I’ve been running for the best part of 25 years now. I’ve learned quite a bit during this time, and know there is always something more to learn. One such lesson is that the shoes you use are key. Not only is it imperative for your performance gains, but it also plays a large role in preventing injuries. Over the past four years, I’ve had a reasonable share of running shoes to explore, but none more so that the adidas adizero adios Pro.
The running shoe was announced a few months back in June but only arrived on South African shores in late September. It was launched as a rival to two competitor performance shoes released in the last year. One of these has caused quite a huge stir among the running community with mixed reactions. The technological advances in modern silhouettes would ultimately have ended up with the debate on whether the gains are natural or artificial enhancements.
As the saying goes, “you can’t stop progress.” The adidas adizero adios Pro was designed and built for long-distance running, with the aim of reaching new heights and setting personal bests. The shoe has already set a world record, as worn by Peres Jepchirchir. She broke the record for the world’s fastest women-only half-marathon runner with a time of 1:05:34.
It may not be an out-and-out proof that the shoe is guaranteed to enhance performance, but it’s a clear marker. As a result, I was very curious to see whether I’d have any gains after switching to the adidas adizero adios Pro. Closing in on three weeks of running and I have gathered sufficient empirical evidence to draw a few conclusions.
adidas adizero adios Pro Design
On the surface, apart from the flamboyant colourway, the adidas adizero adios Pro looks both minimalistic and complicated.
Compared to my previous daily drivers, the adidas adizero adios Pro is fairly light. It weighs in at 246g for a US9/UK8. Lifting the shoes out the box for the first time I could feel the difference. However, compared to other long-distance runners (above half-marathon distance) are quite a bit lighter.
The adidas team balances the excess weight added by the high-stack midsole with an extremely lightweight upper. The upper’s material is known as CLERMESH. It offers a mix of flexibility and breathability where required. It’s so thin that it’s basically see-through. But it also feels durable enough not to give way over a few wears.
But the upper on its own offers no support when it comes to the foot’s stability when worn. Instead, it’s split into two segments. The mesh-like outer and the stretchy inner. The inner band is a mix of plastic and stretchable rubber with a sock-like fit. This is important, which I’ll explain the reasons why under the Performance section.
In terms of the technicalities of the midsole, the adidas adizero adios Pro has a heel measured at 39mm, a forefoot of 30.5mm and a heel drop of 8.5mm. That said, these technical, however, details don’t paint the full picture of what’s happening underfoot.
There are two critical elements that really make the difference on the adidas adizero adios Pro. This includes the Lightstrike PRO midsole and the EnergyRods. I’ll follow-up on this in the below section.
Overall, then, the design features a lot of technical, as well as some minimalistic elements. From the highly details midsole to the simpler upper, there’s a lot going on both on the outside and inside. All working together well.
Back on the topic of the Lightstrike PRO midsole and the EnergyRods. As with many of today’s performance shoe, there is a lot of cushioning. I’m not talking about chunky sneaker type of cushioning. It goes beyond this. Think back to those 90s platformers made popular in the West by the Spice Girls.
When I put my first foot into the adidas adizero adios Pro I could immediately tell it was different. Tying up the second to lift myself off the couch, I realised it would be different. It may be an exaggeration, but it felt similar to a low-heel stiletto. And, yes, I know what it feels like to walk in those.
As a result, the high-stack performance shoe is all about cushioning. Even walking from my home to the gate of the complex to hit the road for the first time, I knew things wouldn’t be the same. The 5-minute walk provided ample indication of this.
It’s all good and well to through extra cushioning to bring about extra cushioning, but it doesn’t always benefit the runner. Yes, we want to feel the squish upon each stride, in the back of your mind knowing that your foot is protected from the harsh impact of the tar beneath it. Too much cushioning, however, and you may live to regret it. This is especially true when running over longer distances.
This is where the EnergyRods come into play. In the most basic of explanations, it acts to firm up the cushioning. It may seem like an oxymoron, but it’s all about balance. The EnergyRods run from midfoot to forefoot. They’re curved, allowing them to function like a carbon plate, which most other running shoes integrate.
Here’s where it gets a bit more complicated. The 5 rods act as support for each of the metatarsals (where have I heard that before?). Because of its convex curvature, the metatarsals give the foot its arch. As you would’ve noticed for most sneakers and running shoes, the support in this region is important, and where it may be easiest to fracture during a run.
