Running spikes aren't just for sprinters. All runners can benefit from wearing spiked running shoes, especially if they run in slippery conditions.
Typically, spiked running shoes are lightweight, close fitting, rubber or plastic soled.
They come with metal spikes generally between 3/16 inch (5mm) and 1/2 inch (12mm) long, the most common size being 1/4 inch (6mm).
The spikes are screwed into holes on the bottom of the shoes.
Running spikes are available in three basic styles: track spikes, standard distance spikes and cross country spikes.
Track running spikes are available as distance running shoes and sprint versions.
These are lightweight and specifically designed for efficient, high speed running.
The soles are generally thinner than other shoes, the spikes are a bit shorter and there is virtually no cushioning. The purpose is to carry the runner to the finish line as quickly as possible.
Runners often choose to wear this type of shoe without socks for a better feel of the ground, better body positioning and better moisture management.
However, this practice can lead to serious blisters.
Standard distance spikes are usually used by runners in 800m to 10,000m races for speed and traction.
Cross country spiked shoes improve traction in muddy, slippery conditions, improve hill climbing ability by digging deeper into the soil with each step and help you leave competitors in the dust.
This type of shoe generally has a thicker sole, a toe guard and tougher, water-resistant uppers.
Cross country running shoes are also available in "spikeless" versions. This can be confusing because they do have spikes, but not the removable type.
A spikeless shoe usually has rubber studs built into the sole, similar to a soccer cleat only smaller.
They serve the same function, however you won't get the same traction in muddy and slippery conditions.
They are more suitable on even terrain or for people who find metal spikes too uncomfortable.
Removable winter running cleats are a great alternative to traditional running spikes.
You can attach them to just about any running shoe or boot, giving you the option of whether or not to run with spikes.
Many non-runners use them for added safety while walking in icy conditions. See more winter running tips in our main article.
Before buying your first pair of running spikes, ask yourself:
The answers to these questions will help you choose the right spikes for your needs.
Spikes can be effective training tools and an important part of your daily run, just keep in mind that you should never wear spikes on paved surfaces.
This will not only ruin your spikes, but could actually cause serious injuries.
If you participate in a variety of running sports, such as sprints and long distance runs, you could benefit from having both a trusty pair of cross country running spikes and track spikes.
There are several types of running shoes on the market that can be changed from one style to the other, so you only have to buy one pair.
Just keep in mind that running shoes have a life expectancy of about 200 to 300 miles, so be diligent about logging your miles.
When it comes to preventing injuries with spiked footwear, it is important to break the shoes in completely before using them a competition or a hard workout.
Most spiked running shoes have a pronounced negative drop, creating extra stress on your calf, forefoot, arch and achilles tendons.
People suffering from achilles tendonitis, metatarsalgia, plantar fasciitis, or are highly prone to calf strains might be better off with a spikeless model, or traditional running shoes.
For most runners, the proper use of spikes in their training regime can be a great way to strengthen the muscles in the lower part of the body to handle more stress, improve endurance and become more efficient overall in terms of body positioning and power output.
Developing these muscles, along with a good training routine, can help you run better, longer and faster.