Different Running Track Surfaces (Indoor/Outdoor)

For many runners, especially those who train for and compete in road races, the surface on which they run is an important consideration. The type of running surface has a direct bearing on such variables as speed, distance and frequency of training. When you see individuals running for speed or distance it’s usually on a track as the surfaces allow for precise measurement of time, speed and distance. Tracks can be indoors or outdoors but are typically made of rubberized asphalt or rubber.

Listed below are some possible surfaces that can be found on outdoor running tracks:


Bitumen is a traditional surface used since the 1950s. This material has been used for roadways and airport runways as well, which is why it’s often associated with outdoor surfaces. It provides a stable foundation that can be moulded into any shape to create curves or banked parts of the tracks. Bitumen absorbs less water than rubber, which means it can be used to combat heat during summer months when there’s increased humidity.

This type of track is ideal for high-powered sports because athletes have a sure footing they can depend on to help them maintain their speed and remain upright throughout their training sessions. The entire track doesn’t have to be bitumen — only portions can be laid down to create curves, ridges or other shapes that may be needed.

Some of the most common colours for this surface are black, gray and tan. A pure bitumen track is a dull gray colour with a smooth texture to it whereas rubberised bitumen features an extra layer of material applied on top that provides more traction and cushioning during workouts.


Though the idea of using rubberised track was very promising, there are still some problems which need to be solved. One of them is about long term performance. Since rubber is made of natural products, such as latex and bitumen, it tends to wear out quickly, and it’s due to this that it is very important to take proper control of the running tracks every day. It’s good for sportsmen and people who enjoy outdoor activities. 

Rubber can be recycled into other products, and it does not lose its strength when exposed to ultraviolet light from the sun. However, rubber can also become hot in direct sunlight, and it may cause athletes to slip on wet surfaces.

Artificial Grass

The main objective of applying any running track surface is to protect the cushioning and shock absorption properties of the original ground, and though most people know how significant it is to maintain their surfaces for indoor playgrounds and sports facilities, artificial grass running tracks are often neglected. However, these do require regular cleaning and maintenance if they are to offer good quality services over time. Artificial outdoor running tracks are designed to endure rain, snow, and other weather conditions, so they require a different approach to cleaning than synthetic sports flooring; they should also maintain their performance even when they get dirty.

Most artificial grass is composed of nylon or coir fibres which are tufted into a backing material such as woven polypropylene, polyethylene or vinyl. Some may contain rubber crumb infill when used for sports applications. 


Concrete outdoor running tracks are used in many sports, especially when they are in a stadium. Their main purpose is to provide good footing for athletes so that the risk of injury is low. One advantage is that the floor will stay in good condition for a longer time. This is because of the nature of concrete and how it can be used to make different structures, such as balconies and building floors, last for a long time.

Concrete can also absorb noise which is beneficial for running tracks since it reduces the noise in the area surrounding the track, and that people who are watching will experience less loud noises when they are close to the floor.

However, they are more expensive than other options. Resurfacing a concrete running track is similarly pricey and time-consuming, so many tracks are being replaced by asphalt ones. The concrete surfaces of the old tracks are often recycled as parts of pathways or garage floors.


Cinder tracks tend to be used mostly in colleges and universities because they’re cheaper than asphalt or rubber, but their downside is that they get quite hot in the warmer. Made up of cinder, small pieces of rock and liquified molten ash, they come in various shapes and sizes, and can be used for running tracks or areas where wheeled vehicles travel over ground. Cinder is usually a by-product of coal or oil refinement and is readily available in most climate regions. The advantage of cinders for running tracks is that they don’t become slippery when it rains, so athletes should be less likely to trip. 

Now You Know

Different types of track surfaces can affect performance. Each type has its own unique characteristics and benefits to the athlete. Much research has been conducted examining the effect of surface hardness on running times, but there is no consensus in the literature that one surface is better than any other for high-level athletes. As you consider certain surfaces for your track, you will of course consider safety issues since injuries can frequently occur when training.