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Kasumigaura Marathon 2016

When \\\\\\\"blustery\\\\\\\" wasn\\\\\\\'t even the right word. Read the race report here!

31st Marathon and my 6th Consecutive GCAM. Race report here.


adidas Energy Boost Review

Since the dawn of the built-up (or beefy) running shoe, shoe companies have been touting “energy return” as one of the features of their products. From actual spring coils, air, liquid, gel or foam, the shoes are supposed to re-use the force generated from your footstrike to propel you to your next. Unsurprising then that when adidas announced, in no small fanfare, that their new Boost midsole technology will revolutionize the running shoe by providing the “highest energy return in the running industry”. Strong claims which had shoe reviewers and runners raise their eyebrows. Then Dennis Kimetto won the 2013 Tokyo Marathon with the course record time of 2:06:50 wearing a pair of “Boosted” flats. The usage of the Boost midsole was also expanded to include models in the AdiStar and AdiZero range.

Since I’m not a scientist nor one trained in biomechanics, I’ll leave the ruminations in that area to the experts, namely Pete Larson and Amby Burfoot (fascinating post here). As suggested by Amby, “When you try out the Adidas Energy Boost, don’t imagine that you’ll bounce effortlessly off the road or run as fast as Haile Gebrselassie. Instead, run in the store or on the nearby sidewalk and ask yourself: Does this shoe feel like a natural extension of my body? Does it feel like it was almost custom-designed for my feet? Does it give me a smooth, crisp “ride” when I run in it?” In essence, cut out the marketing talk and feel the run. So that’s what I’m going to do – focus on the wear experience.

Because there’s been much focus on the marketing aspect of the shoe, it’s hard to completely disassociate a review from the new tech, so I’ll quickly cover what’s the midsole is all about. The Boost midsole (created by BASF) does away with the traditional EVA (Ethyl Vinyl Acetate) foam for TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) that’s been blown up and fused into a few thousand little units. The material is also said to be more resistant to changes in temperatures and breakdown over the miles run. In the hands, the material feels and looks exactly like packing foam, very soft to the touch.

9.7oz for a size 10 without sockliner

With sockliner.

Closeup of the Techfit upper. The little pod is part of miCoach system. It’s ANT+ so I have it linked to my Garmin. Read it here

For a shoe this thick and bulky – 31/21 for a 10mm drop – the Energy Boost feels relatively light. The upper is made of a stretchy material comparative to Skechers GORun Ride’s. I was handed a size 10, which is 0.5 larger than my usual sizing and it was a good call since the shoe has been reported to fit narrow as with all adidas. The trend among shoe companies are leaning towards having external bands (like the Kinvaras, asics DS Trainer, Mizuno Wave Sayonara) to provide minimal structure to the upper. adidas brands their upper design, which has what look like the Powerbands found on their compression wear, Techfit.

Slide your foot into the sock-like (not sure if they’re neoprene) upper and you’ll immediately feel as if your foot is wrapped very snugly. Needless to say, choice of socks and proper sizing are critical, like I said going half a size up would be a good starting point when testing the shoes out. Similar to the Endofit found in the high end Salomons (which I found to be really comfortable), the Energy Boost has an inner sleeve integrated with the tongue which hugs the midfoot. Several reviewers on the Runningwarehouse site commented on breathability issues, to which I didn’t find to be much of a problem.

At the rear is a padded collar and a stripped down heel counter like that of the Nike Lunar Eclipse. The heel counter integrates nicely with several cinch points on the upper overlays to enhance the fit further. This heel section has one of the most comfortable setup I’ve experienced in a built up shoe. It’s soft with just enough elements to ensure a good fit.

miCoach ready so you can insert the pod into the small cavity here. You can see the Boost foam in the footbed.

Closeup of the Boost midsole. Like packing foam innit?

As mentioned earlier, the midsole thickness is quite substantial. It’s a one piece slab of the Boost foam with no cutaways. A thin piece of plastic, the company’s torsion device, is embedded on the midsole. A peek under the removable sockliner shows the shoe to be miCoach ready. I previously wrote about the miCoach system here. A thin hardwearing outsole completes the package. There’s however an odd bumper at the heel, like that found on the Altra Lone Peak or many of adidas’ own trail shoes. How the heck did that find its way here?

Once you’ve laced up and stand in the Boost, you’ll at once notice the softness of the shoe and you’ll feel a little bounce. The heel is a tad like the Hoka except it’s a touch softer. Walking around confirms the (very) smooth ride, hardly restrictive at all. There’s enough overall flexibility.

I’ve done 3 runs in the Boost – a 6.6K, 16K and 23K – to know how they perform. Here’s what I think. I didn’t feel the purported bounce while running but the shoe provides a silky smooth ride. It has plenty of cushioning but not to the point of dampening every last bit of road feel. Heel strikers would probably feel the thick heel cushioning but I couldn’t ascertain that since I was hitting the road midfoot.Despite running in humid conditions the feared sweaty feet feeling didn’t happen.

I’ll be very curious as to the Boost implementation on the AdiZero range where I think it holds the greatest promise. Cut away the thickness, bring the drop down to 4-6mm and I think it’ll make an awesome marathon racing shoe. Due to its bulk, the Energy Boost is best worn for slow and easy runs. Going faster in them felt tedious and going uphill seems to be taking some effort. On the flats and downhill are where this shoe shines. If you can take the price hit, runs mostly easy miles and lean more towards heel striking, you might want to give the Boost a try.

The Energy Boost is already available nationwide at the adidas Performance Concept stores and retails at RM550. They were seeded to me courtesy of adidas Malaysia. Boost equipped AdiZeroes are already in the launch pipeline in a a few weeks’ time.

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