The Best Adidas Running Shoes
Adidas have been at the heart of all sport since 1924 and running has been at the forefront of their thinking since day 1. They've made some amazing shoes over the decades for some of the world's best athletes. We review their latest range and pick the best of the best. Here are the best Adidas Running Shoes of 2020.
BEST CUSHIONED - Adidas Ultra Boost 20
The increase to the overall amount of BOOST cushioning is not enough to make enough of a difference. The shoe remains pretty much the same as the original.
- Responsive cushioning
- Good traction from Continental rubber outsole
- Cushioning can bottom out
- Tight fit
BEST FOR MARATHON - Adidas Adizero Pro
The race to create the ultimate marathon racing shoe is taking the running shoe world by storm right now and adidas have finally entered the market with a more traditional looked but highly impressive racing shoe that delivered incredible performance without the crazy design language!
- Low profile carbon performance looks and feels great
- Thinnest adidas upper ever fits fantastically well
- Continental outsole is very durable compared to other elite racers
- Looks a bit boring compared to other space age shoes
- Lightstrike foam isnt as bouncy as Zoom+
BEST FOR LONG DISTANCE - Adidas Solar Dive
Comfortable everyday trainer, the Solar Drive uses Boost cushioning technology combined with CM-EVA. Together you get a more stable trainer that's more durable and better value - result!
- Lots of Boost cushioning
- Stable cushioning performance
- Great value
- Nothing at the price
BEST FOR STABILITY - Adidas Solar Glide ST
Probably the best value version of a BOOST shoe available. Same cushioning, more stability and a more versatile shoe
- Boost cushioning
- Good price
- Stable ride
- Upper a little heavy
BEST FOR LIGHTWEIGHT CUSHIONING - Adidas Adizero Adios 5
If you are seeking the more traditional feel of a racing shoe in a world filled with deep foam and carbon plates, then this is the shoe for you. The fit of a track spike and lower to the ground and almost aggressive toe-off make you feel fast from the word go.
- Close, track spike like fit
- Responsive, aggressive feel
- Not much cushioning
- Rather a lot of money for little shoe
Adidas Tech Talk
It may not be the number 1 running brand, or even the number 1 sports brand these days, but it’s the one with the richest history!
Adidas began with two brothers, Adolf (Adi) and Rudolf Dassler who set up a shoe making factory in Bavaria in 1924. They called it Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik or, the Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory. Unlike most of the running brands we know now, Adidas actually began with the sole intention of making shoes for athletes – most others began making leather shoes or in the case of New Balance, arch supports. It wasn’t long before they were rewarded for their efforts. At the 1928 Olympic Games held in Amsterdam, they won their first gold medal, courtesy of Karoline “Lina” Radke in the women’s 800m. She also broke the world record in a time of 2:16.8. Lina’s spikes were made of goatskin and light for the day. Adi had worked closely with the German team manager, Josef Waitzer, to develop the shoe.
At the same Games, Georg Lammers won the Bronze medal for the 100m. His spikes were the first spikes designed to use the replaceable spike, screw-in system we know of today. They made the shoe heavier, so the system didn’t last long.
What I find interesting about their early success and the Amsterdam story was that their ‘focus’ was on the Games. It set the tone for Adidas up to the present day. Adidas have always been a company who have launched product lines around the Olympic Games (World Cups etc in other sports); they have always been about sponsoring teams and federations and of course, the Championship itself.
Over the next decades, they produced shoes for a number of sports, but they were always ahead on the track making shoes for a wide range of disciplines; specialist shoes for throwing, specialist high jump spikes and sprint spikes. Their most memorable pre WWII achievement must surely be making the shoes for the great Jessie Owens who wore their spikes at the infamous 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.
During WWII, legend has it that the two brothers had an argument over each other’s families. This led to the feud that would lead to eventual split in 1947. Adi Dassler formed Adidas on the 18th August 1949. Rudolf registered a company he named Ruda which later became Puma. Today, both companies are worth $billions and are their HQ’s are opposite each other in Herzogenaurach, near Nuremburg, Germany. You think I’m joking? Check out the map of the area today. What I find amusing and typical of them, is that Nike have an outlet store on the same site…
During the 50’s, the development continued. The big developments seemed to be in soccer boot advancements but there was the little matter of the 1952 and ’56 Olympic Games to contend with. But, it wasn’t until the 60’s that adidas running shoe and spike technology had moved on to a whole different level. So much so, that many of the shoes still exist today.
