Purchased by me
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
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.
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.