How to Choose Track & Field Spikes (2024)

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Updated: December 18, 2023

Welcome to the wonderful world of track and field! If this is your first year participating in track & field meets, the wide variety of different track shoe options, price ranges, and events to participate in can be a little overwhelming. At the beginning of your track career you will likely participate in several different events until you figure out which one you like best and once you do, there are a vast array of options for your specific event. Running Warehouse is here help you navigate the options and find the best spike for your needs.

Step 1: Choose Your Event

Determine Which Kind of Spike to Buy

Beginners

If this is your first year participating in track and field, you may be trying out several different events, and it's probably not realistic to buy specific spikes for every event you hope to try. In this case a Multi-purpose track & field spike will be the most versatile and is the best starting point. There are 16 events in high school track & field – a Multi-Purpose Track & Field spike works perfectly for 14 of those events outside of the shot put and discus. These spikes are affordable, lightweight, durable, more comfortable, have additional cushioning and are designed for use on any track surface (dirt, asphalt and all-weather rubber).

Experienced Athletes

Once you have had a season or two of experience you and your coach should have a good idea of where your talents lie. At this point consider a spike or shoe designed specifically for your event(s). Shoes for Throw Events or Jump Events will be very different from shoes designed for the running events. For example, not all track and field shoes need spikes. Throw shoes designed for the Discus, Hammer, and Shotput feature either Smooth or Textured outsoles based on the thrower's technique. To make finding the right track shoe easier, we have broken down the different events below and included links to the spikes designed for those events.

Track EventSpike

Sprint & Hurdle Spikes

100m, 200m, 400m, 100m/110m hurdles, 300m/400m hurdles, 800m, 4 x 100m, and 4 x 400m relays.

Middle Distance

800m, 1500m, 1600m, and Mile

Middle Distance Track Spikes

Long Distance

3,000m, steeplechase, 3,200m, Two-mile, 5,000m, and 10,000m

Long Distance Track Spikes

Field EventsShoe

Throw Events

Discus, Hammer, Javelin, and Shotput

Throw Shoes

Jump Events

High Jump, Long Jump, Triple Jump, and Pole Vault

Jump Shoes

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Step 2: Choose Your Performance Level

Elite spikes are more event specific than entry-level spikes and most athletes who are new to track and field won't know which event they want to specialize in yet. That being said, some athletes may not want to start with an entry-level spike and may prefer the fit or feel of elite spikes. Keep in mind that the higher price does not necessarily mean a better experience. An elite-level spike will likely not be as comfortable and last as long as an entry-level spike.

Entry Level

Entry-level spikes are intended for newer athletes. These shoes will have a slightly more relaxed uppers and a less rigid spike plates for a fit most beginners will be familiar with. While entry-level spikes are less expensive, they are often more durable than their elite counterparts. As a trade-off, this type of spike will not feel as propulsive as an elite model and may not provide the same performance feel some athletes are seeking. Entry-level track spikes are designed for use on all track surfaces (dirt, asphalt, rubber/all weather).

Elite Level

Elite-level spikes provide the greatest energy return and will use the lightest materials to enhance performance. The spike plate will be more aggressive across all distances and events, the uppers will provide a tight, event-specific fit. The midsoles often times feature super foams and space age plates for added performance. The most expensive track & field spikes are designed for use exclusively on the best rubber/all weather tracks.

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Step 3: Get the Right Fit

How Your Spikes Should Fit

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.

Mid-distance and distance spikes will have a sightly more relaxed, slipper-like fit. These spikes should offer a contoured, snug fit throughout the midfoot, but with some space for the toes to move. This is to provide additional comfort as well as a bit of room for swelling.

For a deeper look into spike fit for each discipline, read our guide: How to Fit Track Spikes

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How to Choose Track & Field Spikes (2024)

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