Spikes For Track Shoes - Everything You Need To Know (2024)

In this article, we will discuss what spikes for track shoes are, the different types of track shoe spikes, which ones you should buy, and why. Also, we will cover some commonly asked questions related to spike pins which go in your track shoes.

What Are Track Shoe Spikes?

Spikes for track shoes are small metal or plasticpieces which screw into the bottom of the shoe.Spikes are typically sharp and pointy, which allows them to stick into the track as you run. Track shoe spikesare designed to provide better traction and grip on the track surface, especially during sprinting or jumping events.

The spikes come in various shapes and sizes, ranging from 3/16 inch to1/4inch in length. They can be made of materials such as stainless steel, ceramic, or plastic, and are typically placed strategically on the sole of the shoe to provide the best traction for the particular event.For example, an entry level pair of track spikes for distance events will have 4-6 spikes per shoe, whereas sprinting spikes usually contain 5-7 spike pins per shoe.

The use of spikes can significantly improve an athlete's performance, both due to the physical effects of enhanced traction, as well as the mental effects of knowing you can put out full effort. Often when I am using running shoes for sprinting which do not use spikes, I feel that I have to hold back a little bit so that I won't slip or lose my grip.

Because spike pinsenhance traction, wearing spikes when you compete will allow you toapply more force to the ground with each stride, resulting in faster times or higher jumps.

What Types Of Spikes For Track Shoes Are There?

There are several types of spike pins that are commonly used for track shoes, including pyramid spikes, needle spikes, and Christmas tree spikes.

Pyramid spikes are the most common type of spike used in track shoes. They are named after their shape, which is similar to a pyramid with a broad base and a pointed tip. Pyramid spikes come in various lengths, and are typically made of stainless steel or ceramic materials.Pyramid spikes are suitable for all track & field events, and they tend to minimize damage to the track itself.

Needle spikes, as the name suggests, have a thin, needle-like shape. Needle spikes provide excellent traction on the track surface, but are often not allowed by meet organizers or track facility management. Also, because of their design, these spikes tend to puncture the track itself, which can lead to damage of the track surface and excess friction when the athlete tries to run across the track.

Christmas tree spikes are similar to pyramid spikes, but instead of a smooth pyramid shape they look more like a wedding cake, with 3 cylindrical segments which are stacked from widest to narrowest from bottom to top. They provide good grip on the track surface, but are typically not allowed by track staff.

Spikes For Track Shoes - Everything You Need To Know (1)

In general, most tracks only allow the use1/4 inch pyramid spikes, and as such my suggestion to you is to purchase these and keep them on hand. You can also keep some 3/16 inch spikes in your track bag, just in case you go to a meet which has a smaller size limit for which spikes you can have in your track shoes.

How To Replace Spikes In Track Shoes

Replacingtrack shoe spikesis a quick and easy process. Here are the general steps to follow:

Remove the old spikes.

To remove the old spikes, you will need a spike wrench or a pair of pliers. Typically, a spike wrench is included with your running spikes or the spike pins themselves. Insert the wrench into the spike and turn it counterclockwise to loosen and remove the spike. Repeat this process for all the spikes that need to be replaced.

Clean the spike holes.

After removing the old spikes, check for any dirt or debris that may be in the hole where the spikes go. If needed, clean this out with a small screwdriver or some other pointy object.If there is no dirt or debris, you can move on to the next step.

Choose the new spikes

Choose the new spikes according to the length and type of spike you're allowed to wear. 1/4 inch pyramid spikes are usually safe to use, but it is wise to keep an extra set of 3/16 inch pyramid spikes on hand just in case they are required by the track or meet you are attending.

Insert the new spikes

Insert the spikes into your shoes by hand, then continue to tighten them using either a spike wrench (typically provided with your pair of track shoes), or a pair of flat pliers. Turn the spikes clockwise until you feel they are affixed to the shoe.

Check for tightness

Once all the new spikes have been inserted, use the spike wrench or pliers to check that they are tight and secure. Be careful not to over-tighten the spikes, as this can damage the sole of the shoe. I usually turn them with minimal effort until they are in the shoe, then give an additional 1/4 to 1/2 turn to ensure they are secure, while not being too tight.

Test the shoes

Before using the shoes in competition, test them on the track surface to ensure that the spikes provide good traction and are securely fastened. If you hear a metallic clicking sound when you run or walk in your track spikes, you likely have a loose spike pin.

    Overall, replacing spikes in track shoes is a simple process that can help athletes maintain optimal performance and safety on the track. If you spikes ever seem dull, consider replacing them.

    Commonly Asked Questions Related To Spike Pins For Track Shoes

    Here are some questions that athletes and coaches commonly ask related to the spikes you put in your track shoes.

    How do I know what length ofof spikes to use for my track shoes?

    3/16 inch spike pins are always allowed at any track which allows spikes to be used, but most tracks will also allow 1/4 inch spike pins.

    Can I use the same spike pins for all types of track events?

