TRACK SPIKE OVERVIEW
First off, why does someone in high school need spikes to compete in Track and Field? The answer is very simple: you can run faster, and jump higher and farther wearing them. Track timing systems, even in high school and middle school, can time down to one hundredth of a second, so every little bit helps.
There are many different types of track spikes, so let’s take a look at some of them that we carry at the Running Well Store.
Choosing spikes the easy way.
Even though there are over 30 events at most track meets, almost everyone can use just one set of spikes. If you are a shot putter or discus thrower, you don’t even need spikes. But that will be covered later. The universal set of spikes for almost every event is a middle or distance spike. Yes, these are good for even the 100m dash and the 60m dash if running indoors and all the jumping events. At the Running Well Store, we carry the Saucony Vendetta, New Balance 500, and the Under Armor Kick Distance that would all be very good choices.
The difference between sprint spikes and distance spikes.
Sprint spikes are designed to keep you on your toes. They have a very stiff bottom plate and no padding. These shoes are good for the 100m dash, the 200m dash, the 4x100m relay and the 4x200m relay. And MAYBE the 400m dash and 4x400m relay. We say maybe since a runner would have to be strong and fast to be able to run all out for that long on their toes. The Running Well Store carries the Saucony Spitfire, New Balance 100, and the Under Armor Kick Sprint as sprint spikes.
Middle and Distance spikes are a different shoe altogether. They have a flexible bottom plate and most importantly, they have a padded heel. The padded heel allows a more natural running motion where the heel can contact the ground and provide some impact absorption. These shoes are good for any running event, but are designed for the 400m on up. They are good for the hurdle races since the padded heel protects the heel if the runner comes up short of the hurdle and kicks it with their heel. They are also good for the high jump, long jump, and triple jump. This is because the second to last step in these events is flat footed, so a little padding goes a long way in protection.
Can you spot which one below is the sprint spike and which on is the distance spike?
At the Running Well Store, we carry 3 specialty Field Event shoes. These are not for everyone. These should be for someone who has had experience in those events or knows those shoes will benefit them greatly. They are not good at all for other events. It is also important to note that all field event shoes are men’s sizing. For a female athlete size 1 1/2 sizes down. For example a women’s size 9 is a men’s size 7.5. Here are the options available at The Running Well Store.
Saucony Uplift: The Uplift HJ2 sets the bar above the rest. Lock in with a midfoot cross strap that sits on top of a lightweight FLEXFILM upper for ideal form and comfort. Plus, this high jumper will elevate your performance with a full-length plate and rubber outsole. This is a high jump specific shoe.
Saucony Unleash: This is our throwing shoe for the Shot Put and Discus. It is good for both the spin and glide method of throwing. Be prepared to unleash a shot put, discus, or hammer in this tough pair of track shoes. Built for concrete, asphalt, or any hard surface, the construction of this shoe was designed for comfort and performance. The ISOFIT system conforms to specifically your foot and the way it moves. The high-density rubber outsole enhances performance and takes that spin and glide to the next level.
Saucony Soarin: The Soarin J2 is going to take you to new heights in multiple track events. Designed for the long jump, the triple jump, and the pole vault, the Soarin’s combination of a rigid spike plate and a die-cut EVA midsole helps you defy gravity with comfort and support. Get the best take off with this high performing spike.
Almost all track spikes come with quarter inch spikes. These can be used on almost any track surface. Another good choice is 3/16th inch spikes. Just a tad shorter than quarter inch spikes. Make sure your spike length is legal for the track you are going to. Some track surfaces might require 1/8th or less length. Needle spikes are pretty much illegal to use any more since they tend to tear up the track surface. At the Running Well Store, we carry replacement spikes in 1/8th, 3/16th, 1/4th, and blanks.
The Running Well Store does sell refill spikes. You can see all our options here.
Are spikes mandatory?
A person does not need track spikes to compete in Track and Field. But a runner, especially a new runner, needs a good pair of training shoes. These shoes will be worn everyday at practice and most of their running will be done in these shoes. At the Running Well Store, we fit the shoe to the runner to make sure they are in a shoe that is right for them. We offer student discounts to runners in middle and high school the entire month of March and guarantee our shoes for 30 days.
A lot of throwers wear basketball, court shoes, or cross-training shoes to throw in.
If a person has cross country spikes, these can be used for track as well. Just make sure to take out the long cross country spikes and put in shorter track spikes to make them legal. As a rule of thumb: a cross county spike can be used for track, but track spikes don’t make a very good cross country spikes. This is due to cross country spikes having a rubber bottom and track spikes have a hard plastic spike plate that will slip on wet or non-grassy areas.
If you would like to speak with a TRWS Fit Guru, you can come to any one of our three locations in Kansas City (Lee’s Summit, The Northland (Barry Road) and Mission, KS), or you can make an appointment here.
About The Author
Scott Conner is a retired teacher/coach with over 25 years experience coaching high school track and field and cross country. He has been in the running specialty retail business for over a decade helping all types of runners become the best they want to be. Scott is a huge fan of running (obviously), track and cross country, disc golf and classic rock! We love having Scott as part of the TRWS Dream Team and are honored he spent time helping us write this blog about spikes!