Big Shoes for Big Runners
by Bob "Wish" Wischnia on September 22, 2011
Runners come in all sizes and shapes—and so do Mizuno running shoes. Often, the bigger, heavier runner is left wondering: What’s the ideal Mizuno shoe for me?
It’s a good question and the answer isn’t quite as simple as strolling down to your neighborhood running store and asking for the best Mizuno shoe.
Mizuno’s line of shoes are designed specifically for certain foot types and not specific weight ranges. For example, one of our top shoes—the Wave Alchemy—is designed specifically for runners who need a maximum amount of support. It works extremely well for big runners who may weigh 200 pounds or more, but also happens to be a great shoe for runners who weigh much less and yet still need added support.
Mizuno has several exceptional shoes that work well for big runners, but to find the right shoe you need to consider several important factors.
First, who is considered a big runner? Generally speaking, it is guys who weigh 185-190 pounds or more and gals who tip the scales at 150 pounds or more. Height is also a factor, but weight is the greater consideration. The more you weigh, the more force you generate when your feet strike the ground. Since runners strike the ground with a force about three times their body weight, each extra pound you carry around is tripled in force.
A lighter runner is usually not only faster than a bigger runner, but generates much less force than someone who weighs 50 pounds more. For example, a typical 150-pound runner produces approximately 450 pounds of force at each heel strike, while a 200-pound runner generates about 600 pounds. That’s a significant difference which needs to be addressed by the proper choice of running shoes.
Taller runners also generate greater forces while running than shorter runners do. And since taller runners are usually also heavier, they are more susceptible to injuries than short, lighter runners.
Since taller, heavier runners carry more weight, they are more injury prone than someone who weighs 35 pounds less because the heavier runner is more likely to have flat feet and overpronate than smaller, lighter runners. It only makes sense that the feet flatten out over time to accommodate the heavier body weight. When the feet flatten, they tend to overpronate. (Reference the article on mizunousa.com under “Expert Advice” titled “Pronation/Supination Explained”.)
So it is critically important for the bigger, taller—and yes—heavier runner to select the best possible shoe. The four most important factors in selecting that perfect Mizuno are fit, maximum amount of shock absorption, support and added durability.
Heavier runners tend to have larger, wider feet than the average-sized runner. To accommodate larger feet, Mizuno offers most of its shoes in sizes that go up to size 14 for men with several that go up to 15 and even 16. For women, most models go up to size 11 or 12. In addition, several Mizuno models are offered in wider widths (EE) for men); some women shoes are offered in a normal width as well as narrow (AA) and wide (D). In at least one way, women with larger feet are lucky. Women, who can’t find a women’s size big or wide enough, can always wear a men’s shoe in a bigger, wider size.
A caveat: Half sizes are not available in men’s sizes larger than 13. A runner who wears a size 14 ½ has to either squeeze into a 14 or wear extra socks to take up room in a size 15.
One problem runners with big, wide feet often have is not every running store carries every width in every size in every Mizuno model. The largest, widest sizes are not big sellers so stores only carry a small inventory of shoes in that size. If you can’t find a pair that is long or wide enough, ask the store manager to special order you a pair. The shoes aren’t any more expensive if they are specially ordered and it usually only takes a week or two for the right size shoe to come in.
As a big runner, you already know you generate plenty of force when you hit the ground. So it is important to buy a shoe which has plenty of shock absorbency in its midsole. (The midsole is the light colored material that is the primary cushioning element of a running shoe.) But not all midsoles are the same. Some are thinner; some are thicker and heavier. Always go for the thicker, heavier midsole.
It’s only common sense that a big runner should stay away from lightweight shoes and racing flats. Instead, a heavier shoe generally means it offers better protection and durability which is what most bigger runners need.
You also want to buy a shoe with a firm midsole, rather than pillowy cushioning. A firm (but not hard) midsole supports the big runner’s foot better. Mizuno uses its own special midsole material called AP+ in most of its top shoes. AP+ has a cushy, bouncy feel to it, but it is also extremely durable. In addition, Mizuno uses another special shock-absorbing cushioning compound called VS-1 in many of its shoes.
All Mizuno running shoes are so well-known for our patented Mizuno Wave Plate that many runners just call Mizuno shoes “the Wave shoes”. The Wave, which comes in different lengths and shapes, are embedded in the midsole between the foot and the outer sole. (One shoe—the Wave Prophecy—has a full-length Infinity Wave plate and almost no midsole foam.)
The different types of Wave Plates allows Mizuno to design a specific shoe to fit the runner’s individual biomechanical needs. The Wave disperses the shock of heel impact across the entire midsole as well as reduces excessive foot motion (overpronation).
Heavier, taller runners generally have flatter feet and pronate more than lighter runners. That’s not always the case, but it is more often than not.
Pronation is the distinctive inward roll of the arch. Some pronation is normal; too much can be injurious. To prevent injuries due to overpronation, Mizuno offers different levels of support shoes that reduce how much your feet can pronate (i.e., your arch can collapse) at foot strike. If the pronation is reduced, you will dissipate less energy at foot strike and are less likely to suffer an injury.
For severe overpronators, two great options are the Mizuno Wave Alchemy and/or Wave Nirvana. If you don’t need maximum support but want some added stability, look to either the Mizuno Wave Inspire or Wave Nexus.
If you don’t overpronate and/or have flat feet (and not every big runner does), there are several good, extremely well-cushioned options such as the Mizuno Wave Creation, Wave Prophecy or Wave Enigma. These shoes all have excellent cushioning which will provide greater durability over the long run than a lighter, less cushioned shoe.
A big runner’s bigger shoes take a beating. Much more so than a flyweight’s lighter shoes will. It’s only logical that the increased force generated by a big runner will cause a running shoe’s materials to break down quicker. Big runners must pay close attention to the condition of their running shoes. Big runners can not afford to run in worn-out shoes. If the cushioning is compromised as it will be after a certain number of miles, you are inviting an injury.
There’s no exact guideline to tell you how many miles you’ll get out of a particular pair of shoes before it’s worn out, but it is always better to err on the conservative side and get a new pair, rather than run in a worn-out pair.
Durability is key. Fortunately, the type of shoes we have described as best for big runners—heavy-duty support Mizuno Wave shoes with plenty of shock absorption—are also the most durable. Again, a heavier shoe is more durable (and more supportive and cushioned) than a lighter shoe. Added weight is not a negative for a big runner. It is a plus.
Mizuno’s most durable shoes are the supportive Mizuno Wave Nirvana andWave Alchemy as well as the max cushionedWave Prophecy and Wave Creation.
Here’s a list of Mizuno’s best shoes for bigger runners, based on foot type and support needs:
Mild to moderate support (slightly pronated foot):Mizuno Wave Inspire, Wave Nexus.
Maximum support (severely pronated foot): Mizuno Wave Alchemy, Wave Nirvana, Wave Cabrakan (trail shoe).
Performance support(race day or tempo run shoe): Mizuno Wave Elixir.
Maximum cushioning (neutral foot):Mizuno Wave Prophecy, Wave Creation, Wave Enigma.