By Brian Metzler
OK, it’s early January and if you’re planning out your running goals for the year, now is a good time to invest in a new pair of racing shoes. While modern long-distance racing shoes are expensive — usually in the $200 to $275 range — if you buy a pair now, you can use it as your inspiration to get fit and train for a summer or fall race. That’s my logic anyway!
Although it often gets overlooked, the Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 3 has proven to be one of the fastest and most efficient shoes for running half marathons and marathons. It incorporates carbon-fiber as a propulsion catalyst in its midsole, but it utilizes it in a much different way than other shoes and serves up a decidedly different ride than racing models from Nike, Hoka, Saucony and ASICS. Differences aside, it’s a featherweight and hyper-energetic speed machine — frequently on the feet of podium finishers at World Marathon Majors, including 2022 New York City Marathon winner Evans Chebet. It’s an ideal choice for whatever race you will have on your schedule and if you look around, you might just find it offered at a discounted price right now.
What’s New: From its first iteration, the Adizero Adios Pro incorporated a skeleton of carbon-fiber rods in its midsole instead of a carbon-fiber plate to maximize energy return. Those EnergyRods are now encapsulated into a more cohesive unit, beginning in a connected structure in the heel before spreading out in the forefoot beneath the metatarsals. Adidas kept the unique sculpted shaping of the midsole, but it widened the footprint of the shoe to create more inherent stability and improved the upper a little for more breathability. They’re minor updates, but great improvements.
Why It’s Great: It’s great because it’s fast, it’s light and it’s smooth. Unlike some of the other super shoes, the Adizero Adios Pro 3 doesn’t produce a bouncy feeling. Instead, it provides buttery smooth and super-quick transitions from landing to toe-off, no matter how or where your foot hits the ground. A lot of runners have assumed that bouncy feeling is just part of the modern shoe design, but not everyone loves that sensation — including me. The Adidas system of its semi-firm Lightstrike Pro foam and carbon-fiber EnergyRods produces a much more balanced and consistent (and very fast) ride.
Fit-Feel-Ride: The Adizero Adios Pro 3 fits a bit long for its size (so much so that you might consider trying on a half size smaller) with a medium to low interior volume. It has a snug, locked-down feeling from heel to midfoot with modest wiggle room in the toe box. There’s a soft and comfortable step-in feeling, thanks to a premium footbed, thin padded tongue and thick midsole chassis. It has a high-off-the-ground feeling like other maximally cushioned shoes. The high-rebound Lightstrike Pro foam and EnergyRods embedded in the midsole serve up a lively but relatively rigid rolling sensation the moment you start running. It’s a peppy, stable and propulsive sensation just before the final toe-off moment of a stride that helps promote a shorter stride pattern and a high-cadence gait. Like I said, it’s different from the ride of most other super shoes.
Why You’ll Love It: Runners interested in investing in a pair of carbon-enhanced racing shoes with the hopes of setting a new PR in the 5K, 10K, half marathon or marathon could love this shoe — assuming it fits their feet well. Like other racing shoes, the Adidas Adios Adizero Pro 3 feels best when you get into a groove at a fast and repetitive pace. When you settle into a consistent rhythm, the sharp/firm feeling melts away into effortless running. It can also be used for faster workouts such as tempo runs and longer intervals, but the high stack of the midsole foam makes it less appropriate for shorter, faster repeats on the track (like 200s or 400s) because it lacks the agility and proprioceptive feel of lower-to-the-ground performance training shoes. Running at slower paces or mixing up paces will muddle that smooth, flowy feeling that you get from running fast.
Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 3
Weights: 6.5 oz. (women’s 8), 7.9 oz. (men’s 9)
Heel-Toe Offset: 6.5mm heel-toe drop (39.5mm in the heel, 33mm in the forefoot)
Pro: The outsole of this shoe has large sections of smooth Continental carbon rubber interspersed with smaller areas of exposed foam (where there is little or no ground contact). The Continental rubber is considered the best in the business, both for running on dry pavement and wet surfaces. (Think about how many times you’ve slipped running through a water station in a race! That won’t happen in these shoes.) It’s all about grip with absolutely no slip.
Con: The new upper, although very breathable and hydrophobic, is a bit stiff and rigid. It doesn’t stretch, so it could become an issue for runners who have narrower feet. It wasn’t an issue for me, but I could still feel the rigidity of the material.