A Beginner's Guide to Running Spikes


Whether you're thinking about heading to the track to boost your endurance, or taking up cross-country you might be considering a pair of running spikes.

With different styles for short sprints, middle, and long distances knowing which ones to go for can be tricky. So here's everything you need to know about running spikes and how to choose the best ones for your training. 

Why use running spikes?

Running spikes are ultimately designed to help you run faster on certain, uneven terrain. By providing extra grip to the forefoot you can transfer more force forward, using that stick to push off, improving your stride turnover.

Lighter than regular road running or trail running shoes, running spikes will also help you pick up speed.


For short distances at speed, sprinting spikes are best for 100 metre to, maximum, 400 metre sprints on a track or field. The lightest running shoe on the market they are designed to put the runner on their toes, leaving them with little to no cushioning at the heels and usually quite stiff.

The spike plate at the front will have the maximum number of pins to take more force and provide as much grip as possible.  


Best suited for events from 1500 metres to 10,000 metres these running spikes provide the best cushioning while still maintaining good purchase on muddy or dry terrain.

Designed to take on more force over a longer period of time they're made from more durable, but heavier, materials. Sometimes middle and long distance spikes are grouped together. 


Still fairly lightweight middle distance running spikes will have more padding at the heel for greater cushioning over an 800 to 1500 metre distance. 

They're less rigid than sprinting spikes and the spike plate is not as far forward on the toe allowing for a more moderate speed. 




More like a trail running shoe, these running spikes have a more durable upper as well as outer sole for better grip and a flexible spike plate to ensure traction on unstable ground.



Spike Pins

Like running spikes, the individual spike studs or pins, come in different shapes and sizes. 

  • 6mm - These are best for track and field or dry terrain in cross-country. Ideal for athletic tracks as most tracks or centres don't allow pins longer than 6mm.
  • 9mm - Good for cross-country running, giving especially good grip in muddy and wet conditions.
  • 12-15mm - Perfect for fell running or steep hills such as during a steeplechaser event, they are designed with difficult terrain and maximum grip in mind.


Running spikes are intended to be snug to give you the most control over your foot but it’s important they’re still comfortable to keep you running at your best.

It’s also worth considering pin placement and number of pins in a spike; usually either six pin or four pins. Four pinned spikes tend to have the pins towards the centre on the spike plate, best for runners for supinate (underpronate). Which ones you go for is down to personal preference, comfort, and fit.

Don't Forget...!

  • Always carry spares if you're heading out for an event and make sure you check your pins frequently as they can wear down as quickly as in 3 months.
  • 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.
  • Always break in a pair of running spikes before competing in them to reduce your risk of injury. Running spikes have a negative heel drop so extra stress is placed on your forefoot increasing your risk of plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, and shin splints.

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