Most serious athletes realize the great benefits of wearing a pair of athletics spikes, and that they will enable them to access faster speeds and better performance on the track. A good pair can increase the effectiveness of the runner by removing all thoughts that their feet are going to slip, which can be very troubling on a wet track surface after rainfall. But although spiked running shoes can prevent the embarrassment of taking a fall due to an unscheduled slip during a race, which of course would inevitably lead to losing that race, there is an even more important reason to wear them. Slipping awkwardly can often cause serious muscle pull or tear injuries which will leave the athlete out of training for many weeks or months, and that would mean the entire season being written off.
The thing about running spikes, though, is that you cannot just go into your local sports supplies store and grab the first pair you set eyes upon. There are many different types of spiked running shoes, and they all have their own functions according to what they are designed for. So for example, if you happen to be a sprint runner, doing either the 100 meters or the 200 meters, you will need to buy sprint spikes, which are very light in weight and carry little or no padding at all. They are fantastic for racing, but not too great if you want to feel comfortable wearing them for general hanging out at the track. It’s the lack of any cushioning which makes them so uncomfortable but so fast, so you are best wearing them just for the race, and switching to your regular running shoes at other times.
For long distance and cross country running you will not be able to simply slip on a pair of sprint spikes; undoubtedly you will have to pull out of the race before the end if you try this, because there is no protective padding in the heels to support your heels when travelling longer distances. The good news is that there is a large selection of cross country running spikes available, which are slightly heavier because they contain all the cushioning you will need to make sure you can run in comfort for hours, rather than seconds. What you will also notice with the cross country shoes is that the pins themselves are longer than those used for track spikes, because most of the races will have substantial sections where you will be on muddy trails instead of perfect track surface, so you’ll need even better grip.
Field event athletes are in a different situation to track runners and there is a different type of spiked running shoe for them. For example there are the javelin throwers’ spikes; these are different to track spikes in their shape because they are more like short ankle boots. The extra weight is not a problem, since the construction of the shoe is to provide excellent grip combined with maximum support for the joints. Whereas a runner’s spikes will have the pins placed at the toe and front of the foot areas of the sole, on the javelin spikes there are also pins in the heel area. This means there is fantastic grip both during the run up phase, and during the release when the athlete stops abruptly. Any kind of slip could result in the javelin thrower’s foot slipping over the line and that would be a “no throw” and get ruled out.
So it’s important to remember that not all running spikes are the same, and you should look very carefully before you hand over your cash and buy a pair; make sure you are getting the right ones for your type of athletics event.