I have a fairly large collection hanging on a rack affixed to a coat closet. In truth, that closet merely houses an iron, a vacuum, and some random junk- but its main purpose is holding the shoe rack. This rack contains a number of brands, which is likely a reaction to my shoe sponsor program getting cut last year. Needless to say I enjoyed the freedom of snatching up and running in whatever fit my mood.
But here's the thing....after running in a number of different models-some working better than others, I learned a thing or two from my orthopedist and some pretty knowledgeable individuals at my local running shop. First thing, and this is obvious to having legs that don't react well to pounding: cushion, reliable and durable cushion. Duly noted, Dr. Johnson!
The next thing in selecting a proper shoe for me was seemingly obvious but had to be pointed out. While shopping at my LRS a couple months ago, I was looking for something light but resistant to breaking down during long runs. I am a big fan of lightweight shoes-being a former soccer player, a tight fit and like they are part of my foot is what I'm looking for. I had my eye on the New Balance Fresh Foam 980. I liked the idea of the thick sole and the outsole looked durable. The problem was, upon putting them on my feet, they not only looked awkward, they felt that way too. I had to fight the laces to make them work. But they're neutral? Aren't they all the same? No, not at all! At least in this case, but I digress.
I was then directed to the Adidas section, which to be honest, I've always been a fan, but the recent line I found borderline out of my price range. Actually, years ago, before shoe sponsorship I remember thinking how much I would miss my original Boston's. I was happy to see that Adidas had used the new Boost foam, which is a polyurethane manufactured in Europe and is used in BMW dashboards, if what I have read and heard is accurate. Hey-if it can withstand a car crash, it can sustain a foot strike, right?! So I slipped the pair on, which retailed for $120, which nowadays is reasonable for a neutral trainer. The difference was immediate upon trying them on and running a couple strides. I had found something that worked and I have been doing my faster runs in them ever since.
So why did the Boston fit so well? A couple observations: first, I have a narrow, almost pointy foot with stupid-high arches. It just so happens that this manufacturer tends to run narrow and most models come to a slight angle in the toe box. Much like my odd feet. A secure fit is a must, and the simple mesh upper contained the three stripes down the mid foot, which are a plastic material and works like a ribcage on the mid foot. Perfection. In short, these shoes feel secure and just stable enough. Another thing that was absent is the odd puckering at the base of the laces which happens with other models, because of the need for less width.
Although the Boston is more a performance trainer vs. a flat, I will likely use them for some races this season for the extra impact protection while I continue to plug in the strength gaps.
Now for the cool stuff for shoe geeks: Of course it has the Energy Boost midsole, which looks a lot like Styrofoam, but seems to do exactly what it is advertised to do: return energy to the runner and absorb shock. As far as ride is concerned on the Boston's, there is less give than the Energy Boost 2, but for faster running that seems to work for me. I find the ride semi-stiff with just enough flexibility. The best part is the nice little 'pop' I get off the ground, making running with a higher turnover smoother and easier, especially making pace changes. There's no "sinking" into the shoe feeling, which I like.
Underneath is a fair amount of rubber, but it's not your garden variety, either. Basically, this shoe has tires on it. Continental, the tire company, is the manufacturer of the outsole . I have put at least 100 miles on the Boston's, and the only sign of wear is the dust that has collected on the upper. The mid and outsole look much the same. As long as the material on top holds up, these will be in the rotation a long time! Did I mention they're kind of fun to run in?!
|My "performance tires" :) Notice the trail dust|
Now for the Energy Boost. While I was not ready to pay the $160 sticker price, I found a pair on Holabirdsports.com for half that and snatched them up. I expected them to feel a lot like the Boston's, but that was not the case at all-and that is okay. They are noticeably more built-up than the Boston's which look much like a racing flat with their simple design. The upper is a stretchy material that feels like a sock, except seems to hold the foot in place just enough-it is very different for those who are used to a "lot" of shoe for their daily driver (such as overlay-heave Asics models, etc.). Again, the fit works for me, narrow and pointy. I ran 7 miles in them the day I got them with no issues.
One quirky feature that may turn some off (but I find ideal for me) is the plastic "saddle" in the mid foot. There is no give upon lacing up, and if you go too tight, you know it. One day I got a little carried away and had to stop and adjust. Some people complain of irritation, but I guess it depends on the individual. I love that there is "no play" in the mid foot and I feel locked down mile after mile.
|The mid foot "cage" on the Energy Boost 2|
Another difference between the Boston and Energy 2 is the amount of Boost foam in the midsole. There is noticeable more in the Energy Boost, which does feel really bouncy when you first set you-almost catching you off guard. Slower paced running feels squishier, but running moderate is a great experience where those with good biomechanics feel like they're practically floating. There is not much ground feel, but the protection makes me not think twice about running in them. Consistent shock absorption and a snug feel equal peace of mind for Adrienne. Some of my runs have felt like borderline cheating, but whatever!
This model does not have the continental outsole, but a plastic plate is inserted to provide some stability. While I continue to strengthen my feet, the Torsion plate underfoot seems to do the job for me. The 'tires' on the Boston seem to provide a little more traction, but I have had no problem taking the Boost on some light trails.
There is not much listed weight difference between the two, with the Boston at 7.7, and the Boost at 8.5 (on average, some sites list it differently) . The Boost 2 feels weight appropriate, but the Boston to me feels lighter than advertised, likely because of how responsive it is.
Both models, even though well north of $100, may last considerably longer than similar models. So have I found a forever shoe? Maybe, maybe not. But these two have gotten the job done flawlessly as I build up and get faster. I would not recommend these to everybody, but those narrow-footed, fairly efficient runners who want something that can take a beating, this may be for you.
The biggest take-home message of this post is to find as personalized a fit as possible when it comes to a running shoe. Trends are great, shoes are great-looking nowadays, but for the best performance and safety in the long run, find that shoe that matches the runner. You'll be glad you did.
Thank you for reading my long-winded take on two new models by Adidas. I was late to the party of this new tech, but glad I came!
Have you found "the shoe" that fully meets what you need?
Stay the course.