Preprint / Version 1

Does advanced footwear technology improve track and road racing performance? An explorative analysis based on the 100 best yearly performances in the world between 2010 and 2022

The effects of super-footwear on world-class track and road racing performances.


  • Steffen Willwacher Offenburg University of Applied Sciences
  • Patrick Mai
  • Janina Helwig
  • Markus Hipper
  • Burkay Utku
  • Johanna Robbin



Advanced Footwear Technology, Running performance, Spikes, Footwear, Sports performance, Locomotion


High-tech running shoes and spikes ("super-footwear") are currently being debated in sports. There is direct evidence that distance running super shoes improve running economy; however, it is not well established to which extent world-class performances are affected over the range of track and road running events.

This study examined publicly available performance datasets of annual best track and road performances for evidence of potential systematic performance effects following the introduction of super footwear. The analysis was based on the 100 best performances per year for men and women in outdoor events from 2010 to 2022, provided by the world governing body of athletics (World Athletics).

We found evidence of progressing improvements in track and road running performances after the introduction of super distance running shoes in 2016 and super spike technology in 2019. This evidence is more pronounced for distances longer than 1500 m in women and longer than 5000 m in men. Women seem to benefit more from super footwear in distance running events than men.

While the observational study design limits causal inference, this study provides a database on potential systematic performance effects following the introduction of super shoes/spikes in track and road running events in world-class athletes. Further research is needed to examine the underlying mechanisms and, in particular, potential sex differences in the performance effects of super footwear.


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