Unlike convention carbon plates, the individual EnergyRods allows the foot to roll in a more natural motion – outward upon impact. The benefit of having separate rods is that it creates a continued stiffness throughout the impact and then lift, similar to a spring.
adidas adizero adios Pro Performance and Quality
Let’s start with some of the negatives of the adidas adizero adios Pro. Apart from the abundance of cushioning and the lightweight upper, there’s another, almost immediate noteworthy design element of the shoe. This is the heel counter. Or lack thereof. The only support it provides comes from the stitching where the two halves of the shoe meet.
I spoke earlier about the importance of the inner band to lock your foot in place. This is the main reason why. Despite searching for clues, I couldn’t find too many reasons as to why the decision was made to not include it on a running shoe. What I found quite a significant amount of was the complaints about its omission.
However, for me personally, this wasn’t too much of an issue. With my foot locked in place thanks to the inner band, I never had concerns about my foot sliding around on the inside during a run. As such, I was confident of hitting the ground running with no inclination that it was an issue at all.
Another negative aspect of the shoe is also one of its strengths. Hear me out. Running with the adidas adizero adios Pro is not a simple pick up and go option. You need to be prepared for what you’re getting yourself into. As a result of its cushioning, the stiffness provided and the shape leading to the drop and ride height, it’s simply not practical to take a leisurely jog. You’re meant to go fast.
But this is what I loved most about the adidas adizero adios Pro. The mechanical structure of the shoe’s design forced me to change my gait cycle. Typically, being a mid-distance runner – between 5 and 10km – I would land midfoot and toe-off.
Landing midfoot meant a flatter approach to the gait cycle, cutting out a good percentage of a full cycle. With the structure and supporting elements, I had to take this back a touch, landing further towards the heel in order to maximise the cushioning and spring effect of the EnergyRods at the toe-off.
At the same time, I would also need to stretch out each stride to change the angle of the landing. This meant I needed to go faster. I was more than happy to oblige.
As I reach the end of a previous running shoe, or when I replace it for a newer, better one, there’s almost always a decent spike in my performance as a result. There’s no better feeling than the satisfaction of money well spent. On the adidas adizero adios Pro, however, it was much different.
Instead of the standard 20-30s gains after the first month, I’ve already improved by a full 2 minutes after making the switch. The first few runs were tricky, having to almost relearn how to run. By the third run, I was setting personal bests for road runs. I first hit only my second sub-25-minute 5km run after lockdown. I then hit 24’30. Now in the third week, I’m pushing very close to the 23-minute mark.
With an increase in pace and a change of mechanical style, there was some tension in my muscle and joints. In fact, I can feel more strain on my legs and feet after each run. As I adjusted to the adidas adizero adios Pro, these became less obvious. They still require more attention than before in what seemed to be leisurely strolls by comparison.
Runners in 2020 are spoiled for choice when it comes to long-distance running shoes. With quite a number of these already setting records around the world, there’s been a recent spike in sales in this regard. Because of this real-world marketing, the adidas adizero adios Pro has been extremely popular. In some territories, the running shoe sold out in a matter of minutes after going on sale.
It’s only been a few days’ worths of running using the adidas adizero adios Pro, but I’ve been exceedingly impressed. Some part of me wonders whether the improvements could also be crossing a mental hurdle. However, having similar expectations when receiving a number of previous running shoes, while there were some gains, it was never to the level I’ve experienced within such a short timeframe.
Having a running shoe that’s both comfortable and fast goes a long way. It’s not always a joyful experience hitting the road a few times a week, especially after a long day at work. That said, after a stirring performance hitting the streets, it all becomes worth it. And this is exactly the feeling that the adidas adizero adios Pro provides on almost every run.
At a retail price of R3,999, the shoe is one of the more affordable among competition brands offering similar performances. As a result of this, and the gains I’ve experienced, I would recommend the adidas adizero adios Pro in a heartbeat.
adidas adizero adios Pro
If you want to go fast, the adidas adizero adios Pro is a running shoe you may want to look at. It offers an abundance of cushioning, while still providing sufficient stiffness and elasticity in your stride. The design of the shoe forces some adjustments to your stride but is beneficial to the gains you achieve once you’ve hit the tar. It’s one of the more affordable running shoes in its category and comes highly recommended.
- Improved personal performances
- Extremely comfortable
- Extremely fast
- Light as a feather
- May require running style adjustments