Breaking in Your Cross-Country Shoes for Competition

Breaking in Your Cross-Country Shoes for Competition

 

Whether you’re new to the sport of cross country or just have new shoes to break in, this blog post can help you prepare for your best season yet.

When it comes to cross-country shoes, the first thing to understand is that not everyone in the sport wears spikes. Many assume that spikes are always the better choice since they provide greater traction on tough courses and allow you to dig into the terrain. But choosing between spikes and flats (sometimes called spikeless or waffle) isn’t as simple as you think. If you’re not sure which is best for you, check out our flow chart.

When you start counting how many miles you run while training for cross country, you can be looking at 30 to 40 miles a week! Most of these miles will be done in your long-distance running shoes, but when it gets closer to race time, you’ll want to make sure you’re not a stranger to your competition shoes. If you don’t allow your body time to adjust from cushioned training shoes to thin, lightweight spikes or flats, you could be at risk of injury.

Buying your spikes or flats 5 weeks before your first competition allows you to properly break them in so that come race day, you and your shoes are a well-oiled machine.


5 Week Plan to Break in Your XC Shoes

Week 1-2: For the first two weeks, insert blank pins into your spikes (if you’re wearing flats, you don’t have to worry about this). Week one, perform your regular training routine in your running shoes, but put on your spikes or flats for the last 10% of the workout (the final mile or two). During week two, you’ll repeat week one but add another mile to the final run in your new cross-country shoes. Anytime you put on your spikes or flats, make sure you run on a soft, grass surface. This provides an extra element of cushioning to protect your feet during the transition.

Week 3-4: Now that you’ve built up muscle, you can start incorporating your new shoes into your speed training. (If you have spikes, switch out the blank pins for 3/8” pyramid spike pins.) Twice a week after your regular training, put on your new spikes or flats and do some strides on a soft grass surface. Strides are a good way to start adjusting to higher speed in your new shoes. If you’ve never done strides before, they’re basically repeated 100m accelerations. Each stride should only take about 30 seconds.

Stride Right:
Step 1:
start jogging
Step 2:
increase to 95% max speed for 2-3 seconds
Step 3:
decrease to jog
Step 4:
stand or walk for a minute
REPEAT 5x

Week 5: After adjusting to your new cross-country shoes over the last month, it’s now time for a full workout. Now, don’t go crazy wearing them every day, but try one or two interval or fartlek workouts during the week. One option is the 43 workout below.

Continuous 4³ Workout
RUN HARD:
4 minutes

JOG: 4 minutes
REPEAT 4x without stopping

     

Now that you’ve got the process, you’re ready to break in your new cross-country shoes. If you don’t have a pair yet, check out our list of top picks or shop our full selection of spikes and flats online, so you can get ahead of the pack and start training for your best season yet!

 


 

DID YOU KNOW?
You can confidently order new track spikes with our Test Run Program. It allows you to buy the shoes, break them in, and see how they perform ahead of race day. Then, if they don’t run like you thought they would, you can return them within 30 days and get fully refunded.

How Should My Shoes Fit? (And Other FAQ)

How Should My Shoes Fit? (And Other FAQ)

The fit of a pair of shoes is just as important as the quality because not only can it affect your performance during competition, but it can also affect your comfort and chance of injury.

But because different shoes serve different purposes not all shoes are going to fit the same. For example, football cleats should not fit you the same as running shoes would. Why? Because one is designed to provide ultimate traction and protection using durable materials, while the other uses lightweight materials and a sleek design to gain optimal speed. They’re different tools made to assist you with different jobs.

So, to help you find the right fit for your shoes, we’ve created this guide. For each sport, you’ll find three areas to check the fit and feel, and at the end there’s a section of frequently asked questions. So go ahead, give it a read and then head on over to eastbay.com to buy some shoes.

Toe Area:
Allow .25″ to .5″ (thumbnail’s length) of space between end of longest toe on largest foot and the end of the shoe.

Width Area:
Foot is supposed to fit comfortably without stretching the upper over the midsole of the shoe.

Heel Area:
Heel can move but is not supposed to slip.

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Toe Area:
Glove-like fit (allow room for toes to move comfortably) while standing up straight.

Width Area:
Foot should fit comfortably without stretching the upper over the midsole of the shoe.

Heel Area:
Because of the heel counter in the rear of the shoe, it should feel less padded and more firm, so you’ll want a snug fit.

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Toe Area:
Allow room for toes to move comfortably while standing up straight.

Width Area:
Foot should fit comfortably without stretching the upper over the midsole of the shoe.

Heel Area:
Because of the heel counter in the rear of the shoe, it should feel less padded and more firm, so you’ll want a snug fit.

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F.A.Q.

· What are training shoes?

