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“Never settle”: that is Mizuno’s motto.
It sums up Mizuno’s approach to running shoes. They constantly seek to improve the technologies in their shoes in an effort to produce an even better experience for runners.
As a result, it can get a little confusing when trying to choose what Mizuno shoe is for you.
In the past 3-4 years Mizuno has both launched and retired a bunch of shoes (ie, goodbye to Nirvana, Elixir and welcome to Paradox, Catalyst..) so I think it's time to deep dive into their lineup to make some clarity.
Mizuno's neutral shoes, thanks to the wave plate, tend to be quite responsive and offer a tad bit of stability as well.
I personally love Mizuno's stability shoes, and I logged lots of miles both in the Inspire and Catalyst.
There are currently 4 models in this line, and here they are:
Mizuno’s signature technology is the Wave plate. It is a plastic plate that runs through the midsole of their shoes. The Wave plate is most visible in the heel portion of Mizuno shoes, where it is shaped like the waves of the ocean.
The idea is that the Wave plate will absorb impact and disperse it throughout the length of the plate, like a shock absorber.
Another feature of the Wave plate is its inherent stability. Think of a strip of cardboard. Cardboard bends and folds very easily in one direction, but is very difficult to twist side-to-side. The Wave plate is the exact same way. As a result, even their neutral shoes will have some inherent stability, usually much more than comparable shoes from other makers.
Almost all Mizuno running shoes will have some type of Wave plate. The length and shape of the plate might differ. Sometimes a shoe might feature a double Wave plate. But if you see a Wave plate, then you know you’re looking at a Mizuno running shoe.
Every running shoe maker that uses EVA foam to create the midsole of their running shoes will use a specific formula in order to produce a feel that is specific to them. Mizuno shoes are characterized by a responsive feel. That means Mizuno shoes tend to be on the firmer side. You’ll feel like your feet are landing on the ground, not the clouds.
While that might not sound like the most comfortable experience in the world, the tradeoff is a more responsive ride. It’s like running on a sandy beach: the landing is soft, but it feels like you have to work harder to keep your legs moving. Mizuno wants you to feel like you are landing on firm ground, not sinking into the sand.
In 2013, Mizuno released the latest generation of their foam: U4ic (pronounced, “Euphoric”). It first featured in their light weight trainer, Wave Sayonara, and has made its way into every Mizuno running shoe since then. U4ic replaced AP+. And while U4ic still feels more responsive than other midsoles on the market, it is softer than the old AP+.
The best I can describe U4ic compared to AP+ is that U4ic feels spongier. It’s still a far cry from running on clouds or sand, but it’s not as firm as AP+ was, although just as responsive. U4ic is also much lighter than AP+. According to Mizuno, it’s 30% lighter. And that has let Mizuno offer lighter shoes without sacrificing cushioning.
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