I’m planning to start doing some serious distance running here, as the goal I’ve set for myself this summer is to run an ultra-marathon (a bit lofty, I know). With my knees not being what they used to be, I’ve set to researching the best distance running shoes, and have read about quite a few over the last few weeks. I want to test out several of them, so I know I end up running in the one that’s best suited to me. One of the names that had come up several times was the Mizuno Wave Rider line, so when I came across a pair of the 15’s, I had to try them out for myself. I came upon these shoes on my own, and all opinions expressed in this article are entirely my own, and free from any bias. Anyway, here is what I found.
Initial impression: While the shoes are 3 years old, as you can see, the style is still up to date. They have a look that is all their own, with their signature wave pattern going through the midsole. When I took them out of the box, at 11.2 oz they felt a bit heavier than what I am used to running in (the LALO Bloodbirds, at 8.3oz). Once I put them on and laced them up though, they actually felt much lighter than I expected. I think it’s because of how well they fit through the midfoot and heel, when you’re walking in them they feel like you’re being suctioned into them.
As much as I wanted to take them for a nice long run, I figured I would do the semi-responsible thing for once and wear them around the house for a day. The first thing that stands out to me is that there is significantly less flex from the midfoot on back than I’m used to with my LALO’s, but it doesn’t feel as stiff as the Asic 1050’s that I recently ran in. I can’t decide if this is going to drive me crazy or not, so I go for a really quick run (half a mile, I really was trying to get my feet used to them just a little).
So far, I’m not annoyed by the stiffness. I think I may like it, but I’ll test it out over longer distances and then see. The toe box, which was touted as being very roomy online, feels a little tight to me. I’m also not sure how I feel about the rather large offset (12.1mm drop from heel to forefoot). I’ve become accustomed to running in the LALO’s, which only have a 5mm drop.
Day 2: Today I decided to take them out for an easy test drive. I ran 5 miles in them, mostly on roads without too many hills. I was also pushing both of my kids in the double jogger, which raised the ante a little bit. And so far I have to say, overall I’m loving these shoes. The glove-like fit makes them feel really light and comfortable. They almost feel more like an extension of your limb, instead of feeling like you’re carrying a shoe on your foot. The stiffness that I was concerned about is actually quite beneficial as well. They’re flexible enough that it doesn’t bother you on the flat surfaces, but it seems to really help when pushing up hills; like it’s taking some of the strain off of your calf. I definitely like this aspect of running in these over the LALO’s.
The parts I didn’t like as much were the size of the toe box, and the offset. I have a bit of a weird slightly inward twisted hammertoe of the second toe on both feet (it’s as ugly as it sounds). With the toe box being a little bit tight on my foot, I ended up getting a couple of blisters on those toes. I think that this can be avoided in the future by me planning ahead a little and wearing my toe socks when running in them. The offset was simply more than I was used to, and I have to put some conscious effort into my foot placement to ensure that I’m still contacting the ground at the midfoot.
Day 4: Today I took them for a trail run. I was hoping to do some serious distance in them, but ran out of time (pun!). So instead, I decided to put them through the wringer on 5 miles of some of the most technical trails I could; sometimes leaving the trail entirely to test them out. Here’s what I found. (Note: Mizuno does not advertise these as trail running shoes; I just like to test shoes out on every terrain so you guys and gals will know what they work for.) I also used my toe socks on this run, which provided complete relief from any blistering.
On pretty much all dry terrain, these shoes rock. Considering they are supposed to be road shoes, I was blown away by most of their trail performance. I took them through areas of weeds as tall as my chest, so I couldn’t even see the ground I was running on. This highlighted to me how great the support was from the bottom of the ankle through the midfoot, as well as how responsive these shoes are. I waited until I was pretty confident in them for this, because in most any other shoe I would have twisted my ankle for sure. I ran across every downed tree I could find; which showed me that they flex enough to get you a good grip wherever you need.
I ran hill repeats to see how quickly I tired in them. This is when the design of the shoe finally made sense to me. The forefoot of the shoe flexes to allow you to roll forward easily during your stride, and to allow flexion for stability on steep inclines. The Wave support technology helps provide that glove-like fit through the midfoot and heel, while also providing enough cushioning that it spares your knees even on harsh declines.
The only bad parts of the run came about when the trail would get wet. If it’s damp grass you’re running across without much loosening of the dirt, you’ll be fine. If it’s anything worse than that, you’re going to want to break out your real trail shoes. I went through swamp for an area of the run and I felt like a baby deer trying to ice-skate.
After a full month of running in these shoes, here are my final thoughts:
Overall, I’m hugely impressed with these shoes. They’re a great pair of lightweight trainers that provide enough cushioning to spare your joints and an overall smooth ride for many long miles on the road, while providing enough responsiveness to provide safety on some of the most technical terrain. The glove-like fit is probably my favorite attribute of these shoes; once you’re laced up it feels like your foot is vacuum sealed into them. This gives them a lightweight feel, and lets you feel your run more naturally.
The toebox can feel a little bit tight if you have a wider forefoot, but for me personally this was relieved easily by simply loosening the laces in that section and cinching them down starting at the midfoot. They do not perform well on wet terrain. I have switched to running almost entirely in these shoes by this point, but when it’s wet out I’m breaking out the LALO’s or my old cleats.
They’re a little bit heavier than some of my other shoes, but they feel lighter when wearing them. For me, feeling like you’re carrying a lighter shoe is more tiring than feeling like a slightly heavier shoe has become an extension of your foot. Also, if you’re worried about the weight, the newer model 19’s are only weighing in at 9.6oz. The cost is right in the mid-range at $115, so on this account it is simply a matter of what you are looking to spend on a pair of good running shoes. Just keep in mind, you get what you pay for; and injuries due to poorly made shoes can be far more costly than the shoes themselves. Whether you buy these or decide to go with something else, I do not recommend skimping in this department.
Overall, I would definitely feel comfortable recommending these shoes. They’re a wonderful addition to the running arsenal as a natural, neutral trainer ready to support you for many miles. Final scores are as follows:
Overall: 8 / 10
Technical specifications listed below.
Weight: 11.2 oz.
Profile (Heel): 34.1 mm
Profile (Forefoot): 22.0 mm
Drop from heel to forefoot: 12.1 mm