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 adidas Terrex Agravic Ultra Review
By Chief Editor / Founder Matthew Klein


Trail shoes, particularly those for technical terrain, are usually different beasts than road shoes. While road shoes can be streamlined for speed by using lighter materials, trails shoes need to balance that with protection. When it comes to technical terrain, that protection needs to occur on another level to protect from aggressive rocks, roots, steep terrain and many other potential hazards. Adidas has attempted to combine some of the lessons learned from road racing shoes into the latest Terrex Agravic Ultra: A shoe meant for long technical mountain runs. While it may not be as light as a road racing shoe, there are several elements that are well executed, making this an excellent choice for those needing a protective  and supportive shoe over tough terrain. 




Adidas Terrex Agravic Ultra
$159.95


Specifications (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 11.6 oz / 329 g (men's size 9) 10.5 oz / 297 g (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 38 mm / 30 mm
Drop: 8 mm
Classification: Ultra Distance TPE Plated Trail Shoe



RUNNING SHOE SUMMARY

The Adidas Terrex Agravic Ultra is a protective, plated ultramarathon shoe for tough and mountainous terrain. A secure fit that features a little extra room for swelling and an upper that drains well yet protects the foot sits up top. On the bottom an extremely tough Lighstrike sole combined with strategically placed Boost, a TPE plate and a lugged outsole provide protection and grip on a variety of surfaces. The firmer ride combined with a rockered sole and sidewalls in the midfoot provide a stable transition even on technical terrain. The Terrex Agravic Ultra sits on the heavier side, but with all the components makes for a long trail run and mountain shoe for those who want some mild stability and high durability.







FIT 

The Adidas Terrex Agravic Ultra fit me true to size if not slightly long in my normal men's US size 10. The overall fit is on the snug side, but does loosen slightly with time. The extensive lace holes allow for a customized fit in the midfoot, so it can be tightened or loosened as needed. There is a smaller but stiff heel counter in the rearfoot, that somehow did not bother my heel at all (despite beginning to test this shoe when my Achilles insertion was flared up). The heel collar comes up higher around the Achilles and is notched. I have had no chaffing at this area. The heel can be secured easily and I did not have to lace lock this shoe. However, be careful how tight you tie down the laces over the ankle as they are a bit thin and can dig into the area around your anterior talocrural joint if tied too tight. The midfoot and forefoot have durable engineered mesh (made from ocean plastics) that also have thinner panels for drainage. These work well for breathability and any drainage. However I would suggest wear warmer socks as using these in colder weather can be a little drafty. The forefoot is slightly snug at first, but has opened up over time. The thick toe guard definitely equalizes the slightly long fit, allowing for some swelling but preventing the shoe from feeling too long. I have had no blisters using this shoe, but would NOT suggest using these sockless given the thicker materials. The tongue is not gusseted but is secured by the laces. It is thinner, so make sure you lay it down properly before running. The Adidas Terrex Agravic Ultra has a snugger fit that loosens up as the shoe breaks in, but still provides a surprising amount of durability and breathability. 





PERFORMANCE 

The Adidas Terrex Agravic Ultra is clearly an ultra/mountain trail shoe. The ride is on the firmer and stiff side thanks to the thick amount of firm Lightstrike and the full length TPE plate with 90% recycled carbon. There is posterior lateral heel bevel and a solid amount of toe spring. The forefoot has a very smooth transition and those who land farther forward will love the laterally placed Boost for initial contacts. The heel is stiff and clunky the first 10-20 miles and then breaks in a little bit. This feels fine on softer trails, but on hard packed trails and road it is obvious. The Boost under the heel helps with this as at the shoe breaks in, but landing farther forward still feels a bit better. Although there is Boost in the heel, the Lighstrike foam compresses very little. This makes the 8mm drop feel very consistent. The plate acts more for protection and stability than propulsion here. The Lightstrike foam and plate combination are extremely tough and protect from even the roughest terrain. I have taken these through a variety of normal and mountain trails and have never had even the slightest soreness hammering across rocks, However, at 11.6 oz, the Terrex Agravic Ultra isn't a fast shoe, but the plate does make it feel a little lighter than that when you get into a rhythm. The weight is noticeable when you first start running, then the plate and rockered sole contribute to smoothing out the ride. For that reason, the Terrex Agravic Ultra works best at easier paces on trail or technical terrain. It can handle pace changes, but the weight keeps it from really being able to pick up the pace like road shoes. Thus it is best as an ultramarathon distance shoe where you need solid protection over long miles. The traction on the outsole is good enough for technical rocks and some mud, but is not so aggressive it can't handle road. It also is not the best shoe for extremely soft mud, but can softer dirt. The lugs are durable enough that I have almost no wear on them after using this shoe as a door to trail shoe and the outsole/midsole have almost no wear after 60 miles of rough terrain. Thus I expect an incredibly high number of miles out of these as they are quite durable. The Adidas Terrex Agravic Ultra is a little on the heavy side, but the trade off is a tough and protective sole that keeps you rolling once you warm up. 





