adidas adiZero Adios Boost review – good just got better

I think that to a greater or lesser extent, all runners are creatures of habit and that is never truer than when it comes to our choice of footwear. The advice from experts and non-experts alike is often: find what works for you and then stick with it.

I have friends who find a shoe that they like and buy as many pairs as they can afford or justify – indeed at my club the demise of the ASICS Ohana resulted in panic buying the likes of which is only seen after the announcement of an impending tornado somewhere in the USA.

Other friends, including some highly regarded reviewers, wail and lament when a shoe that they like is discontinued or even just changed a little, as though the business decision about the shoe was a personal attack on them!

I have my favourites too

And I can sometimes see why. Whilst I do tend to look down on runners who put any success they achieve down to lucky pants or the fact that they have had the same vest since 1962, I do tend to get used to a pair of shoes and not really want to change.

My first Adios...
My first Adios…

When the original adidas adiZero Adios came out, all the faster runners at my club got a pair. I wanted a pair. They were too narrow for my Hobbit like plates of meat. I was gutted. Not only did they look cool but all the fastest people in the world were wearing them. Probably more importantly, the fastest people in my club and on the start lines of races I was running were wearing them.

In search of the perfect racing shoe

But I wasn’t able to join in the fun, so I kept looking for my ideal racing flat. I tried the Brooks T7 Racer and I liked them – but they were a little too flat for me. I went back to ASICS and raced in the Gel Hyperspeed but for the marathon they didn’t offer enough in the way of cushioning for me. The Mizuno Wave Ronin was a favourite for quite a while.

But then I heard a wonderful thing – there would be a range of adiZero Adios Wide… a troll-feet special! So I went to the adidas store on Oxford Street and there they were. The shoe I had been waiting for. I went crazy and bought two pairs in one go, because my man on the inside at adidas told me that the supply would be limited.

And so there I was, at the end of the Olympic year in London, training and racing in my new Adios Wides and dreaming of the London marathon in April 2013. What I would do in my new, light, responsive, comfortable movers. Then I found myself in New York, invited to the launch of the adidas Boost. Moreover I found myself sitting next to the man in charge of running at adidas for Europe. And he told me that if I liked the Boost (I did and still do) and the adiZero Adios (I did and I still do), then I would love the Adios Boost…

If Carlsberg made running shoes

The Boost midsole material
The Boost midsole material

WHAT!?!!?? All the things I love about the Adios – the perfect heel-toe offset, the light weight, the open-mesh upper – but with a Boost sole? I was really keen to get a pair on my feet.

Well now I have and I can report that unlike so many combinations that sound alright on paper but are a disaster in reality, the adidas Adios Boost is a triumph.

The shoe is everything that I loved about the adiZero Adios but with a firmer and more responsive feeling midsole. The shoe has the Continental rubber that certainly makes the shoe feel more grippy and if anything seems to have an even more open upper which keeps my feet lovely and aerated.

Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 21.44.46If I have one tiny criticism, it is that if I am not very careful, the tongue, being really light, can roll at the edges and then there is a gap either side which allows the laces to rub against the top of the foot. But careful tongue placement (oh er missus) sorts that out.

In the races and sessions I have done so far in these shoes, they have felt great and that is despite there not being – as far as I know – a ‘wide’ version. I suspect that the new shoe is a little wider than the earlier adiZero Adios, which is great for me and the open mesh upper is probably also a little more forgiving. It probably also helps that these shoes are so striking looking.

Conclusion

For me, I think that adidas have done a great thing bringing their Boost technology and the design of the Adios together. I have sometimes thought that adidas has perhaps too wide a range of racing shoes and if they were to ask my opinion, I would say that they could do away with all the others and concentrate entirely on the Adios Boost. But then if they did, that would probably send me on a panic buying spree in case they sold out and I can not afford that, so adidas if you are reading this, please make sure you save a few pairs just for me… danke!

Running around Hyde Park with Liz, yelling.

You laughin' at me?
You laughin’ at me?

In my very humble opinion, I think that Liz Yelling has all the attributes of a top coach – she has ‘been-there-done-that-and-got-the-t-shirt’, she has a really friendly way with us normal runners and none of the unnecessary airs and graces that could come with being an elite athlete, she has bags of enthusiasm, she can still really run and… she has a great voice for barking out instructions. All this I know, because I met her tonight for a little training session along with some tips and advice in advance of the London marathon, in five week’s time.

