ADIDAS PRIME X STRUNG - First Impressions
Posted on May 19 2023
When you first unbox this shoe its really makes an impression. The sheer scale of the midsole is something to behold.
In the ranks of super shoes this is the super, super shoe. Having that much cushioning immediately makes it formally illegal for WAA events but then again there are other manufacturers out there (New Balance for instance) who have also pushed the boundaries of the limit and put a shoe out with way beyond the defined limit.
So what is the point of the shoe?. In my opinion, this is a shoe that intends to produce an experience during your run that few other shoes can give. It's the ultimate energy return machine in a world that is hooked on the maximum energy return possible. For many, the fact that is illegal for formal racing is pretty irrelevant unless you intend to podium in some WAA event. There are a lot of other shoes that don't make the cut either.
I actually went down 1/2 a size as I felt they run quite big.
So lets talk about the technicals first.
The midsole. 49.5mm at the heel, 41.5mm at the forefoot of adidas' premium Lightstrike Pro foam. This is built in three distinct layers and has a carbon plate under the heel, carbon infused rods in the forefoot and a TPU plate also in the forefoot to add even more rigidity to the whole construction. The shoe is incredible stiff and absolutely does not bend. This is of course intentional and relies on the rocker geometry to produce the roll off for a fast forward movement.
The Upper. Equally striking. The upper is constructed from individual strands of thread that are woven on a specific machine which adds extra threads where strength is required, and fewer when a more open construction will do. These threads are them bound together with some form of "glue" to form the one piece upper. This feels quite stiff to the touch and more of this later in the review.
There is no formal heel counter but the stiffness of the thread and glue construction creates the same effect as a quite stiff heel counter.
The Outsole. Quite similar to the outsole as the Adios Pro 3 with Continental rubber which is a reliable grip compound. There is more of a tread pattern on the Prime X and a bit more thickness.
The total package comes in at 255g compared to the Pro 3 at 215g. The extra 40g is noticeable and not surprising with the additional foam and carbon and TPU plates in the midsole. It also retails for $2299 compared to $1899 for the Pro 3.
The Ride: Many surprises, let me try to start with a few. Firstly when you get the shoes on they are actually quite difficult to walk in. Most people when walking will engage their heel more than when they run, except if you are a heavy heel striking runner. This shoe is absolutely not built for people who engage their heel whether is walking or running. That 49.5mm of marshmallowy soft foam, even with the stabilising plate will just go anywhere your foot pushes it and that means you will just fall of the shoe if you impact anywhere other than perfectly centrally on the heel. So when you walk, you wobble.
I am not a big heel striker when I run so this problem goes away when you get into your stride but if you over or under pronate or if you are planning to run downhill (where you are more likely to engage your heel) this is not the shoe for you. Then again, there are many super shoes that are the same but with this exaggerated heel stack, the effect is magnified.
Also, your route will be better if flat and smooth. no potholes, no uneven tarmac, certainly no loose stones or even the slightest trail and definitely not steps. Stay well away from all of that.
Having said all that, if you have a nice smooth route planned, and you are a runner who lands on their mid or forefoot be prepared for something quite unique. The energy return and the feeling of forward motion is incredible. Absolutely stunning!. Especially noticeable when running up a slight gradient when its easier to pound the forefoot of the shoe. Also more noticeable when you step up the pace, the more you put in, the more you get out.
One other difference I noticed with the Pro 3 is that in the Pro 3 the roll off tends to be towards the outside of the shoe. With this the toe off is straight.
On that stiff upper, yes you have to be careful about lacing because that impacts the way the upper creases and if you get it wrong the crease can bite into the top of your foot. I had to mess a round a bit to get it right. Once sorted however the upper is very structured and hold the foot well. I have read a couple of reviews that have had some heel slippage but I did not experience this at all.
CONCLUSION: This is a specialist shoe. It is built for people who run on their midfoot or forefoot and have good biometrics. It is unforgiving for anyone else. If you can run like that you will find the shoe to be superb for as long as you can maintain that form. The energy return is tremendous and you will fly, that's for sure. Its also quite an investment and to get a return you will need to work on how to run in the shoe.
You might also want to think if your running strength (core for instance) is strong enough to get you through the marathon. If you loose form towards the end, these shoes will punish you. You need good core and form all the time.
I do actually like the shoes a lot, I like the challenge of getting that fantastic response which you need to work for. They often say, a normal car driver would absolutely not be able to drive a F1 car, its a different experience and skill set. Obviously this is not as extreme but it is a good analogy. Learn how to run in these shoes and you will feel the benefit. Just don't expect it to be easy!!
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