Adidas adiZero Boston 3 Review: Neon Performance

The adiZero Boston 3 is named after the world’s greatest marathon, so I had high hopes for this trainer. And it didn’t disappoint. 

Adidas Adizero Boston 3

I’ve been a long-time wearer of the Adidas adiZero line but never wore a pair of the Boston trainers until recently. Billed as a performance neutral shoe at 9.3 ounces, they’re on the heavier end of the minimalist spectrum but balance cushion and groundfeel quite well.

Adidas says of the shoe:

Pull on the men’s adiZero Boston 3 shoes by adidas and you’ll already be well on your way to qualifying.

No shoe is going to get you to the Boston Marathon but these are up to the task of handling your BQ mileage quite well. As long as you can stand the neon colors of course.

Why You Should Vary Your Running Shoes

A lot of runners think that I’m a minimalist runner. I do own a pair of  Merrell Trail Gloves and Vibram FiveFingers, after all. But the reality is that I don’t even run in these super lightweight, low-profile, minimalist shoes – I wear them to go to the gym, grocery shopping, or a quick walk.

Like I’ve mentioned before, minimalism is a spectrum and you shouldn’t always be stressing your feet the same way every day. My philosophy on footwear is similar to my general training philosophy: variety is crucial.

Every shoe stresses your foot in different ways. Each will slightly alter:

  • foot strike
  • heel height (heel-toe drop)
  • amount of pronation
  • arch support (or lack thereof)
  • impact forces

Why not rotate 2-3 shoes that subtley change how you run (while still being comfortable) and how your foot impacts the ground? It’s the same as varying the terrain, pace, workouts, and intensity of your workouts.

I’m currently reading Peter Larson’s book Tread Lightly and the section on running injuries is fascinating to me. We all know that most injuries are overuse injuries, but the phrase “repetitive stress” struck a cord with me. Running injuries are the result of too much repetitive stress – so how do we reduce that stress?

Rotating several different shoes is one way to prevent your running from being so monotonous. For that reason, I wear a wide variety of running shoes and some are more minimalist than others.

The Adidas adiZero Boston 3 is my “go-to” trainer and what I use for long runs and about two-thirds of my total mileage. A little bit of minimalism goes a long way so I don’t overdo barefoot running or wearing ultra-light shoes.

This shoe is firmly planted in the middle of the spectrum: at 9.3 ounces, it’s not super light but it’s not as heavy as a more traditional trainer. The heel-toe drop is 11mm according to Runner’s World, which is slightly below average in my experience. For my main trainer I prefer it being lightweight but with a little more cushion than a “barefoot shoe.”

An important feature of the adiZero Boston is that it’s quite firm. I run most of my mileage on dirt trails so this works very well for me (I don’t like a softer shoe on a soft surface). You may like a firm ride but be aware that it’s unlike other shoes on the market like the Saucony Kinvara that offer a more cushioned sole.

Who Should Buy the Adidas adiZero Boston 3?

Adidas Adizero Boston 3 Running Shoe

The adiZero Boston can work very well for runners looking for:

  • an introductory minimalist shoe – lighter than average, but with a fairly normal heel-toe drop
  • a firm sole (good for racing, workouts, and those who run on softer surfaces)
  • a new type of shoe to add to their rotation that provides all of the above
  • a blast of neon color so you don’t get hit by a truck when running predawn

Some reviewers claimed the shoe is narrower than average (especially in the toebox) so if you have wider feet it may not work out for you. My feet are about average width and I didn’t experience any discomfort putting hundreds of miles on them.

The shape of every shoe varies, especially between manufacturers, so it can be helpful to experiment with those that fit your foot best. I’m usually most comfortable in Adidas and ASICS but sometimes struggle to find Saucony’s and Nike’s that are comfortable.

The Boston also has a neat feature that runners who live in wet climates may prefer: it has incredible traction. This is great for me since most of my running is on the trails in Washington, DC, though it is not a trail running shoe. Adidas calls the rubber on the outsole “Continental” and says it provides sure-footed grip. Sounds about right to me!

I’ll continue to wear the adiZero Boston’s as long as the weight remains under 9.5 ounces and Adidas doesn’t change the structure of the shoe dramatically. One of my favorite aspects of the shoe is that it’s fairly low-profile.  I don’t feel like I’m wearing high heels or big clunkers like the Brooks Beast when I’m out running. If Adidas keeps the low-profile aspect of the shoe then I’ll keep buying them (and secretly hoping for different colors).

There’s nothing I don’t like about this shoe – except perhaps the $110 price tag – but remember they’re not for everyone. If you’re a wide-footed runner who doesn’t want a lightweight shoe (and hates neon), go elsewhere. It’s probably also best for efficient runners with normal to mild over-pronation.

You can buy the AdiZero Boston’s on Amazon for the cheapest price.

For more reviews, check out the Running Shoe Reviews page.

Have you worn the Adidas adiZero Boston 3 for training or a race? What did you think? What shoe do you recommend for an “introduction to minimalism” trainer?

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  1. Jason, nice writeup. You and Pete must be on a similar wavelength. The Merrell shoe and this one are two I have been considering. I really like my Kinvara’s and am tempted to get another pair but I also want to try as many brands/models as possible and still have mizuno and a number of other brands to try.

