adidas Adizero Adios 2 Running Shoe Review

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“Kenyan runners race in low-support shoes, but they mostly train in big, chunky, cushioned sneakers, just like your average, plodding Western jogger. Oddly, though, and contrary to Lee’s (Saxby) theories, these big shoes don’t force the Kenyans to run heel first. They virtually all run in a lovely, smooth forefoot-first style – what Lee would term “barefoot style.” The shoes, it seems, make no difference.

-Adharanand Finn, Running With the Kenyans

Several months ago I was contacted by a rep from Adidas inquiring if I’d be interested in reviewing a few pairs of shoes from their Adizero line. At the time, I suggested that the adidas Hagio seemed to be my kind of shoe (and it has turned out to be just that – see adidas Hagio review here), but they offered to send along a pair of the Adios 2 as well (disclosure: this shoe was a review sample provided free of charge by the manufacturer). I was really hesitant to agree to trying the Adios as it has a higher heel-forefoot differential than I typically run in (9mm drop – 24mm heel, 15mm forefoot according to Running Warehouse), but I was persuaded by the folks at adidas to give it a go. After all, it is the racing shoe worn by many of the elite African marathoners, so it couldn’t hurt to at least try the shoe worn by major marathon winners and World Record setters.

I really didn’t anticipate putting a lot of miles on the Adios. I suspected I’d wear it a few times, decide that I didn’t like it, and write a review saying as much. However, I’ve wound up running in the shoe quite a bit more than I expected(probably around 50 miles now), and am rather surprised by how it has performed.

Adidas Adios 2 SideAdidas Adios 2 Medial

Adidas Adios 2 Sole

I opened this review with a quote from the soon-to-be-released book Running With the Kenyans by Anharanand Finn. I’m only about 100 pages into the book (it’s fantastic so far – you can pre-order it from Amazon if you are interested), and he writes a bit about running form and footwear (Finn made a transition to barefoot-style form just prior to moving to Iten, Kenya for six months with his family). One of the things that surprised him is that despite stories of Kenyans running barefoot, most of the high level adult runners train in big, cushy footwear. Yet, he observes, they retain barefoot-style form (presumably learned through significant barefoot running in childhood).

How the heck does this anecdote about Kenyan runners and their shoes relate to a review of the adidas Adios? Well, I’m now about 1.5 years into my own transition to barefoot-style running form, and at this point I’ve come to find that I can run in just about anything and retain this style. I may heel strike a bit from time to time, more-so with some shoes than others, but my cadence stays high and I don’t tend to overstride regardless of the shoes on my feet. I can’t even force myself to do the heel mashing, 45 degree angle between the sole and ground that is so common in recreational runners wearing big shoes. Running in zero drop shoes now rarely causes me calf soreness. My new form seems to be ingrained, and it now just feels normal. The wear pattern on the Adios seems to support this – there is zero wear on the most posterolateral heel (see photo below), and the wear along the lateral edge extends from the anterior heel to the posterior forefoot. This suggests to me a midfoot strike to a mild heel strike in the Adios. Nothing like the days when I was running in heavy stability shoes with a 12mm lift – I used to trash the heels of shoes like that.

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My runs in the Adios have for the most part been quite enjoyable. The shoe is fairly lightweight (just over 8oz in size 10), extremely firm, and it feels very responsive. It’s also a rather stiff shoe, more suited to racing than use as an everyday training shoe, but I can understand why this is a racing shoe of choice for many elite marathoners. It’s a shoe made for fast running. I can even see the 9mm heel differential as being useful for offloading the calf muscles a bit in a long race, particularly for those not used to running in flatter shoes. That being said, given a choice I would personally opt for less heel than what the Adios offers, particularly for training and any race shorter than a marathon (I used the Adidas Hagio for a 5K a few weeks ago and it worked out great – the Hagio is currently my favorite racing flat).

Adidas Adios 2 Top

The Adios is not without its downsides however. The interior is scratchy and not suitable for sockless running, which is not a deal breaker, but given some of the great uppers out there nowadays I find it surprising when a shoe pays seemingly little attention to interior feel. My bigger issue with the Adios is that the toebox is too tapered at the front. The width is fine at the ball of my forefoot, but from that point forward the shoe tapers to a very distinct point, which causes considerable toe scrunching, particularly the little toe. Going up a half size might help with this, but I much prefer the forefoot shape of the Hagio to that of the Adios (I do feel like the Adios runs about a half size smaller than the Hagio, which might be part of the problem). If there is one single factor that would keep the Adios out of my regular rotation, the tapered toebox would be it (a bit surprising to me as I thought the heel would be the problem).

