HomeRunning Basics5 Common Materials Explained: What Are Running Tracks Made Of?

5 Common Materials Explained: What Are Running Tracks Made Of?

If you’ve ever wondered what goes into creating those smooth, resilient surfaces that carry you through your runs, look no further.

In this article, we’ll delve into the world of running tracks and break down the five most common materials used.

From rubber to polyurethane, latex to tartan, and even asphalt, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of what lies beneath your feet.

How playing sports benefits your body ... and your brain - Leah Lagos and Jaspal Ricky Singh

Related Video: "How playing sports benefits your body ... and your brain - Leah Lagos and Jaspal Ricky Singh" by TED-Ed

So lace up your shoes and get ready to explore the secrets behind the tracks that propel you forward.

Key Takeaways

– Rubber is the primary material used for making running tracks, providing a cushioned surface and reducing impact on joints.
– Polyurethane tracks offer advantages such as durability, shock absorption, weather resistance, and customizability, despite being more expensive to install and requiring regular maintenance.
– Latex is a versatile material with advantages like elasticity and durability, but it can potentially cause allergic reactions and is more costly compared to other materials.
– Tartan, made from wool, is a durable fabric with minimal maintenance requirements, while asphalt tracks offer a smooth surface, excellent traction, and require regular maintenance to preserve their quality.


Rubber is the primary material used for making running tracks. It is an ideal choice due to its numerous benefits and durability. The use of rubber tracks provides a cushioned surface that minimizes the impact on your joints, reducing the risk of injuries. This is especially important for runners who engage in high-impact activities such as sprints or long-distance running.

One of the key advantages of rubber tracks is their low maintenance requirements. To keep your rubber tracks in optimal condition, it is important to regularly clean them to remove dirt and debris. Use a mild detergent and a soft brush to scrub the surface, then rinse thoroughly with water. Avoid using abrasive cleaners or harsh chemicals as they can damage the rubber.

Additionally, it is recommended to inspect the tracks regularly for any signs of wear and tear. Replace any damaged sections promptly to maintain a smooth and safe running surface. To prevent premature deterioration, avoid using metal spikes or cleats on the tracks, as they can cause damage.


Polyurethane is a popular material in the construction of running tracks. It offers several advantages over other materials, but also has some disadvantages to consider.

Advantages of Polyurethane in Running Tracks:
1. Durability: Polyurethane is highly resistant to wear and tear, making it ideal for high-traffic areas like running tracks. It can withstand heavy use and maintain its performance for a long time.

2. Shock Absorption: Polyurethane tracks provide excellent shock absorption, reducing the risk of injuries to runners. The material’s elasticity helps absorb the impact of each step, minimizing stress on joints and muscles.

3. Weather Resistance: Polyurethane is designed to withstand various weather conditions, including extreme heat and cold. It does not crack or warp due to temperature changes, ensuring consistent performance year-round.

4. Customizability: Polyurethane tracks can be customized to meet specific requirements. They can be designed to have different levels of hardness, texture, and thickness, catering to the needs of different athletes and sports.

Disadvantages of Polyurethane in Running Tracks:
1. Cost: Polyurethane tracks tend to be more expensive to install compared to other materials like rubber. The initial investment can be higher, which may be a deterrent for some budget-conscious facilities.

2. Maintenance: Polyurethane tracks require regular maintenance to preserve their performance and lifespan. This includes cleaning, resurfacing, and repairing any damages. Neglecting maintenance can lead to deterioration and reduced durability.

Despite its disadvantages, the advantages of polyurethane in running tracks make it a popular choice among athletes and facility owners. Its durability, shock absorption, weather resistance, and customizability contribute to an optimal running experience and reduced risk of injuries.


Latex, commonly used in the manufacturing industry, offers unique properties that make it a versatile material for various applications. When it comes to advantages, latex stands out for its excellent elasticity and durability. These qualities make it ideal for use in products that require flexibility and long-lasting performance.

Latex also has excellent resistance to water, chemicals, and abrasion, making it suitable for environments where these factors are present. Additionally, latex is known for its ability to provide cushioning and shock absorption, making it a popular choice for products such as mattresses, pillows, and shoe insoles.

