Saturday, April 23, 2011

Shoe Review: Mizuno Wave Musha 3

Mizuno Wave Musha 3

Brand: Mizuno
Style: racing flat
Pronation: performance stability
Weight: 7-8 oz (per shoe), depending on size
Heel-Toe Drop: mild

I've been toying with the idea of getting a pair of racing flats for a while now. Initially, I was just curious about how much cutting down on the weight of my shoes might improve my times in shorter races; armed with some information and guidance from articles like this one from Running Times, I took some birthday money over to Road Runner Sports and spent some time running barefoot on a treadmill and talking to their guys about what I wanted out of a flat.

The trouble for me when it comes to more minimalist shoes is over-pronation. I have extremely flexible ankles and high arches, which is why I generally run in a stability shoe. Real racing flats, the super-super-light ones, are almost always neutral shoes -- there's just not enough to them to add in much support. Or, rather, adding the extra support structures starts to defeat the point of a super-light shoe. RRS did had several examples of slightly heavier flats designed for mild over-pronators ("performance stability" shoes), but I have yet to see a pair of flats analogous to motion control shoes (designed for more severe over-pronators).
I can't remember all the models now, but I tried on shoes from Puma and Saucony first. Next was a shoe from Brooks called the Green Silence, which intrigued me because of its environmental friendliness (made from recycled plastic, and with a biodegradable midsole; in case you weren't aware, traditionally made running shoes are NOT particularly environmentally friendly and you should be sure to recycle them through programs like Nike's Reuse-A-Shoe & Nike Grind instead of sending them to the landfill. They often have a booth at bigger races, so look for them, & bring your old pairs along).

In the end, though, it was the Mizuno Wave Musha 3's that fit the best, were the most comfortable on my feet, and provided the best support for my pronation issues. (We did end up adding a molded insert for a little more stability, but they were still the closest of any of the pairs I tried without them.) Also, the added stability support didn't end up adding all that much weight. While there are performance neutral flats out there that get down into the 4-5 oz range like the Merrell Pace Glove (4.7 oz) and the Nike LunaRacer (4.5 oz.), most of them still run in the 6-7 oz range. At 6.8 oz., the Mizunos are right in there (not the weight RRS lists on the site, but what I got when I weighed one at home).

In the last couple of months, I've been gradually getting used to running in them. (If you're used to traditional running shoes, you'll definitely want to spend some time transitioning into flats.) At this point I can run up to four or five miles in them without too much trouble, though my calves are still usually sore. I'd like to get to the point where I feel comfortable racing 10Ks in them this summer, but that's still a ways off. I definitely still wear the Kayanos for anything over 5-6 miles and only run in the Mizunos maybe 3-4 days per week. Can't wait to race in them this summer. :)

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