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Mizuno Wave Enigma 5 Review

Everything you thought you knew about Mizuno will be shattered with the newest edition of the Enigma. The Enigma 5 feels and fits different. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is up to you, I guess.

The out-of-the-box fit is snug and the feel very plush. Working at a specialty running store, I make it a point to surprise veteran Mizuno wearers with the feel and have them try on a pair of the new Enigmas.

I’ve run 50 miles in my pair and have a mixed review of the shoe. I love the cushioned ride and the fit of the heel, but not the snug fit of the forefoot. The softer layer of foam below the heel and forefoot gives the shoe a very cushioned feel. While I love the firmer/faster feel of previous Mizunos (hello Sayonara!), I also love my feet to be caressed and cushioned on the run. This shoe does that. I’d say the shoe is not very responsive and the actual feel of the surface is numbed. Not a bad thing for me as far as how I prefer my long mileage shoes to be. While there is a hint of a bounce on hard surfaces, I would think this would not be felt by most runners. On soft surfaces (I’ve used them on horse trails) the shoe is very squishy.

Parts of the fit of the shoe I like. I like the snugness and firmness of the heel counter (the part of the shoe directly behind your lower ankles and upper heel) and heel cuff (the part that surrounds your ankle and cinches tight as you pull on the laces to tie them). I have a slim heel and skinny ankles and I always appreciate shoes that can secure them. The part of the fit I don’t like is material on both sides of the forefoot Mizuno added to secure the forefoot. While this may be viewed as an improvement in fit for others, it’s a poor fit for me because I like a wider toe box where my toes are free to move and react. The feel in the new Enigma is cramped with some pinching on the pinky toes on the toe-off. I even feel a pinch above the 3-5 metatarsal that seems to go away after a mile or so. The wraparound the foot is very cushioned as well. You’re foot is surrounded by plushness.

While this wouldn’t be a “do everything” shoe for me, it works well in my current shoe rotation along with the New Balance Zante and Wave Sayonara. The Enigma is currently my long mileage (10+ miles) shoe. I’ve run all sorts of paces in them: from fast strides to tempo pace to slow slogs. They felt sloppy and flopped at the faster paces, but felt right at home at my long run pace (8:00+/mile).

The specs are interesting in that the heel cushions are super high (at least for non Hoka wearers – listed at 32mm) and the forefoot cushion is higher than most shoes (20mm) – 12mm offset, the ride doesn’t feel awkward or too sloppy. While I wouldn’t say it’s the smoothest riding premium cushioned shoe I’ve worn (I’ve worn the Glycerine and Triumph ISO), it’s tolerable.

Go ahead and try on a pair at your nearest local running store (support small businesses!) and maybe you’ll love the new feel of the new generation of Mizuno.

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Shoe Variety (and Sean O’Brien race shoe choice)

When I plan for a race, and even training runs, I wear shoes to match the intended pace and terrain. This means I sometimes wear two different type of shoes running the same route on different days. For instance I love to wear my Saucony Rides on days I want to work on faster downhill running on the Mt. Wilson Toll Rd. On the same course I’ll wear my Mizuno Kazan, Montrail Bajada, or Brooks Cascadia on days I need better grip to work on speed hiking or faster uphill running. On streets I’ll either wear Mizuno Wave Sayonara or Saucony Triumphs depending on distance/time-on-feet and pace. I’ll even wear Sayonaras on trails for speed workouts (Brown Mt., El Prieto, Sam Merrell, Cheseboro, and Griffith Park). So, all this to say you should be varying your shoe choice. Shoe variation improves strength, helps with injury prevention, provides specific feel for different surfaces, and extends the life of a shoe. At the very least have a second pair that is the opposite of your regular trainer. If you run in a supported shoe, keep a second pair that is more flexible or less cushioned or a lower ramp height for recovery runs or for speed work. It will activate, stretch, and strengthen muscles, tendons, and joints that normally wouldn’t be in a more supported shoe.

