AdidasMuch remains to be said about that super cool urban sports brand, Adidas, which was somehow a latecomer on the running scene in India. Never mind the fact that they are behind some of the most formidable athletes and football teams (cricket too but I don’t care much for the game really) and yet in India, their running prowess has remained rather undermined.

I too didn’t know much about their range save for when they launched something called the ‘Boost’ a few years back and I got my hands on a jet black pair which oddly enough reminded me a lot of another running brand. The cushioning was more than ample, the grip firm yet yielding, and I enjoyed my runs in them, save for the fact that they fit tighter than similar sizes from other brands.

And then they somewhat faded into obscurity. relegated to the areas of my running cupboard from where things make rare comebacks. Till recently when I not only got to meet the team but also apprised myself of the range of running shoes that Adidas had launched since. In short, there were more than 2 dozen shoes and although all had the ‘Boost’ technology in some manner, they were entirely different from each other, with every style designed for a specific type of run. Here is my take on three of them.

But before I launch into shoe specifics, a bit about Boost. This is a proprietary foam which the brand has developed with BASF and the firm-yet-cushioning properties of this material are exemplary, or so the company believes, so much so that most new models incorporate a little or lot of this. The difference is in the thickness, the way it is applied (toe, heel, both) and the uppers it is used in tandem with.

Adidas Ultra BoostAdidas Ultra Boost: This is the running-on-a-bouncy-castle shoe. For those who are scared of injuries and knee-related issues, you couldn’t be more softly cushioned than in this pair. The Boost foam runs the length of the shoe, always generously layered, keeping a safe distance between you and the ground. The top is a close-fitting knitted sock with reinforcements to hold the laces. Overall, the shoe shows grip and comfort unparalleled. The fit is definitely snug but not constricting. The lacing is perhaps among the finest I have seen and holds well even through long runs. It is not a trail shoe so the grip although adequate for urban use, does wobble a bit when one goes off-track. finally, if there was one thing that I may not have entirely liked about the shoe it is that the excess cushion does take away some speed and control at high speed. So while it is nowhere near sluggish, it won’t be my shoe of choice of clocking my fastest 5k. That said, it is my favourite training shoe for long runs, especially when am running on tarmac or other hard surfaces. But all these knitted upper shoes not only get dirty, if it rains the slightest then the dirt gets down into your socks and shoes too. And then they need a good tumble in the machine (or a gentle hand-wash if you prefer) to get them back to presentable. I love the neon green uppers (was totally my colour for the season) but they definitely need their share of maintenance. PROS: Lovely cushion, great comfort, snug fit CONS: Some loss of speed.

Adidas Climachill Cosmic Boost: A step up from the Ultra Boost is the Cosmic Boost Adidas Cosmic Boostwith a roughly 8m heel-to-toe drop. This shoe currently has the most attractive colour-blocked options on the market. It also feels like it rides relatively higher around the ankle area so once laced in, the grip is substantial. Unlike the other Boosts, this shoe only has the Boost technology in the front half, the rear being a stretchweb rubber material. The overall effect is that the shoe transitions really well, from an impactful heel landing to a gentle roll unto toe-off. The Climachill ensures the feet stay cool and the knit uppers help with the circulation. Their is a small vertical groove running through the middle of the shoe insole right below the arch; the company claims this is to facilitate better airing but frankly, to me it was like an itch that doesn’t go away. I couldn’t help but feel that there was a stone in my shoe and the feeling lasted for entire runs. This perhaps is what made me not like the shoe as much but outside of that, this is a great middle-of-the-path shoe, one that provides ample cushioning and yet great control and speed. It also fared well at my last 25k trail run. PROS: Super attractive, Lovely mix of control and cushion, versatile trainer CONS: Insole groove is a nuisance.

Adidas Adizero Adios Boost 2: This is Adidas’ take on the old school run-flat style of shoes. Fairly light with a lean drop and a firm cushion, this is my go-to shoe for days when I just want to go fast. The infusion of Boost makes it a lot more forgiving than traditional EVA soles so it doubles up great as a long run shoe. Otherwise, for most parts, it remains a minimalist shoe without risking safety and shoe comfort. The mid-sole stiffness (Adidas famed Torsion system) improves energy transference, thereby Adidas Adizero Adios Boost 2making for a great return in every strike and every stride. This is where many a running brand parts ways as some believe that a sole should be utterly flexible whereas many wish for some stiffness to reduce the loss of energy thereby building up to a springy toe-off. I find myself preferring the latter so this shoe with its stiff middle sits well with me. The sole uses “Continental” (of tyre fame) rubber and that really comes in to play when rounding corners at a near-sprint without any loss of speed or form. The uppers are very classic in appearance (suede leather-like) but revisited with new-age materials that give it flexibility and also some hydrophobic advantage. The shoe runs low so do not expect a superior hug around the ankle area. It is definitely not you shoe for trails or anything off-piste but when it comes to grip, speed, spring, and control, few shoes can burn up tarmac like this one. PROS: Super shoe for speed and grip, great control CONS: None really; just a caveat: not a beginner running shoe.

And if that wasn’t jargon enough, here’s a list of some other terms that Adidas employs and what they mean. In many cases, the differences are tiny and not even the trained runners can tell what works better till they have tried it for a good 50 kms or so. (All the shoes, by the way, I have written about above were run in for a minimum of a 100 kms before being summed up here.)

Adidas Term-Chart
Click to enlarge

So which Boost is for you? Don’t worry, in the weeks to come am possibly going to add a couple more versions. If variety is the spice of life, prepare for one flavourful season…