I Wear My Adidas [Supernova Glide 6 Boosts] Review


I recently had the chance to do a test run in the brand spankin’ new adidas Supernova Glide 6 Boost, part of the new lineup of Boost shoes from adidas complementing the original Energy Boost.  [NOTE: What follows is a semi-lengthy explanation of the BOOST technology, to jump to the review of the Glide itself, click here.]

You may notice the common denominator between these two shoes is the word “Boost,” which refers to Adidas’ proprietary BOOST mid-sole.  In an interview with GearInstitute.com, adidas America’s Director of Running, Mikal Pveto, described the BOOST mid-sole as a “non-EVA foam that is made up of individual energy storing capsules that are then blown together in a unique molding process. During the development process, each capsule forms a skin on the outside which, when blown together forms the technology called Boost. There are more than 2,000 individual capsules in a size 9 Energy Boost shoe.”  According to adidas, BOOST mid-soles last longer than traditional EVA foam and aren’t affected by temperature, particularly the cold.  Anyone who has left their shoes in the car in the winter knows that they always feel stiff afterwards.  A shoe that doesn’t become a rock in the cold is no small thing when training through the winter.

When the Energy Boost was first released, retail stores were given displays that had you drop a metal ball on a wire onto a traditional EVA foam pad and another onto a pad made out of the BOOST material.  Now, you’d expect that adidas wouldn’t encourage this comparison if they weren’t fairly certain that the ball would bounce up higher from the BOOST pad than the standard one and, lo and behold, that’s exactly what happens, providing a fun visual on the relative springiness/bounciness of BOOST compared to EVA.  adidas even released a video demonstrating the test.


Of course, the question is, does BOOST work as advertised?  Runner’s World confirmed through mechanical testing that the BOOST mid-sole did behave as advertised.  In a blog post, Amby Burfoot described the findings of biomechanist Martyn Shorten, PhD, director of the Runner’s World Shoe Lab: “Martyn confirmed what adidas is claiming: the shoe has ‘industry leading’ energy return (more on this soon), thin and lightweight but effective cushioning, tremendous resistance to heat and cold, and more durability (perhaps twice as much) as conventional EVA midsoles. The boost midsole is a TPU foam that some describe as styrofoam-like, but both compressible and springy.”  Burfoot remained skeptical though about whether the mechanical testing results would necessarily translate into running performance.

After Burfoot’s piece, Peter Larson of RunBlogger.com described the results of a study done by the University of Calgary entitled “Running shoe cushioning properties can influence oxygen consumption.”  Larson writes:

“The study utilized a fairly simple methodology. Twelve runners ran both overground and on a treadmill in shoes with the Boost midsole and in identical shoes with a sole composed of more traditional EVA foam. While running, their oxygen consumption was monitored as a measure of running economy (increased oxygen consumption at a given pace = lower economy).

Results indicated that in both treadmill and overground running the subjects were slightly more economical in the shoes with the Boost midsole (differences were statistically significant). Here are the numbers:

O2 Consumption

O2 Consumption

 

 

EVA Shoe

BOOST Shoe

% Difference

Treadmill

44.7 ml/kg/min

44.3 ml/kg/min

0.9%

Overground

40.7 ml/kg/min

40.3 ml/kg/min

1.1%

Though the differences were significant, the actual differences were quite small between the shoes on both running surfaces. Thus, BOOST improved economy by about 1%.”  It’s worth reading the rest of the post to get more of Larson’s opinions on the subject.

Now, on to the Glide Boost (hereafter referred to as the “Glide”) itself.  First impressions, the Glide Boost is a looker.  It comes in two colors for men, a relatively conservative blue, black and white option, and a stylish neon yellow color brought over from the Energy.  The women’s version also comes in two colors, a predominantly black and predominantly gray version.

The dimpled white mid-sole you see is the BOOST in all its glory.  One thing to bear in mind is that, unlike the Energy, the Glide does have some EVA foam, but it has BOOST where you need it, including a cut-out in the EVA in the forefoot for a BOOST crash pad.  When you first slip on the shoe you may feel that bad in the forefoot but it’s not noticeable on the run.  What is noticeable though is a feeling of bounciness when you take your first few strides.  I count myself as a skeptic when it comes to technology that seems like a gimmick, like a mid-sole that claims to have the highest energy return EVER, but I have to admit, the Boost feels unlike any other running shoe I’ve worn (except for that time I tried the Energy, I guess).

Here’s the thing though, just because a shoe feels springy and soft doesn’t mean it’s going to perform well.  I tend to like a firm ride to my shoes, especially when it comes to uptempo training.  What I loved about the Glides was that they felt cushioned when I was going at a slower pace but firm and responsive when I picked it up.  My test run was essentially laps around the Boston Common, which features a long, moderately steep hill then slight downhills and flats.  I pushed the uphills at good clip (for me at least) and never felt like I was squishing through the shoe, quite the opposite in fact.  The Glides felt swift underfoot, never clunky.  Taking the pace back down during the recovery phase, I noticed the BOOST energy return more again.  All this is to say I think the shoe would perform equally well on a long, slow distance run as a quicker tempo run.

One other thing to mention is that the run was on particularly slick sidewalks fresh off a Nor’Easter, a not-uncommon condition for Boston.  I inadvertently gave myself a good chance to see how the Glides perform in the winter by stepping of a sidewalk directly into a deep, icy puddle.  Though my feet were fairly frozen immediately thereafter, the shoes dried remarkably well and I was soon back to normal.  Just to prove that one time wasn’t a fluke, I did it again later in the run.  Maybe I should look closer when stepping off sidewalks…but I digress.  Aiding in traction on the sidewalks is a section of Continental (like the car tires) rubber on the toe section.  I did find that I had more grip on that section of the foot than the rest of the shoe, but it was otherwise on par with other running shoes I’ve used in similar conditions.

Glide Outsole

I wear a size 10 in most running shoes but found that a 9.5 fit me well in the Glides.  Having a wider foot, I had to really loosen up the bottom laces to get a comfortable fit, but that did the trick.  That leads me to the one thing I would change about the Glides i.e. the lacing system.  I found it difficult to get even tension across the laces, which are of the non-stretchy variety but eventually was able to get it dialed in.

I’d heartily recommend that neutral runners check out the adidas Supernova Glide 6 BOOST.  Even as over-pronator, I thought the shoe worked well for me.  It may even become my go-to trainer…time will tell.  For now though, do yourself a favor, try on a pair of BOOSTs and see if it puts a bounce in your step!

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