Tread Talks: Doctors of Running Wave Rider 23 Review

This year, Doctors of Running and Mizuno Running North America have teamed up to deliver the most comprehensive and expansive reviews of each piece of footwear in the Mizuno North America product line. Although the three reviewers did receive their pairs of shoes at no charge, their reviews are honest and cover many frequently asked questions on how a product works, fits, feels, and performs. The post shared below has not been altered or edited in any way, and you can find the original post linked at the bottom of this page.

The Mizuno Wave Rider series is one of the longest standing shoe lines that has been produced of any running shoe company. We now are on the 23rd version of this shoe and you have to start to wonder, “how many times can you change something and still see improvements?” Well, Mizuno has done just that with this version. The midsole and outsole may be the same as its predecessor, but a new engineered mesh upper is the perfect example of how a shoe can feel completely different just because of the what is securing your foot from above. Throw out the specs (weight, drop, etc.) because this shoe doesn’t feel like what it’s listed as (in the best way possible).

Specifications
Weight: 10.2 oz
Drop: 12 mm
Classification: Daily Trainer

HIGHLIGHTS

Matt: The Mizuno Wave Rider 23 pairs an incredibly comfortable upper with a responsive, firmer and lightweight ride.  The rare trainer that can handle workouts with ease thanks to the snappy sole and an adaptable and supportive upper.  It blew me away and has quickly become a shoe I continue to reach for no matter the run.

Mizuno_Wave_Rider_23

Nathan:¬†I ran my first marathon in Wave Riders back in 2017, so this shoe holds a special place in my heart…or on my feet. I have experience in versions 18, 20, and 22, and as much as I’ve enjoyed them there has been something missing regarding how secure the shoe felt and functioned as nothing more than a daily trainer. Even though the only change from the 22 is the upper, it feels like a completely new shoe to me. It went from a casual trainer to one that now can be used for some performance training runs. My favorite trainer of the year so far.

IMG_6098

FIT

Matt:¬†The Mizuno Wave Rider 23 fits me perfectly in my normal size.¬† I am normally a size 10 men’s and my size 10 fit spot on.¬† The upper in the forefoot is adaptable, yet hugs the foot without causing too much pressure. It isn’t a snug fit and is definitely on the medium side.¬† The heel is definitely a little more narrow and holds the foot quite well by itself.¬† There is a large heel counter in the posterior section, but there is plenty of cushioning in the upper that it did not cause me any issues (and I am normally very sensitive to that).¬† Overall the upper kept me locked down on the shoe and supported my foot well even on turns.¬† Yet it still had the “disappearing off the foot” feeling from the first run.¬† It really holds the foot very well and I am quite impressed with this update.

Nathan: The 22 sported some larger holes for breathability in the upper, but I found that over time they loosened and my foot would slide a bit on harder runs and when turning. This is far from the case with the new upper on the 23. It has a very secure upper without sacrificing breathability, comfort, or volume, Mizuno hit is out of the park for me with this upper.

Mizuno_Wave_Rider_23_Upper

RIDE

David: Mizuno did a good job of giving the Wave Rider 23 a ride that is true to its name.  The ride has a firm and responsive feel not seen in most daily trainers without jeopardizing cushion or structure for training. The wave plate helps contribute greatly to the fluid ride that this shoe provides.  With a 12 mm drop ratio, this shoe gives favor to the hindfoot and midfoot rocker points during the gait cycle.  Because of this, it may be more enjoyable for runners who are a heel or midfoot strikers.  Though I am a forefoot striker, I still enjoyed this shoe (the drop ratio is just a little higher than I am used to).

Nathan: Bare with me in my processing, but the ride of this shoe compared to the 22 felt so much better even though the midsole is the same, and it must have been the security of the upper that made this shoe feel more snappy and more efficient without any excess slipping of the foot.IMG_6099

STABILITY

Matt: Despite being classified as a neutral trainer, the Mizuno Wave Rider 23 is one of the more stable shoes I have had the opportunity to run in.   The wave plate in the heel and midfoot provide plenty of stability by guiding/propelling the foot forward as you land.  The heel counter is very thick and although padded does a great job of locking the heel in place.  The forefoot flex grooves do a great job of guiding the foot forward.  Overall the Wave Rider 23 has a high level of torsional rigidity thanks to the plate and appropriate placement of flex grooves.  Thus making it a stable shoe without the need for posting.

mizuno_wave_rider_23_over

 

SPEED

David:¬†This trainer is almost a do it all trainer.¬† With how firm and responsive the shoe is, whoever is running in it will have a tendency to want to run fast.¬† The shoe weighs in at 10.2 ounces but definitely runs faster than this. It can easily get up to moderate paces but does have difficulty with faster paces.¬† The shoe can easily handle marathon type workouts but may be unable to suffice for more 10k and under type workouts. Overall… great for daily runs, long runs, marathon workouts! Very versatile.

Nathan:¬†10.2oz? Never would have guessed that after running in it. This shoe was great for half marathon and marathon training and longer workouts. I’m currently in pursuit of breaking the 1.5 hour half marathon, and this shoe held strong for some of my longer (7-8 mile) tempo runs. I did a casual pace 15-mile run yesterday and the shoe felt light and protective for all 15 miles. Not a racing shoe necessarily, but can be the perfect pick for anyone trying to complete their first 10K, half, or full marathon.mizuno_wave_rider_23_lateral_speed

DURABILITY

Matt: I have over 150 miles on my pair and am only beginning to see some wear in the posterior lateral heel on my left shoe (yes, I am asymmetrical).  The ride, however, has not changed since my initial try with the exception of slightly less stiff.  The upper still looks brand new despite the intensity of workouts I have used this shoe for.  Overall I have to give massive points for durability to the Mizuno Wave Rider 23.

