Mizuno Racing Shoes 2013: Which Mizuno You Should Wear In Your Next Race

March 25, 2013 Posted By: Bob "Wish" Wischnia

One of the most frequently asked questions runners have is whether or not they should buy racing shoes for an important, upcoming race. It’s a good question, especially among serious road racers who want to PR, contend for age-group honors or just get a little extra race-day boost.

Intuitively, wearing a lighter shoe in races will help you race faster. But it’s not quite that simple and there’s no single answer on the road-race shoe question that fits for every level of racer.

Generally speaking, extremely lightweight road racing (or road flats, the terms are synonymous) are not recommended for the average recreational runner. And racing shoes are absolutely not for the newbie who is merely trying to finish a marathon or half marathon for the first time.

Why not? After all, racing shoes are as much as five ounces lighter per shoe than conventional training shoes and it stands to reason with less shoe on your feet, you should be able to run faster.

That much is true–a lighter shoe is a faster shoe—but racing shoes have much less cushioning and support than training shoes. (That’s why the shoes are lighter.) Most beginning racers can’t sacrifice cushioning and/or support for lightness without risk of injury. Additionally, if you aren’t racing at least seven minutes per mile or faster, you aren’t running fast enough to capitalize on wearing racing shoes.

But, many experienced, faster racers can afford to give up some cushioning and support in an effort to squeeze every second out of their race. For the faster guys and gals at the head of the pack, every second counts as they battle for top finishes and age-group awards.

If that doesn’t sound like you and you aren’t geared to run seven-minute pace (or much faster), you probably shouldn’t consider racing shoes. Flats aren’t worth the higher risk of injury and beside, won’t make a major difference in how fast you run.

However, if you are a skilled, fit racer who is biomechanically efficient—i.e., doesn’t pronate to the extreme—racing shoes can make a difference. How much?

For every ounce of weight you can eliminate from a training shoe versus a racing flat, you save about one second per mile. That’s not a lot, but it can mean shaving a few seconds off a PR.

If you are contemplating whether to wear flats for a major race, you will gradually need to adapt to the different weight and lower heel heights. Buy racing flats at least a month before a key race and wear the racers in a few of your tempo runs to get a feel for the extreme lightness that will allow for a faster leg turnover.

Even some experienced racers find out that racing shoes are not for them. Instead, many use a light performance trainer-racer which are lighter than training shoes, but heavier (and better cushioned) than flats.

If you are a recreational racer who wants a lighter shoe for road races, but can’t go to the extreme of wearing a road flat, try a lightweight trainer-racer such as the Mizuno Wave Precision or Wave Elixir. Both are lighter and more flexible than training shoes, but have the same level of cushioning as conventional shoes. In July, Mizuno will unveil the Wave Sayonara. This go-fast, high performance shoe is even lighter (8.1 ounces for men; 7.1 for women) than either the Precision or Elixir, but still has exceptional cushioning and just the right amount of support.

Here are some helpful guidelines that will assist you in making a decision whether to wear racing shoes or not:

1) Racing shoes will allow you to run faster, but they won’t make you run faster. Research shows that for every ounce that you shave off the weight of a training shoe, you will run one second per mile faster. If you extrapolate that from a typical 11-ounce trainer to a seven-ounce racer, that’s a savings of four ounces per shoe which translates to four seconds per mile. That equates to 12 seconds in a 5-K or nearly two minutes in a marathon.

2) Racing shoes make you feel faster. Race morning is different from a normal training day and chances are you want this day to feel special. That’s why you wear a singlet with a number and that’s why many racers also wear racing shoes. They want to feel faster and racing flats allows them to feel like there’s almost nothing on their feet to slow them down.

3) Use racing shoes for a few shorter runs before wearing them in a race. Racing in flats is an acquired feeling and you must get accustomed to the extra pounding your legs will take. Racing shoes weight less because there is less shoe. Plus, racing shoes have lower heel heights than conventional trainers.

4) If you need plenty of cushioning, racing shoes are out. Most racers offer about 20 percent less midsole cushioning than training shoes. If you need that extra comfort, stick with trainers.

5) If you need support and stability, stick with your trainers. Racing shoes have almost no support features. If you overpronate and need those added support features, stick with your trainers. Or try a lightweight performance trainer.

