Mizuno Wave Rider 19 review

Purchased by me

Mizuno Wave Rider 19 review

Now that I've run 100+ miles in my Mizuno Wave Rider 19s, I feel i've had enough experience to review them. A small matter that the Wave Rider 20 is now out: I'm not an early running shoe adopter. When I find a running shoe I like, I tend to remain loyal to it until it's discontinued – which also happens to save money and time. When you find a good thing, stick to it. This applies to most things in life.

First things first, Mizuno has an almost cult-like following. Personally, I never would have tried the brand; nothing about Mizuno remotely interested me, except for the fact it's a Japanese company. But a few years back, someone from Mizuno contacted me through Instagram and offered me a free, no-strings-attached pair of Wave Rider 18s to try. Free is my favorite price so, of course, I said yes and gave these neutral shoes a go. 

I didn't expect to like the Mizuno Wave Rider 18s but I did, in spite of myself. They didn't feel responsive or springy like NIke shoes do. They didn't feel light yet supportive, like a Brooks shoe. Aesthetically, the design was nothing to write Tim Gunn about. But man, they were reliable. I found myself reaching for the Wave Rider 18 for shorter distance jaunts (4-7 mile) and recovery runs. They were comfortable and dependable – like vanilla ice cream. I happily ran some 700+ miles through 2 more pairs of of Mizuno Wave Rider 18s. 

My only real issue with the 18s was the ridiculously short shoelaces. I double knot my laces, and there was barely enough length to single knot these. It's not (yuk-yuk) a deal breaker; you can always replace shoelaces. But on principle, when you spend $100+ on running shoes, you expect everything to be run-ready.

Mizuno Wave Rider 19s – overview

Mizuno Wave Rider 19 review
Mizuno Wave Rider 19 review

I assumed, incorrectly, that the Wave Rider 19s would be similar to the 18s – but slightly better. But they ended up, in my opinion, to be slightly worse. When I say "worse," I mean worse for me. People's feet, running gaits and preferences vary so drastically, so your experience may be different. 

After my first short run in the Wave Rider 19s, I developed a red, raw hot spot on the inside of my ankle from the shoe rubbing against it. Disappointing – because I had no such issue with any of the 3 models of 18s I ran through. It was not the end of the world. Eventually, my feet made peace with the new construction, which felt stiffer throughout the entire foot thanks to the extra 2 mm of foam Mizuno added to this model. Many runners would appreciate this extra cushioning, but at 8.1 ounces, they are on the heavy end of the range I like to wear. The extra weight and padding felt clunky and restrictive to me. They also have a heel-toe drop of 12mm, a little higher than I prefer but in my range. I think it's important to slightly vary the drop of your shoes in rotation so your feet can remain poised for anything. 

Mizuno Wave Rider 19

Mizuno Wave Rider 19

Mizuno Wave Rider 19 sole 

Mizuno Wave Rider 19 sole 

A study showed that runners who switch out their sneakers for different runs have a 39% lower risk for injury, so I rotate my shoes. Before I go for a run, my gut will usually remind me which show to wear, eg: "Long run day: Hello, Brooks Launch 3s," or "It's track Tuesday. Time for the Nike Zoom Elite." I had to remind myself to wear the Wave Rider 19s. 

After the hot spot issue resolved, the 19s felt fine. Okay. Passable.

But not slipper-like, which is how a running shoe should automatically feel, without having to "break it in." I started to think of the 19s as recovery shoes. I didn't look forward to wearing them the way I do with the Air Zoom Elite or Launch. When I wore them, they felt ... well ... neutral – not a bad thing. They gave my feet a nice break and a different set of dimensions to react to.

Will I be buying another pair of Wave Riders in the future? I never say never, but probably not. They are not the best-suited running shoe for me.

Wave Rider 19 – The good

  • Longer shoelaces. Mizuno heard the short shoelace complaints loud and clear. Shoelaces on the 19s are just the right length.
  • Wide width available. Thanks to heredity plus years of ballet dancing on pointe shoes, I have wide feet and bunions. So I'm always glad when the toe boxes are wide, gladder still when shoes come in a wide version. Mizuno makes a wide version. Happiness!
  • Dependable and sturdy. Like an old friend.
  • Rugged sole: Gives you needed traction on the roads or path. You could confidently run in these in the rain or in a light covering of snow.

Wave Rider 19 – The not so good

  • Retail price. I think $119.95 is high for a bare-bones running shoe. (Don't forget, folks, you can usually save money by buying older models of running shoes on Amazon or elsewhere online.)
  • Clunky and stiff. You say "extra cushion." I say, "clunky." These shoes feel heavy and stiff to me. Some runners crave a heavier, more stable shoe. If you do, this shoe's for you.
  • Aesthetics: The way my running shoes feel is way more important than the way they look. If a shoe looks ugly, but feels divine, it's mine. Still, a good-looking shoe is always a nice fringe benefit. Mizuno has not changed the look of their shoes in years. There's nothing differentiating about the design or the Mizuno logo, which looks like a thousand other running company logos.

Have you tried the Mizuno Wave Rider 19? What is your go-to running shoe?