Adidas Adios 2 HeelOne thing that I do like about the heel of the Adios is that the posterolateral heel is sculpted upward just a bit (see photo at left – the region under the black portion of the midsole). That is, the lateral portion of the heel does not rest flush with the ground when the shoe is placed on a flat surface, and this may help to avoid premature contact of the heel with the ground on the run.

Perhaps what I have enjoyed most about the Adios is simply that, as discussed above, it has helped me to confirm that my running form has indeed changed. The fact that I can run in a shoe like this one and not tear apart the heel like I used to is somewhat gratifying.

The adidas Adios is not a shoe that I would recommend to someone looking for good ground feel, and it’s not a shoe that will do much to promote form change in those who are looking for some help from a more minimal pair of shoes. That being said, it might be a good first step for someone looking to transition slowly downward if they can handle the tapered toebox. It’s also a decent choice as a racing shoe for people who do all of their miles in more traditional 12mm drop shoes – it’s not as big a deviation from what they are used to as a flat with a lower differential. For minimalists, there’s not a lot in this shoe that will appeal, but that’s not really the target audience for a shoe like this. For me, the adidas Hagio meets my needs and fits me better than the Adios, so this is probably not a shoe that will see a lot of action on my feet going forward. That being said, I’m glad that I accepted the offer to try this one out.

For an alternative take on this shoe, check out the adidas Adios 2 review by Brian Martin at Running Technique Tips.

The adidas Adizero Adios 2 is available for purchase at Running Warehouse.

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Recent Posts By Category: Running Shoe Reviews | Running Gear Reviews | Running Science

About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.

Comments

  1. Alexvanoostrum says:

    Hey Pete – nice review on the adios! Thanks for posting!

    Interesting point about maintaining form, I’ve just finished reading Dhar’s book also and he makes some interesting observations about form. I find it fascinating that coaches in Kenya seem to spend little time worrying what their athletes are running in… Because they all have fantastic form from running barefoot as kids! It seems that a shoe can’t teach great form!

    On the adios 2 I was at the london marathon a couple weeks back and as a shoe enthusiast was looking out for runners in adios as it’s my shoe of choice. Outside of Kipsang and maybe a couple of other Adidas sponsored runners there were a load of guys (both elite and Mr 3-4 hours) running in the first version of the shoe. I have both but haven’t yet put miles in the 2, however it seems that the general feeling was that the adios 1 was a super popular shoe and the update hasn’t offered anything new. In fact the reason the 1 is still sort after may be because it’s a little less fussy in the upper and gives a bit more flexibility as a result? Either way it’s a racing flat with a safety net and a great shoe!

    Al – thebeardedrunner.com

  2. CESAR OSWALDO ZOGHBI says:

    I had the old one and i have the new one and i could say that the old version was more flexible and more lightweight but was to soft for me the new oen is more firm more durable a have the best gripping outsole, in water is fantastic, would be great if the hell to toe drop will be at 4 or 5 mm but anyway is a fantastic shoe and better than the original

  3. Girl In Motion says:

    Adios have been my go-to training shoe for about a year (swapped with Kinvaras) – I adore the suckers. After spending so much time concerned about heel drop, I found that I don’t notice the lift on these at all.  I only wish you had also reviewed the previous version for a stiffness comparison. :)  Been buying the old version up because the new hard plastic heel looks like trouble but also, because the color scheme looks like dog puke.

    FYI, I snip into the shoes at the shoelace trim/frame and don’t lace the bottom 2 holes for a comfier fit.

    Edit: Just realized another change they made that ties in with your tight toebox remark, the previous version has less trim at the toes so more room for feet to splay, now it’s like a peephole so more constrained. Grrr.

  4. The old Adios looked a lot better then this one. I started out on the Adizero Rocket with 9 mm and I remember they were feeling very flat compared to what I had before. I have always had a soft spot for the Adizero line… maybe I should look into it again or just put on my old ones to see if I still like them.

  5. Elizabeth Maiuolo says:

    I am pretty sure Lee (and Dan Lieberman) would say something different than the opening: it’s not the shoe, it’s the biomechanics. Right? AND, you have proved that on yourself!;-)

    • Pete Larson says:

      That’s exactly what Finn is saying – they learn good biomechanics in childhood so the shoes don’t matter so much.

  6. Mark Richard says:

    Saxby didn’t say that! He has stated often in regards to elite runners not just Kenyan’s that they (elites) run with good form despite their shoes probably because they spent their early years barefoot!

