Mizuno 2014: Finding The Right Shoe For Me?

January 21, 2014 Posted By: Bob "Wish" Wischnia

At Mizuno, we strongly believe in the power of running. By that we mean, running isn’t just a great way to stay in shape and have fun. Running is more than that. Running has the power to transform. And not just you and I.

We all know that running means a healthier, happier, fitter person. Running changes us on an individual basis every day. Taken to the next level, running can transform our country and—dare I say—the entire planet.

Obesity is the number one health issue confronting our nation. But the simple act of running—movement really—can have a dramatic impact on the health issues we are now facing.

Consider for a minute the ramifications if everybody ran. Seriously. Imagine how different we would be as a society if we—runners–weren’t the exception, but the norm.

That’s our lofty mission—to create new runners as well as helping veterans run more often and have greater enjoyment. If we can do this, we are absolutely convinced that the power of running can change our world.

  *****

This might seem hypocritical coming from a running shoe company, but the last thing we want you to think about on a run is your shoes. The mission of our designers was to create a line of shoes that nearly disappears as soon as you pull them on.

Our shoes have always been light and responsive, but the challenge to the design for the ’14 line was to take that a step further. We think our design group has accomplished that.

It certainly isn’t always easy finding the perfect shoe which we sincerely hope is a Mizuno. Let’s face it, finding that shoe which fits and functions flawlessly can be difficult. There are so many options to choose from that the array of Mizuno’s 2014 styles and models can be bewildering, especially when you just want your old favorite shoe again.

And you may have already discovered that your favorite may already be gone from the shoe wall at your running store. But don’t despair.

Even though Mizuno updates all its shoes on an annual basis, you can be assured you are on familiar ground if you stick with the same model shoe you have worn in the past.

For example, the Mizuno Wave Rider—our most popular and enduring shoe—undergoes periodic improvements. If you have worn and liked the Wave Rider, the newest version of that great shoe—the Wave Rider 17—maintains the fit and feel of this classic but with upgraded materials, fit and feel.

That’s what we do with all of our shoes. We’re constantly trying to improve our line and yet maintain the consistent fit and performance factors that our customers have come to expect.

The big news for 2014 is the introduction of a new midsole material called U4ic. This new midsole foam—the cushioning material—is found in every ’14 Mizuno training shoe with the exception of one. The beauty of U4ic (i.e.,  “euphoric”) is it is 30 percent lighter than our prior midsole foam and yet it’s just as cushioned and durable.

For winter-spring 2014, Mizuno is introducing two brand new shoes as well as significant improvements in our updated line-up in terms of lightness, enhanced ride and comfort without a loss of support or cushioning. Again, the goal is for you the runner to think less about the shoes and more about the pure enjoyment of a run.

To give you an overview of which Mizunos are for you and the changes for 2014, we have broken each shoe into one of five classifications: Support, cushioned (or neutral), trail, lightweight performance trainers and racing shoes.

Cushioned (or neutral) shoes:

This type of training shoe places an emphasis on unencumbered cushioning. This type of shoe usually has the highest level of cushioning (particularly in the rearfoot for good shock absorption). These shoes are the least stable or supportive of conventional training shoes, but are the most flexible and responsive.

Best suited for: Runners who are biomechanically efficient (don’t overpronate) and who often have a high or rigid arch. Also, underpronators (don’t pronate enough) and fast, lean runners do well in these shoes.

Mizuno maximum neutral: Wave Creation 15, Wave Enigma 3 and Wave Prophecy 3. Moderate neutral: Wave Rider 17.

Improvements for 2014: The Wave Rider 17 is quite simply the best Rider yet and the lightest, most flexible neutral shoe in the market. Utilizing the new U4ic midsole foam, the Rider is a full ounce lighter with a substantially improved ride from heel to toe. The new Rider also hugs and secures the foot better. The Wave Creation 15 also has substantially improved cushioning, comfort and also is a half ounce lighter than the 14. The new Creation, celebrating its 15th anniversary, has an improved fit which snugs the foot even better. The ’13 Wave Enigma 3, available only in running specialty stores, also has improved cushioning, reduced weight and has a more secure fitting upper. The Wave Prophecy 3, a unique shoe with a mechanical, full-length Infinity Wave midsole, also is significantly lighter, has increased flexibility and much better toeoff.  There’s 27 percent more cushioning in the heel and the new Prophecy has a smoother, more dynamic ride than the first two versions of this favorite.

