Track Spikes And Cross Country Spikes

Have you ever wondered what all of the world’s best athletes have in common other than being fast? They all wear shoes with spikes. There was a time when these types of shoes were just reserved for athletes. Nowadays, they are available for everybody and are pretty reasonably priced, too.

Among different types of spikes, those which are popular and are often pitted against are track spikes and cross country spikes. This guide will allow you to navigate between track spikes and cross country spikes to decide which one of them is better suited to you.

Why Should You Use Spikes?

While it is a requirement to wear spikes at every track match, these shoes can serve a wide range of purposes for the wearer. Since all spike shoes have been made to be lightweight, it can substantially help reduce fatigue.

Furthermore, it can increase the runner’s speed compared to that which he or she might have attained while wearing a pair of heavier training sneakers. What makes spikes even better is that the pins attached to it grab the track that the runner is running on. This results in increased grip, keeping the runner stable. Additionally, it helps them dig in for an extra rate.

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What You Need To Know About Spikes

Understanding how spikes help your performance can allow you to decide on the best pair for the race. Cross country and long-distance track spikes normally have four or five spikes, while sprinting and mid-distance spikes may range from six to eight spikes, which offers the excess grip needed to generate high rates.

Based on the surface you race, you’ll want to decide on the appropriate spike span so you don’t find yourself carrying extra turf beside you on the cross country program, or sliding around an indoor track.

Quarter (1/4) inch spikes are normally a secure go-to track and cross country races. If you’re racing on an indoor course, there can be rules about the duration of spike you are allowed to wear in order to keep the track intact as it’s used; on ordinary, one-eighth (⅛) inch spikes would be the standard for indoor track.

As you gain experience and fine-tune the feel you prefer in your endings, you can toy around with a variety of spike shapes out of pyramid to needle spikes around the trail, but always make sure you check the match rules before changing out your spikes.

Track spikes and cross country spikes

Track spikes and cross country spikes

Track Spikes

Track spikes have little heel support and push runners to run onto the balls of their feet. Track spikes are lightweight shoes utilized to provide more of a push away from the track. Track or sprinting spikes don’t have much heel support since the toe plate includes such a high tip or arc so as to virtually force the runner to operate on the balls of her feet.

Track spikes are shorter compared to cross-country spikes and also have more regulations regarding what could be used at every course. Most tracks state that spikes can be only 1/4 or 3/16 inch, or even smaller. Using longer spikes onto a track surface will rip the surface and ruin the trail.

Cross-Country Spikes

There is still a slight upward angle on your toe plate but it isn’t quite as much of an angle because of the sprint or track spike. Cross-country spikes are not always needed for every runner on every cross-country course. The muddier or more hills the course has the increased need for cross-country and more spikes.

Cross-country spikes are designed to gain traction on high grass and through the mud, so spikes generally are more. Normally, cross-country runners utilize 1/4- to 1/2-inch spikes, based on the terrain.

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How to Properly Take Care of Your Spikes

Spikes serve a lot of advantages if you use them to get a race, but they can also be dangerous if not cared for correctly.

Here are some fast and easy tips for taking good care of your spikes:

  • Make sure you are not running at the spikes without adding plugs or hooks first.
  • You shouldn’t twist the pins too difficult when you are inserting them. All you need to aim is for 1/16th of a revolution beyond tight, and nothing more.
  • If the spikes are wet, simply stuff the toe with some papers and leave them in a hot place or a heat vent. It is going to take a day to wash thoroughly. Do not set them in a clothes dryer.
  • When utilizing spikes for the first time, then give yourself more than enough time to adjust to it, particularly if you intend to race in them.


When picking between cross country spikes versus track spikes, it all comes down to what you will use it for. Spikes shouldn’t be used for every single workout, but have to be worn a few times before competing in races. Spikes are not as comfy as jogging sneakers and can lead to lower leg and foot discomfort if your feet aren’t adapted to the spikes.

While you may use both for either cross country or track, we do not advise doing so as there is always a risk of harm or injury. 

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