6) If you’re a big runner, racing shoes are not for you. Simply put, bigger, heavier runners need all the support and cushioning they can get. Especially in the final 10 miles of a marathon. Wear training shoes that have worked for you in the past.

7) Racing shoes have lower heel heights. Typically, training shoes have heel heights of 12 mm, but road racing shoes are in the 5-9 mm range which aids in midfoot or forefoot running. But the lower heel heights do take some adaptation.

Mizuno is renowned for its roster of exceptional road-racing shoes: The Wave Ronin 5, Wave Musha 5, Wave Universe 4 and the new Wave Ekiden. Mizuno also makes two popular lightweight performance that are suitable for racing– the Wave Precision and Wave Elixir—and in July will introduce the Wave Sayonara.

Road-racers: Intended primarily for road-racing. Extremely light and flexible with lower heel heel heights.

Wave Universe 4 (3.8 ounces) is a stripped down racer built purely for speed. The lightest racing shoe on the market, the Wave Universe weighs about half of what most conventional road-racing shoes weigh. With a heel-to-toe ramp of only 5 mm, the Universe has a very low, fast profile which has gained considerable following among minimalist enthusiasts as a training shoe. Available in unisex sizing. In July, Mizuno will bring out an even lighter Wave Universe which will weigh an unbelievable 2.8 ounces as well as for the first time have a women’s Universe (2.2 ounces). The new Wave Universe 5 will also have a lower heel ramp of only 3 mm. Best suited for sub-marathon distances.
Wave Ronin 5 (m: 6.9 oz; w: 5.8 oz.) is Mizuno’s flagship road flat. The Ronin is a fast, flexible racing shoe designed primarily for biomechanically efficient racers who want a snug-fitting, light flat. Although it’s extremely light, the Ronin has most of Mizuno’s top technologies found in its trainers, including Dynamotion Fit, AP+ midsole and SmoothRide egineering for fast heel-to-toe transition. The Ronin’s G3 outsole works especially well on wet, slippery roads (particularly at aid stations) as it grips the road—even at high speeds. Heel-to-toe ramp is 9 mm. Suitable for all distances up to the marathon.
Wave Musha 5 (m: 7.4 oz. w: 6.3 oz.) is different from the Ronin in several key aspects. The Musha is slightly heavier, offers a hint of support and has a broader fit than the Ronin. With a light, highly flexible midsole (AP+ cushioning) and outsole, the Musha has also gained popularity as a lightweight trainer for fast days as well as race days. Heel-to-toe ramp is 9 mm. Suitable for all distances up to the marathon.
Wave Ekiden (4.6 oz.) has been in Mizuno’s Japanese line for years. For the first time, it is available to American racers. The Ekiden is lighter than the Ronin, but a bit more substantial than the Universe. A fast, comfortable shoe with a snug fit, the Ekiden is designed for racers who want to fly at high speeds.
Performance trainers: Many runners prefer a lightweight trainer for daily running. Others use lightweight performance trainers as a “second” shoe for fast, tempo days, interval workouts and races (especially marathons). Mizuno’s performance trainers offer a quantifiable weight savings over conventional training shoes without sacrificing cushioning, comfort and durability.

Wave Elixir 8: (m: 8.8 oz.; w: 7.4 oz.) defines the lightweight, support category with its firm, moderately supportive ride. If you have support concerns about most lightweight shoes, the Elixir delivers just the exact amount to reduce overpronation. Its low profile has a racing shoe feel, yet it has the cushioning and comfort of a training shoe. With a snug fit and great flexibility, the Elixir lets you get up on your toes for top speed at any distance. A great marathon shoe for sub-elites. Heel-to-toe ramp is 12 mm.
Wave Precision 13: (m: 9.6. oz.; w: 8 oz.) is the perfect companion (or second shoe) for Mizuno’s neutral trainers such as the Wave Rider, Wave Enigma or Wave Creation. The Precision is lighter, has a bouncier midsole and is more appropriate for faster running than its neutral brethren. But it still has the comfort, fit and cushioning of a daily trainer. Also suitable for races of any distance. Heel-to-toe ramp is 12 mm.

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