What’s the difference?

Track Spikes and Waffles

By Nathan Lawrence

Each year the sports we play get harder and faster, the competition continues to increase and the stakes get higher. We have transitioned into a specialised and sport specific level of performance, and in this case I want to look at – Spikes and Waffles.


A super lightweight performance shoe (literally so light it could blow away in the wind) that is designed to provide speed and traction. They have spikes (or Pins), these can also be rubber, on the forefoot of the shoe, little to no cushioning and are specific to the events you are looking to participate in.

Let me try and break it down.

There are short distance (100m-400m) Middle distance (800m-3000m) and long distance (3000m-10,000m) type spikes.

Short distance spike AKA Sprint spikes are track specific and very minimal. Designed to bring the athlete on the toes, has no cushioning – reducing the weight and a spike plate (the forefoot plate where the pins are mounted) loaded up with spikes, usually 6 to 10, to provide as much traction as possible. These are generally also the stiffest of spikes.

A long and middle-distance spike heel will have a small amount of cushioning – track specific for athletes wanting to go faster for longer it requires a different technique and form. It accommodates a more flatter foot landing creating a better coverage of traction which means fewer pins in the spike plate, around 3-7.


If we look at the waffles or rubber spikes, they have a bit more versatility being more than just track as they can be used for cross-country. However, the spikes are fixed and there is some form of cushioning. It allows an athlete to perform at short distances as well as cross-country. These are fantastic for young kids and Little Athletics, as they can put them on at the start of the night and wear them in every event.

There are also a wide range of shoes specific for field events, such as Long Jump, Javelin and Rotational throws, but we will save going into those for another time.

Moving on…

Now that you have a rough idea on the types of spikes there is…you need to work out what you want, then comes the fit.

This is where it gets tricky because many and most want their track spikes to fit like gloves. A real tight, snug fit, sometimes a full size DOWN from their training runners. WHY?  If you think about it like this…you might train for 30mins -90min in your runners but a track spike or waffle you could be wearing for only 10sec up to say 10mins.

Having the correct fit will provide ideal comfort and performance. You do not want your foot cramped it the shoe…you want it just at the point of snug and it should feel right for the foot. A specialty running store is the best place to find your new pair of spikes. Having the proper process of being fitted ensure you end up with the best for you foot and event.


The thought of barefoot in a pair of spikes is the best you can get, but it does invite blisters and rubbing. But on the other hand, socks can be big and suffocating.

What works best is a super-light and super thin sock that offers blister prevention as well. That way you barely notice it, getting that barefoot feel and your protected.

For further information or for a new spike fitting, pop into your nearest Pure Performance Store. We will be happy to set you on the right track.