Go in to most high street stores today and you’ll be able to find old training shoes that were cutting edge in the 1960’s. Now under the ‘adidas OG’ tag, these now classics were worn by some of the best athletes of the day including Dave Bedford, who was running over 200 miles per week (miles not K's!) in the Gazelle. The adidas Gazelle was actually my first pair of running shoes in the 1970’s but they were launched in the 60’s. The 60’s also gave birth to the Stan Smith and Superstar shoes.
It also gave us the Mexico Olympic Games and the best spike ever at the time, the Azteca Gold sprint spike. More memorably, the Fosbury Flop was invented when Dick Fosbury went ‘over backwards’ in a pair of adidas shoes. Check Dick Fosbury on YouTube here - and Bob Beamon destroyed the world long jump record, also in a pair of adidas spikes
In 1972, the Olympic Games came to Germany and in true Adidas style, they released their new statement running shoe, the SL72. This is another shoe that exists in stores today. It was massively popular with runners and featured a grooved rubber midsole to aid cushioning. This was followed up 4 years later by the SL76 at the Montreal Games.
The 70’s was a time of the running boom in the USA when new brands appeared such as Nike, and older brands found ‘running’ such as Brooks; both making great shoes. However, running in Europe was centered solely around club athletics and the US brands had not landed on our shores yet so adidas were very much centre stage when it came to running shoes. The TRX model was launched in ’77 and became an instant hit. It felt great on the foot, responsive but cushioned, and had a circular grip pattern so you could wear it on and off-road. We all owned a pair but everyone at my running club had the same issue with the shoe: we all wore out the front of the shoe and our toes went straight through the nylon upper. There’s a reason why the brands put that little piece of suede over the big toe area on the upper…
In 1978, shortly before hi 78th birthday, Adi Dassler died. A man who had almost certainly been the most influential influence on the whole sporting industry had passed away and the reins at Adidas were being passed on his son, Horst and his Adi’s wife, Käthe.
By the late 70’s and early 80’s, New Balance, Saucony, Brooks, Nike, Asics et al, had all arrived in Europe and all had become established and successful. The running boom had crossed the Atlantic and running was now not just the domain of the club athlete, but Adidas seemed to raise their game and were making some great shoes.
Interestingly, they had turned to a man who had worked as a coach at the University of Oregon, Bill Dellinger. Running shoe fans will know this is the birthplace of Nike and Bill was working with fellow coach and nike co-founder, Bill Bowerman. Bill Dellinger was to be the USA’s track team coach for the LA Olympic Games and adidas began working with Bill in the early 80’s on a design for a shoe. The Dellinger web system was invented: a unique web system that spread heel impact across the entire midsole. The shoe was incredibly well cushioned and responsive. In 1982, the adidas Oregon was born.
The Oregon was a huge hit. It was really comfortable - lighter, softer, just better than the firm riding adi models of the past. The web system also caught the imagination and spurned other models such as the New York and it was introduced later in to adidas’s ZX Range.
In 1984, the Micropacer shoe was released. The shoe featured a great dual density EVA midsole and an amazing upper, but no one cared, that shoe was all about the ‘computer’. The shoe had a device in the left toe that would record distance, pace and how many calories you had burnt during your run. The data was relayed back to you via the small screen on the tongue of the left shoe. The shoe was really innovative (and I always wanted a pair!) but if I’m honest, I never saw a pair on a club athlete…
That’s probably because their main ‘serious’ range had also been launched in 1984. The ZX was a range which was conceived with one thought – to produce a range of shoes that would suit all runners under the ZX umbrella. This meant producing ZX versions of high-mileage road shoes, paired down versions for lifestyle joggers, trail shoes etc. Each model was specifically designed to a brief to meet the needs of the runner. The ranged launched in conjunction with the LA Olympics in ’84 and continued to run through the 80’s. A selection of the rance is below.
