Riding the crest of a wave – Mizuno Wave Rider review

When I started running I lacked loyalty to any shoe brand, let alone to any one model. I went into Runners Need in Camden and ended up with a different pair of shoes every time. I actually don’t think this is a bad thing: I think that as my running developed, I probably needed different shoes – not least because as I lost weight and improved my times, the heavy, super-cushioned Nike Pegasus that I had been sold on my first visit to the shop were no longer appropriate.

While I was still in my dis-loyal phase, I bought my first pair of Mizuno running shoes. I watched a video interview with Andrew Lemoncello, where he talked about the Mizuno Wave Rider being his “everyday training shoe” that he would use for easy runs, recovery runs and even for off-road runs. I thought they sounded perfect so bought a pair.

And indeed they were ideal. The shoe was light but still cushioned enough to be used for the majority of my runs, especially as the mileage increased as I got closer to a marathon. The forefoot had just enough give to soften the effect of running on the pavements around London but not so much that they felt clumpy. And the plastic ‘wave’ that gave the shoe its name and provided the cushioning in the heel, was rigid enough that the shoe didn’t have any of the squidgy-ness that I had found with other cushioned shoes.

Becoming loyal

After a while I found that as far as shoes were concerned, I was being drawn back to the same models time and time again. I started to value consistency because I didn’t want to run the risk of changing anything that might cause an injury or a niggle and disrupt training.

I think that I was also becoming lazy about reading reviews and trying to figure out what was going to be better than the shoe I had. So I ended up with several pairs of the Adidas Adios AdiZero racing flats (a couple of which came from Adidas as shoes for me to review). You can read a review of the Adidas shoe here. And a number of pairs of every version of Saucony’s excellent Kinvara (again, thanks to Saucony for sending me a couple of pairs as they were released). My Kinvara review is here.

Mizuno Wave Rider 16: used to be yellow!

And I bought more pairs of the Mizuno Wave Rider. I bought the Wave Rider 13, 14 and 15 – at least two pairs of each. The thing is they just felt great straight out of the box. The forefoot in every version has remained nice and roomy, so no foot crushing there! The upper and especially the collar around the ankle, is neat and fits really well. I liked the fact that there is enough grip for running on grass but the shoes are not so lugged that they grip the road like a koala on a eucalyptus tree.

Mizuno Wave Rider 16: used to be yellow!

There was a blip – I didn’t like the Wave Rider 14 as much as the 13. But once the 15 came out, the shoe was better than ever – lighter and slightly firmer in the forefoot. Still ideal for easy, steady, and recovery runs and for my long runs.

Now there is the Mizuno Wave Rider 16.

Having had a pair of the Wave Rider in my arsenal of shoes for three editions of the shoe, when the 16th version was released, Mizuno’s PR company wrote to me and asked if I’d like to try a pair. I did!

The lovely, yellow Wave Rider 16

The Mizuno Wave Rider 16 is my favourite yet. The AP+ midsole material feels as light as ever but seems to offer just the right amount of cushioning, which means these shoes are perfect for tired legs on recovery runs and for long runs. There is not so much cushioning however, that you feel disconnected from the ground so I have worn the Wave Rider for tempo sessions.

The outsole seems really durable and the flexibility that comes from grooves cut across the foot – they are probably called something fancy, but to me they are just groves! – means that the shoe can be firm without being stiff.

As with the blue pair of the 15s that I bought (I wanted a pair of the limited edition purple ones, but not so much that I was going to go out of my way to spend more money to get a pair… they’re running shoes after all), the shoes are striking looking. The ones I have are bright yellow. Initially I was concerned that the upper looked less breathable than earlier versions and so far I have only been able to run in them in cooler conditions, but they seem to be pretty good at keeping my feet at the right temperature.

And there doesn’t seem much more for me to write about. I think that these are really good shoes. There are some rivals in this sector of the market – Saucony’s Triumph and Brooks’ Glycerin are good options. But I think that I will have a pair of the Wave Rider clogging up the stairs in our hall way for a while to come. If you’ve run in these shoes I’d love to know what you think.

