Tried and tested: Adidas Solar Boost trainers
Liz Connor puts the sports giant's latest running shoe through its paces. So, did it actually put a spring in her step?
Summer's here which means that, like me, you're probably thinking about making the most of the warmer evenings by pounding the pavements in your local park.
As a fairweather runner, I treat the arrival of summer like the start of a new school year - the perfect time to retire my battleworn kit and invest in a fresh set of running togs to motivate me into sticking to my goals.
I've flirted with plenty of different types of running shoes in my years of huffing and puffing around Hackney's canals; a box fresh pair of Nike Free RNs used to be my jam, but I could easily swayed by friends who swore by a pair of New Balance or Saucony trainers for nailing their PB. That was, until I got seduced by the arrival of Adidas squashy 'Boost' technology.
It's fair to say the sports giant's springy foam sole switched up the game for runners in 2013 - if you haven't already tried it, the cell-structured cushioning helps you to power through those tricky double-figure miles by absorbing the energy you put into every stride and firing it back at you.
The latest incarnation of the much-hyped performance material, the Solar Boost, just came on the market - a pair of high-functional trainers Adidas says are inspired by Nasa engineering. According to the brand, they promise to deliver lightweight support, superior cushioning and precise comfort.
So do they make the miles easier, help you run faster and (let's face it) make you look better while you're doing it? I put them to the test...
The first thing you'll notice about these shoes is that they're one of the sturdiest styles Adidas have made in years.
Unlike its predecessors, the Solar shoe moves away from the popular sock fit and flyknit material combo to add extra support to the perimeter of the foot, keeping your stride firmly in place - even on slippy terrain.
It's the first shoe to use a new construction technique called Tailored Fiber Placement (TFP), which weaves together various sizes and densities of yarns recycled from ocean plastics to create breathable sidewalls that hug the midfoot and arch.
There's added extras elsewhere too: a heel counter that's split in two allows for natural movement of the Achilles tendon, while revamped, colourful propulsion rails down the sides add that extra bit of support many felt was lacking in older Boost styles.
The trademark Boost cushioning is used throughout the midsole - a bouncy foam-like material that's pebbled to the touch. It's actually made from tiny 'energy capsules' - particles that, when welded together with steam, can absorb energy as you run and help drive you forward.
The result is a reassuringly snug fit - something that will particularly appeal to narrow-footed runners like me.
The shoe comes in two colourways - a blue and turquoise riff that's reminiscent of the sea (which is apt considering they're partly made from ocean plastic) and a slightly less ostentatious black, orange and teal pair.
Apparently each palette was inspired by the energy colours the sun creates.
So how does it perform?
I took the shoes for their first spin on a casual run through central London - jogging for one hour straight and clocking up around 9km.
There's a lot to like with these trainers: the Boost sole feels a lot like running on a springy, but firm, trampoline and you really do get the sense that they're propelling you forward with each stride - making it easier to keep going when your legs start to tire.
The added support features are a definite upgrade from Adidas' Ultraboost styles, as I've previously found my feet can splay around the sole of my trainers if I don't have enough structure to hold me in place.
As the miles got harder, I definitely found the comfort factor didn't wane at any point either, making them great for both short and long-distance runners.
So what didn't I like? My only gripe was the ridges of the cushioned tongue are quite brittle, and after a few miles I could feel it rubbing on the bridge of my foot, even when wearing running socks. That being said, this is a problem that might be solved after trying a few different lacing methods.
The multicoloured styles probably won't be for fans of monochrome, but I personally like that these stand out from the pack on the starting line.
I'm really impressed with Adidas' Solar Boost trainer.
They're smooth, responsive and will make that first run after months of neglecting your training an unexpected joy.
They're also ultra lightweight - meaning they're easy to throw into your gym bag and carry around with you all day.
As well as being my favourite shoes to run with in the park, they've fast become my go-to shoe for dressed-down days at the office.
Whether you're running for a bus, sprinting for the finish line or hopping over to the printer at work, the comfort and stability is something you'll come to desperately miss on days where you decide to slip on a more formal shoe.
In general, the Solar Boost provides a snappy ride that encourages you to push yourself to a faster pace.
If you like lots of squishy cushioning, but have struggled in the past with getting enough support for your feet, the Solar Boost could just be the shoe you've been waiting for.
Adidas Solar Boost, £139.95, available online and in select Adidas stores in the UK. To find out more, please visit: adidas.co.uk/ solar boost