Mizuno Wave Rider 20 – 50 Mile Review

Since I have gone back to tracking my running by miles, I might just as well go back to doing my running shoe reviews on my old mileage schedule 50, 200, 400, 500 and end of running.

In case you haven’t noticed there has not been a shoe that has had the right combination of fit, comfort or didn’t cause some mechanical issue with the old body due to how it was designed.

That is until now.

When I returned to being retired at the end of June, my former co-workers at University College at UMA got me a gift card with the specific instructions to buy a pair of running shoes with it. So like any good running shoe nerd, within an hour of getting home I had ordered a new pair from Running Warehouse.

I decided to go with the Mizuno Wave Rider 20’s.

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The mandatory disclaimer – no I do not have any relationship with Mizuno, Running Warehouse or other entity in conjunction with this review. All opinions are my own.

I have usually have decent luck with Mizuno’s and their D-width shoes fit my feet better than most brands. Although the WR16’s were one of the most hated shoes I have ever had, which had made me leery of ordering another pair of Wave Riders since then.

However, the reviews, especially Sam’s Road, Trail & Run blog, that I read and the idea that the WR20’s came in a EE width (in Harold colors), sealed the deal. Plus the fact that I tried on the EE Hoka Bondi 5’s and they just didn’t feel right on the heel, made up my mind to go with the Wave Riders.

Summary Thoughts

Alright here is the quick and dirty low-down on the Mizuno Wave Rider 20’s.

These are the best shoes I have run in since 2012.

I could stop there and that would be saying enough, but of course I won’t.

The toe box doesn’t crowd my Tailor’s Bunionette, yet holds my skinny heels in place nicely. The WR20’s are fairly light at 9.4 oz for a size 8.0 EE-width and are comfortable for me to run in.

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I have run Bennie inspired tempo runs, a 10.6 mile long run, short slow runs, medium faster runs, runs in the rain, dirt road runs and the shoes are better than the guy running in them.

They don’t get in the way of how I run and I want to run in them versus I can run in them – which is a huge difference in my world.

Fit

My size 8.0 EE WR20’s fit true to size and I could probably go down to a 7.5 if I needed to, but the size 8.0’s are fitting very, very comfortably.

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They are true EE width shoes (on the same width as EE New Balance shoes) and do not cause my right little toe to rub or push against the 4th toe, which is the problem with many shoes that I have run in this year and is the primary reason I stopped running in most of them. When my foot hurts, I don’t enjoy the running as much.

The WR20’s are narrow in the heel and hold in place without any special heel lock lacing or using the bottom hole in the lacing pattern.

Yes, they are comfortable to run in.

Upper

Nice clean design, although I am not crazy about the sewn through Runbird logo, it doesn’t bother when I am running, but I wouldn’t go sockless due to the seams on the inside.

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The WR20’s are pretty beathable and my feet haven’t cooked inside of them during runs in hot/sticky weather. They do seem to drain/dry better than most road shoes when it is wet outside, but with the breathability, I have a feeling that in colder weather they might be a cold shoe (that is what they make merino wool socks for-right).

Sole Unit

Go to Mizuno’s website if you want all the specs on their new and greatest foam. All I can say is that they are not a soft sloppy shoe, that you just bottom out in or ones that suck the energy out of your legs after a while. While they are softer than other Mizuno’s I have run in by a pretty hefty margin, but they are not Vomero 11 or Hoka soft.

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They retain some of Mizuno’s firmness, which I have always liked. In other words they are not bricks and they are not pillows for your feet – they have that elusive Goldilocks “just right” feel under my feet.

Outsole

I run a LOT on dirt roads and road shoulders out in the country and they have done well down-back. The Wave Plate acts in many cases like a rock plate to protect my dainty heels against the perils the local Town Crew makes when they “improve” the road conditions down there.

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The WR20’s have done well in the rain providing superior grip on roads, but if there is a bit of slime on the dirt roads/trails that could be an issue since the outsole is not really what I would consider multipurpose and is definitely a road shoe.

It can go off-road a little, but only in dry conditions. Also I have a feeling that in snow/real mud they wouldn’t be worth a damn and would quickly become slick bottomed.

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I can see the outsole lasting to 400-500 miles without too many issues.

Things I don’t like

I generally like quieter shoes, but with the amount of rubber on the outsole they have that familiar to me Mizuno noisiness. It is not a slap because the shoes have a smooth heel-to-toe transition, it is they are just not a quiet landing shoe for me.

When running on the brick sidewalks in Hallowell, the grip isn’t great, but those bricks suck for most shoes.

I only have one pair and can’t wear them all the time.

Yeah, not a lot that I don’t like about them.

The reality is that

My Mizuno Wave Rider 20’s in EE width have done everything I have asked of them, well actually more when you come right down to it. Quite honestly, I was getting frustrated with all the issues I have had with the multitude of running shoes that I have attempted to run in this year and to be able to finally find a pair of shoes that:

  • don’t freaking hurt my right foot while running
  • don’t cause my Plantar region in the left foot to rear its ugly head
  • don’t worsen my Achilles issues
  • and all the other don’ts  that the Wave Rider 20’s are not doing to me
  • let me run without causing extra pain or discomfort

Running in them has gotten me back to wanting to run again. Versus forcing myself to run through discomfort and yes, a bit of pain to get a run done. They have made a big difference in how I look at running now.

Dare I say it is almost fun again. Well as fun as running can be for an old fart with a long history of injuries and poor running mechanics.

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While the Wave Rider 20’s are not racing flats, they are light enough that until I get my arse back in shape, I can see them also being my race day shoes for a while. Yeah, I am that far out of racing shape.

I of all people know that 50 mile reviews are often fool’s gold, but I am hopeful that these turn into real gold and when, not if I do my 200 mile review of them that I am still raving about how great they are.

Will I buy another pair?

Based on what my experience has been so far – yes. However, I am not going to get another pair until these have well over 200 miles on them…I have made that mistake too many times this year.

The Mizuno Wave Rider 20’s are a very good shoe and that in their EE-width are working very well for my Hobbit feet. I wouldn’t hesitate to use them for any run that I typically do and would be confident that they would do well for me.

So far it seems as though the Wave Rider 20’s are part of the solution that I have been searching for. Let’s hope they stay that way.

What are your experiences with the Mizuno Wave Rider 20’s?

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