Hyde Park, but no where to hide

We – that is Liz and the two other runners who were invited for the session – met at Marble Arch in central London, just as the sun was starting to set on a rather grey day. There were some quick introductions and then we were off, jogging through Hyde Park towards a spot on the side of the Serpentine that Liz is clearly all too familiar with.

After a short warm-up, Liz took the three of us through some drills, which she explained are better for activating the muscles before a session then static stretching. Since meeting my coach, I have started doing these sorts of drills, but it was nice to see a couple of different ones that Liz uses and she helpfully pointed out that the ones she showed us could be done standing still or moving forward, depending on whether there is space to move around.

The session and some clear instructions

Screen Shot 2013-03-21 at 00.08.31
Me and Liz Yelling

After the warm-up and the drill, came the session. This was a mixed pace session, involving running on a set loop on the paths in the park. We set off at marathon pace for a set period and then, after a short standing recovery, turned and ran back the way we had come at threshold pace, aiming to get back to the start point faster than we had run the out-leg. Then we repeated the exercise with the out-leg at threshold and the return-leg at faster than that. The final set was – for me at least – a return to the first set.

Almost as we started the session a big group from British Military Fitness took up residence on the patch of grass that we were running around. There were at least 20 trainees and three military instructors and as they grunted and puffed and growled their way through the session the army instructors barked out instructions and orders and motivation. They were noisy in fact.

But Liz took this completely in her stride and covered the ground between where we started and finished to call out the end of each rep and the recovery times. I was worried that I might not hear Liz and I would need to time myself. I needn’t have worried – as clear as a bell, over the racket of the soldiers and their mini-squaddies, Liz’s voice rang out. A great attribute for a coach, to be heard like that!

I thought the session is a great way to get in some faster running with a clear focus on what needs to be done – measuring your effort on the way out and then upping it for the way back. It also means that a group of mixed abilities can train together starting and finishing in the same spot.

We finished off with some strides (I can confirm that retirement from international marathon running has done nothing to dent Yelling’s speed!) and a short cool-down as the darkness descended in the park, ending a really good – albeit short – session.

Tips from a seasoned pro.

While we were running, Liz shared some of her tips for the final few weeks of the marathon and I thought I’d pass them on:

  1. Liz said that on race-day she has a very light breakfast: three slices of white toast with butter and jam, maybe a slice of cake (cake featured quite prominently in the conversation throughout our time with Liz!) and a cup of tea or coffee. She said that anything heavy and fibrous like porridge can be hard to digest and went on to suggest that race-day breakfast should be practiced before the big day
  2. Gels form an important part of Liz’s race nutrition and she said that in a marathon she would take six of them. In her case the gels would be taped to bottles that were laid out for the elite athletes, whereas the rest of us have to carry them. But they are obviously useful and worth getting right in training
  3. We talked about pacing and Liz said that knowing your pace is crucial. I was pleased to hear that Liz used the same tactic I do in races – a stopwatch and target split times written on the wrist. She admitted using a GPS in a race once and said that due the inaccuracy that is standard with all GPSs, it was one of the biggest mistakes she ever made
  4. Liz has never needed to use the loo in a race. She told us that it is crucial that runners plan their race-morning preparation to make sure they are completely comfortable when they set off and remain so throughout a race like the marathon
  5. During the taper, Liz would maintain the frequency of her runs, i.e. if she ran every day, she would continue to do that all the way up to the race, but reduce the duration and intensity of the runs to the point where the run the day before the race would be a 30 minute jog. She didn’t like not running because it left her feeling stiff and tight

The future?

I asked Liz about her future plans and whilst she said that for now she is enjoying not putting herself through the rigours of hard training, which she has done from the age of 9 years old, she does love the mountains and thinks that one day she might have a crack at the North Face Ultra Trail de Mont Blanc, just for the experience. But it is clear that the plans are far from firm yet: it is just something Liz thinks she’d like to do one day.

