By Erica Schuckies
Confession time: I was nervous about trying Adidas running shoes. Growing up as a soccer player, I associated Adidas with cleats and flat-soled shoes for indoor games on AstroTurf. So when Adidas dubbed this shoe "The Greatest Running Shoe Ever," of course I was skeptical. If anyone were going to make the claim they had created the greatest running shoe ever, wouldn't it be a running specific brand? How does a general sports company make the greatest running shoe ever when they have so many other disciplines to worry about?
So off I went to put their claim to the test through the urban streets of Dallas, where concrete and hot temperatures would push this declaration to the limit. Did they live up to the title of "greatest ever?"
I would liken the soles of these shoes to a firm yet springy Tempur-Pedic mattress. Running in these suckers is what every runner hopes for: easy. The cushioning is out-of-this-world soft, and each stride feels light without the deadening effect that overly cushioned shoes sometimes deliver. As the name suggests, each new step offers a springy action—dare I say a "boost?"—to help you quickly off your toe.
The outsole offers a STRETCHWEB rubber technology that literally feels like it's grabbing every single piece of ground beneath you. While this takes a few runs to get used to, it allows your foot to better adapt to any unstable ground you encounter, from gravel to concrete to trails.
The toe portion of the upper was incredibly comfortable, with a sock-like mesh material adding to the pleasure. Unlike 100 percent mesh on most running shoes, the upper of the Ultra Boost includes a top layer of a knit material (Adidas' PrimeKnit mesh), which explains the high comfort level and ability to fit to your foot size and shape. That's right, I said knit... like a cozy knit sweater for your feet. But without the sweating. A summer sweater, if you will.
The toe box isn't quite as wide as I would like, with the shoe width not varying much from toe to heel.
This shoe would best fit a narrow foot with not much width difference along the length of the foot.
With the midfoot and toe of the upper being one complete piece, sliding on these shoes feels a bit like stepping into booties—only way more comfortable. Once they're on, there's no rubbing or sliding around in the shoe, forming to the shape of your foot near perfectly.
There isn't a separated tongue, either, which enhances the comfort level across the top of the foot while still allowing for a flexible fit from one side of the sole to the other.
Because the tongue is not separated from the upper, tightening the shoe all the way around my narrow foot was rather difficult. This caused the heel to slip a bit—not severely, but just enough to notice and not allow complete cohesiveness with my foot. No matter how I tied the shoes, I couldn't make the heel snugger by tying the shoes tighter. (Think about tightening a belt over too-large pants.)
The overall look of this shoe is sleek and cool. The Primeknit fabric makes for an unexpected, non-traditional running shoe appearance, which provides the option to slip these into your casual wardrobe (says the girl who once poked fun at jeans-and-running-shoe wearers). The design on the upper is understated and aesthetically pleasing, especially when wearing them anywhere other than running.
While I'm a regular passenger on the bright-as-possible shoe train, I wasn't completely turned off by the gray color of the shoe I tested. The monochromatic features of the shoe can easily be transported from run to errands to brunch—and back. Other color options for the women's version of this shoe include orange, purple and yellow, so if you're looking for flashy, you're more than covered.
So, was it the "Greatest Running Shoe Ever?" Perhaps it could be—for some people.
The Ultra Boost feels light and quick, making them a great racing shoe for anything from a 5K to half marathon, or for the run portion of a shorter-distance triathlon, especially if you plan to wear them without socks.
Personally, I was pleasantly surprised after worrying these shoes wouldn't be supportive enough for my already-fragile knees and ankles. After many years of soccer and volleyball (and the training runs that came with it), I need the perfect shoe to provide a cushioned ride for my way-older-than-the-rest-of-my-body joints. The Ultra Boosts turned out to be just what the doctor ordered.
Find your next race.