I’m pretty sure my first reaction to the Adidas Supernova running shoe was, Okay, wow! Even before I tore out the paper and cardboard inside the shoe, I was obsessed with the vibrant neon infrared color; the shoes screamed speed just by their design.
My initial reaction was spot on. The Adidas Supernova is a responsive shoe with flexible cushioning that helps launch your body forward with every stride. Something I was pretty surprised—and delighted—to discover was that these sneakers are made from Primegreen materials. Primegreen materials are recycled polyester that Adidas is integrating into a number of its footwear products. The brand has a goal to include recycled polyester and recycled ocean plastic (called Primeblue) into all of its footwear by 2024. In fact, the upper contains a minimum of 50% recycled content. You gotta love any attempt at making the world a little greener.
Now I’ve always been more of a long-distance runner ever since I joined my middle-school track team. The sprinters on the team had a level of athleticism that I really didn’t care to try to attain. But as someone who’s run the NYC Marathon 9+1 program, I must admit that it’s always energizing to see how much faster an average mileage pace decreases after every race. When testing the Adidas Supernovas during my middle-distance runs (between two to four miles each), I was interested to see if these shoes could help me get through my usual 7:35 to 8:20 per mile pacing.
How I Tested
To test these shoes for our 2020 SELF Certified Sneaker Awards, I switched up my usual running routine. For one run, I ran my typical-ish 5K distance at my normal pace (about an eight-minute mile). For my second run, I ran to a Nike Run Club five-minute Fartlek, where I alternated between varying speeds going from my average speed to my near-sprint speed. Fartlek training, which is Swedish for “speed play,” is a simple, often unorganized style of running where you speed up and slow down at different intervals. It can be a great way to break up your runs, and you don’t need to structure them (although there are routines you can follow). Just run slow when you feel like running slow and speed up when you want. Fartleks can be that straightforward. It’s extremely fun and I highly recommend it!
My testing routine followed the criteria recommended by our experts. Read more about their criteria here, and check out my thoughts on how the Adidas Supernova fared for each of their criteria below.
Probably the first thing I noticed was that the shoes had a little bit more room around the sides of my feet than I usually expect. While the area between my toes and the front of the shoe felt normal (about a thumbnail of space), the extra space for my feet definitely threw me off. But that’s not to say my feet felt insecure. In fact, my heel and ankle didn’t feel loose; they felt snug without feeling tight. I guess I’ve just never experienced a running shoe that gave me so much space for my feet to breathe and react to my stride.
Shape of the Shoe
My flat feet were very happy to finally have a shoe with a flat sole. Normally, my feet need to adjust to shoes that typically have an upward curve toward the front. But with the Supernova, they’ve designed a pretty flat sole. Because of how well these shoes fit my feet, my runs felt very reactive, as if my feet and the shoes were bending in unison against the pavement.
Feel of the Shoe
Typically, I like shoes with plenty of cushion. Always have, probably always will. And that has to do with the fact that I like running longer distances and need shoes that offer comfort and stability.
The Supernova definitely has less cushioning than I’m used to; as I said, I could feel my feet connect more closely to the pavement. This became especially apparent during my longer run. That sensation isn’t bad if you’re working on speed and are light on your feet—but I tend to take shorter strides and I could start to feel my shins take on more of the impact than if I wore a more cushioned shoe. That effect on my legs made me rethink whether I’d trust this shoe to keep me supported during, say, a 13.1-mile race.
As for the Fartlek (I love saying that word aloud!), totally different story. I was only running for about 12 minutes total. Because I was constantly switching up my pace, going from moderate to easy and then straight-up superfast, I didn’t have time to think about how my shoes felt. Instead, I was concentrating on how quickly my shoes reacted to the quickened tempo. This is the workout where I was really glad to wear the Supernova shoes. With a speed drill like the Fartlek, you want a light shoe that can move with your feet when you need to pick up the pace every 30 seconds or so. The Adidas Supernova did not disappoint—I was light on my feet and quick to respond to faster paces. If I end up running a mile race sometime soon, I know exactly what I’m going to wear.
How My Body Felt During and After Activity
I alluded to this above, but during my longer run I could feel my shin absorb the impact from my strides more than when I wear extra cushioned shoes. That annoying “pain”—it didn’t actually hurt, just felt like a precursor to eventual pain—appeared about 1.5 miles into my 5K. It didn’t last for too long, but it did make me worry about what would happen if I actually wore these shoes for something like a 10K. When I got home and massaged my lower body, everything felt okay; and the following day I didn’t feel anything wonky.
Company Return Policy
If you read my review, try the shoes yourself, and don’t think they’re for you, no worries. You have up to 30 days to try them out and get a full refund. As for exchanges, you can only exchange the same item in the same color for a different size. If you’d like a different product, you’ll have to return what you currently have for a full refund and then create a brand new order.
If you’re not buying directly from the brand, be sure to check the returns and exchange policy for the retailer you choose.
The Bottom Line
I can’t say that these would be my everyday running shoes. While they’ve got a sleek look and definitely an eye-popping color, the Adidas Supernova are best equipped for fast runs and shorter distances.
And honestly, that’s totally fine with me. I’m a firm believer that you should have different shoes for different types of training runs. While I’d opt for something with more cushioning for long distances, I’d definitely grab the Adidas Supernovas for short interval runs, sprints, or—my personal favorites—Fartleks.