Thursday, July 28, 2011

Mizuno Wave Prophecy..

So, it comes to no surprise to most of you that I've been working "behind the scenes" if you will, with Mizuno the past few months.   I love the product, I love the science/technology/research based methods they use when designing/creating running shoes, and I absolutely love everyone I have met from Mizuno (something I can't say about other running companies I have dealt with)!

I'm sure you also have seen or heard about the Mizuno Wave Prophecy.... very different shoe that just hit the market, and I have been testing and thinking about it for a while.... here is a take on the shoe that I also sent to the awesome people at Mizuno Running.....

Running is not a marketing gimmick.

Running is not measured in millimeters of foam.

Running is not a trend, fad, or whatever the hell the New York Times Bestseller list tells you.
Runners have lost focus on what matters, as "minimalist pandemonium" is spreading like an uncontrollable epidemic that needs to be quarantined. Shoe companies are falling over themselves to hop on the bandwagon, by producing zero-drop shoes and throwing away years of customer loyalty to transition their entire line towards minimalism.
But this isn't a rant on my love, hate or distaste for minimalism shoes (as I feel they do serve a purpose), this is my take on what a revolutionary company did on releasing a brand new shoe that says "screw you" to trends and actually decides to make changes on science, R&D, lab tests, and by listening to & studying runners. The people at Mizuno realize that a faster PR is more important than a smaller mm drop… and that’s what I’m all about too!
The Mizuno Wave Prophecy is the most unique running shoe I've ever seen. It's no surprise that 7 years of intense work went into this shoe... Here's the take of a self-proclaimed shoe geek, who happens to work within run specialty:
Off the bat, when the Prophecy arrived I was super excited about the packaging.

I see Mizuno boxes daily, I've got a back room at my shop full of them, and my garage is stocked with old empty boxes... always the same old brown/blue cardboard. Mizuno knew they had something special with the Wave Prophecy, and treated it as such… and I love it!

The "limited edition" feel of the special box creates a certain aura during your unboxing.

For us runners crazy (see: obsessed) about our shoes, each time we open a fresh pair, it's like a little piece of Christmas morning... Every single unboxing should be a special experience, I want to feel like I HAVE to go running immediately, that these shoes were developed and stitched just for me... and that's something I'd love to see Mizuno explore more within their line.
On first glance, the Prophecy looks a bit futuristic, but what else would you expect from a company like Mizuno? The mesh upper feels super smooth in your hands, and for shoe filled with technology, it's remarkably lightweight! Take a further look inside, and Mizuno even detailed INSIDE the shoe, as “Wave Prophecy” is printed throughout the inner shoe… again, a special shoe requires special treatment. The colors scream out at you, and I honestly can’t see a conservative runner lacing these up… but nothing about running is conservative!
Slipping the shoe on, the first thing you notice is that famous Mizuno fit... the perfect arch support, the Dynomotion fit that feels sock-like, and what really impressed me... was the strategic placement of the overlays! This shoe (unlike some of my other Mizuno's) causes no rubbing, no irritation or hot spots... even without socks the fit is perfect. Technology aside, I think if Mizuno got anything perfect with this shoe… is the fit. Google any review, positive or negative and the first thing everyone mentions is how great it fits.
I really wanted to get at least 20-30 miles in my Prophecy before I wrote an honest review, and now that I've exceeded that I feel I can share what I've learned about the ride. Plain and simple... it's smooth. For being such a bulky looking shoe, I was scared it would feel boxy and clunky, but I was wrong. The ride is just as smooth as my Precisions, but I found it did it take me about a half-mile or so to really find the sweet spot.
I liken the first few steps to a pair of Newtons, you know something different is going on... the full-length wave feels a bit different than anything you've experienced, as it feels as though something is under your forefoot you're not used to... but then pick up the pace a bit... and you'll understand the biomechanics of the shoe.
Sure it will work well for heel-strikers (and if you see most of the ads it's marketed towards such) as the Wave extends down under the heel.. but I have found where this shoe really shines is for us midfoot strikers! (Oh my God... you can midfoot strike in a traditional running shoe.. who knew??!?!) I've run in the Glycerin, the Triumph, Vomero... you name it, and all those neutral+ cushioned shoes are slow and mushy.... the Prophecy is the first and only in the category that offers luxury cushion, yet a fast, responsive ride. I really wanted to test this after a track workout, I took off my Wave Universe as I just ran a brutal 400m repeat session, and put the Prophecy on for a cool-down run, but first did a set of 400s in them... and I got all the cushion, plus the responsive ride you miss in the other brands.
This awesome, supremely cushioned but responsive ride is made possible (I think) because of the lack of all that mushy foam, which has been replaced by the Infinty Wave. The Wave does an awesome job of cushioning your foot on impact, but unlike anything I’ve felt before… the shoe almost moves with you. I’ve seen some describe this as “propulsion” but that just doesn’t describe the actual feel.. it’s much more like the Prophecy FLOWS with your stride.

I know, I know… a shoe FLOWING with you makes absolutely no sense, but that’s the exact sensation I get from the Prophecy. Flirting with a few different foot strikes, heel/toe/midfoot.. the shoe reacts in the same manner with great cushion, fast response, and a great “level of flow” (I just invented new shoe terminology!).

Overall, I really was surprised by this shoe. When I first heard about the release of the Prophecy I laughed, expecting Nike Shox on steroids…. But you have got to run in this show to feel the fit, ride, and flow.
That being said… this shoe is not exactly for me. I’d more recommend this shoe to a runner seeking a daily, high-mileage neutral shoe, that offers the combination of max cushion with a responsive ride. I see no reason why 500 miles would be the low end of what to expect to get out of the Prophecy. At 6’ and 165lbs I think that runners of all shapes/sizes would do fine, if they are looking for that type of shoe… and of course, heel & forefoot strikers will do well in the shoe, as the Infinity plate will accommodate nearly every stride.

I’ll absolutely continue to do some easy runs in them, the day after a hard workout when I really need some extra cushion for my tired legs, but I can’t imagine trading in my Elixir or Precisions for daily runs in the Prophecy.
What I’m most excited about this… is what it will bring to the future of Mizuno Running. Assuming Mizuno will recreate the fit and feel of the Prophecy within next generations of the core line (Rider, Elixir, Inspire etc..) this will propel the company forward as they begin to overtake Brooks as the leaders of run specialty.
Some other thoughts:

- I’ve been wearing them on the sales floor a bit at work and right off the bat they are an awesome conversation starter. At $200, the regular “Couch to 5k” runner grimaces at the thought, but the cool part has been once the conversation has started about Mizuno, Wave plates, and the technology…. I’m out back and grabbing them a pair of Riders or Inspires in no time for them.

- I think Wave Creation sales also will be on the rise, as the consumer wants to experience the technology, but at $60 cheaper… it sounds like a bargain for the Creation!

- Like I mentioned in the review… the fit of the upper needs to be incorporated within the rest of the line, it’s that awesome.

- The shoe box/packaging. The black box that gave the shoe it’s “Limited Edition” feel is fantastic… This is something I think Mizuno needs to reevaluate this year, and I’m looking forward to discussing ideas when I head down to the ATL soon.