The ZX range also launched one of Adidas’s more memorable technologies – Adidas Torsion. It first appeared in the ZX8000 model. The Torsion system consisted of a thick strip of tough TPU attached to separate rear and forefoot units. This allowed the front and rear of the shoe to operated independently from each other. I guess you could liken it to our tendons attaching our muscles to bones. The Torsion technology was so successful that it still appears in shoes today.
Fast forward a few years and Adidas launch the first Adizero shoe. The had employed a legendary Japanese shoe designer, Mr. Toshiaki Omori, to design a super lightweight racing shoe. Omori believes that the anatomy of the foot should always come first and began work on a range choosing exact materials and textiles to ensure the right weight and cushioning of the sole; every part was considered.
One of the world’s biggest athletes was the great Haile Gebrselassie, an adidas sponsored athlete. They had taken the samples to Haile who was in his hotel room on the night before the Berlin Marathon in 2008. He laced up the adizero Adios prototypes and ran up and down the hotel corridor. He loved them so much, he decided to run in them the next day. There is no better advert for your shoes than someone running a World Record in them and Haile had just broken the record by 29 seconds finishing in 2:03.59.
The Adizero Adios range has continued to this present day. We've tested the latest incarnation and you can find out what we thought of it here.
In 2013, Adidas launched Boost and it was an immediate hit with runners worldwide. The technology was brilliant, and the message was simple and direct.
Boost was actually created by German chemical giants BASF who brought the tech to Adidas. Rumour has it, they pitched the tech to Puma first but were turned down!
Most brands were using variations of EVA foam in their midsoles, but this new tech brought something new to cushioning. At its heart is thousands of expanded particles working together to deliver energy return in each stride. These particles made from Thermoplastic Polyurethane, are expanded around pockets of air. This gave the shoe a fantastic responsiveness. The material was really comfortable on foot (this really helps with immediate impact and sales in store), but the material was really durable and flexible. But it is the cushioning and energy return that makes Boost shoes so popular.
The first shoe launched was the Energy Boost and it was a game changer. It would be fair to say that the tech made all the other brands sit up a little and it started the movement towards the new foams we are enjoying today.
In 2014, Wilson Kipsang and Mary Keitany won the men’s and women’s race at the New York Marathon in their Adizero Adios Boost, a racing version of the Boost tech.
Adidas also had an eye on the marathon 'sub 2' record that was recently broken by nike is the staged race, producing a Sub2 Boost super light racer.
In 2015, adidas launch the Supernova Boost, a motion control version of the Boost which featured an extended tab on the medial (inside) side of the shoe.
Later that year, Ultraboost was launched. Adidas had developed the tech using ARAMIS motion capture technology which had been used by NASA for testing the structural integrity of their space shuttles. The ARAMIS tech allowed adidas to identify the strains and stresses placed on an athlete’s foot. The findings led to the first Ultraboost shoe.
More recently in 2018, adidas have launched Solarboost. It replaces the Supernova Boost as the brands motion control shoe and features and tougher heel construction and an updated upper which involves securing each fiber of the upper individually to create a snugger fit. The latest 'Solar' shoe is the Solar Glide ST 19 and you can find out what we thought of it here.
Adidas keep evolving the Boost range and the Ultra Boost 19 featured the latest improvement to the tech. Adidas took the 17 components of Ultraboost and finessed them to just four: an Optimized Boost midsole, Primeknit 360 upper, Tuned Torsion Spring, and 3D Heel Frame. The shoe enjoys 20% more Boost material and a new seamless upper. It is now their most responsive shoe. The latest incarnation of the shoe is now the Ultraboost 20 as I write. You can find out what we thought of it here.
The new racing has been designed to gain success at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and it features a carbon plate for increased energy return. The new AdiZero Pro continues the tradition of this lightweight racing franchise and it is aimed at delivering carbon infused speed to the elite marathon runners.
Check out our Best Shoes of 2020 guide to see how Adidas Running and Boost faired against the best of the rest.
Adi Dassler launched the 3-stripes in August 1949 because he wanted to make a difference to athletic performance. Now, 70 years later, I think we can say he and his predecessors have have done ok… Here’s to the next 70 adidas!
