The Adidas Solar Glide 5s Preach a Message of Running Slow For as Long as You Can
I’ve never been one of those high-tech running guys. While I am absolutely fascinated by–wholeheartedly impressed by–my running mates who pore through mental catalogues of shoes and eloquently discuss the bits and bobs of the technology contained therein, the best I can do is stand around twiddling my thumbs trying to hide my imposter’s syndrome behind a veil of eager nods.
You see, I’m still growing out of a belief that shoes don’t really matter–that you can stick whatever assemblies of rubber and fibres into my feet and I’ll run the same way in any case.
My Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next% shoes marked the moment I sat in a corner slowly losing this shoe religion. It dawned my new truth: that there is a shoe for every purpose. My new religion is not dogmatic or proscriptive however; I won’t be writing off a prescription pad saying this shoe is for this AND THIS ONLY. Instead, I’m stewing in a gentle, minty, herbal tea notion that runners perform certain workouts best in certain shoes–and that there are some shoes the effectivity of which disproportionate numbers of runnrs can attest to.
2022 marks the first time I’ll be setting a running goal while soaking in this new running religion tea: I’m hoping to absolutely demolish my 21 kilometer personal best effort in June. Prior to that, I’ll be trying to shave some time off my 5 kilometer best effort. It’s a unique goal combo for me–I’m running something short and fast as well as something long and consistent.
Training for this requires more than my gospel post-work “screw it, let’s just bloody run”. Consistent, relaxed-pace, long-distance efforts are demanded of me. From myself, I demand discipline and the iron will to drink less whisky on the Friday nights before my long runs. From a pair of shoes, I demand gooey comfort, shock absorption, and non-slippery stability to keep my mind off my feet for my 20 to 25 weekend kilometer weekend efforts.
Breaking in the Adidas Solar Glide 5s
Drinking with a friend of mine visiting from Cebu one evening, my friend suddenly delivers a line both poetic and wise. In Bisaya (which I will roughly translate to English) he says, “When I drink, I’m like a diesel truck. It takes a lot to get my engine going.” *Friend coughs and splutters* “But when the engine starts,” *friend roars rather loudly* “IT STARTS!”
The break-in of the Adidas Solar Glides was much the same for me.
Slipping the shoes on, you’ll notice the high arch support underfoot and the tough, dense sole in need of a good stomping. You may also notice that the shoe wears a bit long, especially if you are coming from the snug fit of Nikes in the same size. Thinking back to the day I tried the shoes on for the first time, I wish I decided to go down a half-size. A savvy marketer would probably smile at you, fondle the shoes and say, “it’s nice and roomy around the toes.” But as runnrs, we know this is great for hotel rooms but not so flash for shoes we hope to log countless miles in.
Nonetheless, the first runs in the shoes reveal that they have a nice roll to them. With a 10 millimeter midsole drop, I argue that the shoe is best suited for runners that strike with their midsole or even towards the heel. As a runner who typically runs forefoot into the ground, there was a real period of adjustment for me–made a bit more difficult by the fact that the shoe has a fair bit of rigidity to it.
The shoes took about five runs to really break in. Mind you, at this point I was making the effort to strike closer to the heel–mentally and physically allowing the steeper drop, the thick chunk of cushion under the heel of the shoe to absorb more ground impact, and in so doing create more energy return off the pavement.
I had a love heart shaped blister on my right foot, distinctly red as blood filled the little sac of loose skin, but my diesel engine was now revving. The Solar Glides were about to reveal where they are most effective.
Bouncy bricks that lock onto your feet
Rather than waiting until we’ve had dessert to tell you my big, red flag secret, I’ll go ahead and offer it here while we’re still devouring our mains. They’re heavy, 335 grams for a US mens size 9. This may be attributed to the generous flab of Boost material situated above the wonderfully sticky Continental Rubber outsole and under the LEP 2.0 plastic plate which is held in place by a slimmer band of EVA rubber into which “Solar Glide” is engraved.
It’s a lot of stuff, I know. And after reading this, I feel slightly more ready to join my running buddies. Perhaps my thumbs will no longer chase each other in circles, and I’ll have more to say than the neck cracking which occasionally accompanies my head-nodding.
This design is deliberate–I’d argue. On this shoe’s fifth incarnation, I doubt the scientists in the Adidas lab (dream job by the way) put all the tech into the shoe, built a prototype, weighed it, and sighed, “shoot, it’s too heavy. Oh well, build it.” Maybe the shoe is making a prescription from its own bible: “don’t run fast today. Just run safe and for a long time”.
