Adidas released a 3D printed midsole running shoe a few months ago called Adidas 4DFWD. It combined years of athlete data and a unique 3D printed structure, in partnership with Carbon, to provide a new running experience. It is designed to “move you forward”.
I was sent a pair of these sneakers and invited to participate in their Take It Forward challenge for the month of August. The goal was to complete 30km before 31 August, in the 4DFWD 3D printed midsole running shoes. Full disclaimer, I was paid to participate in the challenge.
This blog post is part of the campaign where I’m going to share a bit more about the shoe and my experience using it for the challenge. Adidas played no role in influencing what is said in this post, nor have they seen it before you. It is meant to provide more tech info about the shoe and my experience.
What is 4DFWD?
Using Carbon’s Digital Light Synthesis technology and Adidas’ athlete data, a precision tuned midsole was created. The company says the technology offers the ‘ability to fine tune midsoles to specific patterns of movement so that athletes get precision performance with every step.’ The lattice structure was identified from one of 5 million, and the 3D printed bow-tie shaped midsoles are made up of 40% natural and renewable materials.
What does it actually do?
So going with the whole ‘designed to move you forward’ tag line, every stride makes the 4DFWD lattice structure compress forward, which redirects braking forces into a forward motion. This is the simplest form it has been described as. According to Adidas, this model, when compared to previous generations of 4D midsole, it generated three times as much forward motion under vertical loading in mechanical testing conditions.
4DFWD running shoe
Now that I’ve explained the 3D printed midsoles, the rest of the shoe is made up of a primeknit+ upper that is recycled polyester. It has a sock-like fit, and is lightweight and breathable. The rubber outsole works together with the 4DFWD midsole, giving you traction.
Take It Forward Challenge
I downloaded the Adidas Running app and registered myself to participate in the Take It Forward challenge from 10-31 August, along with 61 667 other participants who completed the 30km at the time of writing. It was open to runners, walkers and joggers. The app is free with free virtual sessions for running, training and nutrition. I have an Apple Watch Series 6 and used it primarily for my walks/jogs/runs as the Adidas Running app has support for it.
Firstly, the techie in me loved that I was wearing a partially 3D printed shoe. I found them to be lightweight, springy and responsive. They were easy to slip on with the sock-like design. I tied the laces to my liking, and subsequently, could slip my foot in and out without having to re-lace them. They are not loose as it is a stretchy fabric and doesn’t make you feel like there’s no grip. I mean, otherwise it wouldn’t be safe.
I did the bulk of my kms in the early morning, just after sunrise. I preferred it over evening ones. To think I couldn’t wait to hit the road so early, if you know me, you know this is so unusual and I’m not a morning person. But who am I to back down from a challenge! Plus I think in winter it’s more comfortable being out as the sun comes out.
I started my runs on the phone app, put my phone away, and used the Apple Watch while on the road. It’s a simple interface, highlighting what’s important to you on a quick glance. It also has a status bar tied to your heart rate so you can see which zone you’re in. Once I was done with a workout, it refreshed to update my duration on the challenge part of the app.
So here’s the kicker: all my pacing while running/walking/jogging from the Adidas 4DFWD was in better than my previous workouts recorded on my Apple Watch. The time I took per km was less than when I used other shoes. But something to note, I didn’t test it side by side with another shoe. I used 4DFWD exclusively this month. I don’t know if it was my competitiveness or excitement that contributed to my times but ALL of them was better.
I tend to wear some of my other sneakers while out and about like if I’m going to the shops, but I reserved this particular shoe for hitting the road. It doesn’t feel right wearing it unnecessarily or for something it’s not intended. Does that make sense? Also, I don’t want to “run it down”.
Thank you team Adidas for inviting me to put these cool tech running shoes to the test by participating in the challenge. It would have been very different if you handed them to me and didn’t give me motivation. It got me out of bed just after sunrise and running during several patches of rain on one of the mornings – that’s something!
Welcome to Wired to the Web. My name is Nafisa Akabor and I’m a technology journalist covering business and consumer tech for the last 14 years. I’m passionate about start-ups, smartphones, mobile payments, travel tech and electric cars. ✉️ firstname.lastname@example.org