At the very least have a second pair that is the opposite of your regular trainer. If you run in a supported shoe, keep a second pair that is more flexible or less cushioned or a lower ramp height. Use the less supported shoe for recovery runs or for speed work. It will activate, stretch, and strengthen muscles, tendons, and joints that normally wouldn’t be in a more supported shoe. Running in minimalist or barefoot shoes? Try a firmer shoe for racing so the shoe can help with biomechanical efficiency. Softer/minimalist shoes use more muscles and more joint movement from foot plant to toe-off in slower paces.

What you’re all dying to find out, what shoe did I use for Sean O’Brien 50 mile race a couple of weeks ago? I wore the Mizuno Kazan. Same shoe choice as Bulldog 50k. Picked this shoe mostly for the outsole. I wore the Montrail Bajada and Saucony Rides on all trail runs leading up to the race. I knew I needed a shoe with a firmer and cushioned heel for the downhill running, but also having some flex in the forefoot for steeper climbs. Cushioning would also be key because of the rocky terrain and the walking I would do at some part of the race. The Kazan only became an option when I wore it on my last training run up Mt. Lowe. Although it wasn’t as cushioned as the other shoes, it provided the best grip. I would sacrifice comfort in the Kazan (especially when running downhill), but the shoe’s flex through the forefoot provided better options overall for faster running.   Screen Shot 2015-02-21 at 8.12.43 AM

 


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Undertrained Yet Overjoyed: Bulldog 50k Post Race Thoughts/Review

I thought I was being realistic about a top 10 finish even considering my weekly mileage leading up to the race was minimal, but I was wrong. I ended up running a 4:44:09, 13th overall. After I crossed the finish line I was just glad to have ran without injuring myself and having run a race I was proud of.

Bulldog Garmin Race Profile

Before the race I made the decision to put myself in a position to compete for a podium spot by running with the lead pack for the first loop. This was a crazy strategy, but made a lot of sense at the time. I figured one never knows when it may be the day for a breakout performance until you put yourself in the position to do great things. Can’t be scared about running up front! (Note that this strategy only works with proper training:-)

The first few miles were spent waking up the legs to get ready for the climb ahead. This course is great because the first three or so miles are relatively flat so there’s ample time to prepare the body for the heavy climb and steep descent.

I managed to consistently run 4th-6th place for the first lap. I ran a personal record of 1:56:xx for the first lap (previous PR was 2:02:xx at Malibu Creek 25k race). I was just starting to feel some cramping after stopping to refill my water bottles and tried to hang on for a mile before having to walk. At this point I decided I wouldn’t be able to maintain any kind of competitive pace and decided finishing healthy would be the best thing to do. New strategy: power walk the climbs and controlled running downhill. The new strategy led to a 2:46:xx lap. My lungs were fine, but the legs just couldn’t hang. Now I’m excited to race Bulldog next year and run to my potential.

What’s next? Lots of slower miles and lots of climbing. Simple, but effective for me.

Major thanks to:
My wife Cristina and sister Pureza for coming out and cheering me on. Nancy Shura-Dervin for putting on a festive and very well organized race. Nuun for adding some pizzaz to my water. Mark from Mizuno for the pair of Wave Kazans. The Kazan enabled me safely bomb the fire roads down without fear of slipping and with firmer cushioning under-foot to help dissipate shock. A Runner’s Circle for their support of my running. Very lucky to be working for a company that understands my passion and enables me to spread my love of running to others.

Finally, pictures! (Thanks to Rony Sanche, Becky Galland, and Deo)
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Bulldog Thoughts

When I registered to run Bulldog 50k in July I had every intention to train hard with long miles and serious climbing. What happened instead was a bunch of short runs with not a lot of sustained climbing and downhill running. The combination of settling back into life in Los Angeles and general fatigue due to activities related to moving led to s a lot of uninspired runs. I would often start my runs with double digit mileage in mind, but I would cut many runs short. So, most runs looked like this: Scary Post Run. An intended 17 mile run that I bailed on.

