The term "spikes" can refer to a type of running shoes with a series of screwed threads in the sole. It can also mean the small metal or ceramic "spikes" that go into the threaded holes. The first running spikes were designed in 1890 by Adolf Dassler, who went on to found Adidas, one of the world's largest sportswear companies.
Athletes use spikes to improve performance on the running track. Spikes provide additional grip, allowing athletes to achieve faster speeds and avoid slipping. There are a wide range of spikes available on the market today. Running spikes can be broadly divided into two groups: track spikes, or off-road spikes. Because the shoe industry has become very specialised, and because there are now a vast number of types of running spikes, it is therefore very important that athletes buy the type of spikes that are best suited for their event. Becoming informed about the latest technological developments is important, and understanding the types of spikes available helps buyers use online shopping platforms such as eBay to make a sound, affordable purchase.
What Type of Running Spikes is Best?
When buyers purchase a pair of spikes, it is important that they purchase a pair designed for the right sport. The design of each type of spike is intended to give the wearer maximum protection from injuries to their feet, legs and spine, whilst keeping shoe weight to a minimum.
Materials are almost as important as design, when it comes to running spikes. Spikes should be manufactured from materials that are best suited to a user's specific event. For example, steeplechase runners often use running spikes made of mesh fabrics, which let water run out of the shoe after a runner leaves the water jump.
Track running spikes feature different shaped spikes screwed into the sole of the shoe. Some of the most common types of spikes are listed in the following table, along with a description of each.
Type of Spike
Wide base tapering to a point
Digs into track for support
Pin or needle spike
Like a pyramid spike
Digs into track more easily
Similar to football stud
Provides decent grip on track surface
Xmas tree spikes
Ridges down length of spike
Provides grip in multiple directions
Useful if athlete has variable footstrike
Good for hurdlers
Running spikes always have a component in the sole called a "strike plate". The strike plate is the part of the shoe into which the spike is attached. The positioning of the strike plate can affect an athlete's posture whilst they run, so selecting a pair of running spikes with the correct strike plate can be extremely important.
Sprint running spikes are the lightest of all spikes available on the market. They represent a compromise between shoe strength, shoe weight, and grip. The intent is to offer a sturdy shoe with enough grip to prevent slipping, while burdening the runner as little as possible with extra weight.
Sprint spikes are designed to reduce the weight on the feet, and to encourage the runner to push off with their toes as much as possible. This is done by strike plate placement. The strike plate is relatively stiff, and extends forward until it reaches a point beneath the toes. Such a design encourages the runner to run on their toes, which helps deliver faster performances.
Traditionally, sprint spikes are constructed to be as lightweight as possible. To this end, there is not usually any padding in the heels at all. Athletes considering sprint spikes should be aware that the absence of cushioning in the heels can make them unsuitable for long distance wear.
Despite their name, sprint spikes are also useful for some athletes who run middle distances (e.g. 400 metres). Athletes who can deliver a performance in the region of 52 seconds over such a distance can benefit from using sprint spikes. Sprint spikes can even benefit top class 800 metre athletes, with 2000 Olympic champion Maria Mutola being a famous example.
In terms of design, it is possible to purchase sprint spikes with zip-up fronts. Manufacturers claim spikes with zip-up fronts are more aerodynamic, which in turn leads to better performances. While th this may or may not be true, the ease with which zip-up spikes can be put on and taken off can not be denied.
Middle Distance Spikes
For middle distance events (e.g. 400 to 800 metres), track running spikes are designed to be lightweight. But due to the longer distances the runner covers, these shoes feature some cushioning on the heel. Middle distance spikes are best used for slower races, where there is less focus on explosive power and more on the front of the foot. Strike plate design and positioning is important in this type of shoe, and is used to force the required type of running action.
Middle distance running spikes are less rigid than sprint spikes and do not place as many restrictions on an athlete's posture.Their lightweight and flexible design makes them the most versatile type of running spikes available.
Long Distance Spikes
Longer distance events place different strains on the foot than do sprints and middle distance events. Such strains can be counteracted with changes in the shoe design. Long distance spikes feature a flatter design, and are heavier than other spikes. But they are still considerably lighter than conventional running trainers. Shoes in this category best suit runners expecting to deliver performances of 18 to 20 seconds for every 100 metres they run in their chosen events.
Long distance running spikes are sometimes designed with a cushion across the entire length of the spike plate, and these deliver the best cushioning across the sole, and to the heel in particular. They are more effective at protecting the foot, joints, and spine, and can even be worn by sprinters undertaking longer distance aspects of their training.
Off Track Spikes
Whilst not strictly track running spikes, off track or cross country spikes need mentioning because they are an alternative to long distance spikes, and some athletes use them to support slower parts of their training programme. They are more robust in their design and construction, and provide athletes with good grip and (most importantly) good support for the feet.
Running Spike Shoe Sizes
Running spikes should be chosen to fit in the same way as a pair of ordinary shoes. However, it is worth bearing in mind that sizing can be inconsistent between manufacturers. Not all brands sizes are identical; some may be built more narrowly, while others may be shorter in length. There can really be no substitute for actually trying on a pair of running spikes to see how well they fit. Generally, running spikes should fit snugly all around the foot, and should only leave a thumb's width of space beyond the toes. This space is important if irritation and rubbing of the toes is to be avoided.
How to Buy Track Running Spikes on eBay
Locating a pair of running spikes on eBay is a straightforward process. Simply type "running spikes" into the search bar on the eBay home page. You may find that eBay provides you more listings than you want, and there are several ways to narrow down your search. First, you can change the search term to make it more specific. Secondly, you can use the automatic filters that eBay presents. The filters let you narrow your results by searching for particular brands, for a particular shoe size, or for listings within a certain price range. Once you have found a pair of running spikes you are interested in purchasing, spend some to time to investigate the sellers, their shipping and return policies, and their eBay reputations. Read feedback left by previous buyers over the last 12 month to get a good idea what sort of seller they are and how well they satisfy customers. Buyers with a lot of positive feedback are your best bet, while sellers with a great deal of negative responses should be avoided
Every track athlete needs to buy running spikes. Some athletes require more than one pair of spikes to support their feet during different phases of training. Once buyers have decided on the type of running spikes they need (e.g. sprint, middle distance, or long distance), they can can visit High Street retailers to inspect a variety of styles and determine how well they fit. Trying a range of shoes is always a good idea, as some can be more comfortable than others. Once buyers know which brand and model of shoes they are most interested in buying, they can then take advantage of everything an online retail platform like eBay has to offer. Such advantages include a very wide selection of running spikes, convenient search features, and the ability to shop at any time of day or night from the convenience of one's own home.