Nathan: As always, the Mizuno outsole seems to last forever. No sign of wear and I put hundreds of miles on previous versions without outsole wear becoming an issue. I run most miles on crushed gravel trails, and the outsole has held up great. The wave plate and foam continue to feel snappy and smooth without any deadening. No issues with the upper either.

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Matt’s pair at +150 miles

THOUGHTS AS A DPT 

David:

As seen in the picture below, this portion of the review today will focus on the wave plate that helps give the Mizuno Wave Rider 23 the silky-smooth ride that it provides.  The wave plate is a wave of hard plastic that extends from the rearfoot into the midfoot and really helps with the transfer of energy and forces.

When we run, there are two main types of energy being produced; potential energy and kinetic energy.  Both of these are important, for kinetic energy is in part reliant on potential energy.  Potential energy is the amount of energy stored (either intrinsically in the body or within the midsole of the shoe) and kinetic energy is the actual output of energy involved with the movement.

For heel strikers and midfoot strikers that land a little further back, they will really feel this wave plate in their shoe.  The wave plate decreases the amount of potential energy that is lost after the transition from heel-strike to toe-off.

In softer shoes, more force may dissipate, making the ride plush but not very responsive or fast.  In the Wave Rider, the plate makes the ride more firm and responsive and gives heel strikers a point to drive from.  The plate has less give in it than traditional foam, and so there will, in theory, be much less of collapse (or foot slap) from a heel striker in this shoe.

Mizuno_WaveRider23_WavePlate

RECOMMENDATIONS 


Matt: I am really impressed with the Wave Rider 23 from a biomechanical and fit perspective.  However, in this day and age, I would like to see Mizuno bring the drop-down to a more moderate level like 9-10mm.  I would also like to see Mizuno make this shoe full ground contact.  This is already a stable and smooth shoe, but believe that may improve the transition further.

David:¬†Though I don’t normally run in high drop shoes, I really enjoyed the Wave Rider 23’s. My main recommendation for this shoe would be to just make the heel cup a little wider and less compressive.¬† Other than that, this is a shoe that should be on most peoples running list. It is part of my “nine club”, a group of shoes that reach 9/10 in my books.

Nathan:¬†I hope this shoe continues to develop as it has over the years. Change it too much and it no longer will be the beloved Wave Rider. One minor recommendation (more of a preference, really) could be making the “Runbird” logo flush with the mesh, more like it is in the Wave Shadow 3 or Wave Sky Waveknit 3. That would make the upper even more seamless and comfortable.

WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR?

 

mizuno_wave_rider_23_trainer


Matt: I did not expect to love the Mizuno Wave Rider 23 as much as I do.  This shoe is for those looking for a higher drop, stable neutral trainer for all their running needs.  A well-fitting upper will provide plenty of room and support for a variety of foot types.  For those looking for one shoe for all their training (and racing at the marathon for many), check this shoe out.

David: The Mizuno Wave Rider 23 is for a runner that enjoys neutral training shoes with hints of light stability.  The shoe is able to take on daily training and high mileage, while also being able to turn it up to marathon type workouts.  For those who may be on a budget and are looking for a shoe that can handle daily runs, longer workouts, or recreational type racing, this is a shoe that is worth looking at!

Nathan:¬†I fully expected to enjoy the Wave Rider 23, but did not expect to love it as much as I did. The updated upper hit the mark and made an already good trainer a great one. For those looking for a durable shoe with a slightly firmer ride and are looking to run a 10K, half marathon, or full marathon, you won’t be disappointed. This is a perfect shoe for new and experienced runners alike.

GRADING

 

Matt
Fit                     9.5/10 (Upper extremely comfortable, -0.5 for large stiff heel counter)
Ride                  9.0/10 (Extremely smooth ride, -1 for higher drop and split outsole)
Stability            10/10 (As stable as a neutral trainer can be without a post)
Speed               9/10 (Handles workouts very well for a trainer, but lacks speed for racing)
Durability         10/10 (Very little wear and change in ride over >150 miles even on trails)

David
Fit                     9.5/10 (-0.5 for narrow heel cup that can potentially be compressive on calcaneus)
Ride                  9.5/10 (-0.5 for potential discomfort with those who land more midfoot/forefoot)
Stability            9.25/10 (high mark for high stability for a neutral shoe)
Speed                9/10 (high mark for handling all paces up to marathon workouts)
Durability         9.75/10 (Handles high mileage. Upper could potentially break down in harsh conditions)

Nathan
Fit                     10/10 (high marks for secure and comfortable upper)
Ride                  9/10 (-1 for less smooth/snappy ride for mid/forefoot runners)
Stability            10/10 (as stable as possible for a neutral shoe)
Speed                8.5/10 (high marks for versatility, -1.5 for lack of top speed for true half/full racing)
Durability         10/10 (high marks for outsole and wave plate integrity)

Total Score: % (M: 9.5/10  D: 9.4/10 N: 9.5/10 )

Thanks for reading,

Matthew Klein, PT DPT OCS FAAOMPT, Nathan Brown PT DPT MS, and David Salas PT DPT CSCS
To read their full review on the Wave Rider 23, visit www.doctorsofrunning.com. 
Published: September 2019

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