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What do I wish will happen this Saturday? Well, I hope my lack of training miles actually leaves me with a healthy body and inspiration to prove to myself that the impossible is probable. What I think will actually happen is I’ll finish middle of the pack leaving me with the comfort of knowing I finished strong  without a good training base. I’ve ran this course many times and I know what is possible. I can only hope for the best and pray that I’ll be able to will myself to push past the comfort zone and finish at an effort I can be happy about.

So, here it goes, my predicted times:
“A” Goal: Sub 4:10
“B” Goal: 4:15
“Deserves all the beers” goal: Sub 4:20

The specs:
Shoes: Mizuno Wave Kazan
Clothing: Sugoi Titan run shorts, Wright CoolMesh II socks
Accessories: Ultimate Direction Jurek Essential belt and Handy 20 handheld water bottle.
Nutrition: NUUN Hydration Strawberry Lemonade, PowerBar Berry Blast and Kona Punch, and salted pretzels


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Kaua’i Half Marathon Pre-Race Thoughts

The Kaua’i Half Marathon is special in so many ways. It will be the first race Cristina and I run as husband and wife. We’re going to be married the day before in front of our biggest fans; our family! The race will also be a true family affair because both my sisters will be joining us on the course. Lastly, it’s my “A” race for the fall running season. I’ll be trying to run as close to 1:23:00. My initial goal was to run sub 1:20:00, but after reassessing my training I know 1:24:00 is more realistic.

My 14 week training plan generally consisted of three “hard” sessions a week. Usually two speed sessions (long intervals and a tempo run) and a long run no less than 13 miles and no more than 18 miles. I averaged 55 miles a week with a high of 82 miles.

The Kaua’i course is challenging with gradual climbs and rolling hills. The humidity also plays a big factor in performance. When I ran the inaugural marathon in 2009 I suffered some cramping and dehydration because of the heat and humidity. The course is scenic and winds its way through the Poipu/Koloa neighborhoods. It’s one of the few races I’ve ran where the locals embrace the experience of cheering on the runners. You wouldn’t believe how many people are out on their lawns cheering and offering refreshments.

As for race strategy, I plan on negative splitting the race:
Mile 1 – 6:50
Mile 2 – 6:50 13:40
Mile 3 – 6:40 20:20
Mile 4 – 6:40 27:00
Mile 5 – 6:30 33:30
Mile 6 – 6:30 40:00
Mile 7 – 6:30 46:30
Mile 8 – 6:30 53:00
Mile 9 – 6:15 59:15
Mile 10 – 6:15 1:05:30
Mile 11 – 6:10 1:11:40
Mile 12 – 6:10 1:17:50
Mile 13 – 6:00 1:23:50
Basically, conserve energy energy until mile 7 where there are more climbs, then hammer home to the finish where it’s downhill to flat. Hopefully there will be a group of us running similar paces so I can work off of them and stay motivated.

Nutritionally I plan on eating 3 hours before the race with a bagel and banana chased down with water. Twenty minutes before the race I’ll take in a Chocolate Cherry Clif Shot Energy Gel with caffeine. During the race I’ll drink water at mile 4. At mile 8 I’ll take in another Chocolate Cherry Gel diluted in 6 ounces of water. At mile 10 and 12.5 I’ll drink water. Hopefully my stomach holds up well and I can finish in good enough shape to have a beer or three.

I’ll be wearing the brand new Mizuno Wave Sayonara with a pair of ultralight Wright socks. To keep with the blue theme (our wedding color) I’ll be wearing the Sugoi race shorts. No, I won’t be wearing a shirt because I feel the cooling effect of the trade winds better without one on. The sun will be in my eyes on the final stretch home, so I’ll be sporting the orange Merrell sunglasses I got for free while running a local 5k. I wore this race outfit at the Merrell Carmel Racing 5k series to make sure it was race ready. It was!
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Shoe Review: Mizuno Wave Sayonara

MizunoSayonaraRunningShoes_1000x500I was given a pair of the brand new Wave Sayonara from Mizuno. This new line of shoe is set to replace the Wave Precision. I’ll admit that the Precision 13 had been my favorite shoe from Mizuno because of its versatility as a road trainer, trail runner, and racing for distances from 10k to the marathon.