Support shoes:

Support shoes offer external and internal devices that reduces the harmful effects of overpronation. (Overpronation is the distinctive inward roll which is a leading cause of injuries.) Mizuno support shoes use Fan Wave technology to stabilize the foot from heel strike to toeoff. Mizuno support shoes also utilize a supportive upper, forefoot sculpting and the new U4ic midsole foam for lightweight support that won’t slow you down.

Best suited for: Runners who overpronate and/or need some added medial support. Runners with normal or flat arches. Runners who wear orthotics generally do well in support shoes.

Mizuno moderate support: Wave Inspire 10. Maximum support: Wave Paradox.

Improvements for 2014:  The Wave Inspire 10 has been completely revamped, while still retaining its unmatched level of lightweight support. With the new U4ic midsole, the 10th anniversary edition of the Inspire is the lightest version we have ever made and yet, it’s even more supportive. The fit’s also improved with a sleeker design and internal midfoot and forefoot straps. With a “moderate” level of support, the Inspire 10 is lighter, better cushioned and “quicker” than our competitors’ support shoes. The Wave Paradox is so named because even though it is exceptionally supportive (as supportive as its two predecessors, the Alchemy and Nirvana), it’s significantly lighter and much more cushioned.

Lightweight performance trainers:

As the name implies, these are lightweight shoes that are designed for runners who want to fly in training—or racing. These shoes have a performance fit and feel, are highly flexible, have breathable uppers and good toe spring. Performance trainers are generally about 2-3 ounces lighter than conventional training shoes. Some runners choose to use these shoes for daily training, although most runners usually wear lightweight performance trainers mostly for speed work or races.

Best suited for: Runners who train (or race) fast. Runners who don’t need a lot of stability or cushioning, but prefer an unencumbered, light, flexible ride.

Mizuno performance neutral: Wave Sayonara and Wave Hitogami.

Mizuno has always been renowned for its performance trainers and these two selections are no exception. The Sayonara, introduced in summer, 2013 is exceptionally light, well-cushioned and has a bit of support that won’t slow you down. Its heel-to-toe ramp is 10mm. The Hitogami is a brand new racer-trainer (even lighter than the Sayonara) with a responsive, smooth ride, Filled in on the medial side and with a Parallel Wave, the Hitogami also has a bit of inherent support. Its heel-to-toe ramp is a fraction lower than the Sayonara at 9 m.

Minimalist:

This type of shoe is characterized by lowered heel to toe ramps, minimal amount of cushioning and support. Runners who like minimal shoes prefer the less is more approach.

Best suited for: Biomechanically efficient runners (i.e., they don’t overpronate) who prefer a good road “feel” and don’t want (or need) traditional cushioning or heel heights.

Mizuno performance neutral: Wave Universe 5, Wave Ekiden.

Improvements for 2014: The Wave Universe is primarily a racing shoe, but it has become a popular shoe with minimalist runners due to its extreme light, unrestricted ride.  Believe it or not, the Universe 5 is even lightert han the 4, making it the lightest shoe on the market at 2.8 ounces (men’s size 9). Its heel-to-toe ramp is 3mm. The Wave Ekiden is also primarily used as a racing shoe, but has also gained wider acceptance as a training shoe because of its light, smooth ride. Its heel-to-toe ramp is 5 mm.

Road-racing shoes:

Racers (or road-racing flats) are the sports cars of road-racing. Mizuno’s ultra-light racing shoes are the lightest, most flexible shoes. Racing shoes have a low-profile midsole and a light upper.

Best suited for: Serious racers who don’t want (or need) a shoe which will slow them down. Efficient, lightweight runners do best in flats.

Mizuno performance neutral racing shoes: Wave Universe 5, Wave Ekiden and Wave Hitogami.

Trail, off-road shoes:

Mizuno moderate support: Trail Ascend 8.

Best suited for: Off-road or trail runners who need added traction, a lightweight ride and good cushioning.

Unlike most trail shoes, the Wave Ascend is light and nimble without a sacrifice in terms of cushioning or support. Although it’s designed primarily for off-road running, the Ascend is flexible and versatile enough for running on the roads to and from the tra

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