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Adidas SolarGlide 3 Review

With some odd name variations over time, Adidas has released the 3rd iteration of their Solar series. The SolarGlide 3 is the update to the SolarGlide 19 and features several changes to the upper, sole and ride. While still a classic high mileage trainer, the SolarGlide series definitely stands apart from many of the current lightweight running options from Adidas.


Specifications (per Adidas)
Weight: 11 oz
Stack Height: Unknown
Drop: 9 mm
Classification: Daily Trainer

HIGHLIGHTS

Matt: A high mileage, cushioned trainer, the Adidas SolarGlide 3 returns with a new torsion system and upper design. A secure heel is paired with a large and slightly long toe box provides plenty of room and security. The ride features a super cushioned BOOST heel and firmer forefoot. A new torsion system along with a firmer front provide a stable ride for a neutral shoe although it borders on being too stiff. The large amount of heel cushioning and high weight make the Adidas SolarGlide 3 a great choice for recovery runs and mileage.

David: This is a daily training shoe that is incredibly durable and can tackle pretty much any terrain within reason. The boosted heel is cushioned well and the shoe has a firmer forefoot that works well in trails or responding with quicker paces. The torsion system does a good job of stabilizing the shoe throughout the midfoot. I second Matt that the shoe borders being too stiff, but may work for those who like that design. 


FIT

Matt: The Adidas SolarGlide 3 fits me slightly long in my normal size 10 (mens). Those between sizes may want to consider sizing down, although a thick pair of socks helps. There is an above average amount of room in the midfoot and forefoot. The flexible mesh upper and wider toe box should provide plenty of room for those looking for a more natural fit. The laces do lock down the midfoot, although they do pinch a little up higher on the ankle if you tie them too tight. The heel features the Solar series split heel counter design. This means counter does not cover the posterior most section of the heel and is instead two separate components on the medial and lateral side of the heel. This is very comfortable against my Achilles insertion and holds the heel in very well. Despite the extra volume in this shoe, I did not have to do a lace lock as the rear portion does hold my foot in well. The upper is pretty thick and can get a little warm when the temperatures rise. I definitely noticed my feet get warm running here in Southern California summers, but that is also my fault for purchasing a shoe with a dark upper color. 

David: The Adidas SolarGlide 3 appears to fit true to size. Length is slightly long but the upper fits well throughout the midfoot and heel. I had no problems with heel slippage and the shoe did well once I laced it down. I am actually coming up a half size up at size 10 from my normal size 9.5. The upper is a little thicker but breathes well enough. The toe box is slightly wide and allows for toe splay. The upper is reinforced well and handles turns really well. I took this shoe into varying terrains with no problems including moderately technical trails. 


RIDE

Matt: As with many Adidas training shoes, a majority of the BOOST is centered in the heel. This creates a softer ride in the heel and a firmer ride up front as the midsole composition transitions to EVA. This however means a majority of the weight is biased toward the heel. The sole is fairly stiff thanks to the large amount of BOOST and a torsion system that extends into the medial heel and both sides of the forefoot. There is not a ton of flex in the forefoot, but thankfully the toe spring helps get you forward. There is a heel bevel in the rear, however there is a decent amount of BOOST posterior heel flare. This makes the ride very clunky when warming up, but smooths out as the pace increases. Pace changes are difficult in this shoe due to the weight and works far better when you get into a rhythm. There is a 9mm heel drop, however this feels far lower due to the soft BOOST heel. Obviously these things are dynamic depending on where you land, but the drop is not noticeable. 

David: The ride of the SolarGlide 3 is firm. Cushioned heel with a firm midfoot and toe off. The heel has a thick slab of boost and feels good when landing. The boost continues through the midfoot along with the torsion system with the forefoot without boost. The midfoot is pretty smooth overall, though stiff and rigid because of the torsion system. The transition at this point is smooth, but the firm midfoot to really firm forefoot can make the shoe feel pretty hard at that transition point. The forefoot has no boost and can be snappy at fast paces, but hard and awkward at slower paces. I found that it works really well in trails though. The outsole has plenty of traction and feels good in any terrain and helps with traction and security. 


STABILITY

Matt: The redesign of the torsion system in the SolarGlide 3 sees it extend all the way into the forefoot and the medial heel. This is the extended torsion system I like in Adidas racing flats, but it creates a little too much stiffness in this highly cushioned trainer. There is a guide rail system that heels subtly guide the foot forward that provides good stability on the lateral and medial sides of the shoe. However, the lack of appropriate flexibility in the forefoot makes my foot feel like it is going "off the rails" unless the pace picks up. As mentioned earlier, the split heel counter does a great job of locking the heel. Overall the stability is above average for a neutral shoe, but some elements are a little overdone to provide a nice guided ride and transition. 

