Running spikes are specialized shoes often used by track runners who focus mainly on sprint events. However, other types of running spikes are used by cross country runners and by distance runners on the track. Unlike regular running shoes, spikes are used mainly for competition rather than training.
Across the different events, the shoes themselves are usually very similar, but the spikes used are typically quite different. Spikes are also used by field competitors in track and field, but these are not generally considered as running spikes. Here we will compare the running spikes used by track runners and cross country runners, and will consider the times when each of these types of running spike is considered to be most effective.
The more common type of spike shoes are the track spikes used by sprinters, but they are also used by by distance runners. These spikes usually consist of an extremely lightweight shoe having a base plate which allows for the runner to screw spikes into the base of the shoe. These spikes provide better traction on the track surface. They help the runner to dig in better and also help to prevent slipping. There are different types of spikes, mainly rubber and metal, for different surfaces.
Track competitions may place limitations on the types of running spike that may be used on the track. For example, the runner may be limited to spikes no longer than ¼ inch (.635 cm) or in some cases 3/16 of an inch (.476 cm). Runners planning to use spikes should check these limitations ahead of time. They should also keep on hand spikes of other sizes, to make sure they are properly prepared for each race. Spikes might be lost from a shoe at any time, so having replacement shoe spikes handy will allow a runner to focus on competition without worrying about lost spikes.
Runners who plan to race in spikes during track meets should also plan to do some training in their spikes, to make sure they are confident and comfortable on race day. This is important because running in spiked shoes can be uncomfortable for runners who are not used to them. For these runners, an adjustment period is needed to adapt to the spikes until wearing them becomes natural and comfortable. Runners should not do all their training in running spikes, but should use them often enough to become comfortable wearing them for races.
Cross Country Spikes
There are also spiked cross country running shoes. These are known as cross country running spikes, cross country spikes, racing spikes, or simply spikes. Racing flats (or flats) are nearly identical to racing spikes, except that they have a flat bottom with no spikes or spike receptacles.
Like track spikes, cross country spikes are also lightweight shoes having removable spikes on the bottom. There is also an assortment of spike lengths available for cross country runners, but these spikes are significantly longer than the spikes used by sprinters and are similar to the spikes used by track distance runners.
Likewise, each cross country meet has its own set of rules about acceptable spike lengths used in competition. Therefore, runners must familiarize themselves with these guidelines before the start of each meet, in order to choose the proper type of cross country running shoes.
When To Use Spikes
Cross country running spikes serve the same basic purpose as sprinting spikes. They are designed to provide runners with better traction over the terrain of the race course. However, cross country races are held on trails instead of tracks, so longer spikes are usually necessary. Each runner needs to carefully inspect the course before the start of each meet, in order to evaluate what type of spikes (if any) will be needed.
If most of the course is comprised of a soft surface like grass or soft dirt, then spikes shoes can be very beneficial. However, if much of the race takes place on packed dirt or paved surfaces, then spikes may not be as effective, or even detrimental. If that is the case, it might be better to wear a road racing shoe or a racing flat, as opposed to a racing spike. On the other hand, if the course is very muddy or slippery, the runner may choose to wear longer spikes than normal, in order to gain better traction over the slippery terrain.