Q&A with Mizuno Shoe Guy
by Bob "Wish" Wischnia on May 3, 2011
Do you have a shoe-related question? Or a running shoe question, specific to Mizuno for the Mizuno Shoe Guy? If you have a question you’d like him to answer, send it to Shoeguy@Mizunousa.com. He'll pick five questions a month to answer and if he picks your question, we'll send you a beautiful Mizuno tech T-shirt.
Q: When I first started running two years ago, the guy at the running store had me walk in bare feet and put me in neutral shoes. Since then, I've had a lot of lower leg issues. Anyway, I was browsing the shoes at a different running store the other day and the salesguy put me through a treadmill test and when we looked at the tape, you could see a definite inward cant. When I tried a pair of support shoes, I could definitely feel the extra support in my instep. Do you think I should ditch my neutral shoes for more supportive ones? Which Mizuno would you recommend? Is there a high injury risk if I wear stability shoes? Frank, Gainesville, Florida
A: I do think you should try a support shoe. Having said that, your question is always a tricky one to answer without seeing some definitive evidence of your actual biomechanics. But I'll give you my admittedly biased opinion. For most runners who wear neutral shoes, there usually isn't a downside to wearing stability shoes. Granted, a stability shoe may be too stable for some runners with very efficient, neutral gaits, but for most, they do just fine in stable shoes. I would always err on the side of support. Too much support is usually OK. Too little is not. So based on what you have said, my best guess is a good pair of stability (i.e., support) shoes would probably help stabilize your lower legs and possibly help with some of your injuries that may have been caused by lack of shoe support. Which Mizuno is for you? I would recommend trying on two models: The Wave Inspire and the Wave Alchemy. Both are excellent support shoes; the Alchemy is the more supportive of the two. Is there a high injury risk if you get it wrong? Probably not.
Q: Hello Mizuno Shoe Guy. I currently wear the Wave Inspire and love them. But now that I'm doing longer runs, it seems my right foot starts to overpronate after about 10 miles. Should I stick with Inspires for long runs? Also, I've read about people having shoes for racing so I was wondering if you have any recommendations for half marathon and marathon shoes that would be light but still give me the support I need? Or are the Inspires OK for racing? Mary Anne, Salt Lake City, Utah
A: Glad you like the Wave Inspires. The fact that the Wave Inspire works for you on shorter runs is indication to me that you should be fine with them on long runs too. They offer plenty of support and cushioning and should help you get through those tough final miles on long runs when your form starts to deteriorate due to fatigue. To your second question, yes some runners wear lighter, more flexible shoes for racing. I say "some" runners wear racing shoes, but certainly not the majority of racers. Most recreational racers wear their training shoes for races and do just fine. Racing shoes are primarily for faster runners who can run approximately 6:30 per mile pace or faster. If that isn’t you, I wouldn't recommend racing shoes as you have to give up cushioning and support when you wear them. Instead of racing shoes, a great alternative (even for faster runners) are lightweight trainer/racers. These are shoes that are lighter and more flexible than conventional trainers (such as the Wave Inspire), but offer better support and cushioning than racing flats. Mizuno offers two exceptional lightweight trainer/racers: The Wave Elixir and Wave Precision. The Elixir is slightly lighter than the Precision and is similar to the Inspire in terms of support and cushioning. It could be the ideal marathon or half marathon shoe for you.
Q: I'm a big guy who loves to run. I weigh about 240 pounds and want a supportive shoe which will also protect me with good cushioning. But I don't want a shoe which is so soft that I sink into it. What would you recommend? Sean, Belfast, Ireland
A: I would definitely recommend the Mizuno Wave Alchemy. This is an extremely supportive shoe, but unlike many other shoes in this category, the Alchemy is relatively light and has exceptional forefoot cushioning which is definitely not marshmallow soft in the least. Good cushioning does not have to be soft. The Alchemy is a terrific shoe for bigger runners and doesn't sacrifice a smooth ride for support. Additionally, the Alchemy is available in a wide (EE) width for big guys with wide feet.
Q: Hi MSG. Thanks for your time and effort in answering questions. I started running in 2006 in a very sloppy manner and two months later, had a medial meniscus tear in the left knee. My surgeon repaired the meniscus. He did not tear off the piece since it was torn into almost two. I was off running for more than two years and when I started again, started carefully and very slowly. Now I run about 24 kilometers per week, mostly on treadmills. I weigh about 150 pounds and feel very comfortable in the Wave Rider shoes. My question is whether the Wave Creation would be a better shoe for me given my size and history of knee problems? Dave, Liverpool, England
A: First, my caveat: If you're doing well with a shoe (i.e., Wave Rider), switching to another shoe isn't always a great idea. I believe in sticking with what works. Having said that, the Wave Creation is one of the best shoes on the market and it generally works well for Rider wearers. The difference between the two is the Wave Creation has much better arch support and cushioning and is more durable. But it's heavier which in your case shouldn't be of much concern. I also find the Creation more comfortable from a pure fit standpoint. Should you switch? If those factors mean something you, sure go ahead. If they aren't important, stick with the Rider.
Q: Simple question: What's the basic difference between the Wave Inspire, Wave Nexus and Wave Alchemy? Thanks. Sal, San Carlos, California
A: All three shoes are support shoes, but all offer different levels of support and cushioning. Starting with the Wave Inspire, it's a moderately supportive, flexible shoe with good cushioning. The Wave Alchemy is a more supportive, broad-based shoe with exceptional forefoot cushioning and a secure heel. The Alchemy weighs about a half ounce more than the Inspire, but it's so beautifully balanced you won't even notice it. The Wave Nexus is very similar to the Inspire (some materials differences) but it's lighter and the least expensive of the three. If you need plenty of support but in a well-cushioned shoe, the Wave Alchemy is best in class. I love this shoe. If you don't need a lot of support, but want some added some stability, go with the Inspire or Nexus. One more shoe I would like to throw into the conversation is the Nirvana. This is the most durable of the three, has excellent support and good cushioning. If you're a bigger guy, look at either the Nirvana or Alchemy. Try on all four and go with the one which fits and feels the best.