The shoes work by measuring your foot-strike with the computer chip, which controls a cable in the heel that either limits or loosens the cushioning space. Less space, harder cushioning. More space, softer cushioning. Beyond the chip is simple technology you can see through a small window to the midsole: the rotors that move the cable.
The technology works so that even if you don't feel it in the short run, over the life of the shoes about 600 miles, same as any other running shoe the cushioning will hold up better. Ordinary shoes flatten out after repeated pounding. These shoes shouldn't. Same thing on a long run, say 10 miles or so, which I never got around to trying with these shoes. As the miles on an individual run build up, the cushioning compresses, and toward the end of a long run, you're getting less cushioning than at the start. The adidas_1's adjust for this, so the end of a long run should be easier on your feet.
But maybe not. In my old age, I don't mind heavy-ish running shoes. Heavy usually means more cushioning and support. I need both. But the adidas_1's are hefty; my size 8.5 weighed in at 15 ounces, about 3.5 more ounces than the Asics Gels I now run in. On my longest runs about six miles these days I'd be lugging around an extra 1,733 pounds. A better workout? Sure. A more comfy one? No.
A long, long time ago, back when I was a hard-core runner, I wanted to have the latest and greatest. I was putting in 50 to 80 miles a week in the offseason, and like most runners who put in this kind of mileage, I'd cycle between two or three pairs, never wearing the same shoes two runs in a row. Besides my trainers, I had a collection of racing spikes and lightweight racing shoes, and a bin of shoes that just didn't work. But my favorites in high school were the first major variation of the revolutionary Nike Waffle. The Nike shoe was called the LD-1000, and they were the ultimate in stability shoes, sporting soles that flared way out. Picture running in a pair of backwards flippers. We're talking solid foundation here.
When I bought them in the late 1970s, they were the most expensive mass-produced shoe on the market, costing $40. I loved them. They were very cool, and perfect for me. But they weren't perfect for everyone; within a year, Nike had shaved the flared heel way down, and the shoes no longer did the trick for my dogs. The price remained the same. The cool factor wore off. I switched shoes.
For now, I'm sticking to my plan: $75 is my optimal price for a running shoe, and I won't pay more than $100. So for one pair of adidas_1's, I can score two or three pair of other shoes that I like. Maybe even one pair for road running, and one for trail running. And with the leftover dough? Maybe I'll save that to buy the next generation of adidas with chips probably in basketball shoes. Or I'll go the other way, toward the minimalist, lightweight Nike Free.
Or maybe I'll just enjoy lugging around a heavier wallet rather than heavier shoes.
Jeff Merron last wrote about running, and memories of his father, for Page 2.