ROBBE: It’s been a veritable cavalcade of super shoes here lately, from the Saucony Endorphin Pro+ to the Asics Metaspeeds to the Nike Alphafly Next% 2. While they’re all exciting in their own right, there’s still something special about getting a world-record-breaking shoe like the Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 3 into the shop. The last couple versions have seen their share of podiums over the last couple years, which begs the age-old question– how can a shoe that good get any better? Because, let’s be honest, a lot of the time it seems it’s easier to mess a shoe up than to improve upon its established greatness.
Of course, that is exactly what Adidas is trying to do here. On paper, the new updates seek to improve the minor problems runners had with the last version. The carbon-fiber Energyrods are now a cohesive unit, forming in a pretzel-style in the heel before spreading out beneath the metatarsals. It seems the individual units from last year saw their fair share of breakage under pressure, so this one-piece Energyrod system should disperse the pressure a bit more evenly.
Stability was also a bit of an issue last year, particularly in the heel area. To that end, Adidas has widened the base of the Adios Pro 3. A Celermesh upper provides generous breathability. Lower stack height (now 6.5mm) of the bouncy Lighstrike Pro allows for additional cushion in the forefoot. Adidas went full Freddy Krueger on the midsole, slicing and dicing foam out of the midfoot and lateral toe area in an effort to reduce weight in areas that aren’t generally utilized while running. Finishing things off, a grippy Continental rubber outsole provides long-lasting durability and security.
Lots of good stuff going on here, so here Thomas and Ben’s thoughts before we get into the review.
THOMAS: There have been just two shoe brands for some hardcore shoe junkies. You were either swoosh or stripes, Montague or Capulet.
The swoosh struck hard with the Vaporfly 4% in 2017. Like a slap with a glove, the running shoe world was on its heels literally. Adidas struggled to answer. After three years, Adidas had a counter to Vaporfly, the Adizero Adios Pro. Adidas worked around the Nike patents and developed a solution with carbon Energyrods rather than carbon fiber plates. The shoe leveled the field once more and the Adidas athletes were back to work breaking records.
We are now on the third edition of the Adios Pro. Adidas has a good combination featuring Lightstrike Pro, Energyrods, Continental rubber outsole, and a Celermesh upper that come together for a fast, snappy ride. My size 10.5 US weighs 8.4 oz./ 240 grams with a stack of 39mm/35mm for a 4mm drop.
BEN: The Adidas Adios Pro is now on its 3rd iteration (wow, time flies!). Adidas has been doing full top to bottom updates each year on this shoe, and that continues with version 3, AS Robbe and Thomas covered.
The Adios Pro 1 was the debut of Lightstrike Pro foam and Energy Rods and it was off to an excellent start. Great response and speed but it was literally like a block of foam underfoot, with no sculpting of the midsole whatsoever. It was also a bit of a high and narrow platform that didn’t offer much for stability.
The Adios Pro 2 stepped this up with some aggressive carving of the midsole, attempting to prevent some pronation by giving the shoe a bit of lateral bias in the heel and a rounded feeling under the forefoot. Unfortunately for me this actually gave it a bit of an ankle-rolling propensity (even moreso in the taller Adidas Prime X).
But the shoes performed extremely well and the Adios Pro 2 ended up winning more of the World Marathon Majors in 2021 than any other shoe, as well as many other podium performances at big races and the Olympics. But this review is of the Adios Pro 3. Did Adidas manage to improve a hugely successful shoe? Did they make it worse? Read on to find out.
ROBBE: I’ll start out with what I didn’t like about last year’s version and build off that because I think Adidas really did fix a lot of those issues. The Adios Pro 2 was fast– no doubt. But it was as wobbly as a one-legged Jell-O giraffe, especially in the heel. Widening the heel was the way to go in this version, and boy does it make a difference. Fixing that makes this shoe much more stable, or at least as stable as any other racing shoe out there.
Moving onto the midsole, Lighstrike Pro is fantastic and it’s shocking how far it sits from regular Lightstrike, which ruins almost everything it touches (see: the Boston 10). We loved Lightstrike Pro in the last version of the shoe, and loved it even more in the Takumi Sen 8. Adding 2mm of foam to the forefoot stack height (39mm in the heel, 32.5mm in the forefoot) provides a perfect balance of cushion and responsiveness. Paired with the reconfigured Energyrods, the sensation of hitting the midfoot at fast paces is everything you want in a race shoe. It doesn’t provide the hard snap of say, the Asics Metaspeed Edge+ or the Saucony Endorphin Pro 2, but it hits that middle ground of cushion and pop off the toe. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the softer style shoes like the New Balance RC Elite v2 or even the updated Endorphin Pro (though they’re both great in their own right), so the Adios Pro 3 is exactly what I’m looking for in a race day feel.
