Why there are different records from indoor / outdoor performances?

I mean maybe distances 200m and 400m has different tracks (with different lengths of curves and straights) but why there are two different record between on the following speciality

  • long jump
  • triple jump
  • high jump
  • pole vault

1 Answer 1



  • Track distance, tightness of curves, and banked curves
  • Event distances
  • Different implement weights
  • Lack of wind
  • Differences in runways (length and responsiveness)

For the track events, you've nailed it: the 200m standard indoor track means races of the same distance (e.g. 800m) can be notably different from races on a standard 400m outdoor track. In the sprints, the tight banked turns can significantly change the athlete's approach to the race, and some events (e.g. 60m) are only held indoors.

For the field events, the reasoning for different records is more tricky. In the throws, e.g. shot put, the implements are different (size and weight). For the jumps, though, the differences are entirely environmental: lack of wind (either supporting or impeding) and different runway surfaces, mostly. In these events, competing indoors can actually be easier (although long jump and triple jump may be limited in the length of their run-up - I'm not sure if that would help or hurt an athlete).

  • I can't see how a shorter run up would help - if it did, outdoor athletes could always just walk the first 5m out whatever.
    – Philip Kendall
    Feb 5, 2016 at 17:53
  • Yeah, I was thinking more of questioning the value of a longer run-up past a certain point, but didn't really make that clear.
    – pjmorse
    Feb 5, 2016 at 19:13
  • To me the pole vault is an interesting case study. Jenn Suhr improved her indoor world record last weekend (January 30th) and made three attempts at a height which would better the outdoor WR. One might argue that conditions are better indoors for the vault and the only reason the outdoor mark is better is because it's contested more often outdoors.
    – pjmorse
    Feb 6, 2016 at 1:37
  • The 2020 season showed that the men's PV is even weirder than the women: Mondo Duplantis now holds both records, but the indoor mark is superior to the outdoor (and therefore, oddly, the IAAF doesn't see the outdoor mark as a World Record).
    – pjmorse
    Nov 13, 2020 at 20:05
  • The IAAF will see whichever is the world record as the world record - I doubt they'd care if it's outdoor or indoor.
    – a53-416
    Mar 15, 2021 at 14:39

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