Your track spikes are your most important piece of gear. But they're not like your typical running shoes, so make sure you get the right ones.
Shoes for the track are designed to be light and fast. Built with aggressive spike plates for superior grip and featherweight uppers to reduce bulk, these shoes are your race-day weapons. Like cross country shoes, track shoes for longer distances add a hint of cushion to keep you comfortable.
From sprint spikes and long distance shoes to high jumpers and throwers, the shoes you pick give you the push you need to compete your best.
There isn't one best pair of track spikes for everyone. With different events, different distances and different preferences, your favorite spike might be different from your teammate's.
Some of our favorite spikes, though, have been there year in and year out, and they perform consistently each time they're laced up. From short bursts of speed to grueling distance races, these are three of our picks for the 2020 season:
A feathery weight and responsive ride make the Saucony Spitfire 5 the ideal shoe for events from 60m to 400m.
Saucony designed the Spitfire 5 with a lightweight synthetic upper that locks your foot into place, and they added a molded quarter cage to add support without unnecessary weight. The women's Saucony Spitfire 5 weighs a scant 3.6 oz, and the men's Spitfire 5 weighs 4.2 oz.
Built on top of a seven-pin spike plate, the Spitfire 5 delivers the power and quick turnover you need to clinch PRs.Shop Saucony Spitfire 5
The New Balance LD5000v6 delivers optimal traction and ample support for distances up to 10K.
New Balance constructed the LD5000v6 on top a full-length Pebax plate that provides the right combination of grip, flexibility and speed. A four-spike configuration lets your feet stick confidently on the track, and a touch of cushion gives you comfort without the bulk.
This year's LD5000v6 has a revised ankle collar construction and lightweight mesh upper for a streamlined fit and fast feel. The long-distance track spike will give you the edge you need to lead the competition.Shop New Balance LD5000v6
The Nike Zoom Rival S 9 is designed to be your race day weapon.
Meticulously crafted for short sprints, hurdles and jumping events, the Zoom Rival S 9 gives you a soft sockliner that conforms to your foot for a speedy feel. Designers bolted the upper to a rigid plate that extends under the arch of your foot to give you all the power you need.
Seven spikes provide extra grip, and an internal arch band delivers a locked-in feeling. The Rival S 9 is everything you need from a sprint spike and nothing more.Shop Nike Zoom Rival S 9
Sprint spikes are the fastest shoes on the track.
The spike plate on the bottom of these track shoes defines the category. Built to hold up to 10 spikes, the rigid plate helps sprinters dig into the track for sure footing.
But it's not just for grip. The spike plate also gives the shoe shape.
For shorter distances—usually up to 400 meters—the plate helps keep a runner's heel higher than her toes. The forward position optimizes a sprinter's momentum during a race, and since sprinters don't land on their heels, sprint spikes have minimal cushioning, which shaves precious ounces from the shoe's overall weight.
These light and fast track spikes are perfect for the 100m, 200m and 400m.
Distance runners run differently than sprinters. While sprinters spend their races on their toes, distances runners can shift their stride to a more mid-foot strike. So shoes have to adapt.
Mid-distance and distance track spikes still use pointed spikes to give runners grip on the track, but the plates that hold the spikes are less rigid and less steep than their sprinting counterparts. The extra flexibility and decreased heel-to-toe drop make the shoe more comfortable over the longer distances. Some distance spikes also come with soft midsole cushioning, more like a traditional road running shoe, to support the mid-foot and heel.
The extra cushioning combined with a spike plate make middle distance and distance track spikes look like a hybrid of sprint shoes and road running shoes.
These mid-distance and distance spikes are ideal for the 800m, 1,500m and 3,000m.
Versatility comes standard in the Nike Zoom Rival M 9.
An midfoot arch band gives you a secure feel at top speed, while the overlay on the upper adds durability. Beneath the shoe, a seven-pin spike plate extends under your arch for added responsiveness and support.
Designed with a touch of cushion, Nike created the Zoom Rival M 9 to fit a wide range of track events.Shop Nike Zoom Rival M 9