However, like any material, latex also has its disadvantages. One of the main drawbacks is its potential for causing allergic reactions. Some individuals may have hypersensitivity to latex proteins, leading to skin irritation, respiratory problems, or even anaphylaxis in severe cases.

Another disadvantage of latex is its high cost compared to other materials. The production process of latex involves tapping rubber trees and collecting the sap, which can be time-consuming and labor-intensive. This, in turn, drives up the price of latex-based products.

Lastly, latex can deteriorate over time when exposed to sunlight and extreme temperatures, which can limit its lifespan in certain applications.


When it comes to choosing a stylish and traditional pattern for your clothing or home decor, tartan offers a wide range of options and a rich history to explore. Tartan is a durable fabric that requires minimal maintenance to keep it looking its best.

Here are four key aspects to consider when it comes to the durability and maintenance of tartan:

1. Material: Tartan is typically made from wool, which is known for its strength and resilience. Wool fibers are naturally resistant to tearing and can withstand regular wear and tear.

2. Weave: Tartan fabric is woven in a specific pattern, known as a sett, which helps enhance its durability. The tight weave of tartan ensures that it is less prone to fraying or unraveling.

3. Cleaning: Tartan can be easily maintained by regular dry cleaning or gentle hand washing. Avoid using harsh chemicals or excessive heat when cleaning tartan to preserve its color and integrity.

4. Storage: When not in use, tartan should be stored in a clean and dry environment. Keep it away from direct sunlight to prevent fading and avoid folding it in sharp creases to maintain its shape.


To maintain the quality of your asphalt driveway, it’s important to regularly inspect it for cracks and apply a sealant for protection. Asphalt maintenance is crucial to ensure the longevity of the surface and prevent costly repairs.

Asphalt tracks have gained popularity due to their numerous benefits. Asphalt is a durable and flexible material commonly used for running tracks. It provides a smooth and comfortable surface for runners, reducing the risk of injuries. The elasticity of asphalt helps absorb shock and impact, protecting the joints and muscles. It also offers excellent traction, allowing athletes to maintain their grip and perform at their best.

Regular maintenance of asphalt tracks is essential to preserve their integrity. Inspecting the surface for cracks and potholes is vital, as these can lead to further damage if left untreated. Applying a sealant helps protect the asphalt from moisture, UV rays, and harsh weather conditions, preventing deterioration and extending its lifespan.

Furthermore, proper cleaning and regular sweeping help remove debris and prevent the accumulation of dirt, leaves, and other materials that can damage the surface. Removing oil and grease stains promptly is important to prevent staining and maintain the aesthetics of the track.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do Running Track Materials Like Rubber and Polyurethane Impact the Performance and Safety of Athletes?

Rubber and polyurethane materials have a significant impact on athletes’ performance and safety on running tracks. They provide better traction, shock absorption, and durability, but are also affected by weather conditions.

Are There Any Specific Maintenance Requirements for Running Tracks Made of Latex or Tartan?

For latex or tartan running tracks, specific maintenance requirements include regular cleaning, inspection for damage or wear, and resurfacing as needed. Latex tracks offer good shock absorption but may require more maintenance, while tartan tracks are durable and low maintenance.

What Is the Typical Lifespan of Running Tracks Made With Different Materials?

The typical lifespan of running tracks made with different materials varies. For example, latex tracks may last up to 8 years, while tartan tracks can last up to 15 years. Maintenance needs also differ between materials.

Can Running Track Materials Like Asphalt Be Customized to Meet Specific Performance Requirements?

Yes, running track materials like asphalt can be customized to meet specific performance requirements. There are various customization options available to ensure that the track meets the necessary performance standards.

Are There Any Environmental Considerations Associated With the Production and Disposal of Running Track Materials Like Rubber or Polyurethane?

When it comes to the production sustainability and disposal impact of running track materials like rubber or polyurethane, there are indeed environmental considerations. These materials can have varying levels of impact, so it’s important to choose wisely.

Editorial Team
Editorial Team
Meet the NeedToRace editorial team: A passionate group of running enthusiasts dedicated to crafting the ultimate running guide for you.
Related Posts
Newsletter Form

Join Our Newsletter

Signup to get the latest news, best deals and exclusive offers. No spam.