates will have about 7-10 pins per shoe to foster greater traction. Since flexibility is a greater concern for longer sprints, spikes for these athletes will only have 6-8 pins.

Do you need spikes for sprinters? ›

For short distances at speed, sprinting spikes are best for 100m or 200m dash, the 4x100m or 4x200m relays. We would recommend that an athlete not use their sprint spikes for any jumping events, hurdles, or for any distances longer than 1 lap.

Do shoes matter in sprinting? ›

But the added benefit of choosing shoes specifically designed for running is that they help you perform better and run faster by providing good grip, making it easier to change direction at speed and prevent slips and falls.

Do you need special shoes for sprinting? ›

You can wear normal running shoes or trainers to practice and race in, but if you want to have a competitive edge, track spikes will surely provide that. Track spikes come in different styles, designs and price ranges.

What are sprinting shoes called? ›

Track and Field event shoes, more often called Track Spikes, are highly-specialized competition footwear that provide a unique advantage to the athlete. In this guide we'll break down the best track and field shoe options for 2024, by event group.

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