One thing that is clear though, is that Liz is still driven and competitive. She admitted that she cares about where she comes when she enters a Park Run (first woman usually and overall winner in at least one race recently) and she is also focused on the athletes she is training. And one thing is for sure, Liz will make sure anyone she works with hear her and know exactly what is expected of them!

 

 

 

A note about the kit – I ran the session tonight in a pair of adiZero Boston. There will be a more in-depth review, but they have immediately become one of my favourite shoes. Light, firm and roomy in the toe-box, I think I’ll be using these for hilly races and lots of faster tempo-style training runs. The tights and t-shirt were old ones I had at home. The jacket is from the new London Marathon 2013 range, but I actually ended up with a women’s jacket, so the less said about that the better! Nice jacket though.

Feather-weight comfort

I like Adidas – I like the brand, I like the German-ness of the company. I like their focus on performance above all else. And I really like the products, especially the adiZero range. One of my favourite bits of kit – and I have quite a bit of kit! – is a second hand adiZero longsleeve t-shirt that my coach, Nick Anderson, gave me.

Above all I really like the Adidas shoes that I have tried out… which is actually exactly one pair – the adiZero Adios 2s, with super-special Continental rubber in the soles. They are really good shoes (especially after the toe-box was widened a smidgen which means they now accommodate my big fat feet!) and I ran my marathon PB of 2:38:30 in London this year in my second pair of Adios.

But unlike Nike, Brooks, Mizuno, New Balance, Saucony and others, Adidas have never wanted anything to do with me and my little blog. Until recently, that is.

A few months ago I was contacted by an agency on behalf of Adidas asking me to give them some details about myself and tell them about the blog. Which I did. And for a while nothing happened and I didn’t worry about that. I don’t chase brands – if they want to reach all the lovely people who come and read this nonsense… erm, I mean blog, then they can chase me.

Then suddenly two weeks ago, I received a very large package with an address label prominently displaying the Adidas logo. Inside was a magnificent metal and perspex box, containing a pair of the new adiZero Feather 2s. I was immediately taken aback by the amazing packaging and presentation of the shoes. You can see for yourself:

 

Now THAT is a shoe box!

But packaging is all well and good, but it doesn’t tell you how the shoes perform on the feet. So after wearing them in the office and at home for a few days to get used to them, I went out for a few easy 45 minute runs in the bright blue Feather 2s.

Now I know this is not the worlds most insightful review, but

They are great!

OK, more detail. They are a touch on the narrow side, but that has always been my experience of Adidas shoes and they are not as narrow as the first version of the adiZero Adios that I wanted to wear but couldn’t because they were too tight around my toes. The Feathers are stiff and the cushioning in the forefoot and heel is firm, but that only serves to make the shoes feel really fast. If you are an efficient runner, used to racing flats or minimalist shoes, then you’ll feel right at home in the Feather 2s. The upper is super-lightweight, but without feeling flimsy and a side effect of that, which I like is the great breathability of the shoes. I even like the short and thin laces that stay tied perfectly.

The main thing that catches the eye about the Feather 2 however is the SPRINTFRAME construction which runs the full length of the show above the Adiprene cushioning material. It looks like a sort of plastic spring and seems to me to be a bit like the Wave insert that Mizuno use in the construction of their shoes, although in the adiZero Feathers the spring is under the mid-foot, not in the heel like the Mizunos. This seems to give the shoe a real springiness that means there is no sensation of losing momentum through the cushioning compressing, which I have experienced before. I am sure that it is this plastic plate which gives the Feather 2 such a pleasingly fast and responsive feel.

So, conclusion: the Adidas adiZero Feather 2 feels like a serious racer/trainer to me. This is a properly light shoe (just under 190g according the kitchen scales), low to the ground and with a firm feel that makes the shoe very responsive. This is a shoe for tempo runs, fast sessions, 10ks… that sort of thing. Light, biomechanically efficient runners will love this shoe as will anyone else who is looking for something quick and eye-catching. They’ll make you feel and look like an Olympian!

The Adidas AdiZero Adios (and a new love affair)

As I have admitted before I have never really run in Adidas shoes. In the case of Adidas it was a big sulk caused by a bad retail experience, the impression that Adidas shoes are too narrow for my rather wide feet and the fact that with so many other brands to try, I never had the need to buy Adidas.

