The sky’s the limit– or not. It depends on the time of Year

Senior Track and Field Athlete Meghan Sullivan writes about the difference between indoor and outdoor track and field seasons.

Fall sports season ends as the start of a steady transition to indoor events ensues. Even though track season is split into two halves, it meshes into one long season for most of the Mustang athletes. Just like any season, though, there are key differences in the competitive events which cause athletic participants to prefer one over the other.  

For starters, size matters. Tracks inside are always smaller than those utilized outdoors. Indoor facilities have a 200-meter track, which is half the size of what is found outdoors, but there are some that are 300 meters. The smaller size means the runners have more laps and tighter corners in their races during the indoor season when compared to the outdoor season. 

Sometimes, the limitations set by the ceiling stresses out high jumpers and pole vaulters.”

Most of the other differences rest in the details of distances ran. The shortest outdoor distance for sprinters in the 100-meter dash, but “indoors” offers more of a variety, with the 60-, 200-, or 400- meter dashes. The opposite is true for hurdlers, who can only participate in the 60-meter hurdles indoors, but have the choice between 100- or 400- meter hurdles outdoors. 

Long-distance runners also have some different choices of events between the two seasons. Outdoors, the longest race is 10,000 meters. Indoors, the longest race that can be run is half of that. The outdoor season also has a very unique race– the 3,000-meter steeplechase. During this event, the runner must hurdle barriers, with one of the barriers of each lap possessing a pit of water. Indoors, the 3,000-meter race takes its place. 

Runners aren’t the only track and field athletes who find themselves having to adjust to these seasonal changes. The throwers are the most limited by indoor options in comparison to other events. Indoor events are comprised of the shot put and weight throw. Outdoor events feature a colorful variety of shot put, discus, javelin, and hammer throw. 

Sometimes, the limitations set by the ceiling stresses out high jumpers and pole vaulters. Competitive jumping events are the least affected though, with none of their events being lost in transition. 

Athletes who prefer indoor say they are able to pace themselves better on the smaller tracks than on the larger, 400-meter tracks. During the indoor season, athletes also don’t need to worry about braving the elements. 

Those who prefer performing outside find the fresh air much easier to breathe than the recirculated indoor air, which can cause a cough that is sometimes referred to as, “track hack.” The smaller, tighter circles are also harder on the legs, bringing about more shin pain. 

Regardless of personal preference, the Mustang track and field teams have been practicing to run fast, throw far, and jump high since the beginning of the school year. The athletes are eager to return to action at their first indoor meet of the year on Dec. 6 at South Dakota State University’s Holiday Open in Brookings, SD.