Indoor and Outdoor Track: What’s the Difference?



Riley Bucco

As most students at Pentucket know, outdoor and indoor tracks are offered at our school. As the seasons are right next to each other, many may think about how boring it must be to participate in both seasons of track and field. What most people may not realize is how different the two seasons are, besides the obvious fact that one is done indoors and the other one, outdoors. 


First of all, an outdoor track is 400 meters long, which is a quarter of a mile. In other words, during outdoor track, when participating in the mile event, you need to run four laps around the track. On the other hand, an indoor track is 200 meters long so, when participating in the mile event, you need to complete eight laps around the track. The size of the track makes a huge difference in individual events due to their being twice as many curves indoors. As you can imagine, it is harder to run on curves than straightaway. 


Along with the length of the track, many running events change their distance in indoor track. For example, athletes who usually run the 100-meter event during the outdoor season often run the 55-meter event during indoor track. Additionally, athletes who usually run the 400-meter race in outdoor track often run the 600-meter race during indoor track. For those athletes that hurdle, during the outdoor season they can either run the 400-meter hurdles or the 100-meter hurdles, while during the indoor season, the 55-meter hurdles are the only option. 


As well as slight differences in the distances of races, there are events that go on in the middle of the indoor track. The 55-meter races, the hurdle races, the high jump, and the long jump take place on the inside of the track. During the outdoor season, all running events including the 100-meter race, and the 100-meter hurdles take place on the track. 


In terms of field events, there are a lot more options during the outdoor season. For obvious reasons, javelin and discus are not offered during the indoor season. The one throwing event that is offered during the indoor season is shot put because it is easier to contain the heavy object that is being thrown. Along with shot put being the only throwing event, the physical ball is a different material. The indoor shot puts are made up of different types of plastic, whereas outdoor shot puts are mainly made up of cast iron and steel. This is because outdoor shot put is thrown onto the sand, whereas indoor shot put is thrown onto solid ground. Because of the difference in material, the indoor shot puts need to be larger to maintain the right weight. 

Source: Getty Images

Now when you wonder why someone would choose to do the “same” sport one season after the next, you will know that there are many differences, making it exciting and different.