Everything you need to know about Track & Field Spikes (2024)

When trying to pick out your track spikes for the season there can be an overwhelming amount of options! We’re going to help simplify the choice for you here. You can look for the events that you are doing and then find many of the options we carry below the header.

Indoor vs Outdoor

This can be a confusing distinction, because sometimes it matters and sometimes it doesn’t. When you race at a really nice college track, they’ll have the same material as an outdoor track and you’ll be able to wear your spiked shoes. However many local meets at high schools will be on a gym floor surface. You won’t be able to wear a spiked shoe, so instead you’ll want a racing shoe that is all rubber on the bottom. There are two options; a “cross country spike'' or a racing flat. Both would be used for all distances/events. With most cross country shoes you’ll get a full rubber bottom and you can either put the spikes in or run without them. When you race indoors you’ll take the spikes out! If you go with a racing flat you’ll have a lower profile shoe with good grip. The rest of the shoes we’ll talk about from here are those “outdoor” spikes. Again they can be used oftentimes at the bigger indoor meets at the university tracks as well as throughout the outdoor season.

Everything you need to know about Track & Field Spikes (1)

Sprint vs. Distance

First off we’ll go over the difference between sprint spikes and distance spikes. With a sprint spike you’ll typically see a full length “plate” or a ¾ length hard plastic “plate.” A plate is a stiff material at the bottom of the shoe that helps create more stiffness and allows you to put more power out. The sprint plate will be stiffer and put your foot in a more “aggressive” position. This means that you will be pushed up onto your tip-toes.

With a distance spike you’ll typically see a thicker midsole, and a shorter plate. There will also be a noticeably less “aggressive” position for your foot. You’ll be closer to level with the ground. This is because these shoes are meant to run 1-6 miles on the track at a time!

Everything you need to know about Track & Field Spikes (2)

Sprint Spikes (55, 100, 200, & 400)

Built for speed, these are going to be stiffer, tighter, and faster than anything else you can find. You’ll see a wide range of prices which reflects the quality of the spike. The lightness of the materials, the stiffness and power output of the spike plate, and the aerodynamics of the shoe can all play a part. We’ll show a few shoes below here:

What the Olympiansand many state champions are wearing?

Asics Metaspeed SP

Nike Ja Fly 4

Nike Air Zoom Maxfly

Other Sprint Spikes:

Nike Rival Sprint

New Balance SD100 v5

Middle Distance Spikes (400, 800 and Hurdles)

Build for the 400, 800 and Hurdles - or when you aren’t really sure what events you’ll be doing, you’ll often end up in something called a middle distance spike. These shoes are designed to do everything pretty well. So especially for beginners these often make sense. You’ll be able to sprint, jump and run distances in these shoes.

Some Middle-Distance Spikes:

Asics Metaspeed MD

Hoka Cielo X2 MD

New Balance Fuelcell MD-X

New Balance MD500 v9

Nike Rival Multi

Distance Spikes (800, 1600, 3200 & Up)

Built to go a long way quickly, distance spikes are meant to be light and comfortable. Just as with the sprint spikes you can find a big gap between the elite level spikes and the entry level. With the better spikes you’ll find lighter materials, more responsive midsoles, and carbon fiber in the shoes to create more force. Many distance track athletes wear their cross country spikes for track.

What the olympians and many state champions are wearing:

Nike Air Zoom Victory

Nike Dragonfly

Other Distance Spikes:

Nike Rival Distance

Jumping Spikes

There are two main types of jumping shoes, the horizontal jumps (Long Jump and Triple Jump) and the vertical jump (High Jump.) The high jump shoes will have spikes in the heel as well as the forefoot so as to allow the athlete to grip while turning, something you really only do in the high jump. While the horizontal jumps will often have their own specific shoes. You’ll be able to do both jumps in either of the shoes, but the Long Jump will more closely resemble a sprint spike, since you are trying to go as fast as you can before cannonballing into the sand. While a Triple jump spike will have more cushion since you have to hop, skip and then jump off the harder track. Some brands will combine those two spikes into one and just call it a jumping shoe, but that will still be different from the High Jump spike.

Nike Zoom Rival Jump

High Jump:

Nike High Jump Elite

Long jump / Triple Jump:

Saucony Soaurin J 2

Nike Long Jump Elite

Nike Zoom Triple Jump Elite

Throwing Shoes

Throwing shoes are the most unique out of all the track shoes. They’ll have a smoother bottom and are built for rotation. There is a single point up on the ball of your foot that you can spin around for. The discus and hammer throw are especially built for this, and many shot putters as well. The shoes will have a rubber bottom so if you use the glide technique (you almost shuffle from one end of the throwing circle to the other) you’ll still be able to grip and throw.