The Wave Rider generations: 14, 15 & 16 from L to R

Shoe review – Mizuno Wave Rider 14

When I started running back in 2005, I was told a dozen times that I should go and get a proper pair of running shoes as soon as possible. That was very good advice. I took myself off to my local Runners Need and was fitted out with a pair of Nike Pegasus. They were a workhorse type of shoe, with lots of cushioning and a really plush feel. They also squeaked.

My second pair of shoes were ASICS and I bought them specifically because the Nikes squeaked. But I never forgot the value of a comfortable pair of shoes and so it was that after six years of running I still do most of my running in terms of distance in nice, plush neutral shoes. The latest of which has been a pair of Mizuno Wave Rider 14s.

I actually decided to buy these shoes in part because I was struggling with the complexity of the ASICS range and what felt, to me, like an inexorable rise in prices – not just ASICS, but they did seem to have the steepest curve. The top of the range AISCS now are well in excess of £100 and for a runner like me, covering around 80 miles per week, that means quite a significant expense every 6 or 7 weeks, if you consider that a pair of shoes will last 500 miles or so.

So how did I come to Mizuno? Well, I was researching Andrew Lemoncello and he runs in Wave Riders. His comment, on a video that you can see here made me think that they were exactly what I was looking for – neutral, lightweight, well-cushioned and grippy (not sure if ‘grippy’ is a real word, but I’m sure you know what I mean). Andrew says, during what is, it must be said, a pretty cheesy film “… you just love to run as many miles as possible in them” and I agree on two counts – the Wave Rider 14s do inspire me to run further than I might if I was wearing a less cushioned pair of shoes and they are also the shoes that I reach for first when I am heading out the door for a run. Admittedly I will usually take much lighter shoes for hard, fast sessions, but when 6 of my 9 runs each week are recovery, easy or long runs, the Wave Rider 14s get plenty of outings.

Now it is time for a new pair of shoes – the current pair of Wave Riders have done at least 600 miles – and I am pretty sure I will go for another pair, they are that good. So if you are looking for a neutral, light-weight and comfortable shoes that will become your feet’s best friends, maybe you should check out the Mizuno Wave Rider. Oh and let me know how you get on, please.

Brooks Racer ST5 – the future’s bright, the future’s orange.

Through my association with Ransacker I was recently invited to a party (erm, well it was called a party, which was unlike any party I’ve ever been to) to view the new products being launched to the running community by Brooks.

It was a really interesting evening and the Brooks team in the UK are really lovely people – knowledgeable and enthusiastic. And Brooks produce a very wide range of products to cater for all types of runner. However the thing that caught my eye was the Racer ST5.

Having long been a fan of the ASICS Tarther, I don’t really feel the need to try to find an out-and-out racing shoe, but what I was lacking was a middle ground between my workhorse Mizuno WaveRiders which I use for everything and the Tarthers, which I reserve exclusively for racing. I hoped the Brooks ST5 would fill the void.

The shoes arrived from Brooks this morning. I immediately pulled them on (breaking the tag at the heel with the first tug, but they were free so I’ve little cause to complain!) and stomped round the flat for an hour. I appreciated the wide toe-box, snug heel, flat profile and light weight. These, I thought, could be interesting…

So tonight I ran home from work in them. 45 minutes easy is what Nick, my coach from runningwithus, has suggested and that seemed like the perfect opportunity to try these ‘racer-trainers’ out. The run home was lovely. The shoes are as comfortable as any I have tried. They provided great grip on the slimy wet pavements through central London and the things I had liked when I tried them at home all remained – roomy forefoot, snug heel, low profile and super light weight for a trainer with quite a bit of cushioning. So you can tell, I am pretty delighted with the ST5s.

And then the story gets better.

What I haven’t mentioned yet is that the Brooks ST5 incorporates a propriatory material in the sole called BioMoGo – the world’s first biodegradable midsole (unless you count the sandals worn by the likes of the Tarahumara of course – they’re pretty biodegradable). The fact that some of the technology from Brooks Green Silence is filtering through to their other shoes is a reason to jump for joy. The fact that I seem to have found a shoe that fits between my super-light racers and my heavy protective every day shoes, that happens to give a shit about the planet is a reason to run and jump for joy. So thanks, Brooks, you’ve made a really lovely shoe and I reckon I’ll be giving them an outing at the Great Bentley half marathon in 10 days. I’ll report on how me and my new orange movers get on.