Adidas is one of the original manufacturers in the world of sports shoes and will again be dominant in 2012 as a major sponsor of the Olympic Games.
Although not necessarily a leading brand in South Africa there has been a constant stream of good models locally with the SA Runner a trend leader in the late 1970’s, the Atlanta and Oregon innovative in the midsole web design and then the seemingly endless range of Adizero models over the recent years.
This has been a confusing time for buyers who find so many Adidas shoes on the shelf apparently all named Adi-zero, but varying in style from a trainer to lightweight to racer. While they all have a second name, this has not always been obvious to the end user and this may well have worked against the brand in the small market of South African running.
However the Adios name has left some mark on the landscape and the latest version of the model – the Adizero Adios – has an important role to play as the whole of the South African running scene tries to come to grips with the great debate over shoe styles and natural running.
Runners (and too many scientific reviews) tend to consider the extremes of style comparing the control and rigid-bridged shoes at one end with the flimsy minimal covering of a toe exposing bare foot covering with pieces of tread on the outer.
Although our condition at birth promotes the latter both styles are for extremists or more correctly the 5-10% of the populations who fall outside the norms. This is the natural distribution of any community and if anything the natural selection of running as a sport will support a greater bulk leaning towards the flexibility of the barefoot than the ‘plank-like’ objects that have been thrust into the South African running scene through marketing, spin, and a bean-counter purchasing process.
In order to recover from this overly popular overly rigid shoe styke, the South African market requires a variety of transitional shoes and without question the Adidas Adios fits that bill to the T.
Transition is a slow process requiring a gradual change of the key attributes of a shoe.
The typical shoe being worn by South Africans has a difference in heel height to midsole height under the ball of the foot of between 13 to 16mm. The shoe will have a rigid thermo-plastic insert under the medial arch and attempts to flex the shoe between the toes and the heel in a longitudinal direction fail either totally of is restricted to the front one third of the outersole length. The similarity to a plank of wood is uncanny!
By comparison look at the foot – the tools we were supplied and evolved (by your chosen god) as the correct implements for running. Your foot flexes over 2/3 of its length, adapts to angled, flat and lumpy surfaces and wraps around irregular objects on the ground. It is more akin to a piece of flimsy material.
Making the move (back) to a natural shoe style cannot be done overnight. Years and thousands upon thousands of flex-less strides not only change the mechanics of the foot but also result in structural changes to posture which require gradual rehabilitation if injury is to be avoided.
Although billed as a racing flat, the latest Adidas Adios 2 is an ideal transition shoe for the majority of runners wishing to take a first step towards regaining a natural running style.
The open mesh breathable upper not only contributes to the lightweight but provides a good fit with a moderate toe box width which accommodates most foot widths. The standard lacing U has sufficient holes to provide variety of lacing options to enhance the fit and the heel is sufficiently sturdy to give the feel of support without overly encasing the heel.
The midsole has a moderate drop from heel to midfoot, which is one of the key elements in any transition towards a natural style. There midsole cushioning, which contains Adiprene+, is sufficient to handle distances beyond the marathon while still maintaining the feel and firmness that typifies the Adidas heritage of feeling the ground.
The outer sole is a combination of different densities of Continental rubber augmenting cushioning, durability, and grip across the diversity of wear points.
Adidas Extended Torsion System is located under the arch and while it enhances the torsional resistance of the shoe it has reasonable longitudinal flexibility making the shoe particularly attractive to those who may turn out one or both feet during their running style.
This system also incorporates something of a ‘flick or kick-back’ as once it is pressured into the landing stance there is an automatic spring-back tendency.
With over 100kms of running under the belt the Adios performs well across all surfaces and is particularly responsive on tar and concrete. Although firm to the feel there is more than enough protection from irregular surfaces and rogue obstacles.
My initial run in the wet on the polished surfaces around Moses Mahbida Stadium did cause some concern but later with a few kilometres under the belt and the manufacturing ‘skin’ removed it was possible to duck and dive, step and stride my way with confidence.
The lower profile of the shoe makes it more stable that will become an obvious benefit as runners extend the distance of their training in these shoes.
If you are a transitional runner then this shoe should initially be alternated with your previous shoe and then gradually weaned into fulltime action. You may find step back to the rigid shoe a bit frustrating but once the muscles adapt to the ability to be used with the Adios, the benefits will show through not only in the ability to use a more efficient style, but in the enjoyment of the run.
Many runners are going to find there’s an important place for the Adidas Adios in their desire to move from a rigid to natural running motion. This is a shoe that enhances speed, but has the characteristics to go the distance.