Training shoes are the perfect all-in-one pair that can be used for a variety of athletic activities. When you compare them to running shoes, you’ll notice two main differences. First, you’ll notice that training shoes have less of a heel drop to provide increased stability. Second, training shoes feature more traction to assist with lateral movements while running shoes only focus on forward movements. Because of their versatility, training shoes are one of your best options for gym shoes. You can run, jump, lift, and climb in a single pair of shoes.

· Why is buying running shoes so complicated?

Because feet are complicated! Not only do people have different sized feet, but did you know that they also have different shaped feet? That’s why the first step to choosing the right running shoes is to figure out what type of feet you have. If you’ve bought running shoes in store before, an employee may have done a test on your feet to figure out your arch type. If you don’t know your arch type, you can do a quick test right from home – check out the how-to instructions in this blog post.

Once you know your foot and arch type then you can find the right shoes to complement.

Runners with a medium arch have normal pronation and should look for neutral running shoes or stability running shoes if you want a little extra support.

Runners with a low arch tend to overpronate (roll inward during stride). If you only slightly overpronate you can look for stability running shoes, but if you severely overpronate, you’ll want to find motion control running shoes (like the Brooks Beast or Brooks Addiction).

Runners with a high arch are more likely to supinate (roll outward during stride). So you’ll want to find some neutral running shoes with lots of cushion.

· What’s with the different soles on wrestling shoes?

Besides looking for a snug fit and sturdy ankle support, when shopping for wrestling shoes you’ll want to make sure they have the right sole to fit your needs. There are two options: Split Sole or Full Sole. Split Sole wrestling shoes are usually lighter in weight and more flexible, made for fast attack play. Full Sole wrestling shoes are designed for grappling moves and are built for aggressive traction on the mat and increased durability.

· There’s more than one type of soccer cleat?

Of course! The uppers of soccer cleats can differ considerably from the material they’re made with (mesh, leather, knit) to the way they lace up (or don’t in some laceless models) to the way they fit on your ankle (low cut or mid cut). The choice on the upper is more of a personal preference depending on what you find most comfortable. The other way soccer cleats differ from one another is the type of cleat/spike on the bottom when you flip the shoes over and choosing the right one should be based on the surface you’ll be playing on.

  1. Molded TPU cleats are available for a variety of surfaces. Firm ground cleats work best on firm natural surfaces. Hard ground cleats work best on hard surfaces, both natural and artificial. Artificial grass cleats work best on most artificial grass surfaces, and soft ground cleats work best on soft or wet natural surfaces.
  2. Molded rubber cleats are heavier but safer, especially for youth who are just learning how to play.
  3. Turf shoes feature small rubber studs on the outsole to improve traction on both natural and artificial surfaces. Many players use turf shoes for training and practice.
  4. Indoor shoes generally feature flat, non-marking rubber outsoles for indoor or dry artificial surfaces.
· There are so many types of baseball and softball cleats . . . any tips?

When it comes to baseball and softball cleats, they can pretty much be sorted into four different categories similar to soccer.

  1. Metal cleats have bladed studs that are usually wide and thin with rounded edges. The studs are pointed at different directions on the outsole to deliver multidirectional traction specific to baseball movements.
  2. Molded rubber cleats have wide studs with deep grooves. These are the safest choice when it comes to baseball footwear, which is why most youth leagues and certain adult organizations require players to wear them.
  3. Molded TPU cleats feature hard plastic studs in various configurations. TPU weighs less than rubber and offers the “feel” of metal-cleats without the danger.
  4. Turf shoes, also called trainers, have rubber bottoms with shallow patterns or little nubs. These are most popular during indoor training season and are ideal for batting practice and fielding drills.
· What type of football cleats should I buy?

When it comes to deciding on football cleats, there are two important things to consider: the type of field you’ll be playing on and the position you’ll play.

Just like in other cleated sports, there are different types of cleats depending on the surface you play on.

  1. Molded TPU and rubber cleats work best on natural grass surfaces that are neither soggy nor bone dry as well as “sport grass” synthetic turf surfaces.
  2. Detachable cleats work best on wet or dry natural grass surfaces.
  3. Turf shoes work best on very hard/dry natural surfaces and “Astroturf” synthetic surfaces.

The other important factor in deciding which cleats to buy is the position you play and the skill you want to showcase — speed, power or agility.

  1. Speed cleats are key for players in running positions. These cleats sit low on the ankle and provide speed and flexibility so that you can juke your opponent right off the snap to get open.
  2. Power cleats are best for those on the line looking to push and shove and stand their ground. These cleats will often sit higher on the ankle to provide both protection and stability.
  3. Agility cleats are for the playmakers, from QBs to receivers to tight ends, these cleats offer lightweight support for explosive moments.

For more details on the best football gear for speed, power, and agility, check out this blog post.

· With all these different cleats, how do I tell the difference?

Whether you’re new to your sport or shopping for someone else, here’s two tricks to remember:
– Soccer and football cleats never have metal studs.
– Football cleats and baseball cleats generally have an extra stud at the very front edge while soccer cleats don’t.