However, after being invited to the launch of the new Adidas range for 2012 and then being sent a pair of the new AdiZero Adios, I am converted. In fact I would go so far as to say, I am really impressed with the shoes.

The new Adidas AdiZero Adios

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are the shoes worn by Patrick Makau in Berlin a couple of weeks ago when he broke the world record and I can certainly see why they would be his choice for the marathon. They are light and flexible. The upper is really breathable and whilst the fit is snug (bear in mind I do have wide feet) they seem to hug my foot rather than restricting it.

Three test runs

Low profile and yet just enough cushioning

I have worn the Adios for the last week on three runs and they performed superbly on each.

On Wednesday night I had a progressive 10 mile run on the canal towpath in the gathering gloom. This was my first run in the Adios and I was delighted by how light they felt despite providing a good deal of cushioning on a relatively long run on the hard concrete towpath. The grip was excellent despite some dampness on the ground and I really felt like I was floating along in the Adios. I was also really happy that the upper of the shoe is very breathable and as I pushed the pace I could feel the cool evening air through the top of the shoe which was great for cooling my feet.

The second outing for the Adios was a speed endurance session on Saturday. This involved extended threshold periods and multiple short fast hill reps in between. Again the Adios were perfect, with just the right balance of lightness and cushioning to ensure that I finished the session with my feet feeling great.

And then I took the Adios out for a long run today. I always try to do at least part of my long run off-road if I can but today that wasn’t possible. However despite the lightness and low profile, the Adios were great even after 16 miles and I didn’t miss my usual, much more cushioned shoes in which I do most of my easy running.

Features

Continental rubber provides excellent grip

The Adidas AdiZero Adios have quite a few features that I really like;

  • they are really ‘grippy’ – this is in part thanks to the section of Continental rubber at the front of the sole – this rubber from the famous German tyre manufacturer, it is claimed, can save up to 1mm of slip every meter, which I guess over 42,125 meters adds up. I’m not sure about that, but I do know that the shoes had great grip even when I was running on wet canal towpaths
  • the shoes have a very low profile – I’m not sure what the heel drop is, but these – to me – are real racing flats with no sign of a thick heel. As a result they really encouraged me on to my mid-foot as I ran
  • the Adios are really light – 217g according to my scales
  • comfortably wide toe-box aligned with a snug mid-foot means that the shoes were not restrictive but at the same time didn’t feel that there were slopping around as I ran. I would however suggest trying a half size bigger than usual especially if you are not used to racing flats
  • the Adiprene material under the fore-foot provides great, light-weight cushioning, which makes them ideal for the marathon in my opinion

Conclusion

My conclusion is simply this; for many of us the search for the perfect shoe is a long and arduous one, especially the search for the perfect race-day shoe. I have known for almost as long as I have been running that many of the greatest runners in the world wear Adidas shoes and yet I stubbornly refused to give them a try for a rather petty reason. That was a mistake. I really like the Adidas AdiZero Adios. It is a great race-day shoe and one that will have a permanent place in my shoe rack. It is a shoe that for me combines all the things that I am looking for – lightness, breathability, flexibility and cushioning – with the fewest possible compromises. And it is very, very orange (which I like). I’m glad I have finally got over my jilted-lover syndrome and embraced the Adios – I think we’ll have a long life together.

The new Adidas AdiZero Adios will be available in the UK from January 2012.
If Carlsberg made running shoes...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Postscript, here are some official notes from Adidas about the technology built into the AdiZero Adios:

Adidas’ new range for 2012

First of all a confession – I haven’t ever really run in Adidas footwear before (I did have a pair when I very first started running, but I can’t really remember them and they were consigned to the bin fairly quickly after I discovered I had bought a size too small for me). The reason for this is rather ridiculous, but is something that I hope many runners will understand; I had a bad retail experience and then never went back to the brand I was annoyed by.

After I started running I always went to a specialist running shop for my shoes, but after a few years, I started to think that I knew what felt good on my feet. So I went to a huge Adidas shop on Oxford Street, in London’s West End, with the intention of trying on, and buying, some Adidas racing flats. After all these were the shoes that Haile Gebrselassie had worn when he and I ran the Berlin marathon earlier in 2008; he set the then world record of 2:03:59 and I ran a PB in 2:51:52.