STABILITY 

One of the things Adidas has done well is using sidewalls in many of their shoes for natural stability. This isn't always consistent, which is why I was surprised to see these in the Terrex Agravic Ultra. However, the medial and lateral side walls in the heel and midfoot work extremely well to provide natural mild/moderate guidance. This is great given that the midfoot outsole does narrow, but I did not notice this during the ride. The Terrex Agravic Ultra is technically a neutral shoe, but there are several methods that put it above the rest in regards to stability. The sidewalls provide a good level of stability, in the midfoot, enough that I notice it on longer trail runs and I do not fatigue as I would in more neutrally designed shoes. The forefoot is stable thanks to the thicker plate and smooth transition thanks to the well placed toe spring. The heel could be more stable, but the stiffness is a bit too much and becomes clunky. This is offset by the transition into the midfoot however. The stiffer Lighstrike sidewalls work extremely well in this shoe and do not bias the foot. Regardless of the slant of the terrain my foot felt secure and when I started to fatigue, the medial sidewall supported my foot well. Although this is a neutral shoe, those with mild to moderate stability needs will do well in this shoe. Those who are sensitive to sidewalls however should approach with caution as they are significant.

THOUGHTS AS A DPT / FOOTWEAR SCIENCE

I have discussed before how Adidas does sidewalls well when they choose to add them into shoes. The use of these in the Terrex Agravic Ultra make it effective for someone like me who needs mild to moderate support but doesn't want the pressure from a post. These will also work well for a variety of people who go too much either direction as these sidewalls are on both sides of the foot, working to guide the foot forward father than in a specific direction. However the firmness of the Lighstrike midsole plays into how this works given that the foam does not compress very much. For that reason, the sidewalls are more resistant to motion and seem to provide actual support. This is another factor with any stability method. The softer or firmer the material is, the more or less resistance/guidance it will provide. That is unless you are intentionally using a softer material to guide the foot as motion will usually go the path of least resistance.


image

Image: Gross et al., (2007)

A great example of this is in the forefoot. I cannot think of many shoes that have a softer cut out of material at the lateral forefoot. This is where most forefoot strikers land and provides a great landing place for that group. Most shoes do not provide any type of special landing mechanisms here as that type of thinking is mostly reserved for the rearfoot and heel strikers. This not only provides a great place to land (I actually switched to a forefoot strike initially because the heel was too stiff), but actually provides some forefoot stability for those who collapse at the 1st ray. We have discussed before that the medial arch of the foot spans from the heel all the way to the forefoot. Those who have trouble stabilizing the medial aspect of the forefoot (who also often have bunions and a weak fibularis longus) may also have what is a called a forefoot varus, meaning that in a neutral foot position, the first ray (1st long bone of the foot to the big toe) is elevated compared to the rest of the foot. That means as you land and transition forward, in order for the forefoot to get flat on the ground the rest of the foot is going to have to collapse inward. In some people this can also lead to compensatory inward rotation at the knee and hip, stressing the medial hip and knee joints stabilizers. Often an orthosis with a built up medial forefoot or simply building up the medial forefoot with padding can offload this, but the ultimate goal should be strengthening and stabilizing the first ray through downward mobilization and strengthening of the fibularis longus, which functions to depress and stabilize this area. In the Adidas Terrex Agravic Ultra, this is done subtly through a softer lateral forefoot with the Boost. The harder medial Lightstrike creates a very mild post here, which for people like me with difficulty stabilizing that part of the forefoot, creates some gentle guidance. So for both those with some mild forefoot varus or forefoot strikers looking for a shoe that finally has cushioning where they land, the Adidas Terrex Agravic Ultra is an excellent choice for trails and mountain running.

