One of the more eagerly awaited recent running shoe releases has been the Adidas Adizero Adios 2. The original having been a hugely successful and brilliant marathon racing shoe that had the versatility to perform well on the feet of everyone from Haile Gebrselassie through to mortals completing the marathon in 3.30 or less. Because of its low profile, flexibility and versatility to perform well in all types of training and short racing it was also a great shoe for regular runners such as myself to wear as a racing flat for shorter road and even track races. These properties and the fact it retained some heel-toe drop also made it an excellent minimalist transition shoe and a good option for tempo running and even some speed work away from the track.
So it was with some trepidation that I removed my Christmas present to myself from the box and inspected what the technicians at Adidas had come up with. Redesigning a classic is always a risky business and I began to get a sinking feeling when turning the shoes over in my hands that these geniuses may well have stuffed it up!
You can read my review of the original here – yes I was in love with that shoe! Trying not to rush to judgment was difficult as while they’d come up with a rocking bright color scheme the shoe itself, on first examination, appeared to have bulked up and become much much stiffer than the previous incarnation of the Adios.
The resultant changes had made the Adizero Adios 2 a slightly heavier and very different shoe to the original. While the increase in weight is marginal, 7.4 to 7.8 ounces (210 to 221 grams) it’s where this weight comes from that is probably the clue to where the biggest changes have been made. There is now more cushioning in the forefoot and perhaps even a little more in the heel – the overall profile in terms of heel-toe drop also seems to have flattened a little compared to the original.
Adios 2 – a stiffer shoe with less ‘feel’ for the road
While some of the additional stiffness comes from the extra cushioning material, most of it arises from the insertion of three separate plastic strips through the forefoot of the shoe. I’ve highlighted where these strips run through the shoe in the image below, they ultimately connect to the visible torsion plate under the arch.
This shoe carries much more forefoot stiffness than your average racing flat. I can imagine why Adidas have done this; plantaflexion fatigue (the inability to continue to stiffen your foot) can become a factor during long races like the marathon. As discussed in Pete Larson’s study on marathon foot-strike this can lead (amongst other factors) to some runners starting the marathon as forefoot strikers and finishing it as heel strikers.
The addition of stiffness into shoes is also in my opinion a performance enhancer – many spike models are built around or over stiff springy material from forefoot to mid-foot. This delivers a slight spring loading effect – as you push down the spring loads and then releases as the foot comes off the ground, giving you a little extra spring from each stride. One study I looked at when researching my book showed sprint performance improved in runners who added Kevlar plates into their spikes, so there is some evidence around to support this notion.
My contention however, is that you need to be quite a strong and well coordinated runner to push through the ground with sufficient force to load the spring and enjoy the resultant benefits. This is where I think the Adios 2 is probably now suited to a narrower group of more talented runners than the original model.
I also believe the versatility afforded in the original design is somewhat lost because of the changes that have been made. Where I could comfortably use the old model for easy long runs at 5min km pace through tempo running and also speed work, I think the new version is better suited to racing the marathon and half marathon and also faster tempo work only.
In short the Adios 2 performs and feels best when you start moving a bit quicker.
For these reasons I’d also be less inclined to recommend the Adios 2 to a runner looking to make a transition to minimalist running – the loss of flexibility in the forefoot mean there is less feel for and connection to the running surface. There is also little foot strengthening benefit for runners to be had in this shoe – it’s so stiff that it does most of the work for you. This stiffness is a good thing for racing a fast marathon, but not a great idea for developing strength and working on good running technique.
Breaking them in
So I’ve now done something approach 100km in the Adios 2, most of which has been easy runs in an attempt to break the shoe in. Like most Adidas shoes using the adiPrene cushioning the Adios 2 takes a bit of wearing in, and mine are probably still a little way from being completely broken into the shape of my foot. I wouldn’t suggest throwing these on out of the box and doing a long run, race or faster tempo work, give them at least 100km of wear before getting serious. Some of this should be probably off road as they feel a bit unyielding on the harder surface to begin.
It was while jogging around at 5 minute kilometer pace that I formed my initial negative views about the Adios 2. They do not feel great when running slow, the stiffness and harder cushioning makes for an uncomfortable experience.
Heel to toe drop and profile
The Adios 2 does feel like they have more drop from heel to toe than the Adizero Ace, for example, which I’m also currently reviewing. Despite this I found it easy to maintain my new forefoot oriented strike. Moderate faster heel strikers should find the shoe relatively comfortable – please leave a comment if you don’t.
The forefoot and toe box is less narrow than the original Adios, but still a narrow shoe in comparison to a regular trainer. I could feel my little toes getting a bit of annoying rubbing in the later stages of my weekend long run. Like the original though they will stretch a bit with wear, just be cautious of this shoe if you have a very wide forefoot.
The addition of the forefoot stiffness and extra cushioning leads me to think the Adios 2 will be more durable than the original which tended to go a bit spongy in the forefoot towards the later stage of their lifespan. However I did notice that my Adios 2 has begun to shed the little black nodules on the forefoot. This may have been because part of my weekend run included some moderately rocky gravel roads in addition to black-top asphalt. It’s probabaly not a major issue as the strips of rubber that cover the edges and middle of the shoe look pretty hard wearing.
So I didn’t want to review this shoe until I’d had a chance to take them on a longer run, yesterday I was able to do that and can now report back how it felt. Keep in mind I’m running relatively low mileage and not training for a marathon so my long run is probably about 17km at the moment. So what I did yesterday was complete this run at a slightly faster pace 5.00 – 4.30 km pace and then do a up tempo segment towards the end of the run to get a feel for how the shoes would feel at about and faster than my theoretical marathon pace. It pretty much played out as I thought it would, the faster I ran the better the Adios 2 felt.
After about 50 minutes of solid running I completed a 3km uphill section on the road in about 13 minutes, the last kilometer flattened out and was probably done in about 4 minutes and felt the best of all. As I’ve indicated before I’m no superstar when it comes to running, if I did the training I’d probably look to run a marathon somewhere in the 3.10 to 2.59 range. I previously indicated the original Adios as being a good marathon option for anyone capable of sub 3.30. I think that range has now narrowed and I would probably suggest it as being better for those looking to run closer to or under 3 hours.
Alternative marathon race day shoes 3.00 to 3.45 runners
I’m actually not sure whether I’d wear it myself and would have to do some longer running and tempo work to get more comfortable in the shoes. There are now many other good shoes around for the marathon so if you’re in the 3.45 to 3.00 hour range it might pay to shop around for an alternative or at least have another option up your sleeve if the Adios 2 model does not suit you as well as the old. Some suggestions (no particular order of preference) of shoes that I’ve either run in or tried on include the following:
Adidas Adizero Ace
Mizuno Wave Ronin 3 or 4
Mizuno Wave Precision 12
Mizuno Wave Elixir 6
Saucony Grid Fastwitch 5
An alternative view
As I’ve written before shoe reviewing is very much a personal opinion, Mark is very keen on the new Adios 2, but it probably matches my hypothesis that they’d suit faster stronger runners that he holds this opinion. His taste in spikes is exactly the same, the stiffer and springier the better.
I’m sure there will be many runners who love the new Adios 2, but I must admit I’m not head over heels at this stage of our relationship! I believe the Adios shoe will suit faster, stronger runners more so than for those of us who occupy the mid-pack. But what do you think? Fast or slow runners please leave your impressions as a comment below.
Written by Brian Martin
Image credit – Haile at Vienna