Track Spikes and Cross Country Spikes – How to Choose The Right Spikes

Track Spikes and Cross Country Spikes – How to Choose The Right Spikes

When you decide to run track and field, one of the first things you are going to need to do is get a pair of track spikes or cross country spikes. Choosing the right track spikes is essential for performing your best. If you choose the wrong spikes, you put yourself at risk of getting injured, suffering a sub-optimal performance, or even worse just embarrassing yourself for not understanding the sport and what it takes.

Before we get into cross country spikes and track spikes, it is essential that you understand the sport. Inside of the one sport of track and field, there are four different types of events. These various events types will make a huge difference in the types of track spikes you need.

Track Spikes

  1. Mid-Distance/Distance – 800m, 1500,Steeplechase, 5000m 10,000m, Cross Country (where cross country spikes come in)
  2. Sprints/Hurdles -100m, 200m, 400m, 100H, 110H, 4x100m Relay, 4x400m Relay
  3. Throws – Javelin, Discus, Shotput, Hammer Throw
  4. Jumps – Long Jump, Triple Jump, High Jump, Pole Vault

Different Track Spikes for Different Events

All of these event types require different types of spikes, but even within those different groups, there will be many different spikes required. For example, in the jumps group, high jump and long jump require very different spikes, and there is no negotiation on this.

High Jumpers need spikes on their heel to prevent slipping on the approach and take off. Whereas long jump spikes are much more like sprinter spikes. Cross country spikes, on the other hand, are very similar to distance spikes.

Distance Track Spikes and Cross Country Track Spikes

Distance Track Spikes

Distance spikes are often the lightest. They have to travel the farthest distances, so the goal is to make them feel like a second glove rather than a shoe. The sole of distance spikes is pretty flat. These shoes often are prepared to get wet for events like the Steeplechase that requires going into the water.

There is not a lot of differences in spikes between events in this group. The one wild card may be the 800. If you are a 4/8 runner than you may wear your 400m sprint spikes for the 800. If you run the 800m and more extended events. The main event difference is really a sport difference where you see cross country spikes. These spikes are a bit more durable to handle the rugged cross country season.

Sprint Track Spikes

Sprint Track Spikes

Sprinters probably have the most swag of the track and field events and are the pickiest about how their spikes look and feel. Within the sprint spikes category, there are only really two different types of spikes you need to be aware of.

Otherwise, sprint spikes are designed to provide lightness on the feet, but also they are made for aggressive acceleration. You want to have as many pins on the bottom as possible to help distribute the wear and tear on the shoes.

The two types of sprint spikes are hard plated and soft plated spikes. The hard plated spikes have one goal, and that is to prevent the foot from bending as much when pushing off of the ground. These hard plated spikes tend to make you run faster because you react off of the ground faster. The problem with them is that they tend to hurt your feet. Using a hard plated spike is an acquired taste if you have never run in spikes before.

Thrower Track Spikes

Thrower Track Spikes

Thrower spikes are broken into two different categories based on the events that you do. The first is the shoes for rotating exhibitions and the second is Javelin spikes. The rotating events include discus, shot put and hammer throw. The same spikes can be used for all three events.

Most of the spikes for rotating events come with a strap that goes across the foot to help hold it in play when spinning. These spikes come with smooth bottoms and not actual spikes to make the spinning process easy.

Javelin spikes tend to look like high cut basketball shoes but with spikes on the bottom. Javelin spikes need to have a lot of spikes on the bottom because of the forces and angles of force being put through the feet during the approach and throw.

Jump Track Spikes

Jump Track Spikes

Jumping track spikes are the ones set of spikes where every single pair of spikes is different for the events. Each jumping event is so different in what it demands when you take off on your jump.

Within the jumps groups, you have two different sections of jumps in horizontal jumps and vertical jumps. The long jump and triple jump are horizontal jumps because you want to get as far into the sand as possible.

Whereas the pole vault and high jump are vertical jumps because they are all about getting as high as possible.

Long jump spikes look like a sprint spike that is a bit clunkier. They have a bit of a heel on them to help with the actual take off on the board.

Triple jump spikes look almost identical but have a bit more of a heel on them to help absorb some of the jumps.

Pole value shoes yet again fit into the same category, but they have some of their unique twists to them. Part of this is just marketing from these shoe companies so if you do multiple events you feel you need track spikes for that specific event.

The last of the spikes is the high jump, and these are by far the most different. High jump is the only event that makes spikes that have spike pins that go into the heel. When you are making your approach, and when you plant to take off you have to plant with your heel to do it. No other events ever use the heel in the same way.

Brands of Track Spikes and Cross Country Spikes

When you are looking for track spikes or cross country spikes you are going to find the following brands to be the key players:

  • Nike
  • Addidas
  • Saucony
  • Brooks
  • Mizuno
  • New Balance
  • Under Armor
  • Asics

If you are looking for spikes and you are on a team, you should check to see if that team is sponsored by any brand. You would hate to buy a brand you like, only to find out that you are not able to wear them. When I ran track in college that is precisely what happened to me. I had a pair of training shoes, and I was not able to anymore because Oklahoma was sponsored by Nike.

Factors In Choosing The Right Track Spikes


  • Spikes should help you to improve your performance
  • The fit should be comfortable to be in shoes for two hours
  • Wearing the spikes should increase confidence


  • Paying more should come with a performance or confidence benefit
  • Consider if you will need to buy multiple spikes for multiple events


  • The spikes should be your babies, and you should take pride in how they look
  • Get the color and style that you love
  • Track spikes that make you look good to make you feel good

Great Places to Get Cross Country Spikes and Track and Field Spikes

Dealing With Track and Field Injuries

9INE POINT Health is the best place to start your search for a health care provider to help you stay healthy on the track. The key to success at all levels of the track is staying healthy.

Kho Health lets you search for providers by type and skill. For example, you can look for a Massage Therapist that also used to be an athlete. It does not matter what kind of provider you need, Kho Health can help you find them and help you to sort through their skills.

If you are unsure where to start your journey, 9INE POINT Health will ask you questions and help you figure out the best starting place. All you have to do is answer a few questions, and Kho Health will connect you with the type of provider best suited for your needs. It does not matter if you are injured or just sore from killing workouts.

The platform makes it easy to compare health providers as they are all given a 9INE POINT Number. Once you are shown the best local options, how do you know which is the best? Reading bios and reviews is just not enough because you need more than that. Just like you need more info on your track spikes, you need to figure out more about your healthcare provider.

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