The Sayonara is nothing like the Precision it is replacing. It sits on a lower platform and the offset is lower at 10mm. It’s part of Mizuno’s performance training shoe line (along with the Precision and Elixir), a group of shoes versatile enough to race in and also log in long training miles.

The Sayonara weighs in at a scant 7.9oz with a snug and secure fit around the mid-foot and heel area. The forefoot is roomy which allows the toes to splay and be engaged on the landing and toe-off. The light weight feel, secure fit, and semi-firm ride makes the Sayonara more like a road flat, but the added cushioning and durable mid-sole enables the efficient runner to use the shoe as an everyday trainer.

Mens-Wave-Sayonara-Outsole-(09)The shoe has trouble displacing moisture and doesn’t breath very well. During a few humid runs, moisture became trapped in the shoe which made for a slushy run. My feet got hot even when I wore thin moisture wicking socks. I wore the shoe once in the rain and the shoe felt heavier with the water being trapped inside. Also, the outsole didn’t provide good traction on wet smooth surfaces (bricks and wooden bridges), but did well on textured surfaces.

Another thing to note is the shoe sits flatter than the other performance trainers. Whereas the Precision and Elixir have a more pronounced rocker that runs from the forefoot to the mid-foot, the Sayonara flatten out. For runners who tend to land on their heels (even moderate heel strikers) the shoe can feel uncomfortable when running at slower speeds (flopping becomes more prevalent). The shoe’s design genius is realized most when running at a faster cadence and faster speed. Efficient striders will love the shoe’s responsiveness and “just-enough” cushioning and support.

I love this shoe and will wear it as my racing shoe for the Kauai Half Marathon. Mizunos are like no other running shoes because of the Wave plate technology they employ in their shoes. It helps to disperse shock, return energy to the stride, and maintains cushioning over many miles. This may seem silly, but the Sayonara is a good budget shoe. You get good value for the price. It’s a shoe that can do it all; racing and training.


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The Minimalist Shoe, Reborn!

The minimalist shoe is reborn! Tell your injured running friends, ex-barefoot runners, cross-fitter; spread the word!

It’s that time when shoe companies begin to release their Spring/Summer shoes. What’s very noticeable is a move away from a true barefoot platform by the big running shoe brands. I’m guessing the same people who jumped on the barefoot shoe bandwagon are quickly jumping off after injuries. The industry folks noticed and have moved quickly to redefine what “minimalist” is and offer shoes that aren’t completely bare.

What we’re seeing is a move to a cushioned platform with a flatter heel/toe differential. Most shoes being released tout a heel/toe differential of 12mm or less. So, yes, it’s possible to have both a zero drop shoe  along with a higher platform height for cushioning.
New Balance Minimus 001

The marketing standard of the new “minimalist” shoe is to “get the best of both worlds” or something like that. The shoe, in most bulleted texts about the new shoes, is to have the benefits of barefoot movement and feel with some cushioning and support. Hey, I think Brooks got it right the first time with the Pure Series.

Saucony, for instance, leads the way in its “Geometry of Strong” campaign. They’ve built their whole line of shoes around the idea of a cushioned and/or  support shoe that sits flat (8mm drop or less), giving the runner the benefits of a natural running motion without going totally “minimal” (zero drop, no cushioning). Every brand has their own version: Mizuno, New Balance, Asics, SKECHERS!

The industry has grown past the “Born To Run” phenomenon and have redefined what “minimalist” is. This is good for their core customers who are recreational runners who don’t have the time and patience to fully embrace the barefoot movement. These same people also happen to spend the most amount of money for running products. Yes, I’m talking to you 10 mile a week couch to 5k runner!) Wise move shoe companies! — BTW, I’m supportive of anyone new to running, just not barefoot, please! I don’t care what Barefoot ____(Insert generic first name) has to say about how it’s worked for him.

I like where things are going. It’s a shame we had to go through the barefoot phase that alienated some potential runners to our sport. Hopefully the shoe companies can keep in mind who their customers are and act responsibly with each new running fad that may arise.
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