How to Buy the Right Running Spikes for You

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How to Buy the Right Running Spikes for You

Running spikes, sometimes referred to as track spikes or simply just spikes, is the name given to pointed protrusions that are affixed to the bottom of running shoes to increase traction. In some instances, spikes may refer to shoes where the protrusions are permanently attached to the body of the shoe. The purpose of the spikes is to avoid slipping and maximise traction which can give athletes better acceleration and quickness. These are not to be confused with cleats, which are typically shorter and made of softer substances.

Running spikes may be made out of ceramic, plastic, or metal. The most common use for spikes is running track. The danger posed by the spikes to other players make team sports much more hazardous. That being said, baseball players sometimes wear spikes although this is generally disfavoured. Runners should be advised there are a variety of running spikes with different advantages and drawbacks. Thorough research is highly recommended before shoppers make a final purchase to ensure the right product is selected.

Types of Running Spikes

In terms of running, there are a variety of styles. Track events like sprints and distance require a different type of shoe than cross-country. Sprinters, for example, prefer the lightest shoes available while trail runners often sacrifice weight in favour of durability and stability. Other types of spikes exist including highly specialised spikes for track events and ice spikes for increased traction on icy terrain.

Sprinting Spikes

Sprinting spikes have a very specialised design. If the buyer is not a sprinter, a sprinting spike probably makes little sense. They have very stiff and plentiful spikes. They are also very stiff as a shoe, which allows sprinters to most efficiently transfer energy to their feet. Thin fabric covers the heel as sprinters are almost exclusively on their toes. Sprint spikes may also feature improved aerodynamics and an ultra lightweight design. Finally, as with all shoes, sprint spikes need to be carefully fitted.

Distance Spikes

Distance spikes are more flexible than other types of running spikes. They are made with more support than sprinting spikes, and are also made to be more durable. Distance spikes fit slightly looser than sprinting shoes, as they need to be worn for longer periods of time and must be comfortable. Distance shoes are still for use strictly on a track and are not generally used in outdoor or trail conditions.

Middle Distance Spikes

Middle distance spikes are a blend of a distance spike and a sprint spike. Specific track events are the only instance where these shoes can be useful. Generally these shoes are worn for events that are longer than dash sprints but not exceeding one mile. These shoes should fit very snugly but without discomfort. Athletes often have difficulty deciding how much performance they should sacrifice in exchange for more comfort on longer distance runs.

Additional Track Event Spikes

Virtually every track event has its own speciality spike. Hurdling, long jump, and pole vault all have subtle nuances that sophisticated track athletes should be familiar with. In addition, many events that do not involve running but are track events such as shot put and hammer throw have a specific shoe. If you are a track athlete looking to purchase shoes, it may be wise to consult a coach or an experienced athlete for a shoe recommendation.

Cross Country Spikes

Cross country spikes have a smaller amount of spikes than track related spikes. They are somewhat similar to distance spikes, but are more durable and supportive due to the variety of terrain. They can be used on moderate trails and increasingly strenuous trail runs. One thing to be wary of is that spikes often increase traction to such a high level that it may require some getting used to.

Ice Spikes

Dedicated runners in colder climates should be familiar with ice spikes. Ice spikes are often attached to running shoes via flexible materials but may also be built into the shoe itself. Icy terrain offers a unique challenge to runners that necessitates maximum traction. Not only does a runner risk slipping, ice is also a very hard surface that can potentially cause injury. A buyer needs to determine if they prefer to run with an external ice spike apparatus attached to the normal running shoe or if a pair where the spikes are built into the shoe makes more sense.

What to Look for When Buying Running Spikes

When purchasing a pair of running spikes, there are a number of factors to consider besides just the type of spike required for the particular running event. Attributes such as spike size, shape, design, and fit should all be factored into the buying decision as well.

Spike Sizes

Spike sizes vary depending on their specific use. Most spikes are between 3/16 and 1/2 inch. Generally, the larger the spike, the more high end performance can be derived from the shoe. They are generally the choice of sprints to maximise acceleration and quickness. The increased traction allows sprinters to quickly get up to speed and maintain it over a relatively short distance.

Spike Shapes

There are three main shapes of spikes; the pyramid, the needle, and the Christmas tree. Pyramids are spikes that narrow at the head to form a sharp point. These offer the least amount of traction of the three. The needle is a straight spike that has a more narrow diameter. Finally, Christmas tree spikes are specifically designed for artificial track surfaces. They offer excellent traction while reducing wear on the track and increasing the safety to other participants.


All types of track shoes are designed to be as light as possible, whereas cross country shoes are made to be much more durable. The lighter they are the less support they offer, which can be potentially injurious to newer users. Another notable design feature is the taper of the shoe. The taper is used to describe high how the toe points upwards. The more a runner leans forward, the more surface area is connected translating more power and quicker acceleration. Heavily tapered shoes are seen as more aggressive.

Many different designs have been tried to increase aerodynamics. Zippers to cover the laces and wings to increase lift have been tried. For highly competitive athletes such as Olympians, every bit of weight and aerodynamics matter. Therefore, ultra lightweight materials are often used and minimal support is provided to reduce weight. These shoes are highly specialised and buyers interested in such products would be well advised to do extensive research to determine the shoe best for them.


As with all shoes, fit is of the utmost importance. Shoes must feel snug but still be comfortable. Buyers may be more comfortable with a tighter fit in highly specialised track shoes, whereas cross country runners may prefer something more comfortable. Whenever possible, buyers should try the shoe on before making a purchase and take the proper time to determine whether they can be comfortably worn for the duration of the intended activity.


Cleats are not to be confused with spikes. Unlike spikes, cleats are designed for use on grass. They are generally shorter in length then spikes and made of a softer material for sports like soccer, football, and rugby. Since they are used in team sport applications, safety is often a focus for cleats. Track athletes may be dissatisfied with cleats as they are ineffective on an indoor surface.

How to Buy the Right Running Spikes on eBay

The most important thing for a shopper to consider is what they intend to use the running spikes for. Sprinting spikes make no sense in longer runs or where durability and support is required. Trail runners would be out of place on an artificial track or in a competitive event. Shoppers should also consider budgetary limitations before making a final purchase decision. Name brand or aesthetically showy running spikes can be more expensive which may deter some buyers.

Using the search bar on the eBay website and entering general terms yields the largest range of results. Shoppers can then filter the results or navigate additional categories to narrow their results. Categories are more used for additional features while filters sort the results by cost, time left at auction, or buying format. eBay has a wide variety of running spikes in all styles and sizes. The many options ensure all shoppers can find the right running shoe.


Track shoes are an umbrella term to cover many different kinds of shoes that include protrusions that provide additional traction. Some track shoes are very specifically designed for high end performance on artificial surfaces in competitive track events. Conversely, trail runner or cross country style track shoes are intended for use on changing and rough terrains. Some spikes are even designed for use on icy terrain, with crampon style spikes permanently affixed to it.

When buying running spikes, users must put the emphasis first on intended use and secondly, on fit. Once the buyer has determined what they intend to use the product for, they can begin to browse their options. The intended use also determines how the shoe should fit. High end shoes should fit more tightly than those intended for longer distances. eBay has a all types of styles and types of running spikes making it the ideal place for potential buyers to begin their search.

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