Jun 20, 2023

Working Together To Make The World’s Fastest Athletes Even Faster

Find out how adidas is working together with some of the world's fastest athletes to create products for optimal performance.
by Marc Makowskistaff

Innovation lies at the very heart of our company. Since its very foundation, we’ve released a string of game changers: from running spikes and screw-in football boot studs to embedding carbon rods into the soles of our elite running shoes. And what starts with the professional athlete often trickles down to our consumers. Our Adizero Adios Pro being the most prominent in running tech to date.

To create the best for the athlete, you’ve got to work with the athlete

Each year for the last three years, we’ve held a local event at our headquarters in Germany with the aim to showcase our credibility in the realm of running. Each year we dream that records will be broken and each year I feel our running and innovation teams feed into this success. Something I feel is both a responsibility and an honor in equal measure.

So, what better opportunity do we have to continue our efforts than when we’re surrounded by dozens and dozens of top athletes? Here’s a quick look at how we’re looking to make some of the fastest people on the planet even faster.

The Adizero: Road to Records event brought together some of the fastest runners in the world.The Adizero: Road to Records event brought together some of the fastest runners in the world.

No two runners are the same

We take a lot of time getting things right, because we need as much data as we can get. Adizero: Road to Records gives us the unique opportunity to study athletes during race conditions right on our doorstep, and since the very first event, we’ve been kitting them out with sensor systems to track them in real time while they fight to break records.

This is the first step to understanding our athletes in key moments during the race, to ask further questions on how the data we gather can help us to build products that can help our athletes to become better. Every athlete runs differently. Even simple data like stride length and cadence differs for athletes running next to each other at a pace of 2:40min/km.

Energy consumption matters

Following the Road to Records event, we invited 12 of our top runners to work with us for four days in our Innovation Lab. Conducting sport science experiments has been in our DNA for as long as I can remember, so it’s unsurprising that we continue to invite athletes to our world class facilities here in Herzogenaurach. As our founder Adi Dassler would have done, we tested, tested, tested, and tested again, making sure not to leave a single stone unturned.

Testing to create the best for the athlete is part of our DNA.Testing to create the best for the athlete is part of our DNA.

Our plan was to understand each athlete’s individual running style and to test various footwear prototypes to see which one supported each athlete the best – and perhaps more importantly, which one improved their performance. Under standardized conditions, we wanted to understand the effect of those prototypes on the athlete’s biomechanics, as well as their physiological response. The goal was to see athletes reducing their energy consumption, which will allow them to run faster, or stay fresher for longer throughout the duration of a race.

We’re committed to helping the fastest get even faster.We’re committed to helping the fastest get even faster.

Feel faster, run faster

World-class performances require athletes to maximize their physical and psychological capabilities and that’s precisely what we’re trying to achieve. Are we held back by our bodies and minds when it comes to improving performance? How can we help athletes break free of these invisible barriers?

Besides developing an understanding of physical metrics like speed, running patterns, and oxygen consumption, we’ve also been working with athletes to learn more about how they perceive their performances.

Hard performance metrics are not everything and we need to look at our athletes holistically. The missing piece here is understanding the minds of our athletes: how do they feel during the race? How are our product interventions altering their perception of speed and freshness during a run?

The sum of these elements helps us to help athletes across all levels of performance, starting at the top and trickling its way down to the everyday runner. Of course, this is a journey, not a destination, and we’ll continue to find ways to boost athletic performance by supporting the athlete to be the best they can be.