Everything you need to know about Track & Field Spikes (3)


Nike Zoom SD 4

Asics Hyper Throw

Everything you need to know about Track & Field Spikes (2024)


What are spikes used for in track and field? ›

Track spikes are specifically designed to improve performance in track and field events. The spikes or pins on the bottom of the shoes provide improved traction and stability, allowing athletes to run faster and jump further.

What should I look for in spikes? ›

Sprint, jump, and throw spikes should fit like a glove. They will be snug and provide a narrow fit. Your toes should reach the end of the shoes, but not be jammed into them. This is because these shoes are intended to act as an extension of your foot to allow for a more explosive feel.

How many miles do track spikes last? ›

Similar to road racing flats a runner can expect around 100 miles out of a pair of spikes. If only used for racing many high school runners can get through two cross country and track seasons assuming they do not outgrow the shoes first.

Is it OK to run track without spikes? ›

Track spikes are not a requirement to run on a track. You can wear normal running shoes or trainers to practice and race in, but if you want to have a competitive edge, track spikes will surely provide that.

How tight should spikes be? ›

Your toes should be close to the front of the shoe but still have room to move around. The shoe should hold your heel in without movement and have a solid hold through the midfoot. There should be a small amount of space in the toebox, but with a snugger fit than standard running shoes.

How do spikes make you faster? ›

Why use running spikes? Running spikes are ultimately designed to help you run faster on certain, uneven terrain. By providing extra grip to the forefoot you can transfer more force forward, using that stick to push off, improving your stride turnover.

What size should track spikes be? ›

For long distance events on tartan or synthetic tracks, you will want to use spikes that are between 3-5mm long. These spikes will provide good traction without being too hard on your feet. For shorter distances or sprints, you can use running spikes that are 6mm long. These nails will give you more traction and grip.

How do you break in track spikes? ›

It takes time to break in your new track spikes. Don't wear them straight out of the box in your next race. Instead, wear them several times a week during early-season practices to get used to their feel and function. Here's a simple two-week schedule you can follow (pick any two days in your practice week).

Are 1 4 inch spikes legal? ›

Spikes are permitted during practice. Spike length must not exceed ¼ inch in length.

What not to do with track spikes? ›

Remove the spikes regularly – even if you're not changing lengths or the spikes themselves. If you leave them in too long without doing this, you run the risk of letting them get rusted in. So every couple of weeks it's good to loosen them all off and put them back in again. Don't let them get too short!

How can I run faster? ›

5 Different Methods to Improve Speed When Running
  1. Interval training. Interval training is a popular method used by runners to improve speed. ...
  2. Add sprints into your long runs. ...
  3. Choose lightweight running shoes and gear. ...
  4. Skipping rope workouts. ...
  5. Build your strength.

How often should I change my track spikes? ›

How long will a pair of spikes last? Most spikes should hold up for at least two to three high school seasons (and they generally feel better the more they get used). Distance runners who compete in both cross-country and track can sometimes use the same spikes for all seasons.

Do Nike spikes run small? ›

For this reason, spikes often run smaller than regular running shoes, so start with your usual shoe size and go from there. Keep in mind, though, that it's important they're not too tight either, if you're attached to your toenails at all!

What shoes are used for track? ›

Track & field athletes use a variety of shoes for different events, but the most commonly used type of shoe is the spike shoe. These shoes have metal or plastic spikes on the sole, which provide better traction and grip on the track or field surface.

Why do track runners need spikes? ›

The entire purpose of using track spikes is simply to increase the traction you have on the track surface. Imagine you tried to run on ice with your running shoes. You're not going to have any traction and you're not going to get very far. Actually you'll probably slip.

Why do athletes use spikes? ›

The spikes will help in preventing the sports players from slipping on the ground. Hence sportsmen use shoes with spikes. Spikes increase the surface of the shoes & make it rough which results in an increase in friction. This helps to have more grip on the floor and chances to slip reduces.

Do you use spikes for high jump? ›

Q: Do I really need high jump spikes / shoes? A: I would say yes, and I would recommend you using high jump shoes for 2 reasons. The first reason is for injury prevention, and the second reason is because it will give you the traction you need to run a good curve and have a solid plant at take off.

What does it mean to get spiked in track? ›

In cross country, "getting spiked" usually refers to accidentally getting stepped on by another runner's spikes (the spikes on their shoes). To avoid getting spiked, maintain some distance from other runners, especially in crowded parts of the race.

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