David: This shoe is really stable for a neutral shoe. The torsion system really makes the shoe more rigid at the transition points from rearfoot, midfoot, and some forefoot. The boost is really only noticeable from a cushioning standpoint in the heel. The guide rail system helps keep the foot in linear motion and stabilizes both medially and laterally. Traction of the outsole is great and keeps the shoe stable on road or trail. The shoe is almost overly stable in the forefoot though, because of the extended torsion system and nonboosted hard forefoot. Unless you're running fast it may feel a little too hard and rigid. 


SPEED

Matt: The high cushioning, weight and heel biased ride should make the Adidas SolarGlide 3 a mileage and recovery run shoe at fastest. However, as mentioned earlier it actually feels better at uptempo paces. The firmer forefoot does lend well to some uptempo runs once the legs warm up and the stiffness makes it decent for strides. However, the SolarGlide 3 is really not meant for fast running. There is potential there with the firmer forefoot and I have had some surprising uptempo runs in this shoe. However, for anything fast, there are far better options like the Boston, SL20, Adizero Pro and more. This shoe is best for getting miles in and when you are beat up.

David: The shoe is best at normal daily paces and upwards to a small amount of uptempo work thanks to the rigid forefoot. I would say it's best at easier controlled efforts though. It could double as a trail shoe and you can push the shoe a little more in those terrains because the ground under you is a little more forgiving to the firm platform. 


DURABILITY

Matt: As with most Adidas training shoes, the durability is pretty decent on the SolarGlide 3. After 40 miles, I am only seeing a little bit of wear on the posterior-lateral heel (my normal spot) and a tiny bit at the forefoot. This is a road shoe, but the small lungs on the outsole can handle mild trails. The upper has no seems loose, even at the weird stitching along the medial and lateral aspects of the foot. BOOST tends a last a long time and the cushioning has changed little over the miles. Overall I expect an average to slightly above average number of miles out of these.

David: This shoe is a tank. I am running in what was Matt's pair and there has not been any additional wear after an additional 40 miles through road, rocks. and trails. The midsole is still holding up just fine. The forefoot has not softened unfortunately... I think it might be a little too rigid for a daily trainer. Upper is thick and no concerns here with durability. 


THOUGHTS AS A DPT 

     I have discussed posterior heel flare many times, so check back on some of our other reviews for more information on that. Given the stiffness and heel biased weight distribution, it seems pertinent to discuss how different individuals will prefer different shoes. We know from recent research from Mcleod et al. (2020) (via Saucony), that different people will benefit from different sole stiffness. Several studies have demonstrated that even in the recent carbon fiber plate racing shoes, some individuals show huge running economy improvements (8-10%) while others demonstrated no difference or even worsened running economy (Hoogkamer et al., 2018; Hunter et al., 2019). The Adidas SolarGlide 3 has a fairly stiff ride thanks to the extended torsion system. While this did not work well for me until the pace picked up, it may work great for others who prefer a stiff ride. Like Benno Nigg's comfort paradigm (Nigg et al., 2015), people will likely gravitate towards shoes that are comfortable for them. That comfort may have to do with an internal sense of what works for their individual mechanics. Whether an individual has certain bone structures that promote more or less flexibility in certain areas, or muscle stiffness/use promotes certain movement patterns, comfort comes from many different areas!  People have extremely unique gait patterns, which are essentially like movement fingerprints.

     This thought process assumes that the individual has enough body awareness to know what works or doesn't for their body. Although I am unaware of research on this, I suspect and have learned that those who are experienced runners or who know their bodies well are more likely to self select shoes that work for them. I can tell whether a shoe will work for me or not within a couple steps in them, but that is from extensive shoe testing and many thousands of miles of training. Those who are less experienced may need more guidance, but that is EXACTLY why we on Doctors of Running write this stuff!  Hopefully those of you reading find this helpful on your own journeys to figure out what works for you!


RECOMMENDATIONS 

Matt: My biggest recommendation is to even out the weight distribution in the SolarGlide 3. The bias toward the heel makes the shoe feel a little slower than necessary, so evening that might may smooth out the ride. There is way too much going on the upper. With how hot it gets, lightening that up may drop the weight and improve durability. The torsion system is great, but is too stiff in the forefoot. Too much stiffness can also create problems, so the torsion system needs to help facilitate motion, not restrict it. Finally, although there is a heel bevel, there is too much posterior flare. This adds unnecessary weight and likely adds to the uneven weight distribution. Cut that back and the ride will smooth out. This shoe has a lot of potential, but a few things need to be reworked. 

