Are carbon shoes worth it for a middle-of-the-pack runner?

The price point of the lightest, fastest shoes is a bit steep for many recreational athletes, and the small benefit they gave may not be worth it. If you have the money and want some fancy speed work and racing shoes, then you should pick up a pair but they aren’t a necessity.

Before we dig into all the specifics on the Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 2, I absolutely love these shoes for their intended purposes. 

I may not be fast and I haven’t tested a ton of carbon-planted shoes but of the two, these are hands down my favorite. The other pair is the Nike Vapor Fly Next 2% and a review of those will be coming, most likely in April. Not that the Nikes are bad, I just prefer the Adidas. YMMV.

First, a little about me. I am a mid-pack runner who has an affinity for shoes with a good ground feel and not too much cushion. I don’t want to feel like I’m running on a cloud. I know, I know, I’m the weirdo here. I run anywhere from 15-40 plus miles a week depending on what I’m training for. And I much prefer trails but spend most of my time on the roads.

When I first took these out the very first thing I noticed was there wasn’t any ground feel and tons of cushioning. It wasn’t looking good for the Adizero Adios Pro 2 but as I settled into my speed work I didn’t mind the cushioning so much. They are definitely bouncy and I felt I was moving more up and down than usual (per my Garmin heart rate monitor, I was).

I usually run on the sidewalk and some dirt paths in my neighborhood. The Adizero Adios Pro 2 is NOT for dirt paths. Definitely stick to sidewalks or roads and try to avoid any rocks that may be on the sidewalk. This may be a Phoenix-specific issue as all yards are made of rock and somehow end up on the sidewalk. There is not much traction on these shoes so hitting a rock gives you that momentary “Oh shit I’m going down feeling” but so far *knocks on wood* I haven’t actually taken a dive. 

I also struggled on tight turns. Not the best for a quick pivot but great when taking a normal turn or curve. 

While running in the Adizero Adios Pro 2, it did feel easier to propel me forward. I used these shoes for different speedwork sessions, usually a 1-2 mile warm-up followed by some sort of repeats or intervals. I felt a difference while wearing these compared to regular shoes in terms of fatigue. I felt I could go longer, farther, and faster in them. It did not feel as hard on my legs as when I wear say an everyday pair of Brooks. The extra bounce helped me to keep going.

Now for the boring technical stuff. 

Sizing: Unisex 

I had to re-lace them to avoid heel slippage but wore the equivalent to 8 in women (street shoe women’s 7.5

Weight: 7.5 ounces

Drop: 7.5mm

Upper contains 50% recycled material

The upper is very sheer and breathable but still feels supportive.

If you are a new runner, I would say don’t spend your money on these shoes just yet. Get some mileage and races under your belt and then decide if these are worth the money. If you are more experienced and looking for a boost, give these a try. As I said, they aren’t a necessity (especially since they are so pricey) but if you have the money and want a racing shoe I say pick up a pair of the Adidas Adizero Adios Pro! 

What do you think of carbon-plated shoes? Would you grab a pair? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

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Jenna Volden has a degree in business and has spent the last 10 plus years working for others. She believes it is time to start her own photography and writing business. She enjoys running, coffee and helping others achieve their goals. Gluten-free foods are a lifestyle, not a choice, for her due to celiac disease. She is currently based in Phoenix, Arizona.