Spikes: What You Need to Know

Spikes: What You Need to Know

So much goes into training for the big event: time spent on the track, conditioning, hard nutritional and health choices are made. You make training the priority and envision success, the glory of first place through literal blood, sweat, and tears. If you have done all this, and yet do not have the proper track and field gear and running shoes, then all the effort you have put into training could be compromised.

Though proper fit and wearing a shoe specific to your gait nuances is important, when you buy your track and field running shoes, you must buy shoes with the proper spikes. Having the proper spikes can literally be the the difference between being first, or seeing the back of the first place winner. Finding shoes with the proper spikes doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are the various types of spikes and their uses.

A General Rule

As a general rule, when you are buying spikes, the spikes that you need for long distances will have flatter and less aggressive profile shapes; those spikes that are for short distance will have a sharp profile. The type of material you will be running on will also affect what kind of spikes are both allowed, and will give you the best traction.

Types of Spikes:

Pyramid Spikes (when posted, put pictures of each type)

Pyramid spikes are exactly as they sound, pointed and usually rounded on the sides. The most common used size is ¼-inch. These spikes can be used on outdoor and indoor tracks. Pyramid spikes are most like the very first track spikes that were invented in 1890 by Joseph William Foster, founder of Reebok. These spikes are generally used by long distance runners.

Needle Spikes

Needle spikes are great for rainy track conditions and work the best for lightweight runners. Though these spikes can give greater traction, you must be careful if you use these, for they can dig in too deep, and cause the runner to slow down. Needle spikes are generally 3/16-inches in length, but longer spikes can be found in ¼ inch and ⅜ inch. These spikes are also considered the the best for sprinting, because they are generally located on the toes and can help keep the runner’s foot pointed forward.

Christmas Tree

Christmas tree spikes are not as popular as needle spikes. The staggered profile of these spikes can help the runner have proper traction without sticking too deeply into the track. These spikes are illegal on some tracks due to the concern of ripping up new tracks. These are also called compression spikes.

Related Gear

When you are using track and field running shoes with spikes, you may want to invest in other related gear, such as a spike wrench: spike wrenches can help you tighten your spikes if needed, or replace missing or damaged spikes.

Before you invest in spikes and other related track and field gear, be sure to ask your coach what they would recommend; remember, the type of track, the event you are competing in, Mother Nature, your weight, and your preferences affect what type of spike you should buy, as well as your experience level. If you are looking for quality track and field gear to take your game to the next level, shop First to the Finish’s online store. We have track and field running shoes, apparel, and much more!


Rest: Overlooked and Under-appreciated

Your workout is meticulously planned. You have your goals and you’re working towards them. On various days, you tend to your strength, endurance and flexibility. But, are you getting enough rest?

We seldom think of rest as part of our fitness routine, but it plays a vitally important role in our overall health. In fact, a well-meaning, though overzealous athlete can end up impeding their progress or even hurting themselves by neglecting to rest. Why is it so important? How much rest do you actually need?

 Why It Matters

When you exercise, your muscles are stressed and damaged. Your stores of glycogen fuel are run dry. But during periods of rest, all this damage is undone and your body starts to make changes to adapt to the new challenges. Whether you’re working on strength or endurance, this is when improvements are made.

Without the chance to repair and rebuild, your muscles will breakdown, making you lose strength and endurance. This will also increase your risk of injuries.

Don’t underestimate the emotional and psychological benefits of rest, as well. These rest days will be a treat, something you can look forward to during a particularly challenging bout of training. It will also leave you refreshed and ready to get moving again.

Are You Overdoing it?

Overuse injuries can manifest themselves in a number of ways, with a wide variety of symptoms. If you’ve been working a certain muscle group, you may experience pain and soreness in the area. For instance, running every day may leave your calves sore and swollen.

Over-training can also have a much broader effect, causing problems throughout your body by upsetting certain hormonal balances. Particularly, DHEA and cortisol levels will be thrown into a potentially dangerous imbalance.

These two hormones counteract each other to keep things working properly. DHEA builds muscles while cortisol burns it for fuel. In a healthy body, these two hormones are used to control muscle growth in response to stimuli like stress and exercise. In an overworked body, though, DHEA levels drop and cortisol levels spike. This is likely because the body is reacting to what it thinks is a period of starvation or danger by reducing costly actions like building muscle and starting to horde extra fat for fuel. All this can cause exhaustion, mental confusion, moodiness, nutrient deficiencies, and increased blood pressure and cholesterol.

How Much Should You Rest?

Of course, sleep is the primary form of rest. You should be getting no less than eight hours per night since the aforementioned DHEA/cortisol ballet is largely effected by your sleep cycle.

But, rest days are also an important aspect of a balanced fitness routine. At the very least, you should allow yourself one day off per week. You may need more, though, depending on your fitness level, genetics, health and overall lifestyle.

The best way to judge how much rest you need is by keeping a training log. A detailed account of what you were able to accomplish during your workout will allow you to see how your workout is affected by different situations. For example, if you notice that your mile time increases, it’s safe to assume that you weren’t properly rested and can adjust your routine accordingly.

Do you have any tips for working rest into your routine? Please share them in the comments!