I run for the exercise high, not to win races. But I love a high-tech running shoe, especially those that are designed specifically to help elite runners shave a few more milliseconds off their personal bests. The Adidas Adizero Adios Pros, which are available globally October 14 (after two limited releases, in June and September, both of which sold out incredibly quickly), fall into that camp.

In general, modern running shoes are so next-level that they kind of blow my mind. Everything from drop height to cushioning placement to upper material has been designed and redesigned to maximize performance. Still, the new Adidas running shoes stands out in terms of the sheer thoughtfulness and innovation.

The feature that’s getting the most attention is the EnergyRods, five carbon-infused rods that are tucked into the sneakers’ soles. Carbon is a “thing” in the running shoe world. Besides Adidas, Nike, HOKA, Sketchers, and New Balance all use it. It’s been studied and proven to boost performance, possibly because it helps reduce the amount of energy that’s lost as you push off your toes mid-stride. As a result, you’re able to run faster for longer without tiring.

Many shoes use a full carbon fiber plate, which works great but can feel uncomfortable stiff. Enter: the EnergyRods, which are intended to line up with your metatarsal bones, those thin bones that run through from your toes to your ankles. This design is meant to provide responsiveness only where the foot needs it. The EnergyRods are paired with Adidas’ new ultra-light cushioning foam (LightstrikePRO) that adds springiness while protecting your feet.

When you look at the running shoes,
you’ll probably notice that they seem super-thick. The heel measures at 39
mm, compared to the Ultraboost’s 29 mm. That’s a lot of cushioning,
especially when you consider that the shoes are meant to be worn during
long-distance races.

I had a chance to ask Lily Partridge, the current British Half Marathon Champion and the 2018 British Marathon Champion, about her experience with the shoe, which she’s been running in since the end of April or beginning of May. She said that she’d been conscious of the cushioning too. “I wasn’t sure what to expect,” she acknowledged. “Often performance shoes are quite firm and hard, and they feel ‘race-y’, so I was wondering whether the thickness of the foam would make it feel too much like a training shoe.” But, she added, “They feel bouncy. They put you up onto the ball of your foot, so that feels really race-y, and I really enjoyed it.”

But let’s face it: You can only learn so much about a shoe from talking. At this point, I was super-eager to try out the sneakers for myself. Adidas sent them over, and even before lacing up, I was into them. The “Dream Mile” colorway is gorgeous, a striking pink and blue ombre. It was giving me serious Taylor Swift Lover vibes.

Foto: Lukas Schulze/adidas

Instagram: @SchulzeLukas.photo
post@schulzelukas.com

But even though I was expecting it, the cushioning gave me serious pause. The sole is… thick. When I took my first few steps in the shoes, I felt a little unstable. As someone who tends toward a more neutral sneaker, that made me wary. Was I going to roll my ankle in these things?

Once I got outside and took my first few strides, however, those
worries evaporated. This is a
shoe made for running
, not walking. The bounciness that Partridge mentioned
was spot-on. I felt almost pulled onto the balls of my feet. The sneakers felt
springy, not soft, and they gave me a little extra oomph each time I pushed off
the ground.

Besides the springiness, I could almost forget they were on. The upper is made from a thin, almost see-through mesh (they call it CELERMESH) that felt like it disappeared on my foot. The tongue wraps almost completely around the foot for a sock-like fit. After my run, the skin of my feet didn’t have that rubbed-raw feeling that can sometimes come from pounding the pavement for miles. My one complaint is that the shoe didn’t grip my heel. Some creative lacing helped reduce slippage, but it wasn’t a perfect fit.

The natural comparison that’s being made is between these sneakers and the Vaporflys, Nike’s super-fast marathon shoes. I have run in both (though not Nike’s most recent version) and they’re comparable, which makes sense: They both use the the combination of carbon and cushioning to provide a springy, faster, long-distance run. I ran more in these, so I can’t fairly pick a winner, but I will say that I felt my feet could more more naturally in the Adidas shoes, possibly because of the EnergyRod design.

It’s also worth mentioning that I ran about 20 seconds per mile faster than my typical pace on my inaugural run. Of course, I’m not going to pretend that’s all down to the shoe. (If elite runners could shave 20 seconds off their pace just by wearing a shoe, it wouldn’t have taken so long to break the two-hour marathon barrier.) Besides the new kicks, it was also several degrees cooler than it had been all summer, and the sheer exhilaration of a new pair of shoes likely propelled me forward too. But that little kick has remained on my subsequent runs — the shoes are fast, and they definitely seem to make me speedier.

The new, beautiful Adidas gave me a much-needed mental boost too. Right now, running is a sanity saver, for sure. But given that so many races were cancelled due to COVID-19 precautions, it’s also harder to stay motivated for longer runs, a struggle that many of my running buddies seem to be going through. Maybe it sounds shallow, but bright, new, buzz-y running shoes can help. “It gives you a bit of a boost when you get new shoes to try out and experiment with,” Partridge agreed on our call.

At $200, this isn’t a shoe for everyone. (And if the two previous releases are any indication, it will sell out quickly, so if you want them, be ready on October 14 at 11 a.m. EST.) But if you’re training for a longer race and can swing the price, I’d say they’re worth it. I might not pull out the Adidas Adizero Adios Pros for a quick-and-dirty three miler I’m trying to squeeze in before dinner, but for my longer weekend jogs? I honestly can’t see myself using anything else.

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