· What if I order shoes in the mail, and they don’t fit correctly?

Well that sucks, but you’re not out of luck! Did you know that Eastbay offers a Test Run Program? So you can make sure your cleats or spikes perform to your satisfaction and that they feel as good as they look online. If you’re not satisfied, you can return them within 30 days and be refunded with an e-Gift card to use on a new pair. For more information on Eastbay’s return policy click here.

· Where are all the women’s sizes?

Good eye, shopper! Unfortunately, not all sports and brands offer every shoe model in both men’s and women’s sizes. For example, if you’re a female athlete looking to play football, you won’t find any “women’s football cleats” on our website, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of options. All you have to do is take your normal shoe size and subtract 1.5. Voila! The remaining difference is going to be your men’s shoe size. This is a general rule of thumb for other shoes too, so if you find a cool looking colorway that’s men’s specific, just do the math, buy your size, and rock the heck out of your fresh footwear!


Did you find an answer to your question? If not, drop your question in the comments below, and we’ll help you out!

Best Cross Country Shoes for Practice and Competition

Best Cross Country Shoes for Practice and Competition

As you head back to the course this cross country season, not just any shoes will do. You need the best gear possible to help you leave your legacy in the record books. That’s why we’ve created this list of the best cross country shoes of the season. So, whether you compete in spikes or flats or just need a new pair of shoes for practice, eastbay.com has the best gear from top brands. So, get ready for your best season yet!

COMPETITION SPIKES AND FLATS:

When it comes to shoes for race day, you want to make sure they’re light as can be with ultimate traction to grip the surface of the cross country course, whether you’re running on grass, gravel, or dirt.

1. Nike Zoom Victory XC 5

Colors: Black, Metallic Silver, Black

Take on tough courses with these cross country shoes. Multilayered, translucent mesh provides a lightweight, breathable, and water-resistant upper that stays snug on your foot throughout the race. The spiked version has a carbon fiber plate in the midfoot to enhance stability and support and features rubber heel pods, extra lugs, and six spike pins on the outsole to give you multisurface durability and aggressive traction. The waffle version of these shoes sports a CushIon midsole for lightweight, responsive cushioning and an all-rubber outsole for gripping traction.

2. Saucony Havok XC2

Colors: Black and Green

These cross country shoes are a great option for varsity runners. Both versions are made with a seamless sock-like upper with FLEXFILM overlays to provide an enhanced fit without adding extra bulk. While both versions feature a full carbon rubber outsole, the spiked version also features a six-pin Pebax® plate to keep you leading the pack on aggressive terrain.

3. New Balance XC Seven V2

Colors: Black and White

These shoes combine the lightweight cushioning of elite racing shoes with a more traditional fit and extra protection, making them a perfect choice for new racers. An engineered knit upper provides lightweight structure while unique midsole cushioning gives a responsive feel underfoot. Finished off with a lugged rubber outsole and six removable spikes, these shoes provide superior traction on every type of course.

4. Nike Zoom Rival XC

Colors: White, Black and Atmosphere Grey

These shoes look as fast as they feel with a multilayered mesh upper featuring striped skin overlays. Both versions are great, affordable options for cross country shoes with lightweight, responsive cushioning in the midsole and an anatomical rounded heel to roll with the ground. The spiked version has strategically placed lugs on the perimeter of the outsole to enhance grip in all conditions, while the spikeless version features a waffle plate with a rubber outsole for traction.

5. Saucony Carrera XC4

Colors: Black and Slime

Even the best can get better, and these racing shoes are proof of that. A fully engineered mesh upper features ISOFIT that adapts to the shape and motion of your foot for a secure fit. The midsole is made from a super light, high-abrasion foam to increase durability without weighing you down. The spiked version features a durable rubber outsole with a six-pin Pebax® spike plate that provides unrelenting grip for your fastest race yet.

PRACTICE FLATS:

Built for training, preparing for race day, and beating your PR, these shoes are guaranteed to get you closer to annihilating your goals.

1. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36

Colors: Phantom, Riderock, Electric Green and Moon Particle

These running shoes are exactly what you need to get your practice miles in throughout the week. They feature a slimmer design than the last Pegasus model with less weight in the tongue and heel collar. The upper is made from engineered mesh, and the midsole features a full-length Zoom Air unit along with CushIon foam to provide responsive cushioning.

2. Saucony Type A8

Colors: White, Black and Citron

These versatile running shoes have an engineered mesh upper with FLEXFILM overlays to provide a seamless sock-like fit. A super light midsole gives rebound while you run, and a carbon rubber outsole provides durable traction so that you can comfortably put in many practice miles before the big race.

3. New Balance 1500 V5

Colors: White and Neon Emerald

Designed for aggressive road runs, these shoes promise speed and support. The upper is made of breathable mesh to keep your feet feeling fresh, and the midsole sports responsive cushioning to keep your steps light and springy.