The Gear We Wish We'd Had for Track Season
Pre-meet pasta dinners, rowdy team bus rides, squeezing in homework wherever possible and running in what seems like an endless amount of circles can only mean one thing – it’s track season!
Whether you run track to stay in shape for your favorite sport or you’re a bonafide track enthusiast, you’ll need to gear up for the practices, meets and long bus rides ahead. Fleet Feet tapped our former track runners for a list of all the gear you’ll need for your best track season yet.
1. A comfortable pair of running shoes.
Track season is about more than just racing. You’ll need a pair of trainers to wear during practice, warm-ups and cool-downs. The right pair of shoes will depend on the shape of your foot and the way you move. We recommend getting fit at your local Fleet Feet to determine the best pair for you.
"As a student athlete, I was often most interested in how shoes looked," says Ashley. "I picked shoes that I thought looked cool far more often than I picked shoes that actually fit my foot, leading me to run far too many miles with my feet asleep! I didn't realize just how much of a difference a proper fit could make."
When you’re training for track, you may want to consider more than one pair of shoes to rotate throughout your workouts. Some runners prefer a lightweight pair of shoes for speed workouts as opposed to more cushioned shoes for recovery runs and long runs. Check out our list of the best running shoes of 2023.
2. Track spikes.
While your training shoes are best used for practices and warm-ups, your track spikes will be saved for the main event – racing. Track spikes are light enough to help you reach top speed and grippy enough to help you navigate the rubberized track.
"I actually ran my first season of track without spikes," says Caroline. "I ran all of my 1600-meter races with regular trainers. While I had a lot of fun, spikes definitely would have helped me to perform my best and shave off those precious seconds."
Spikes are designed to be as minimalist as possible – providing you with just enough cushion and support to run your race but not enough to feel bulky or cumbersome. With so many options to choose from, we compiled a list of the best track spikes in 2023.
3. Running socks.
Not all socks are created equally, which is why it’s important to have a pair of well-fitting, moisture-wicking running socks. Socks are the only thing standing in between your feet and a big old blister. Most running socks are made with wool, polyester or mohair, which wicks sweat away from your feet to keep them cool and dry. Steer clear of cotton socks, which hold moisture in to create a wet, warm environment.
"I ran in tube socks a lot in high school," says Ashley. "They were cotton, but so very cool looking (or so I thought). I would have loved to have some nice, premium wicking crew socks back then."
Some socks can even help you perform better. Compression socks improve oxygen flow to muscles and tissues to reduce inflammation and swelling, so you can recover faster and get back to hard training.
4. Recovery slides.
After your race, you’ll want to slip into something comfortable. Slides and sandals, like OOFOS recovery footwear, support your arches and cradle your feet for immediate relief and comfort. You can give your feet a chance to breathe while recovering from your hard effort.
"During track season, I ran both the mile and two-mile races," says Victor. "I would have loved to have a pair of recovery slides to wear between events to keep my feet comfortable and recover before my next distance on the track!"
In the winter months, opt for clogs or slides with socks to keep your feet toasty in the stands or on the bus ride home.
5. Warm-up clothes.
You’ll want to keep your muscles warm while you wait for your race, which is where warm-up clothes come in. A pair of sweatpants or joggers and a sweatshirt will keep you cozy as you warm up and prepare for the start line. Plus, you can slip back into your warm-up clothes after your race if it’s chilly out.
6. Snacks and a water bottle.
With plenty of time between lunch, track practice and dinner, you’ll want something to snack on in between. Aim for easily digestible carbs to keep you going during your workout or race. You can chow down on a granola bar or sip on a sports drink in between classes or on the bus. Don’t forget to hydrate, too. Even if the weather is chilly, as it typically is during indoor track and the beginning of spring season, you still need plenty of water to keep your muscles working optimally.
"Running nutrition is so much better now that it was when I ran high school track in the early 2000's," says Kate. "I used to eat the original PowerBar in between my races because there weren't many choices back then. They were truly disgusting. What I would have done for a yummy Honey Stinger waffle that actually tasted good and gave me the easy-burning fuel that I needed!"
Sunscreen is essential during outdoor track season, as you’ll be spending hours each week outside under the sun during practices and meets. Most sport sunscreens are long-lasting and able to withstand sweat, rain and other elements. Be sure to apply sunscreen 15 to 20 minutes prior to sun exposure and reapply every 2 hours.
8. Foam roller or massage stick.
You’ll suddenly be everyone’s best friend when you show up to the track meet with a foam roller or massage stick. Foam rollers and massage sticks allow you to recover from tough practices and prepare for hard racing by breaking up muscle adhesions, increasing blood flow and improving mobility.
"I battled a lot of pesky running injuries in high school that always seemed to pop up at the worst moments," says Nate. "It turns out I wasn't very good at taking care of my body. I wish I'd had the incredible recovery tools we have access to today, like the Trigger Point foam roller and a massage gun. I would've used these more regularly for faster recovery, likely leading to a healthier season."
You can even stow a small, portable massage tool in your bag, like the Theragun mini or the Hyperice Hypervolt GO.
9. Gym bag.
From after-school practices to away meets, you’ll be lugging around plenty of gear during track season. You’ll need a trusty bag to hold all of the essentials listed above. Ideally, your bag should be roomy enough to hold a change of clothes, a pair of shoes, a snack, a water bottle and a massage tool.
Keep in mind that, because your bag will likely hold sweaty running clothes, it may start to smell funky. Wash your bag regularly and use a deodorizer like Remodeez to absorb and neutralize odor.