Trial run: a neutral Mizuno shoe surprises running blogger Meghan Bruce (a Brooks devotee)
RUNNING SHOE: Mizuno Wave Rider 16
Best for: Training, Racing, Running, Walking
Weight: 8.2 oz. (women’s size 8)
Heel-to-toe drop: 11 mm
By Meghan Bruce, shoe aficionado and blogger, Princeton Running Company
A few months back, our Mizuno rep Riley paid us a visit for a group run, with dozens of trial shoes in tow. Mizuno certainly knows how to start a party! I watched in excitement as a table of snacks, water, beer, giveaway pint glasses and water bottles, and a to-be-raffled backpack unfolded in the store. Nice work, Riley.
I had been looking forward to testing out the Wave Inspire 9, since it felt nice during the few minutes I tried it on at work once. I used to run in the Inspire way back when, in late 2007/early 2008. Since then, I’ve become a Brooks devotee.
I used to be wary about taking a different shoe on a run since I’m so injury-prone and whatnot, and rarely did it when the opportunity presented itself. I’ve since changed my mind and decided to do it, because it really gives me a better idea of how to present the shoe to customers.
But there were no Inspires in my size in the bag. I tried on the Wave Rider 16 and hopped on the treadmill. I videotaped myself and then analyzed it in slow motion — and they looked fine! I was surprised, as I thought I would need more stability, but apparently not. Hm. Goes to prove my point that most runners are mildly (or severely) overcorrected if they have never been analyzed running in a neutral shoe! (Haven’t done this? Have no clue what I’m talking about? Go to a good running store, now, and insist on it!)
I led the group to Witherspoon Woods. I felt great, and hardly noticed I wasn’t wearing my regular running shoes (Brooks Ravenna 4) once we got on the trails. It was an hour of twists and turns and hills, with some interesting talks.
I was on such a runner’s high when I returned…cliché, but come on, you know those runs. It’s a real thing. And it’s awesome. So was the stout waiting for me at the end of the run.
Thoughts on the shoes: Most of my expectations and assumptions about the Riders were proven wrong on this run. This is great, because it means I can tell these things to customers from a firsthand experience. Honestly, I want people to come up with and share their own opinions on the shoes, but sometimes you can tell they really want to hear yours, and may even ask.
1. Expectation: narrow forefoot. Reality: even more spacious forefoot than the Ravenna. The stitching placement was perfect; the toe room, height and width, was perfect.
2. Expectation: they are very neutral. Reality: I always thought I needed just a tad of stability, and I was running 100% neutrally in these. I’m not saying it’s stable, because it is a neutral shoe; but it is more firm all around (compared to neutral Asics, Nike, etc.).
3. Expectation: Firm ride. Reality: this was definitely true. There was less “bounciness” to the cushion of this shoe than the Ravenna, and many others. I think I like that bounce, but the firmness wasn’t too hard; I could tell there was cushion there.
4. Expectation: hot color. Reality: got that one right, too. Loving the coral red.
At the end, I got to keep the shoes! Score! Maybe I’ll rock these Riders on my easy runs.
This review would be incomplete without an important history lesson:
There was quite the buzz when Mizuno released the Wave Rider 16 compared to other shoe models that debuted at the same time. The truth: not many runners liked the Rider 14 and Rider 15 compared to previous models.
Pre-2011, the Wave Rider had been flexible and light. It provided just enough cushioning for many runners, and nothing more. With the 14, Mizuno admittedly tried to give the shoe a little more oomph, adding cushioning to the bottom and reinforcing some of the materials on the upper. As a first-hand witness to the change on the selling side of things, I can say that the majority of customers were displeased with the changes. Add this to the fact that Brooks made similar adjustments to the Ghost 4 (versus the Ghost 3) simultaneously, and several neutral runners found themselves in quite a conundrum. Both updates had been fine shoes, but the changes were enough to annoy half of the people who swore by models past.
I am happy to say that the Wave Rider 16 has finally, definitely jumped back in the game. Conclusion: If you hated the Rider 14 and 15 and swore off the shoe, listen to me now: Try the 16! It is so different and I think you will fall back in love with it.