Are ultraboosts good for running?

Ultraboost running shoes by Adidas have become hugely popular in recent years. With their stylish design, responsive cushioning, and impressive durability, it’s easy to see the appeal. But how well do they actually perform for runners? Let’s take a detailed look.

Outsole and Midsole Technology

The highlight of the Ultraboost is the Boost midsole foam. This proprietary foam was designed to provide excellent energy return with every stride for a “bouncy” feeling. Many runners report feeling propelled forward in Ultraboosts without excessive impact on joints.

The stretchweb rubber outsole also helps create that smooth transitions as you go from foot strike to toe-off. It’s a bit less thick and firm than some traditional running shoe rubber, which saves weight. Traction holds up well for most training conditions like roads, light trails, treadmills, etc.

Weight and Fit

Ultraboosts first launched in a mid-cut design weighing around 11 ounces, which is reasonable for a daily trainer but on the heavier end for racing or speed workouts. Newer Ultraboost models like the 20 and 21 now weigh closer to 10 ounces.

The Primeknit upper material provides adaptive stretch and support. Many runners find it fits true to size. But it’s somewhat narrow, especially in older models, so width should be considered. The knit holds the midfoot securely while allowing the toebox to expand naturally with foot swelling when running long distances.

Responsiveness and Shock Absorption

With about 20% more Boost foam than original Boost shoes, the Ultraboost offers excellent shock absorption without losing much ground feel. There’s ample cushioning to protect joints over hundreds of miles while maintaining rebound or “bounce back” with each step.

This makes the Ultraboost responsive for a variety of speeds, unlike maximal shoes geared solely towards recovery runs. However, traditional racing flats or lightweight trainers may still feel more responsive for elite runners chasing PRs.

Durability and Mileage

The Continental rubber outsole provides impressive grip and longevity, easily handling 300-500 miles. The Boost midsole foam also maintains its properties quite well over time and generally lasts as long as the outsole.

The knit upper is snag-resistant but eventually loses its elasticity after stretching with heavy use. On average, most runners can expect around two to three years of weekly training out of their Ultraboosts before a noticeable deterioration in cushioning response or fit occurs.

Performance Reviews

Ultraboost have a loyal following among casual runners, with over 5,000 global 5-star reviews. Neutral runners who put in daily miles for fitness widely praise them for all-day comfort. However, expert reviews are more mixed for their versatility as a true “do it all” running shoe.

RunRepeat aggregates expert reviews, assessing over 900 shoes annually. They rated Ultraboost in the top 5% of running shoes for durability and fit but only average for speed and responsiveness compared to performance trainers from other brands.

RUPPORT also did an independent lab analysis of running efficiency. They found energy return in the Ultraboost mid-80%, on par with many trainers but below racing flats & elite carbon plate shoes nearing the 90s for percent returned.

Praised as a lightweight daily trainer, the Ultraboost seems optimized for easy to moderate running paces over medium+ distances where low-impact cushioning matters more than speed. They can still pick up the pace, just not ideal for optimizing hard reps or race day demands.

Alternatives to Consider

Several alternatives work well for runners prioritizing lightweight responsiveness on fast days:

• Nike Pegasus – Perennial favorite for versatile cushion & flexibility
• Saucony Kinvara – Streamlined design for speedwork & racing
• New Balance 1500 – Legendary flat with mild support for uptempo days
• Hoka Rincon 3 – Impressively light and bouncy cushioning

Runners wanting a sole focus on low-impact recovery runs could alternate their Ultraboosts with:

• Hoka Clifton 8 or Bondi 7 – Plush & supportive max-cushioning
• Asics Novablast 3 – Lively bounce from front to back
• Brooks Glycerin GTS 19 – The gold standard in soft stability

In summary, while not the snappiest for elite racers, the uniquely resilient Ultraboost midsole can adapt to a wide range of paces while going miles with less fatigue. For runners prioritizing a lightweight daily trainer with the cushion to grind out high mileage, they continue earning their stripes.


Still have some questions about using Ultraboost for running? See answers to these frequently asked questions:

Are Ultraboost good for marathon training?

Yes, the durable Boost foam and Continental rubber can certainly handle heavy mileage training blocks. Just be aware they run slightly heavy and warm compared to streamlined racers. Consider alternating with a second lightweight shoe for speedwork as you build endurance.

How many miles do Ultraboost last?

You can expect 300-500 miles based on your size and running surfaces. Heavier runners or lots of trails may show outsole wear sooner. The Boost foam also gradually loses its energetic properties over time, so you’ll get the most responsiveness swapping them before hitting 500 miles.

Do Ultraboost stretch when running?

The knit upper material certainly does stretch and form to your foot, which is good for comfort but can negatively impact lockdown when sprinting. The Ultraboost ST was released specifically for stability, exchanging the normal knit upper for a webbed support cage across the midfoot.

Are Ultraboost good for walking?

Yes, the plush Boost cushioning protects joints extremely well for extended walking and standing too. So Ultraboost works great for travelers, nurses, hospitality staff and anyone else on their feet constantly throughout long shifts.

Should I size up in Ultraboost?

The toebox has a decent amount of room to splay naturally while running. However, the midfoot Primeknit does run quite snug out of the box until it molds to your foot. If you have wider feet or prefer wearing thick running socks, consider sizing up 0.5 from your normal running shoe size.

Ready to See for Yourself?

Hopefully this breakdown better sets expectations if considering Ultraboost as your next running shoe. It’s still one of the most uniquely cushy yet responsive options thanks to innovative Boost foam. Just know it prioritizes cushion over fast twitch muscle snappiness compared to rigid racers.

If curious to experience Ultraboost for yourself, Adidas often has great seasonal deals. Or safely buy and return test pairs from online retailers like Holabird Sports and Running Warehouse.

Happy running training!

Leave a comment