Light, fast, energy efficient
adidas have one of the richest pedigrees in the world when it comes to designing racing shoes. Japan’s legendary shoe designer Mr. Toshiaki Omori was responsible for the birth of Adizero. A collection of running shoes that are made to help runners move faster. The first Adizero Adios prototype was debuted by none other than running legend Haile Gebrselassie, in 2008. Despite only testing them out by running up and down a corridor in a hotel the night before the Berlin Marathon, he went on to break the world record in them by 29 seconds - with an incredible time of 2:03:59.
Over the last few years, another brand has been taking more of the spotlight. With many regarding the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly and Nike Air Zoom Alphafly as the ultimate marathon running shoes. However, 2022 was the year of Adizero and a record breaking year for adidas, as the franchise dominated podiums. With 8 World Championship titles, 2 broken world records and 50% of all Major Marathons won, including Amos Kipruto’s victory at the the London Marathon, it’s clear that something is going well.
The Major Marathon wins were achieved in either the adidas Adizero Adios Pro 2 or adidas Adizero Adios Pro 3. Some athletes seemed to opt for the second edition for personal reasons. The new Adizero Adios Pro 3 is an evolution of the 2, and designed to be even more propulsive, stable and comfortable. I am participating in the adidas Manchester Marathon and have been lucky enough to be given a pair to race in and test out.
My first reaction was the lightness of the shoes. While there’s no denying that they look like supershoes, the silhouette is more in keeping with a traditional racing shoe. The giveaway is the noticeably thick super foam midsole. While adidas doesn't share much information about Lightstrike Pro foam, it’s fair to assume that it returns very high levels of energy and is extremely resilient.
The other obvious talking points are the exposed carbon energy rods, aggressively angled toe ramp and ultra thin upper. adidas’ Energy Rods 2.0 are one of the key variations to competitor models. Rather than a carbon fibre plate, the Adios Pro 3 features a midsole with carbon rods embedded into it. These run parallel to the metatarsals and can move independently. While the forefoot features a very angled design, the midsole doesn’t appear to have much curvature to it. This was definitely going to be an interesting point of difference to other running shoes in this space.
What I Liked
The Adizero Adios Pro 3 is built for long distance speed, so that’s how I tested them. The first run was a 30km build run - done as:
- 7km at 4.10-4.20min/km
- 7km at 4.00-4.10min/km
- 7km at 3.50-4.00min/km
- 7km at 3.40-3.50min/km
- 2km cool down
The softness and protection of the Lightstrike Pro foam was the first sensation. However, this was coupled with an element of familiarity. In line with earlier remarks, the underfoot feeling was closer to a traditional racing shoe than some of the other supershoe options. This is potentially down to the fact that the Energy Rods are less noticeable than a full-length plate, and the feeling is definitely more natural.
At the same time, when you start running in the Adios Pro 3, you know there’s something special under your feet. The feeling of propulsion was instantaneous and incredibly smooth. A lot of superfoam carbon plated shoes can feel somewhat awkward when you first start running in them, until you’re up to speed. This is backed up by the fact that you can usually hear someone running in them before you see them. This is not the case with the Adios Pro 3. In-line with above, it feels more like a normal running shoe, just infinitely more cushioned and energy returning. This is an appealing attribute.
Fit and Feel
The upper is ultra lightweight. Clearly a key factor that brings the weight of the Adios Pro 3 down to a mere 215g - please note it’s a unisex shoe and the weight will vary by size. A notable point is the non-gusseted tongue. It’s a good feature as it makes it easier to tailor the fit of the upper to your foot shape. In terms of sizing, adidas only converts the US to UK by half a size. That means I opted for half a UK size up from my normal size, and that fitted perfectly.
While there’s no heel counter, your ankle is secured by two internal pods. Some reviews suggest that the grippy material on these can rub your socks. I didn’t experience any of this. Although I did get some rubbing on top of my right big toe joint. This was most likely down to me tightening the laces too much and running 30 km in them on the first go!
From a cushioning perspective, the Adios Pro 3 just feels amazing to run in. The 39.5mm to 33mm stack (6.5mm drop) of super foam feels so protective, but light as a feather. The 3rd edition features more cushioning in the forefoot than the 2nd edition. I'm a heavy heel striker, so I was expecting to notice the lack of a rocker. This wasn’t the case. Even though the geometry is not overly curved, the midsole construction transitions your feet with so much propulsion. The steep toe rise then takes over and is clearly a big factor in how this shoe improves your running economy. To save you checking, it is race legal and conforms to World Athletics standards.
adidas have created something special with the Energy Rods. You know they’re there, but you don’t feel them in the way that you feel a carbon plate. This means that while you get all the propulsion, the midsole feels more natural, stable and softer. This is in comparison to other super shoes, such as the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly, Nike Air Zoom Alphafly and Saucony Saucony Endorphin Pro. Each shoe has their own unique merits. For the Adios Pro 3, it means it feels great at a range of paces, it’s stable around corners and the transition from landing to toe-off is extremely smooth.
How can the Adizero Adios Pro 3 improve your run?
The adidas Adizero Adios Pro 3 will make your race pace feel easier. Whether it’s a 10k, half marathon or marathon, this will likely get you to the finish line faster. It’s most likely suited to race days. However, there is a decent amount of Continental Rubber on the outsole to protect the superfoam. If you do want to use it for some key race pace sessions, it should be durable enough. A point worth noting is that I had next to no muscle soreness after the 30km run. Demonstrating the ability of this style of running shoe to reduce muscle damage and fatigue.
For this reason, many runners are opting to use supershoes in their weekly speed focused training sessions. The Adios Pro 3 would be an excellent option as it copes so well with changes of speed and direction. These would feel great for a shorter session such as 8x800m, even if there are some turns in the repetition. This would, however, mean that you would want a fresh pair for race day, in order to get maximum benefit. If you’re looking for something more durable for training, to use alongside the Adios Pro 3, check out the Adizero Boston 11.
Finally, if you’re interested in how the Adios Pro 3 compares to other supershoes, it’s hopefully clear from this article that it feels more ‘normal’ than rival models. This doesn’t mean it lacks the wow factor, it just feels more natural. It’s great to have this level of choice. Carbon infused super foam running shoes are not all the same. There’s no doubt that runners will respond differently to varying technologies and midsole geometries.