  2. Would you go with them even if you don’t do a lot of long runs?

  3. Looks like a nice performance shoe to add to the rotation. Nice review Jason!

  4. I LOVE my AdiZero Bostons!!! And I was lucky enough to find some when I was in the US for 1/3 the retail price here in Canada 🙂

  5. Ho Jason,

    Do you wear it during marathon race?


  6. Sold on the shoes! I was actually highly debating them this year but didn’t have anyone that I “knew” who recommended them. I’m alternating the Kinvaras with a small insert and LunarFly 3’s right now (10 mm drop) with no insert and it seems to be working. I’ve been looking for a third pair so the Bostons might be the secret. Thanks for the comprehensive, honest review.

    • My pleasure Tim! I’ve never worn the LunarFly’s, but I suspect they have a softer sole similar to the Kinvaras. The Boston 3’s might be a departure from that if you’re ready for a firmer ride (like I said, great for trails!).

      • Actually I chose the LunarFly because they’re firmer to be honest. They are much more stiff than the Pegasus or others even in the Lunar line I find which I prefer because of the Kinvaras which I wear for 65-70% of my mileage right now. I’m running WAY more trails now that I’m state-side in Ohio too so I think they’re a good choice.

  7. These have a 12mm heel drop. They aren’t an introductory minimalist shoe.

    And I disagree with your statement about varying footsrikes. Its never good to heel strike when running.

    • Not according to RW:

      That’s not necessarily true – there are many types of heel strikes out there. Just ask Meb, winner of the ’09 NYC Marathon. Here’s one resource to check out, of many:

      • Speaking from my experience…..I used to heel-strike with a long stride. I had painful shin splints among other things due to my poor form. Once I used good form running with a midfoot strike, shortened my stride, & increased my cadence the pain went away completely. Like that post says some folks might be able to get away with a mild heel strike if the other parts of their form (short stride, good posture) is good, but the injury chances of a heel striker will always be higher.

        • Many great heelstrikers out there. Meb K and Kara Goucher to name two top US runners. Many top coaches recommend heel striking to mid/forefoot strikers who experience numerous injuries. for example, top coach Greg McMillan moved TO heel striking in order to reduce his injuries. The key, of course, is NOT heel striking or midfoot striking or forefoot striking…but striking with the feet BELOW your center of gravity! If you do that, it matters NONE how you strike, but rather what is most natural/safe for your body type and gait.

  8. Here is what an introductory minimalist shoe from Adidas looks like:

  9. The Boston 2 was the last “conventional” shoe I wore, and for what it was, I like it. The cushion wasn’t excessive, and although the heel is high (too high for my liking), it never seemed clunky, or in the way. And while, ultimately, that sort of shoe isn’t right for me, it is the trainer du jour for a lot of the local fast guys. (The Adios is popular as well, and although Addidas calls it a flat, there’s plenty of shoe there for daily running.)

  10. See this is wear I get really confused at times about running shoes. If you’re going to train in these shoes for your marathon on long run days, then why would you not wear them on race day?

    “no I haven’t worn these for a marathon. I wore the Nike Marathoners for NYC 2008 and the Saucony Fastwitch for Philadelphia.”

    I bought these shoes last week and have two long runs and a few 7-10 milers in them. My ankles are a little sore after my LSD’s, because I’m just not used to them yet. What would you recommend for race day. I have a narrow foot, mostly a mid foot strike, weigh 130 lbs and training for Wineglass and shooting for 3:15 time? I know I’m asking a lot, but could you give me some ideas, and then, how do you incorporate “the race day” shoe in your training schedule so you don’t injury yourself?

    Maybe I’ll ask you tonight on the RYBQ Chat. I’d like Peter’s thoughts on this too! Just don’t know if I’ll have time to get on with you guys tonight.

    • Hi Joe,

      You can certainly run a marathon in the Boston’s. My philosophy is to run in as little shoe as you need to cut down weight, but that’s only if you’ve run a few long runs or faster workouts in them during training.

  11. phil geddis says:

    Have been an asics user always but no longer!
    The boston 3 are awesome right out of the box.they feel responsive and very fast.
    They arrived today and went out for 40mins just to see if they suited and of course they were perfect.
    Was worried about this review because i have a slightly wider foot but i shouldnt have worried.
    I would advise any neutral experienced runner to get these as they are just great.
    Adidas adizero are now my shoe of choice.
    Just awesome and wil b using these racing also.

  12. Aaron Harrell says:

    I believe that Continental is a company that makes bicycle tires. The Adidas XT4 has the same brand of rubber. I assume that it’s a deal similar to the one Vibram has with New Balance.

  13. I am a huge fan of the women’s Boston 3 and prior to purchasing them I was wearing an Asics Gel 3020. While training for a half marathon the Asics finally broke down so I was pressed to find a quick replacement. Tired of the typical, clunky running shoe I was excited to move into what I consider a streamlined ‘crossover’ shoe (not a clunky runner nor a true minimalist). I have been wearing the Boston 3 for about two months now and am very pleased. They recently got me thru my half marathon so I decided to order a second pair to break in and have on hand when the first pair breaks down. I have no complaints about this shoe.

  14. I’m curious about The Boston 4. Will you do a review of that shoe?