While most shoe companies are chasing the minimalist craze and removing the bottoms of their shoes, Mizuno is going against the trend by doing away with the middle.
There’s a big hole right where the cushioning should be on Mizuno’s Wave Prophecy road shoe. In lieu of the usual EVA foam midsole — usually the first part of running shoes to break down — Mizuno has substituted the Wave Infinity Plate, a system of the company’s own design that consists of two TPU plates connected at ten points along the shoe by rubber baffles. In addition to potentially lasting longer than traditional soles, the plate is meant to provide better cushioning and a more responsive stride for a variety of different running styles. And for $200 a pair, these shoes had certainly better knock one’s socks off.
I wasn’t convinced at first. Initially, the shoe’s firm ride was a little off-putting. But it wasn’t long before I started appreciating the tough love. The foamless sole acts kind of like a leaf spring, compressing with the impact of each strike, and it adapted to a variety of strikes. I felt supported and cushioned whether I ran with my usual forefoot strike or the plodding heelstrike that I devolve into after mile ten or so. But I was able to pull double-digit miles without feeling like my feet were getting beaten up.
I felt quicker in the shoes, too. On the toe-off end of the footstrike, the plate bends to about 15 degrees, then becomes rigid and snaps back just in time to add a bit of “oomph” to every step. During my runs, this helped me maintain a high turnover rate, making the shoe feel a lot lighter than the 15 ounces my size 11s weigh in at.
With all the craziness going on under the foot, it can be easy to overlook the Wave Prophecy’s upper. The main component is a stretchy, mesh fabric — Mizuno calls it Dynamotion Fit — which is designed to mimic the foot’s skin, stretching and compressing with it during a run. The fabric is light and airy, and it gives the shoe’s upper a comfortable, sock-like feel. On hot-weather runs, the upper’s mesh construction let heat escape and prevented moisture from building up within the shoe.
A few weeks after running in the Wave Prophecys, I went back to my old running shoes with the EVA cushioning. I thought I’d appreciate the extra padding, but the old shoes felt too soft. I felt as if I was getting less distance out of every step, sort of like running in mud.
After getting used to the responsiveness of the Prophecys, my feet were begging to go back. It was like driving a Porsche, then suddenly being asked to swap it for a crappy old minivan. I’ll stick with the Porsche.
Photo: Jon Snyder/get-gadget
- High-Tech Swimsuits Approved by Olympic Committee Promise to Even the Competition
- Barely There: 4 Minimal Running Shoes Tested
- Adidas Creates Musical Tap Shoes for Break Dancers