Choosing the Right Track & Field Shoes and Replacement Spikes

by Nick Stebenne, M-F Athletic

There are many different considerations when selecting track shoes and replacement track spikes.  Replacement track spikes come in many styles but the pyramid, needle, Christmas tree, and tartan are the most popular.

A) Pyramid Spikes – For cross country and most tracks since they are less aggressive on the flooring. They will not wear down as fast and the have a good bounce on the track. The most popular size is the ¼" for indoor facilities.

B) Needle Spikes – Used primarily on all-weather tracks. They generate great traction. The most popular size is 3/16”.

C) Christmas Tree (Omni-Lite) Spikes – Compression spikes.  They are a mix between bounce (pyramid) and grip (needle).  They usually come in ¼" size. These are my favorite.  Being a former sprinter, I like the combination of bounce and traction. 

D) Tartan Spikes – Normally ¼" dull needle spikes (selected rubber tracks only).

As far as track shoes are concerned, sprint spikes are very light weight. A more elite sprinter would use a spike with less of a heel.  Sprinters are taught to run on their toes because a "heel to toe" running style is not as explosive. This being said, sprinter spikes can easily injure a beginner athlete if the athlete is not accustomed to running on their toes for the entire race.  I have seen many high school runners roll their ankle using these style spikes. 

I would suggest for a novice runner to purchase a spike that has a more prominent sole for safety concerns.  Middle distance spikes and distance spikes are normally a stiffer shoe and fit more comfortably to the foot.  They indeed have more of a sole and tend to be a little heavier than the sprinting shoes.