Athletics is a more complex sport than one might think, and the track events that make it up, all of them very varied, are true demonstrations of the great physical and mental capacity of athletes.

Let’s take a closer look at what exactly these types of tests are, as well as seeing what capabilities are required to pass them and how many types there are.

What are track tests?

Track events are different activities that are part of athletics. This sport is one of the oldest and most practiced throughout history, being made up of different competitions in which jumps, throwing of various objects and, of course, races are carried out at different distances.

Track tests are called this because they are usually carried out on a track, usually an oval-shaped circuit, made up of two parallel straights that meet at the ends with two corners. The measurements of the track vary depending on the type of competition to be held.

As an ancient human activity, athletics has been changing the amount of tests that experienced athletes have been facing throughout history. What all these events do have in common is that the athlete must have a great capacity for self-improvement, obtained after a hard effort that is rewarded in the form of high performance and endurance.

Skills of athletes

In order to pass the track tests, it is necessary to have well-developed capacities, both physical and mental. The athlete must possess impeccable coordination and, in order to achieve his sporting objectives, must undergo hard training. Athletics is not only about running faster than other competitors. It requires great preparation and willpower to achieve one’s goals.

In fact, something that may seem as simple and banal as warm-up is key to success in competition, as well as promoting the preservation of physical integrity and the health of joints, muscles and bones. In addition, the competition has the potential to be so complex that the style in which the race is started can cause you to lose a few valuable seconds or make you tire more quickly.

These physical activities can not only be physically demanding. Athletes are mentally challenged, as they must react to stimuli and make decisions both before and during competition to ensure that they achieve a good result.

The most important types of track tests

Next we will see the main track events most known and seen in competitions at international level .

Running on foot

Foot races are athletic competitions whose objective is to determine who is the competitor who manages to cover a distance by walking or running in the shortest possible time . Within foot races, a distinction can be made between the following six:

1. Speed race

In these competitions , between 100 and 400 metres must be covered in the shortest possible time, depending on the distance agreed in the competition itself. Normally, the distance travelled is in a straight line, on level ground and without obstacles, especially if it is a relatively small distance such as 100 metres.

At longer distances it is more common to use the whole track, going through the corners of the circuit.

2. Long-distance and middle-distance running

The middle distance races have to be run between 800 and 3,000 meters, while in the long distance races the distances exceed 3 kilometers. In this type of race resistance plays a much more important role than speed .

3. Road races

Unlike the previous ones, which are held within the traditional athletics circuit, road races are characterized by being held outside the stadium, in places such as roads or tracks . The most characteristic example of this are marathons.

4. Cross Country Racing

This type of competition is basically a long-distance race but is held in different spaces, usually on the field itself .

5. Race fence

It’s a race where there are obstacles along the way. It is inspired by equestrianism , in which the horse has to jump fences, only in this case it is the participants themselves who have to jump them.

6. Relay race

Normally, groups made up of four competitors participate, who must cover a distance in the shortest possible time, each one of them covering part of the route.

Each participant must pass to the next a wooden stick, called a witness, which is the object with which the race must be carried out.

Athletic walking

Race walking has its origins in Great Britain. It consists of moving, walking, over a distance of between 20 and 50 kilometres. Participants must walk as fast as they can, and always have one foot in contact with the ground .



There are many competitions with jumps, depending on whether or not there is an object to help you jump and also the height to overcome.

1. Pole vault

It is a very old competition, which dates back to Classical Greece , although it has undergone modifications over time. It consists of passing over a cross bar without making it fall, using a pole as an aid to perform the jump.

2. Long jump

The long jump consists of jumping from as close as possible to a ‘starting plate’, after having run a race to get momentum .

3. High jump

Similar to the pole vault, only without it. It consists of jumping over a horizontal bar without knocking it down by passing over it.

4. Triple Jump

As its name suggests, consists of three jumps after taking impulse from the starting plate . The winner is the one who has managed to move the most meters.


Throwing basically consists of throwing several objects as far as possible. These can be a heavy ball, a javelin, a discus or even a hammer , which is a ball attached to a rope.

Combined tests

In the combined events, athletes must face several track events consecutively.

Generally, there are ten such events and they are called decathlons, although there are other varieties with fewer events, such as heptathlons and triathlons.

Bibliographic references:

  • Campos, J; Gallach, J. (2004). The techniques of athletics. Practical teaching manual. Barcelona, Spain. Editorial Paidotribo.
  • Hornillos, I. (2000). Athletics. Barcelona, Spain. Editorial INDE publications.