Welcome to the Omega Sports Podcast, hosted by Doug “the shoe guy.”
In this episode, we talk about track & field and cross country with coach Thanh Ngo. Learn how to gain the competitive edge with spikes. Plus Thanh shares 3 tips on being a better runner.
Do you need special equipment, clothing or shoes to run track?
Reach out to your coach for specifics.
But in general, you need proper running or training shoes. Most of your training is done on the feet, so you want good trainers. Depending on what you are participating in, there may be specific shoes you can use to help get an competitive edge. What would be most important is getting properly fitted shoes.
Socks are important as well. They are next to your foot and skin inside your shoes. Nike crew socks won’t be very comfortable and can cause hot spots, blisters, irritation rubbing, etc. It’s best to invest in a technical sock like feetures and Thorlos.
You also want to invest in comfortable running clothes. In the winter, you want to dress in layers so you can take off and put on layers. Most training is done outside, even during the winter. You want wicking fabrics to take the moisture off your skin and breathable fabrics.
And insoles are beneficial for most people. They are designed for specific foot types and can help with comfort, sports ability and your gait cycle.
Do you need to invest in spikes?
If you want to be more competitive and gain a competitive edge, spikes will give you that. Spikes are made for their specific sport.
For track, you are running on a rubberized surface. The spikes are lighter weight shoes without cushioning. Most have a plastic plate/outsole and steel spikes that help with traction and grip. They reduce slippage and are much lighter weight than training shoes.
For cross country you have a variety of terrains, predominately grass and dirt. So you will have a rubberized outsoles for durability and grip. Then you will still have spikes that can be screwed in.
You can wear the same shoes for either, but you will lose comfort because of the surface you are running on. The specific spikes are built with the specific activity in mind.
In sports, you are always looking for what makes you 1% faster and 1% better and having the proper footwear can help with that. Trainers can weight 8-9 ounces. It’s been said that for every ounce you save off your shoe, you can shave off 1-5 seconds on your run time. Spikes are made to be as lightweight as possible.
Spike shoes in general are used for just competition, they are low volume footwear. They last about 100-200 miles. You may be able to extend your shoes slightly by changing out your spikes.
Is there a difference between sprinting and distance spikes?
You might think there isn’t much of a difference, but there is.
Distance runners vs sprinters strike different parts of their foot while running. The shoes are also designed for distance of race.
For sprinters, you tend to be on your toes or ball of your feet. The New Balance SD100 for instance is made for this. There isn’t much of a heel. It’s designed to help keep you on the balls of your feet while you run. This helps propel you forward so you also have a more aggressive spike plate.
For distance runners, we have the Brooks Elimn8 and New Balance MD500. They have more of a heel since it is more of a heel strike event. The spike plate is not as aggressive.
Are there specific spikes for field events like jumping and throwing?
All shoes are constructed for the purpose they are being sold for. When running, you are using forward motion, straight line. You aren’t using lateral movements.
For an event like jumping, you are running down a runway and then jumping. They design a shoe for that motion. They are even broken down by long jump shoe or triple jump shoe. Same with pole vaults. They have a strap to hold down your foot. With high jump, you have a curved approach and are putting more pressure and stress on the outside of your foot.
For throws, aka rotational throws, most people have a spinning approach. For instance, the Saucony Unleash is a shoe designed for rotational throws. It is a spikeless shoe because most throwers throw on a concrete slab or circle. They tend to have a rotational approach, so there is a heavier outsole because of spinning in circles and sliding can wear down the outsole. They have straps to help lock down foot to reduce excess motion. You don’t want wasted movements.
Does pricing matter?
The lower end price points tend to be beginners. They are great intro shoes, though you can continue to use them beyond. Upgrading to the next tier means higher quality materials in the outsole, construction of shoe, the upper. This improves how these shoes fit and feel.
For instance, the Brooks Elimn8 has a carbon fiber instead of plastic spike plate. Carbon fiber has more longevity without sacrificing weight. The upper is engineered mesh for comfort.
Bonus: 3 Running Tips
- Sleep. Make sure you get enough of it. It helps with your recovery and cognition.
- Hydration and nutrition. Eating properly and staying hydrated are especially important when you are competing and training.
- Passion. You should be doing this for a reason. Have goals.