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A guide to buying carbon-plated shoes

Carbon-plated shoes can add speed and stability to your runs, especially over long distances

Carbon-plated shoes are ideal if you are running long distances or aggressively chasing a time target for a shorter distance.
Carbon-plated shoes are ideal if you are running long distances or aggressively chasing a time target for a shorter distance. (Istockphoto)

If you are a runner and have been following world marathons, you would have heard about carbon-plated shoes. I have tried a few in the last few years, and yes, they make a huge difference to your running. Not only do they make you faster, the effort required to run the same distance appears to be less. That said, the benefits are only noticeable if you are doing long distance or aggressively chasing a time target for a shorter distance. Here are a few recommendations for carbon-plated shoes for various runs, from racing to training and everything in between.

Marathon superstar: Adizero Adios Pro 3.0

Remember the Adizero Adios Pro’s first edition? They had cool—and visible—carbon rods at the base of the shoe and a surge of power while racing. The latest edition, the 3.0 is even better. A common complaint with the Adios Pro 2 was the heel instability due to the high bevel angle. Walking in the Adios Pro was weird and wobbly. This edition is more stable with increased medial support but is still meant only for running. Scratch that, only for racing.

Adizero Adios Pro 3.0
Adizero Adios Pro 3.0

What else has changed? The stack height has been increased to 32.5mm from 31mm. To explain, a higher stack height will let you enjoy the cushioning of the shoe (whereas a lower stack height would give you the feel of the road/ surface). There are two layers of the Adidas’ Lightstrike Pro foam which is soft and very responsive, and adds to the bounce and shock absorption (‘yay!’ for those who, like me, continue to heel strike).

The first thing I noticed upon wearing the shoes was a slight forward tilt while standing as well (because of the toe spring which seems to have increased from previous version). While it felt a little awkward, this same tilt helped immensely during the run. It was almost like the shoe took me ahead without much effort from me. It is also wider than many of the other racing shoes, which means they feel roomier. The heel hold wasn’t ideal, but getting half a size smaller would solve this. The energy rods don’t just look cool but help in picking up speed for various distances. (However, given its price, saving these for special races is the best advice for price conscious runners).

24,999 available on

Be the all-rounder: Puma Deviate Nitro 2

I love a do-it-all shoe. Want to run 10kms? Sure! Want to go to the club and play some badminton before hitting the gym for some cardio? Bring it on. Want to just dress up and go for a coffee? Puma’s Deviate Nitro can solve all these problems – within a budget.

Puma Deviate Nitro 2
Puma Deviate Nitro 2

Version One of Deviate Nitro had issues of heel sliding, which the new Deviate Nitro 2 seems to have solved. The heel to toe drop has been reduced a few notches to 6mm but the weight has increased. It has stability, along with Nitro Foam in the bottom layer of the shoe. The shoe also has a carbon plate which has been upgraded from Innoplate to PwrPlate, which (according to the brand) further aids stability. The shoe’s upper is breathable, though not exactly a mesh like that of the AdiosPro3. This is a great buy for someone who wants to also train in carbon-plated shoes and does significantly long distances—21 km or more. I have not raced in them yet, but I think it would hold its place. There is bounce, there is speed, there are even some reflective elements if you are running pre-sunrise. Another plus is the brand’s promise of an average 800km. Most carbon-plated shoes last 200km at best. This alone puts this shoe right up there on my to-buy list.

15,999, available on

Higher cadence, faster runs: Metaspeed Edge+

The Metaspeed line is known for speed racing. The brand has added more (FF Blast Turbo) cushioning, helping it to give more bounce. Even before I took the Metaspeed Edge+ out for a run, I tried jumping on spot a few times. The carbon plating on the base of the shoe is not exactly flexible, but the bounce was surprisingly good. At 210g, it is a light-weight shoe. The mesh upper makes for an extremely airy, well-ventilated run. Even when you pick up speed for a longer duration, your feet are not likely to heat up. The brand has said that the use of its trademarked Asicsgrip outsole rubber will increase the durability of the shoe, but given its price point, keeping it only for race day makes sense. The same rubber does give a lot of traction on the runs—I tried it both on concrete roads and on trails and was satisfied every time.

Metaspeed Edge+
Metaspeed Edge+

Asics has also launched its Metaspeed Sky+ but it is targeted for different runners, especially stride runners, or runners who increase their speed by taking longer strides. The Metaspeed Edge+ is for cadence runners, or those who increase their speed by taking more steps each minute. While the former has more foam to compress, the latter has a higher toe-spring and pushes you forward. The carbon plating in both adds speed and you can target your personal bests in these shoes easily.

21,999 available on

Sohini Sen is a Delhi-based fitness enthusiast and writer.

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