I’ve been running for most of my life, but I didn’t really consider myself a runner until just over a decade ago. What I mean is that, around that time, I started to take my gear, pace, and form a bit more seriously. I started training slow to race fast. I began thinking about how my feet hit the ground and how my shoulders and posture could power stronger breaths. I went from buying whatever running shoe was on sale and looked cute to researching what might be best for my body.
And in 2013 that research led me to the Adidas Energy Boost (check out the near-ancient press release here). It was the first shoe with Adidas’s now legendary Boost midsole, and for me the shoe offered the perfect combination of responsiveness plus cushion. Since then, I’ve been hooked on running in Adidas. Over the years I’ve raced and trained in the Adidas Ultraboost, Ultraboost X, Ultraboost 19, Ultraboost 20 Primeblue, AdiZero Pro, and Supernova.
So when I heard about the next iteration—the Ultraboost 21—I figured I was in for a good run. Turns out, I wasn’t disappointed.
How I Tested
I wore these shoes on several treadmill runs (because it’s cold right now in New York!), two quick (chilly!) outdoor jogs, and during multiple strength-training sessions.
I run multiple times per week, and since I’m currently training for a virtual half-marathon, I’m upping my mileage as I go. As such, having a good pair of cushioned shoes for that day-in and day-out mileage has been key to protecting my old-lady knees (which I’ve mentioned before).
I’ve been using Apple Fitness+ and Variis by Equinox apps to keep my treadmill workouts spicy and have been logging three to five miles on weekdays, plus tempo work, and then doing a long run on the weekends. See SELF’s full sneaker-buying criteria and testing recommendations here.
Like so many running shoes, the Ultraboost features a socklike knit upper, without a tongue that hugs your foot, and squeezes in that perfect amount on the arch of your feet. The laces are there to tighten the shoe, but honestly, I barely needed them to get a good snug fit. The upper uses Primeblue, a “high-performance recycled material,” per the brand, made in part with plastic that’s been collected from the ocean.
Like our experts recommended, I had about a half inch of space in the toe box, which felt perfect before, during, and after my run. One unique aspect I noticed was the lip at the back of the shoe. It’s cushioned more than most and comes up a bit higher (though it lacks a heel loop), so it made sliding in and out of these shoes especially easy. It also meant there was no weird rubbing on my Achilles heel or around the ankles. Even before running, I had a feeling from the snug fit and cushioned ankle support that this would be a comfortable, supportive shoe.
Shape of the Shoe
If you’ve been following the progression of the Ultraboost (no? just me?), you’ll notice right away that the big difference in this edition is in the silhouette. The toe curls up more in the front; the heel is way more spherical than previous editions.