David: If you are going to make the forefoot that hard and rigid... making it a dual midsole there as well would work well. Similar to the midfoot with boost and torsion system, the firm forefoot with a hint of boost would make the experience much more enjoyable and still responsive. The fit overall is pretty good but shortening the length could also speed up the forefoot transition and decrease the amount of contact time in the same size when running over that firm transition point. 


WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR (Conclusion)

Matt: For those looking for a high mileage shoe with plenty of heel cushioning, a firmer forefoot, stiff ride and plenty of room up top, the Adidas SolarGlide 3 is your shoe. Although the upper is decent except for running hot and long, the sole needs some refining. The full length torsion system and BOOST sole have potential, but the uneven and high weight make for a clunky ride. Those who are Tinman Elite fans and like a ton of heel cushioning will enjoy this shoe, but overall I will be sticking to the lighter Adidas training models. There is potential here though and I am excited to see how this shoe evolves from here.  

David: This is a daily training option that can work well for those who run about 50/50 in roads, trails, gravel and is looking for a daily mileage option that can tackle both. The shoe has a good amount of cushioning in the heel, firm midfoot, and hard forefoot. For those that like a more firm ride this a shoe that they can look into. I agree with Matt, there is a lot of potential for this shoe. 


GRADING
Matt
Fit                    8 /10 (Lots of volume, good heel lock down but slightly long and hot upper)
Ride                 7.5 /10 (Clunky heel and stiff ride unless the pace picks up)
Stability           8.5 /10 (Good stability for a neutral shoe thanks to torsion system and wider sole, but  stiffness in forefoot prevents guided ride)
Speed               6.5 /10 (Can handle some mild uptempo, but overall a heavy mileage shoe)
Durability        9 /10 (Decent durability, although seeing some mild wear at heel and forefoot at 40 miles). 

David
Fit                    8.5 /10 (Slightly long, thick upper, good midfoot fit)
Ride                 7.5 /10 (Really stiff transition points if you aren't running quick, especially mid to forefoot)
Stability           9/10 (Pretty dang solid for a neutral shoe. The forefoot may be too stiff however.)
Speed               7.5 /10 (Can handle some mild uptempo, but overall a heavy mileage shoe)
Durability        10 /10 (Decent durability, although seeing some mild wear at heel and forefoot at 40 miles).

Total Score: 82% (M: 7.9/10, D: 8.5)

Thanks for reading!

TESTER PROFILES:

Dr. Matthew Klein is a 140 lb male with notable PRs of 14:45 for 5k and 2:32:44 for the full marathon.  He typically runs 70-100 miles per week and trains at a variety of paces from 8min per mile recovery runs to 4:40 per mile 1k repeats.  He prefers firmer and responsive shoes with snug heels and medium to wide toe boxes.  He is particular to less cushioned shoes and close to the ground shoes, but can handle a little cushion when he gets beat up.

Dr. David Salas is a 135 lb male with notable PRs ranging from 3:54 in the 1500m to 1:08:36 for half marathon. He typically runs 40 to 50 miles per week and trains from about 7:30 recovery runs to fast shorter efforts at 4:30 pace. He normally prefers neutral shoes with a firmer ride, but is completely open to other types of shoes.  He is a footwear enthusiast at heart and will always appreciate a high quality shoe when it comes around. For updates on training or testing, IG handle: @docsofrundavid

Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

Matthew Klein, PT DPT OCS FAAOMPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists

Nathan Brown PT DPT MS
Doctor of Physical Therapy 
Masters in Anatomy and Clinical Health Science
Movement Performance Institute Certified in Advanced Functional Biomechanics 

David Salas PT DPT CSCS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

***Disclaimer: These shoes were purchased for their full US retail price. This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We put at least 35-50 miles on trainers and 10-25 miles on racing flats prior to reviewing them. Currently I have 40 miles (Matt) and 80 miles (David) on my pair. Our views are based on my extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

References

1. Hoogkamer, W., Kipp, S., Frank, J. H., Farina, E. M., Luo, G., & Kram, R. (2018). A comparison of the energetic cost of running in marathon racing shoes. Sports Medicine, 48(4), 1009-1019.

2. Hunter, I., McLeod, A., Valentine, D., Low, T., Ward, J., & Hager, R. (2019). Running economy, mechanics, and marathon racing shoes. Journal of Sports Sciences, 37(20), 2367-2373.

3.  McLeod, A. R., Bruening, D., Johnson, A. W., Ward, J., & Hunter, I. (2020). Improving running economy through altered shoe bending stiffness across speeds. Footwear Science, 1-11.

4. Nigg, B. M., Baltich, J., Hoerzer, S., & Enders, H. (2015). Running shoes and running injuries: mythbusting and a proposal for two new paradigms:‘preferred movement path’and ‘comfort filter’. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 49(20), 1290-1294.

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