The problem is that I am not good at shopping. I don’t like hanging around and I don’t like what I perceive to be bad service. So after waiting for a preposterously long time to be served and for the shoes I wanted to try to arrive, the sales assistant dropped the shoes on the floor at my feet and started serving another customer… and I left and walked straight into the arms of ASICS, where I remained until earlier this year.

But I have always liked the idea of Adidas. My favourite racing shorts are Adidas. My favourite t-shirts, long- and short-sleeved, are Adidas. And so many runners I know love their shoes, I often felt I was missing out. But I can be a bit stubborn and there wasn’t really a good reason to stop racing in my ASICS.

But now I might relent and finally succumb to the lure of the three stripes. Why? Well I have stopped wearing the ASICS that I was so faithful to and started trying different brands. And the new Adidas range looks pretty interesting.

Shoes for racing

Being shown around the Adidas shoes today by Kirstyn from the KTB PR agency, I finally grasped the different ranges that Adidas have and who they are aimed at. There is the Response range, aimed at the beginner and designed to provide a choice of entry level shoes. Then there is the Supernova range, offering slightly lighter and rather sleeker-looking shoes with lower profiles and an overall racier feel, aimed at the ‘improver’. These shoes include Adidas’ torsion system in the sole along with a larger area of Formotion cushioning but without any extra weight. Next up is the adiStar range, which is considered to be for the serious runner with further technical additions and even lighter weight. And finally there is the adiZero range which contains Adidas’ racing flats, as worn by Gebrselassie and, perhaps more significantly, Patrick Makau in this years Berlin marathon, when he set a new world record for the marathon: 2:03:38.

The Adidas adiZero range

There are two shoes in the new adiZero range that I am really keen to try; the adiZero Adios and the Feather.

The Adios is the shoe that I think could become one of my favourites. Handling the shoe, it is undoubtedly light and feels well balanced and with just the right amount of flex. The innovation in this shoe that I think is really interesting is the link-up between Adidas and the tyre manufacturer Continental, who have supplied rubber that has been incorporated in key areas of the sole to aid grip. The areas of rubber are quite small to ensure the shoe remains extremely light, but the rubber is exactly where my racing flats always wear the fastest – mainly at the front of the toe-box – and if the Continental rubber adds traction (the KTB PR team informed me that some boffins somewhere have estimated that the rubber saves 1mm of ‘slip’ per 1 meter, which over a marathon adds up I guess!) and longevity, then I think Adidas could be on to a winner.

The other interesting shoe in the range, that caught my eye, is the Feather (see right). As the name would suggest this is a very light shoe indeed and has something that I haven’t seen in a long-distance shoe before. The ‘sprint frame’ that the shoe is built around is a full-length rigid plastic base – similar to the sole of a track spike – that the upper is bonded on to (thereby saving stitching which might make the shoe  more attractive to those who prefer running without socks) and onto which is stuck the adiPRENE cushioning material. I must admit that I am not convinced that a shoe that has such rigidity in the sole is going to be a good idea, but I hope I’ll get a chance to try them out and report back.

Adidas adiZero and Supernova apparel

The other things that caught my eye were the adiZero clothing range and the official London marathon apparel.

As I have said before, I really am a big fan of the Adidas adiZero clothing range. The latest offerings feel really great; super-light, well made with body-mapping technologhy which means that different materials are used in key areas to aid moisture management or improve ventilation. Oh and they are orange (and I mean really orange – see left!) I know that personally I am highly likely to end up adding to my already considerable collection of running wear with some items from this range and as soon as I do, I will post some reviews.

The final items I had a look at were the Supernova pieces that will make up the official London marathon range (at the time of writing this they are not available, but you can have a look by following the link). Again, orange is the colour of choice – see right – and I think that the collection looks good and really is high quality, so if you are keen to show-off that you have run the London, then this kit is the way to do it and is also pretty good technically.

So I would say that from what I have seen, Adidas have some pretty exciting products coming out in the next few months. I hope that I will have a chance to try at least a few out and I will put something in the review section. In the mean time if anyone reading this wants to add a review of some kit they are currently using please let me know (and that goes for any brand, not just Adidas) whilst I am going to pull on my new trusted Mizunos and head out for a little run.