How to Care for Your Track Spikes


Track spikes, shoes with removable spikes, are used for most track events as well as some cross-country races. The removable spikes are called pins and are usually made of metal or steel. The pins grip the surface of the track, providing better traction than traditional running shoes and improving the runner’s speed. Track spikes that are well cared for should last through two or three racing seasons. Caring for your spikes involves keeping both the shoe itself and the pins well maintained, clean and ready for racing.

Check with your coach, the venue manager or other expert that you're wearing the right size pin for the event and running surface. Wearing the incorrect size can wear the pins down or compromise your performance. Quarter-inch pins are the standard spike size on a synthetic track, and 3/8-inch pins are usually used for cross-country racing.

Use a spike key to turn the pins slowly into the spike plate, ensuring that the threads in the plate and the threads on the pins align and the pins screw in easily. If the pins do not turn easily they may be cross-threaded, meaning the threads of the pins and the threads in the shoe are misaligned. This can damage the spike plate. Do not force pins that are difficult to turn. Remove these pins carefully and start again.

Wash track spikes and pins by hand with soap and water if dirt builds up. Let the shoes air dry. Stuff the toes with newspapers to soak up excess water to aid in drying. Remove the pins to wash them, and dry the pins with a clean cloth.

Insert plugs in place of pins for running on courses with a significant amount of concrete or firm dirt. Debris can enter the uncovered holes in the spike plate. The debris may be difficult to remove and can cause damage.


Replace worn or dull pins. Longer pins, 5/8 inch or 1/2 inch, are generally used for muddy surfaces or cross-country trails with deeper dirt. Let shoes air dry after racing.


Always break in your track spikes before racing in them. If you have a stuck pin that you cannot remove, take your shoes to a running specialty store.