Adidas has delivered a new shoe, the Adizero Feather, into the Adizero range of performance oriented running shoes, which fits snugly into the marathon racing shoe category. There’s plenty of great shoes on the market for runners at the moment, and as someone who favors shoes that are a little less bulky that a traditional trainer, I’m currently being spoilt for choice. The Adidas Feather is another tempting addition to the marathon racing and minimalist shoe range.
The category of shoes I spend much of my time running in are what I term marathon racing shoes. You could equally put these shoes in the minimalist running shoe category, although hardcore minimalist runners wouldn’t because these marathon racers carry a modest heel-toe drop. However, compared to regular trainers marathon racing shoes feature greater flexibility, feel for the road and a relatively flatter heel-toe profile. This makes them relatively minimal for someone who has always run in bulky trainers.
Why marathon racing shoes are a good choice for regular runners
Marathon racers are a good option for regular runners to use as their racing flats, which is exactly what I have been doing. They can be used for racing on the roads, think 3km upwards to the half-marathon for many runners, and for the full marathon, say if you’re looking to break three hours and 30 minutes and pretty light on your feet. Marathon racing shoes are also responsive enough to run 800m to 10,000m on the track, if you’re not used to wearing spikes or true racing flats. In fact, I’ve done most of my track running in the last two years in the Adidas Adios.
Many runners want to transition rapidly to the minimalist running ethos and jump straight from wearing a bulky cushioned trainer into dead-flat (zero drop) and un-cushioned running shoes. However, this ignores a potentially very useful and approachable category of running shoes (marathon racers) that offer many of the benefits of going minimal with less risk of injury. As I’ve written about in a previous article, you don’t need to be the hare when it comes to transitioning to minimalist running shoes. A gradual transition carries much less risk of injury.
So while this style of shoe is one elite runners use to race a marathon, because it does have some support and a modest heel-toe drop (10mm), it does not mean you should wear it to run a marathon (although many runners could). If you’re a regular runner or jogger, doing some training in a shoe with this profile can be very beneficial. Think about using a lighter shoe for your speed work, intervals and even some tempo running. The Adidas Adios and Feather are good choices for this sort of approach. So even if you don’t race your marathon in a marathon racers, they could still be a useful shoe to have in your collection for training and shorter races.
Adidas Feather features and review
The Adizero Feather (6.7oz/190grams), so named for its light-weight properties, is in fact lighter than the Adidas Adios (7.4oz/210grams). The Feather features a few cut away sections from the cushioning in the sole which help bring the weight down. It also has a light weight plastic mesh in the upper, which feels a bit less resilient than regular material, although only time will tell on their longevity. So if you’re someone who pokes holes in the upper of your shoes, perhaps think again before adding the Feather to your arsenal.
In terms of profile, the Adidas Feather feels slightly flatter than the Adios, but it is not a true racing flat. The addition of the stiff sprint frame feels like it makes the shoe quite responsive and fast and I believe it could be good for runners who don’t wear spikes to use racing on the track. The design of the sole and cushioning precludes this shoe from being taken off-road and onto trails. It is a road or track shoe only.
One interesting piece of research I happened upon when researching my book Running Technique was a study that found sprinters increased their performance with the addition of a carbon fiber plates in their spikes. The sprint frame in this shoe could act in a similar way, this kind of technology is a bit like the design of many spikes which offer runners landing on the forefoot a spring-loaded performance aid. As the foot flattens from forefoot to heel, the springy spike is pushed down and then as the runner’s foot starts leaving the ground, the shoe springs back and helps the runner leave the ground with a bit more purpose.
The obvious design feature in this shoe is the sprint frame, which is essentially a thin piece of firm plastic that runs in between the cushioning material and the inner of the shoe. And while it might have performance enhancing properties, it combined with the cut-away cushioning is a slightly annoying rock-catching combination. As a runner that often gets off road, these days you really have to choose your shoes wisely, as so many models don’t consider what will happen when you step into a rocky environment.
When you initially pick up the Feather you look at that frame and worry that is could make the shoe overly stiff and hard. I have to admit though, that it didn’t feel that way once I started running in them. However, these shoes are stiffer than the Adios and many other shoes. Therefore, a wearing-in phase of jogging in the Feather would be a good idea so you can get the feel for them and break them in a little. This is a step I’ve recently been skipping with many shoes as they often feel so good straight out of the box these days.
What the Adidas Feather is good for
- Runners with a relatively neutral foot strike – runners with a moderate heel toe pattern will be ok, but if you’re an exaggerated heel-striker, the Feather could get slappy and uncomfortable.
- Runners looking for a performance shoe for short road races 3k to 10k.
- As an alternative to spikes for racing on the track.
- Collecting rocks.
Written by Brian Martin