Understanding how spikes help your performance will help you pick the best pair for your race. A good rule of thumb: the longer the distance, the fewer spikes in the spike plate. Cross country and long distance track spikes typically have four or five spikes, while sprinting and mid-distance spikes can range from six to eight spikes, which provides the extra grip needed to generate top speeds.
Depending on the surface you race on, you’ll want to choose the appropriate spike length so you don’t find yourself carrying extra turf with you on the cross country course, or sliding around an indoor track.
Quarter (¼) inch spikes are usually a safe go-to for track and cross country races. If you are racing on an indoor track, there can be regulations on the length of spike you are allowed to wear in order to keep the track intact as it’s used; on average, one-eighth (⅛) inch spikes are the standard for indoor track.
As you gain experience and fine tune the feel you prefer in your spikes, you can toy around with a variety of spike shapes from pyramid to needle spikes on the track, but always be sure to check the meet rules before changing out your spikes.