A short history of the Mizuno-obsessed and how they’ve taken to the brand’s newest lightweight trainer, from Austin runner and shoe expert John Schrup.
RUNNING SHOE: Mizuno Sayonara
Category: Lightweight, Neutral
Best for: Training and racing
Weight: 8.1 oz (men’s size 10)
Heel-to-toe drop: 10 mm
By John Schrup, Texas Running Company – Austin Gateway store manager
Mizuno is doing something right.
Since the late ‘90s, when we were first introduced to the Wave Rider, Mizuno has had a cult following that borders on, I don’t know, cultish. A few years ago, I remember when one update of the Wave Rider was quite obviously a stutter step in previous models. The fan base was, shall we say, not happy. You saw it in the in the coffee shops: Mizuno lovers were despondent, ordering lattes with whole milk or heavy cream instead of the lowfat stuff. We saw it in our running shops: Wave Rider addicts sobbing and blubbering so that communication with them was reduced to writing alternative shoe suggestions on sticky notes. I’d heard that in some shops, staff members were brought up to speed on basic counseling techniques. Suffice it to say that people love their Mizuno.
And so it was to be expected that when the rumor went out that the Wave Precision and the Wave Elixir—beloved lightweight trainers, both—were to be discontinued, we braced ourselves for small scale rioting. And since our customers tend to be mostly polite, the riots were, in the end, pretty benign.1
But the introduction of the all-new Sayonara ensured that everything was both fine and dandy. Sure, there were those few who pouted and mumbled, but the overwhelming feedback was that the Sayonaras were well on the way to developing their own sub-cult.
The Sayonara are a more than worthy replacement. They have a bit of the DNA from both the Elixir and the Precision, so no one should really feel that they’ve been left out, and that’s been blended with a more contemporary presentation to offer what is one of the most versatile, complete and surprising models available. It is arguably one of the best racer/trainer hybrids we’ve seen up to now.
The Sayonaras are super lightweight—about 8 oz. for men’s size 9 and 7 oz. for women’s size 7. Until very recently, a shoe that appeared in this weight range was deemed a marathon racer. But the new midsole material, called U4ic (“Euphoric,” clever Mizuno!) is about 30% lighter than previous midsole foams, yet retains all the cushioning properties. So they’re durable, too, which is something until now wasn’t always possible. The upper is reinforced with printed overlays, keeping weight down without sacrificing support where you want it.
They’re not flimsy, as you might expect from something so lightweight. The Wave plate is a bit beefier on the medial side of the shoe, providing just a titch of stability for those who want it—for those Elixir fans. But it isn’t so rigid that a neutral foot won’t be happy.
The fit is a combination of racer/trainer, as well. Snug in the heel, thanks to an aggressive internal heel counter; snug in the mid-foot—those overlays are deceptively supportive—you’re reminded of your favorite racer. The forefoot is more trainer than racer; it’s roomy so your toes and metatarsals can splay. To be very honest, the heel counter might be the only real blotch on an otherwise awesome shoe. I can feel it—it’s on the stiffer side for certain—and I’d prefer not to.
Even the feel—the ride of the shoe—is a nearly perfect blend of racer and trainer. The midsole is lightweight—we know that—but the cushioning is surprisingly protective. It’s soft, without getting into marshmallow territory, and responsive. The G3 outsole, which is the part of the outsole that looks kinda-sorta like a circuit board, delivers a super poppy toe-off, particularly when you’re moving faster. The complete ground contact midsole smoothes out the heel-to-toe transition and, as far as I’m concerned, should be a component of every shoe. It’s that important.
And for those of you who carry calipers, the offset is about 10mm, which is lower than most Mizuno offerings and gives you a feel that combines speed and assurance.
So from top to bottom, Mizuno has created a truly modern running shoe. They’ve delivered either a lightweight trainer, or a more substantial racer, depending on your take. Some will prefer it as a daily trainer. Others will use it once or twice a week when they do the faster work and then again on race day. Whenever you put them on, you want to run fast, even in the Home Depot.2 Whatever the case, your toolbox just got one fuller. But leave room: When Mizuno introduces the Hitogami in January, you’ll need that one too.
1The fitting rooms were messy, and the try-on sock bins had been dumped over.
2Which is inappropriate, so don’t do that.