References


Gross, K. D., Niu, J., Zhang, Y. Q., Felson, D. T., McLennan, C., Hannan, M. T., ... & Hunter, D. J. (2007). Varus foot alignment and hip conditions in older adults. Arthritis & Rheumatism: Official Journal of the American College of Rheumatology56(9), 2993-2998.


RECOMMENDATIONS

The Adidas Terrex Agravic Ultra has many great features, but there are a few suggestions I would like to make. Weight is the first thing, as 11.6 oz is quite heavy for a shoe with a plate. If this shoe is supposed to be inspired by road flats, then I would like to see Adidas drop an ounce of this shoe. Low 10 oz is far more acceptable for a mountain/trail racer and I think this could be done easily. This follows into my second suggestion, that I think the heel is more built up that it needs to be. The stiffness makes the transition a bit rough back there, so increasing the heel bevel may smooth out this section. If this shoe is really meant for ultra running, then I would rocker that rearfoot a little more to increase the efficiency. Especially with a plate which stiffens the shoe that much particularly in the heel.

My third suggestion is one I actually hesitate to give. I would love to see Lightstrike Pro used in this shoe. This material has lasted me incredibly well in the Boston 10 (REVIEW) and Adios Pro 2 (REVIEW). However, this softer foam will change the stability of the shoe and does not appear to be temperature resistant to my knowledge compared to something like Boost. The Boost inserts are great because they are temperature resistant, which means they maintain their feel as you get up into the mountain air with lower temperatures. I do like the firmer Lighstrike when it breaks in, particularly as it adds to the stability with the stiffer sidewalls. So I'll leave this to the expert footwear developers at Adidas.

WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR 


The Adidas Terrex Agravic Ultra is for those looking for a snug (but adjustable), tough and stable shoe for long trail and mountain runs. For those with stability needs at the midfoot, the sidewalls provide excellent guidance no matter which direction you go. For those with forefoot varus issues or forefoot strikers, the forefoot lateral Boost provides light guidance and cushioning regardless of the temperature. The plate and rocker provide a smooth ride from the midfoot forward, so those who land farther forward will enjoy this shoe more. The heel does break in with time, but some patience is required. This is a long distance shoe and just because it has a plate does not mean it should be used for shorter distance racing. The heavier weight is noticeable, especially during the warm up. However, the durability, rocker, secure fit, durable outsole and moderate traction make it excellent for long runs and ultramarathon distances/racing when you need a consistent and protective shoe that will support you during these efforts. 


GRADING 

Matt
Fit: (Slightly long and snug fit. Adaptable midfoot with snug forefoot that adjusts with time. Stiff heel counter lower and secures heel without being obtrusive somehow. Good security and breathability, but might want thicker socks for cold weather. Laces do cut into ankle a bit)
Performance: B
 (Smooth forefoot with clunky heel. This does slowly improve with time. Heavy ride that smooths out as the shoe breaks in. Extremely durable and can handle tough terrain.)
Stability: A (Excellent use of sidewalls and forefoot boost location for midfoot and forefoot stability.)
DPT/Footwear Science: A- (Excellent design for those with stability needs in midfoot and forefoot. Heel bevel could be a bit bigger to improve transition and stability at rearfoot)
Personal: A-/B+ (A tough and stable shoe that I keep reaching for even though it is heavy. Midfoot and forefoot stability work very well for me and I would like to see more shoes that provide that lateral forefoot cushioning for forefoot strikers, despite not being one most of the time. )
Overall: B+/A- (A tough trail/mountain shoe with some unique methods of stability and a rocker/plate for a consistent ride over technical terrain and long distances. Heavier than it needs to be, but the plate and rocker take away some of this feeling as the miles pack on and the shoe breaks in)

SHOP | SUPPORT DOR

Find the Adidas Terrex Agravic Ultra at Running Warehouse here. Using the link to purchase helps support Doctors of Running. Thanks so much!

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TESTER PROFILES:


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

Dr. Matthew Klein is a 150 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.  The stability guy of the group, he also prefers a little stability in his footwear. However, as a researcher, clinician and running shoe aficionado, he will run in anything. 

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

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 60 to 70 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, 

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.

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the  people at Running Warehouse/Adidas Running for sending us a pair.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state run run as well as a warm up and cool down in each pair prior to review. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. Our views are based on our 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.

Please feel free to reach out, comment and ask questions!
Contact us at doctorsofrunning@gmail.com

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Running Industry's Global Supply Chain Problem

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