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WE ARE FREQUENTLY ASKED
What is adidas Boost technology?
Boost is a material, designed by BASF and used by adidas in their shoe midsoles. Boost is adidas’ best midsole technology and is made up of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) beads which will compress under pressure and rebound back to its original shape giving you a Boost.
Are Boost running shoes any good?
Adidas Boost shoes offer a responsive and cushioned ride. The uppers are very comfortable and have a glove-like fit. The Boost material is also durable making the shoes an extremely popular choice for runners.
Which adidas shoes are good for running in?
Adidas make a wide range of shoes and at a wide range of prices. We would recommend the adidas shoes that we have reviewed. These are the core shoes in the main adidas running line.
What is the best Adidas running shoe?
BEST FOR CUSHIONING – Ultra Boost 20
BEST FOR MARATHON - Adizero Pro
BEST FOR LONG DISTANCE – Solar Drive
BEST FOR STABILITY - Solar Glide ST
BEST FOR LIGHTWEIGHT CUSHIONING - Adizero Adios 5
Are adidas PureBoost good for running?
Yes, as they use the same Boost midsole technology as in other Boost models. The PureBoost range is more street-style focussed and so great to run in or go to the gym in while also looking good. The knitted uppers are durable but not as flexible or as breathable as the upper on the UltraBoost.
Is Ultra Boost better than PureBoost?
It would depend on the model as they both use the same midsole material but models like the Solar Glide ST would offer more stability and the UltraBoost more supportive elements and both would have a better upper.
Which is better for running Nike or Adidas?
Both Nike and Adidas make great running shoes. Right now, you could argue that the nike range is focussing on lightweight training shoes using really innovative midsole materials, but they lack the depth in other areas. Adidas have a very solid line that includes lightweight shoes, but the better shoes all tend to revolve around the Boost technology.
Which adidas shoe is best for running in?
It depends on your running style and also what you want to use the shoes for. Check out our Best of Adidas 2020 range above, and also our general range reviews.
Can you run in PureBoost?
Yes, although it has a look that is stylish, the shoes are meant to run in, use for the gym, cross-train in etc. Their looks make them also suitable for casual wear which is what adidas have intended with this range.
Is adidas Ultra Boost the best running shoe?
You cannot say it is the best and it will not suit everyone but the technology is great and being adopted by some other brands who are incorporating the tech in to their own shoes and mixing it with their own technologies.
How do adidas running shoes fit?
Adidas have a reputation for coming up small so go maybe a size larger. They also have a reputation for being quite narrow although this will vary between models.
Why is Ultra Boost so expensive?
The technology and the quality of the shoe elements are fairly expensive to produce but, the popularity of the shoes and the technology is keeping the prices high.
Which adidas shoe has the most Boost
The Ultra Boost 19 made a lot of improvements to the previous model and features 20% more Boost technology. The latest model is the Ultra Boost 20
Do Adidas boost make you run faster?
The technology gives you a great amount of energy return hence the name, Boost. Not all the Boost range is light however, so the weight of the shoe won’t help your pace if running in a heavy model.
Are Adidas Boost good for long distance?
The shoes are particularly good for long distance as the energy return property really helps you, especially when tired later in the race. The shoes are also really durable to the Boost lasts for a long time.
Could I run a marathon in Adidas Boost?
We think they would be a great choice to run a marathon in. If you are a neutral runner, we would recommend the Ultra Boost PB but if you are a quicker, more efficient runner (or someone very light weight), we would recommend the Adidas Adizero Adios 5. If you looking for the ultimate Adidas marathon running shoe, you could try the carbon plated Adizero Pro but this is best suited to the quicker runners.
How long do running shoes last?
The brands will tell you that all shoes should be replaced every 300 miles but most shoes should be good for more than that and we certainly think the Adidas Boost shoes should be good for 500 plus miles. As the racing shoes have less Boost material and are ‘stripped back’ in terms of upper strengthening, you might expect that 300 miles might be the maximum you would get from them.
Why are Ultra Boost so popular?
It is a combination of the great Boost foam and comfortable uppers. They have great styling and also, the Boost story is an easy one to tell: Boost gives you a bounce!