Previous Track Systems
In the early days of track and field, track surfaces were made of natural materials like cinder, grass, and clay. These materials, while cheap to install, were costly to both owners and athletes. After a few uses, natural materials would start to lose their filling; this required owners to add filler, level the surface, and then remake the lanes.
Owning and operating one of these natural tracks was expensive and time consuming, oh yea, and god forbid it rained. If it rained, the tracks would become too wet to run on. Depending on the weather it could be days before these tracks were usable again. These types of conditions not only made it costly for owners, but for the runners as well.
Nowadays safety is a key factor in sports training, and older tracks are not the safest places to run. If running on surfaces such as dirt and grass, beware of holes, and other irregularities on the track. These bumps and holes can lead to serious injuries if not well maintained. Other surfaces such as asphalt, sidewalks, and treadmills can wreak havoc on your joints and muscles increasing the chances of injuries.
These problems associated with older tracks is nothing new. Today, tracks have been refined to make up for where these older tracks lack.
Today, most tracks are built with synthetic rubber. Synthetic tracks took the spotlight at the Mexico City Summer Olympics in 1968. This type of track completely changed the game and are now a standard for all major track and field events.
So, what exactly are the benefits of synthetic tracks?
1 – Soft Surface
Unlike running on asphalt or sidewalks, running on synthetic tracks is significantly more forgiving on your muscles and joints. People with bad knees, shins, calves, etc. should avoid hard running surfaces and stick to synthetic tracks or soft dirt.
2 – Low-maintenance
When building a track, one thing you want to consider is the amount of money you will spend on maintaining the track. Cheaper tracks tend to need the most amount of maintenance whether its fixing holes, repainting lines, or re-leveling the surface. These types of repairs add up and end up costing more in the long run. Synthetic tracks on the other hand are far more durable, lasting up to 20 years or more. Once the track is coming to the end of its life, simply resurfacing the track can extend its life by up to another 10 years or more.
3 – More Speed
Think of the ground as a springboard. As you run, energy is pushed through your feet, to the ground, and then back through your leg. Now, a typical running surface is like a springboard with no spring, which is useless. With no spring in your step, your reaction time is slower which decreases your overall speed.
A synthetic track supplies spring and shock absorption that even Napoleon Dynamite himself would be jealous of. Our synthetic tracks act like one big springboard so that with every step you take, energy is released into the ground and quickly released back through your leg. This quick reaction time gives you more energy in your next stride, in the end increasing your speed.