Why do I believe this deliberacy? Because there are other portions of the shoe designed incredibly well. Slipping the shoe over my heel is usually a weird sort of embarrassing treat. Anyone who’s done a number two while REALLY busting to go knows what I’m talking about. The heel counter has all the foam on either side of the achilles tendon, which keeps the foot neatly locked down while keeping pressure off the rear.
The lace system helps keep the front of the shoe locked on while you’re running too. They tighten around a fairly soft tongue to keep the top of your foot secure without strangling the thing. For those that don’t take the half-size down suggestion, this may leave you feeling as though the very front of the shoe is hanging off you like a weird nerveless extension of your foot. It’s not a problem per se, but for those acquainted with a tighter fit, it takes a bit of getting used to.
So you’re out running, you’re probably taking larger strides at a more relaxed cadence given the weight of the shoe. Hopefully you’re noticing the extra forward propulsion you get from the cushion that’s giving the shoe its weight. If you’ve tried a pair of Nike Pegasus 38s, you may be beginning to wonder when the shoes are going to heat up (and perhaps give the “Solar” aspect to its name some new unfavourable meaning). Fantastically though, this fear is left unrealized. The upper of the shoe is made with Adidas’ Primeblue Circular Knit which is made of at least 50% recycled Parley Ocean Plastics which per Adidas is made of “upcycled plastic waste, intercepted on remote islands, beaches, coastal communities and shorelines, preventing it from polluting our oceans”.
This may be just a drop in the drum of work we need to do to protect the environment–but a drop is a drop and this complaint is best left for a whole other article. The point here is that this fabric does a good job of letting heat out the shoe.
Oh, you thought I wasn’t gonna talk about the midsole?
Of course I am! It’s the part of the shoe that gives it most of its weight so it has to be bloody worth something.
As I mentioned earlier on, the Boost foam is giving it most of its weight. This foam which has been around since 2013 is made of thousands of “expanded particles” which work together contributing a palpable kick of energy return which helps–at least by this runnr’s feel–take the work off your calves, optimising the work your legs are putting out when you’re on a longer run. That being said, this stuff is durable. Kept of the pavement by a slick of Contenental Rubber, this midsole can take an absolute beating then stand up like Rocky Balboa and take some more.
Above the Boost foam and under the usual EVA foam sits the LEP 2.0 torsion system. If you pick up the shoe and look underneath it, you can actually see a little bit of this plastic plate peaking at you from a hole in the midsole. You can also see it through two gentle curves on either side of the shoe. Yeah, they’re not just for style (surprised me too).
This plastic thing in the shoe is shaped like an “H” and allows some flexibility as your foot rolls from back to front. As you roll off your forefoot, this plate should snap back into place helping you get just a bit more push out of the Boost foam. It’s also why I recommend gently adjusting your running method if you are usually a forefoot friend of mine. Note that this plate stops the shoe from twisting around from side-to-side which at first lends to the idea that this shoe is as hard as a bloody brick, but over time runners may come to appreciate that this keeps your foot stable, preventing injury from unnecessary twisting motions of the foot over any terrain.
Who is this for?
We’re at dessert. I think I’ve disclosed all I need to disclose. So I’ll talk about something you’ve surely already recognized. In any of its Flash Orange, Carbon, and Turbo colour variants, the shoe is attractive. Perhaps as a nod to my previous running religion of any shoe can do, I picked it out because I thought it was a pretty shoe.
I’m sure some folks would be happy to wear the shoe out as part of their outfit. I could also fathom using this shoe at the gym for a lift and a jog on the treadmill. But if I’m to seriously divine the tea leaves I’ve found in my cup after a good number of runs in this shoe, I’d say I’m being told to run slow and for as long as I possibly can. This neutral shoe is for runners that don’t have any special needs from a shoe but want to build up their mileage. The Solar Glides are also a great place to start for runners that are just getting into the sport.
This being said, a special need may be that a shoe is fast. They’re not fast. But you may squeeze a bit of speed out of the shoe by relying less on your cadence and more on the power you’re generating out of your quadriceps with each stride. In that way these shoes have preached a word that has focused me on my running efficiency rather than just trying to muscle up my cadence–which seems to have worked for me well.
The Solar Glide 5s do have a place in my running rotation. They’re at the locus on the weekly cycle that asks me to slow down, stay safe, and enjoy myself. A less savvy marketer at Adidas may just have well named these shoes “The Saturdays”.
Looking to #RiseUpAndRun and glide towards becoming a better runnr? Run today with the adidas Solarglide 5! Head on over to a runnr store today and chat with them through Viber to score a pair, or shop here at www.runnr.com.ph for your other much needed running essentials! Make sure to follow runnr on Facebook and Instagram as well, for more shoe reviews, running blogs and to stay up-to-date with all the latest on anything and everything runnr, the leading running specialty store in the Philippines. Happy running!