  7. KingCaster says:

    Seems like a well-engineered if a bit narrow-focused shoe. It too is ugly though, just my $.02. I found you because of your review of the Brooks PureFlow, which is kind of ugly too except in black, again my opinion. At any rate it is just amazing the choices we have in tennis or running shoes these days. Interestingly, before I started running last fall I would only run on the beach, barefoot. Now I have the shoes to support that style on all terrain.
    Great journal!

  8. christopher says:

    Great review.  How do you feel about the Adios as a marathon shoe (instead of a training shoe)?  I am a forefoot landing runner (confirmed by my wear pattern).  I do most of my training in light, zero to low drop shoes including Merrell Road Glove and various racing flats; the Kinvara is the “most shoe” that I wear, which I reserve them for recovery days or runs longer than 12 miles.   I wore the Kinvaras in my last marathon, which worked out fine, but was wondering if something like the Adios (or any other shoe you’d recommend, I am also looking at the Asics Hyper Speed) could be helpful and improve performance.  Any thoughts and recommendations would be greatly appreciated.  Love your blog.  Thanks.

  9. Thanks for the review, Pete. Nice to see you’re giving Adidas some constructive attention. Their Adizero line may not for everyone, but with your feedback I could see them making tweaks to appeal to a larger American audience. I, for one, have been a fan the past couple of years.

  10. many thanks for your review. it has confirmed for me Ill be buying the hagio. the BIG question I have for that shoe is the sizing which you have alluded to here and in the hagio review. I am in Australia and so wont have a chance to ry on the hagio before buying. I take a size 11 Kinvara 2 which I use for marathons. I would use hagio for half marathons. would the sizing of an 11 hagio be the same as size 11 Kinvara 2? our running history being transition to more minimalist is almost identical.

  11. I was wondering when you’d get a chance to review these. But I knew from your previous reviews and putting over 100 miles on the Adios 2 myself that you wouldn’t be crazy about them. Personally, I love them. They are my shoe for Sugarloaf on 5/20. I also run in Kinvaras (4mm)and the Boston 2s and 3s (12mm) and don’t feel like my stride or footstrike changes with any of them. One thing I notice about the Adios 2, however, is that they feel much better at faster paces. They feel stiff at easy pace but that stiffness turns to responsiveness when I pick up the pace. 

    • Pete Larson says:

      I agree about the better feel at faster pace. I actually think I would use these more often if they just opened up the toebox a bit – scrunched toes drive me crazy. Wonder if sizing up would make a big difference – do you wear your standard size in them?

      • Yes, same size as all my shoes. I can understand not liking the toebox, though. I think shape is the most important thing in a shoe. It doesn’t bother me. I did have to mess with the laces a lot (on both the Adios and Boston) to get them right. I typically wear laces very loose or I get top of foot pain. Thanks for your reviews. Looking forward to your Kinvara 3 review ;o)

  12. dislike the adios2! as soon as I slipped them on I regretted ordering them. I really wish they would make a show extremeley similar to the original adios or re-release it. I may try the hagio because it seems closer to the orig adios

  13. Andrea Newbalance991 says:

    If you’re looking for a performance shoe to race or train in at high speeds for a sub 3 hour marathon or a 38 minute 10k then look no further. This shoe provokes lighting pace without the fear of slipping. The grip is so amazing this shoe could work off road and on track as well. I am working towards a 2.50 marathon in Brighton this year and after testing these out I now believe anything is possible what a find!!!

  14. Brian Martin says:

    Thanks for the mention Pete. Reminds me I need to get the Adios 2 back in rotation for a race or faster tempo run. Like you I’m mostly in flatter profile these days. I liked the old version more, but I think this shoe has the potential to give some runners a lift. Agree it’s a great “racing flat” for those used to 12mm drop trainers.

  15. Francois says:

    I agree with you, once your stride is changed, the shoes do not matter that much anymore. I’m still running with my Cumulus 12 from time to time, and I’m not heel striking. Once your legs are used to the new stride, it becomes the natural way of running. When I try to heel strike now, I give me awkward sensations. 

  16. Interesting. I don’t dislike the Adios 2. I picked up a pair when the Kinvara 3′s rubbed my heel the wrong way. But with the Adios, by mile 9 or so, the balls of my feet would hurt. I trained and ran a marathon in them (stupidly). I wonder if there’s something with my heel strike or I just need something that provide more cushioning. I run in the Virratas now.

    • I found the Adios 2 to be really pointy up front, squeezed my toes together. Wonder if that had something to do with it? Not sure if the Boost version is roomier or if sizing up did the trick, but I like these a lot better.

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  1. […] that it was the shoe on Geoffrey Mutai’s feet when he won the NYC Marathon didn’t hurt…). I reviewed the adidas Adios 2 last year and was surprised by how much I liked it, though the fit was tight up front and the heel […]

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