    Typically, yes. Nearly all track events can make use of 3/16 inch or 1/4 inch track spikes.

    High Jump and Javelin allow for longer spikes than other events, where you can use spikes as long as 12mm or 0.47 inches. This length is measured as the length the spike protrudes from the base of the shoe, not including the threads which go into your track spike shoes.

    What are the rules and regulations regarding the use of spike pins in my track event?

    Most of the time, the rules you must abide by are related to the length and type of spikes. Most tracks will require you to use pyramid spikes, and will limit the length to 1/4 inch or less.

    World Athletics has rules that limit the number of spikes per shoe to 11 spike pins. All events other than High Jump and Javelin are limited to a spike length of 9mm, or 0.35 inches, whereas High Jump Spikes and Javelin Spikes can be up to 12mm or 0.47 inches long.

    How often should I replace my spike pins?

    Most of the time, spike pins will need to be replaced every few months. I replace them prior to important competitions, or when they become dull. If you walk on concrete in your spikes, they will become dull more quickly and will require replacement more often. If you only ever wear track spikes on a synthetic track, you will get more use out of them over time.

    Do I need to clean my spike pins after each use?

    I only clean my spikes when dirt or debris becomes lodged in the underside of the track shoe. You can use your best judgement to decide when they should be cleaned or not by simply looking at them.

    What are the benefits of using spike pins in my track shoes?

    The primary benefits of using spikes in your track shoes are that you will have better grip, be able to put out full effort without slipping, and likely run faster or jump better with spike pins in your track shoes.

    Can I use my track shoes with spike pins for other activities besides track and field?

    Typically not.

    Spikes For Track Shoes - Everything You Need To Know (2024)


    How do I know what spikes to get for track? ›

    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.

    What do you need spikes for track? ›

    While your regular trainers are built for, well, training, spikes are built for competition. They're lighter which reduces fatigue; they hug your feet for better control; and they provide extra grip where you need it most, resulting in greater responsiveness and powerful push offs that propel you forward, faster.

    How many spikes should a track shoe have? ›

    Number of Spikes

    5.3 The sole and heel of the shoes may be so constructed as to provide for the use of up to 11 spikes. Any number of spikes up to 11 may be used but the number of spike positions shall not exceed 11.

    Does the type of track spikes matter? ›


    Slimmer than pyramid spikes and usually available in 3/16" length. These sink deeper into the track and may serve a lighter runner better than a heavier runner. Longer needle spikes (1/4" or 3/8") are more common on dirt/grass cross country courses or on cinder tracks, but these lengths are not as common.

    Do you wear socks with spikes? ›

    Make sure you only wear your spikes whilst on the track or at a cross-country event on a soft surface. As running spikes are a snug fit whether you wear socks or not is up to you. Going sock-free however can increase your chance of blisters so look for a thin technical sock to get the best of both.

    Are 1/4 inch spikes legal? ›

    Spike length must not exceed ¼ inch in length. This will be strictly enforced by Gately Park staff. Teams will be issued one warning for any athlete caught wearing spikes longer than the recommended ¼ inch Pyramid or Compression Spike during practice.

    Should you run the 800 in spikes? ›

    Running spikes are necessary for runners who want to compete at their best on the track. Mid-distance track spikes are lightweight, but they still offer some cushioning in the heel to provide comfort during 800 to 1600-meter runs.

    Do you need to break in spikes? ›

    You will need about a 1/2 thumb width between your longest toe & the front of the shoe for a proper fit. Even though it may take some time getting used to the more tailored fit of spikes vs. your everyday training shoes, you shouldn't have to “break in” XC spikes; they should feel good right out of the box!

    Should track spikes be tight? ›

    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.

    Can I wear track spikes on grass? ›

    If you're new to spikes, Pyramids are an excellent place to start. They work great on grass and rubber, and you can use them either for track or cross country.

    Can spikes make you run faster? ›

    The spikes or pins on the bottom of the shoes provide improved traction and stability, allowing athletes to run faster and jump further. This can make a significant difference in races and other events, leading to better times and distances.

    How long do 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.

    Why are Christmas tree spikes illegal? ›

    Christmas (Xmas) Tree spikes: these were meant to NOT puncture the track, but rather compress the surface with the energy returning back to to the sprinter. Sometimes, these spikes are illegal on brand new tracks for fear of ripping it to shreds.

    Do spikes damage track? ›

    The singular most common cause of damage and early disintegration of an athletics track surface is the inappropriate use of spikes.

    How do I choose athletic 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.

    What size should I get my spikes? ›

    Others prefer a fit similar to training shoes, and will opt for the same size as their trainers or even slightly larger. The spikes should be no more roomy than trainers, but the athlete's toes should be able to move and not feel pinched or cramped against the front of the shoe.

    Can you wear XC spikes for track? ›

    You can wear XC spikes in Track, but not the other way around. A Cross Country spike's padded heel and rubberized, flexible sole provides comfort and durability for long distance racing, as well as foot protection from the varied terrain of Cross Country courses.


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