Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I Run Therefore I Am..... a Marble?

Here's my two cents on a shoe which had created a big stir before it was launched. 

Kudos to Adidas for having achieved the buzz, even though the answer to the title of this post is: "no, I ain't no marble"

Much to my chagrin, I bought into the marble buzz and here I am with the boost.

The last Adidas I'd purchased was the Adizero Feather, which didn't agree with my wide feet. My "experience" can be summed up in the following photo (December 2011, after my first, and last, 10K in the Adizeros).

The Boost intrigues me because of the new outsole material, AND, the purported "stretchy" TECHFIT upper material.

When I picked up the shoes (where I still had a chance to decline purchase if the forefoot is not roomy enough), I was pleasantly surprised to step into the shoes, and found the Boost to be adequately sized around the forefoot area, aided by the stretchy Techfit upper. Would it be comfortable enough to run in though? 

I took the boost out for a 5K run this morning, and here is my experience:

FIT: I have wide feet (the NB store people says I need 4E), and this plays a lot into my shoe choice. The Boost's "Techfit" upper lives up to its promise, as it accommodates my forefoot comfortably. There are only 5 eyelets for the shoelace (as opposed to the normal 6 to 7, see photo below), which means more of the mid-to-forefoot area is covered with the stretchy Techfit.

Having been blistered by previous Adidas, my main concern is not getting one in these. The boost stretched well during the run, but I felt tightness towards the midfoot (just inside of the second eyelet). I am hoping that this tightness would disappear with more runs in the boost (instead of becoming a hotspot, as these shoes are too expensive to become, well, a hotspot). Fit-wise, using "snug-but-comfortable" as the parameter, I'd give the Boost a temporary 6,5 out of 10.

TOEBOX: I have separated this, because a generous toebox is very important for me. To help promote a more natural stride, I only wear 5-finger socks. In the same context, I also prefer a flexible outsole, and this first variant of the boost is not flexible. As for the toebox, the boost is adequate in this regard; I can feel my toes having relative freedom to splash-and-splay within the confines of the forefoot area. I am quite pleased to have run blister-free in an Adidas for the first time.

RIDE and COMFORT: I was pleasantly surprised to find the Boost weighs in at 300 gram (10,6 oz) per shoe (size 11,5 US). This is pretty light, which is a major plus point in a shoe's comfort factor for me.

In terms of comfort, I did experience the aforementioned tightness around the midfoot area during the run. Overall though, I ran comfortably in the Boost. 

I am used to shoes with heel-to-toe drop of around 6 mm or less. I asked +Peter Larson over at Runblogger, and he estimated the Boost to have a 10 mm drop. I did notice a lot of heel material in these shoes, and the Boost didn't feel as natural as I'd like. I am looking forward to future variants of the Boost, with a lower drop than this first iteration.

In terms of ride, the "this-will-change-running-forever" and marble-bouncing outsole fell short of expectation. Even though I know I'm not a marble, I still expected to bounce in these shoes. During the run, the mid and outsole felt (surprisingly) a bit hard, with some springy action felt throughout the run. To Adidas' credit, this is the first sole that did not feel soft, yet have that springy feeling (to my feet).
TECHNOLOGY: I am always wary about shoe-related "technology," as I believe that the primary "technician," i.e. the runner, is the most important part of the endeavor. Case in point would be the following three shoes with "innovative" technologies (from top to bottom) =  the Boost, the HOKAS with the Hubble outsole, and the ON Clouds with the pods on the outsole.

Amongst these three shoes, I would rank them: (1) Hoka (2) Boost (3) On Cloud.

The HOKA's combination of ample (and comfortably soft without being squishy) cushioning and low drop (4 mm) has proven to work for me. Given that I've only ran 5K in the Boost, and I still prefer it over the On Cloud, may mean the new outsole's technology does have merit.

CONCLUSION: With just one run, I cannot say too much about the Boost. The new outsole material DOES feel different (positive) than other shoes', and, the Techfit upper is excellent. 

In terms of value for money, unfortunately the Boost falls short. It is a pretty expensive pair of shoes, and the over-hyped marketing buzz may actually do more harm than good. IF the Boost had been priced at, say, 30% less, it would be a GOOD BUY. 

In terms of looks, I must say Adidas got it right. These shoes look GREAT in black (no choice for the pre-order crowd), and that in itself is a plus point. 

I am looking forward to more runs in the Boost, and that's always a good thing (especially at the shoe's price point).

UPDATE (Sunday, March 3rd 2013):

Just did a 10 K in the Boost. Can't say enough good things about the upper Techfit material, which makes the shoe feel like a "compression shoe." As for the "will-change-running-forever" boost outsole, again it felt positively different, not soft but springy. This shoe will definitely get lots of "playtime" in my shoe rotation.

In terms of overall value, at $150 (or Rp.1,6 million here in Indonesia), I still think the Boost is significantly overpriced. Skecher's Resalyte material on the GoRun Ride also gives a different kind of springy and bouncy feeling, and it is priced HALF of the Boost, AND the Ride is considerably lighter at 235 grams (vs. the Boost's 300 gram. The difference in the shoes' weight is important because research shows it affects running economy). Comparing the Boost to another shoe at the Boost's price range, the Hoka Eva Stinson (which is also a very bouncy pair of shoes), I prefer the Hokas for long runs.

Now, if only Adidas will introduce a 4mm to zero-drop shoe, with tall stack height (utilizing this Boost outsole material) and Techfit upper, and do it all in an under 10 oz (285 gr) package, that will be something indeed.

IMHO the current variant of the Boost can be summed up as "a rather overpriced marble-licious shoe" (this is a compliment).


  1. Great review - I've run in the Boost twice and my feelings are identical to your. Upper is nice but a bit tight in the midfoot, and I think that to benefit from the sole you need to run with a pronounced heel strike. Interestingly, I also feel that the On Cloudracer is the closest comparison - midfoot-forefoot strikers are not going to notice anything spectacular about the soles of these shoes, but when you walk in them or force a heel strike the difference is apparent.

    1. Thanks Pete, it's an honor to receive such comments (and retweet) from you. IMO the boost is a special shoe, just not $150 special. And I still can't get over that marble bouncing ad (it would be a different story had they dropped a 100 pound marble on the same small sheet of boost material). Just want to say again, "Tread Lightly" is a gread read. Cheers.

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  3. Kudos to Adidas for having achieved the buzz, even though the ...

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