Boy, let me just talk about that Continental rubber outsole. There’s just nothing better in the racing game. It’s straight-up smooth to the touch, but defies logic when the rubber literally meets the road. And it covers most of the outsole, providing top-notch security. Simply put– this thing is all grip, no slip. Cornering is a dream, it just bites hard and allows you to pivot off with confidence, which is always a feat in a shoe with a stack height of 39mm. An even grippier formulation is placed on the toe. Well done, Continental.
Luckily, for all the improvements in this shoe, the weight stays low (though it’s a bit higher than last year). Either way, I didn’t find it to be noticeable underfoot.
Lastly, I guess we can talk about the design. I wasn’t sold on it at first, but the neon green and black is a race day vibe for sure. Personally, you can keep your pinks and blues, I like leaning into the mean and green when I’m on the line.
THOMAS: The Adizero Adios Pro 3 looks like a Formula 1 car. Sharp angles and cut-aways sculpt the shoe into a kinetic piece of dangerous-looking art. The sculpting isn’t just there for aesthetics. Instead, the Adidas pit crew studied where the athlete needed ground contact and support, cutting away the unnecessary foam to help lower the shoe’s weight. They also widened the forefoot of the midsole to add stability. I had complained that the Pro 2 pushed my foot outward, causing some ankle fatigue. The Pro 3 design has alleviated that issue with the wider footprint.
The engine in the Pro 3 is the Lightstrike Pro combined with the new Energyrods configuration. Previously, the carbon rods were independent with a plate in the heel. A new setup is a one-piece unit that loops in the heel, and then the rods mimic the metatarsal bones as they fan out. The feel of the rods is noticeable. The more I ran in the shoe, the better the Lightstrike Pro foam felt. It is one of the only modern foams that needs a break-in period. For the first few miles, the foam felt stiffer and less responsive. As I put more miles in the Pro 3, the Lightstrike Pro felt bouncier and worked with the Energyrods better.
Like any performance car, you must use the right tires to get the most out of the power. The Continental rubber is amazing and mystifying. The thin layer of smooth rubber grips and provides secure footing. The rubber is sticky AF.
The Celermesh upper breathes exceptionally well and seems to be hydrophobic, meaning it won’t absorb sweat or rain. That doesn’t sound like a big deal, but a wet upper can add a couple of ounces of weight to a shoe, trimming the advantage of a lightweight race day shoe.
BEN: The Adidas Adios Pro 3 is still using the excellent Lightstrike Pro foam and has even more midsole sculpting than the Adios Pro 2. There are cutouts and angles everywhere– the midfoot, the toe, the heel, and even under the foot. It looks like no other shoe, and I like it! The midsole shape has also been updated with a really aggressive toe spring. The top line of the midsole is noticeably pointed upwards, and there is an aggressive tapering to the toes.
Even with all of that foam sculpting, Adidas added some more stability to the ride. This comes from a bit more width underfoot, both in the midfoot and the heel. This is greatly appreciated when on the run. The ride feels much more natural than the prior version, and even though the toe is visually aggressive, it doesn’t feel awkward at any paces.
The Energyrods on the prior models were five individual pieces within the foam; now they are all connected in the rear. I think this helps with a smoother transition, while still maintaining some of the lateral flexibility benefits. Overall I’ve really enjoyed the underfoot feel of this newest version of the Adios Pro. It has improved the stability/neutral feel and kept a responsive ride. I now find I’m better able to use it at a variety of paces, but it does shine once going at marathon pace or a bit faster.Shop Adios Pro 3 – Unisex
ROBBE: I’m pretty sure this is a problem that a lot of people had with the last version, and it hasn’t gone away in this version from the comments I’ve already seen and my own personal experience. In my first run in this shoe, I got two blisters on my Achilles, which I didn’t even realize ‘til later in the day when one of them rubbed raw and bled all over. One area has been a problem of late so I won’t blame it fully on the Adios Pro 3, but I’ve never had a blister in the other area. I was wearing ankle socks so they weren’t exposed, but somehow the friction from the heel gave me the gift of future callouses.
