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Shoe Review: The Adidas Takumi Sen 10 ($180) A throw-back racer with a modern speedy vibe

We interrupt this newsletter to bring you a blast from the past, and perhaps a glimpse at your future 5K racing shoe. Since the advent of carbon-fiber super shoes, the biggest trend in running shoes has been all about maximal cushioning. Thanks to new, hyper-responsive midsole foams, just about all new running shoes – racing shoes, training shoes and performance trainers – have all fallen to the high-stack trend. And that’s actually a good thing. Runners definitely like and appreciate comfort, cushion, and performance – the three main things those chunky midsoles provide. 

However, that doesn’t mean the only good shoes out there are max-cushioned models. For example, the Adidas Takumi Sen 10 ($180) is a light and fast shoe that’s more moderately cushioned than most new models on the shelves of your local running store. Its slightly lower-to-the-ground profile is refreshingly vibrant while still offering a good amount of semi-firm cushioning with a semi-soft interaction with your feet. It provides a snappy sensation at fast paces, which I find ideal for short races on the roads, like an upcoming 5K on your schedule or, in my case, the Pearl Street Mile later this summer in Boulder, Colorado. It’s also great for speedy workouts and tempo runs, and it could be used for moderate-length long runs as you’re building up to a half marathon or marathon – especially if you’re doing a progressive run in which you drop down in pace over the second half.

What’s New: The biggest change to this year’s Takumi Sen 10 is a switch from carbon-infused energy rods that extend independently through the forefoot of the shoe to rods that are partially made from semi-stiff recycled fiberglass and are more connected under the arch. It’s a very similar set-up to the carbon-fiber energy rods embedded in the Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 3 marathon racing shoes, only these rods are slightly more bendable to match the natural flex of your feet so you can make more agile movements at faster paces. The midsole is now made from two layers of a new highly responsive formulation of Lightstrike Pro foam, but this version of the shoe retains the same stack heights (33mm/27mm) and weight as the previous edition. A new engineered mesh upper is slightly pliable, very supportive, and extremely breathable.

Fit/Feel/Ride: The Adidas Takumi Sen 10 fits true to size with a narrow/low-volume interior and a rather snug toe box that doesn’t leave much room for wiggle room for your toes. But that’s somewhat of a throwback to traditional racing flats, but the reason it’s good for short-distance racing and speed work intervals on the track is that it allows for better proprioceptive “feel” for the ground. That ability to sense and feel the ground under your feet—specifically your forefoot—allows for more precise and engaged foot strikes at faster paces, especially when cornering. The shoe has a spartan-like step-in feel that’s slightly soft but minimal, without any extra bulk. (The tongue, which isn’t gusseted, and heel collar are thin and without any cushioning, but I found the fit to be smooth and snug around the heel and saddle of my narrow feet.) 

Once you lace up this light and airy shoe and get acquainted with the lower-to-the-ground profile, you’ll find it to be a fast, smooth-riding speedster. However, it’s a decidedly different kind of fast than you might be used to with your high-stack marathon shoes. While most marathon super shoes are slightly or very bouncy and require a long-striding gait pattern — obviously, a carbon-fiber plated shoe provides a propulsive boost once your foot rolls into the midstance phase — this shoe has a semi-firm makeup that necessitates a more active toe-off motion from the runner. (However, if you’ve been racing in the Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 3 super shoes or are used to shoes that have some forefoot flex but a less bouncy demeanor, then you’ll adjust to the Takumi Sen 10 just fine.) 

Why It’s Great: It’s great because it feels like it’s an extension of your foot. At faster paces, it produces stiff and snappy toe-offs. If you’ve been running in maximally cushioned shoes much of the spring (like I have), it might feel refreshingly good to be closer to the ground. That’s how I felt during a few 400-meter speed sessions on the track and a fartlek workout on the roads, as well as my moderately fast Bolder Boulder 10K race on Memorial Day. (I was actually filming the race with a handheld GoPro camera for a video project, so that race effort was actually a fartlek, too, with many quick sustained bursts of fast running broken up by about 20 moments to stop and film the action!) It’s not a great shoe for running slower paces, but jogging in it between intervals wasn’t a problem.


Weights: 5.8 oz. (women’s 8); 6.9 oz. (men’s 9) Heel-Toe Offset: 6mm (33mm in the heel/27mm in the forefoot)

Why You’ll Love It: You’ll love it because it’s light, fast and energetic with much less bulk under your feet than most of the shoes you’ve been running in lately. It might feel like you have to do more work, but you’ll also feel more in control of your stride and foot strikes and be able to accelerate and corner around turns much more effectively.

Pro: The two sections of Continental rubber on the outsole are exceptional for fast-cadence running on dry or wet roads. The thin, narrow sections on the heel and along the lateral side aid in stability, while the wider, slightly thicker section under the forefoot is softer and springier to aid the toe-off burst.

Con: The narrow fit and semi-firm feel of the shoe might come as a shock to some runners who are used to cushier or bouncier shoes with a more accommodating fit profile.


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