Most people who do a lot of running off road, or who are training for competitive athletics events, will benefit from wearing proper running spikes. They are useful because they provide far superior grip on the racing or running surface to that afforded by normal running shoes with a rubber tread sole. The extra grip not only prevents unexpected slips which could cause serious muscle pull or tear injuries, but can also enhance running times. |
If you are a racer, you will be looking to gain every fair advantage you possibly can against your opponents. One of the most powerful advantages is having the right mindset and mental focus. If you have in the back of your mind the possibility that your feet might slide as you power your way around the track, you will not be as focused as you should be; a pair of spiked running shoes can offer you that assurance that there will be no slipping, and so they let you concentrate on getting into the zone!
All running spikes are not the same however; you will find ones suitable for short sprint racing, and others for longer distance. There are cross country running spikes, and ones specially designed for athletics field events such as javelin or high jump. Make sure you pick the correct shoes for the type of running you are training and competing in.
Picking track running spikes for sprinting, for example, is not the only concern. The actual spikes themselves which attach to the bottom of the shoes are available in different styles. Some are very long, and these are generally for use in cross country running shoes, where you could be running on a wet, muddy, slippery trail. Others are shorter and designed for use on modern running tracks. Be very careful to check the rules of any competitive athletics meetings you intend to race in, as they often have strict rules about the maximum length of the teeth on your shoes. If you are found to be wearing longer ones, they may disqualify you for gaining an unfair advantage.
There are three major types of spike shape: pyramid, needle and christmas tree. The most common ones are the pyramid spikes, which look like small cones, being wider at the end attached to the shoe, and tapering to a point at the end making contact with the ground. They are used for all types of racing and are available in different lengths to match the varying conditions you might need to race in.
Needle spikes are exactly what the name suggests they are; thin all the way from the shoe to the pointed tip. These are great for track racing, but it is advisable to try them out with a few practice runs on the same track you are going to be using for the race. Sometimes needle spikes can stick slightly on the track, and this will certainly slow you down. If this is the case, switch to a different shape of spikes.
The third type, the christmas tree spikes, are shaped like several plateaux of different diameters, stacked on top of each other - rather than the smooth taper of the pyramid spike. They do not form a sharp point at the end like the other types, as they provide grip by friction and compression of the track surface. The rebound on that compression is designed to help increase speed.
The best advice for track and cross country racing is to have a pair of running spikes where the teeth are easily detachable, and take both pyramid and christmas tree spike sets with you, of varying lengths. Then you can pop in the best ones for the conditions just before you race.
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