Which brings me to my next point– maybe I just hadn’t figured out the lacing yet? You can get a very secure lockdown in this shoe, but finding it is an arduous journey that requires a lot of finagling, hashed passwords, back-alley dealings, and possibly a secret knock on a speakeasy door. For real though, finding the fit on this shoe is a chore fit for a Dickensian orphan. I probably stopped five times in one run trying to reconfigure the lacing, trying to find that perfect fit, and still feel like I never did. It was just always slightly off. And you can’t adjust one section without undoing the entire lacing system. I feel like this has been a perennial problem with the Adios Pro (and carries over to the Takumi Sen 8), and I wish that Adidas would figure it out.
That said, the good news is that if you ever find that fit, it will be immoveable come race day.
Lastly– and this goes hand-in-hand with the fit– the upper isn’t my favorite. It’s a bit stiff, it’s a bit roomy in the toe (the shoe runs a tad long), it’s a bit crinkly. Lots of bits that don’t make it bite for me. I’m not sure it’s a dealbreaker, I just would prefer an upper that’s more agreeable. Of all the top-tier racing shoes, it’s probably my least favorite.
I went hard in the paint on the upper, but I should say that it’s not a total dealbreaker. It’s more of an annoyance, but if you really, really, take the time to figure it out, it’s suitable on race day.
THOMAS: The lacing system is the biggest knock on the Pro 3. I can’t even articulate what it is about the laces and eyelets that make it so difficult to adjust the fit. But it can be maddening to try to get the lockdown right without being too tight or loose. The skinny tongue needs to be adjusted precisely so that the floppy appendage lays flat. The tongue needs either a gusset or a stitch to attach it to the upper so that it is easier to get the shoe on and have the tongue stay in place. I can’t imagine anyone using the shoe for triathlons for that reason. You can’t get the shoe on quickly and adjust when time is on the line.
My only other criticism is that the shoe feels bottom heavy. This makes me think that some adjustments could be made to the upper to have a more cohesive feeling shoe.
BEN: The changes to the shoe have made it about a half-ounce heavier compared to the last version. I don’t really notice it on foot, but the scale don’t lie. The shoe does change from a 8.5mm drop to 6.5mm. I don’t really feel the difference in drop but it’s something to consider if you’re highly sensitive to this.
The only other note for me is the same with all the Adizero shoes in that the sizing is a bit odd for me. They tend to run long and narrow. I wear my normal size and they have excess space in the toes and just barely enough width. The upper doesn’t stretch so this is the best sizing for me. It works, but it’s slightly less than ideal.Shop Adios Pro 3 – Unisex
ROBBE: Upper issues aside, I think this is a phenomenal update to an already-great racing shoe. Adidas really tweaked it in all the right places. The combination of the extra Lighstrike Pro, added stability, and the new Energyrod configuration makes this shoe a race day sensation. I wouldn’t hesitate to now put this shoe on my podium of racing shoes whereas the last version was outside my top five. It just feels great and offers that pop, cushion, and speed you want to feel when you’re going fast.
THOMAS: The problem in the past was that there weren’t enough shoes to choose from in the marathon distance. One brand outshined the others. Now, the playing field is nearly leveled, and there are several shoes that will help you get the most out of your race day. The Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 3 is one of them. If you like an exaggerated toe-off feeling, the Pro 3 delivers. There is plenty of cushion for the 26.2 miles too. Some people don’t like the exaggerated arch in the Nike Alphafly, so if that’s an issue then you may want to consider the Adios Pro 3. In my opinion, that’s neither good nor bad, but It will help runners fine-tune what they want in a long-distance racer. The Pro 3 belongs in contention with the top race day shoes.
BEN: Adidas has managed to make some great updates to their top-tier marathon racer! The midsole and Energyrod changes really work for me. They provide great cushion that is more stable, but it feels just as fast and responsive. I didn’t mention it, but the upper is very breathable and locked in (I especially like the heel pads and the pointy heel pull tab). If the fit is good for your foot this could be a top contender for your next marathon racer.
You can pick up the Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 3 for $250 by using the shop link below.Shop Adios Pro 3 – Unisex
Want to learn more about how our review process works? Check out this guide.
Robbe is the senior editor of Believe in the Run. He loves going on weird routes through Baltimore, finding trash on the ground, and running with the Faster Bastards. At home in the city, but country at heart. Loves his two boys more than anything. Has the weakest ankles in the game.More from Robbe
As the founder of Believe in the Run, Thomas’s goal is to help runners pick the shoes and gear that will make their running experience the best that it can be.More from Thomas
Ben is a true running shoe enthusiast (as seen by his Instagram feed) and data geek who loves looking through data and stats related to running shoes and gear. His running continues to improve after his first marathon in June 2019 (2:52). Other hobbies include photography. Home is Minnesota.More from Ben