Sunday, December 1, 2013

Shoe Review: Mizuno Wave Sayonara

Anyone who runs with me knows that I keep a large collection of running shoes in rotation.  However, after acquiring a pair of Mizuno 's relatively new performance shoe, the Wave Sayonara, I spent a lot of dedicated time in that shoe, including a wide variety of workouts and one race-like scenario.
I should say that I've never been a fan of the Wave Precision or the Wave Elixir--the shoes the Sayonara is intended to replace.  However, there was a lot of hype and some promising features that led me to give the Sayonara an honest shot.  Let's get to it.
Like most Mizunos, the Sayonara fits large on me (I sized down 1/2 size), and the heel cup is a bit spacious.  However, unlike other Mizunos, I found the toe box to have ample width.  With some experimental lacing, I found that a semi-boxed lacing pattern with a loop-lace on the extra eye locked my foot perfectly into the footbed without too much pressure on my often-sensitive metatarsals.  Observe my lacing in the picture.
My semi-boxed and eye-looped lacing if the Wave Sayonara

Here's the fun part.  I've taken this shoe on long runs in the 12-20 mile range, easy recovery runs, tempo runs, hill repeats, road speed intervals, and a heavy half marathon at near race pace.  It has seen over 90% asphalt and 10% non-technical dirt trail. Mizuno markets the Sayonara as an "Everyday Fast" shoe.  This is a good description.  As most if my shoes are lighter than the Sayonara's already light 8.1 ounce (men's size 9) weight, and it's 10mm heel/toe drop was a little high for my midfoot running style, I figured the Sayonara would be just a distance trainer.  However, after running with the shoe, all those numbers mean little and less.  The response is firm, almost to the point of stiffness when on the stationary or walking foot, but in a running stride, the shoe's flexibility and just-right give (from Mizuno's new U4ic midsole material) become evident.  Unlike many trainers which start out soft and firm up during the run, the Sayonara starts out firm and softens up just enough.  The underside (pictured below), made of a combination of solid blown rubber in high abrasion zones, rubber treads under the forefoot, and exposed EVA under the midfoot, provides so-far reliable traction.

The Sayonara does show signs of wear after about 120 miles.  Some of the exposed EVA is "tagged" on the side of the midfoot, and the blown rubber at my midfoot point of impact is showing some beveled wear, with the micro tread faded away.  Much of this wear is expected, and I have been putting some hard workouts on these shoes.  However, the shoe's responsiveness has not changed so far.  I hypothesize that it will have more longevity than a dedicated racing flat, but maybe not so much an average high-mileage trainer.

My conclusions:
The Mizuno Wave Sayonara is not for everyone.  Those that crave a soft, mat-like ride will find it a bit firm, and pure minimalists may think there's a bit too much shoe (which I was afraid of initially).  However, for me, the Sayonara is a top candidate to replace the endangered Brooks Green Silence as a trustworthy marathon shoe.  The GS and the Sayonara are apples and oranges, so I won't even begin to compare the two, but they each serve well as marathon racers in their own way.  Next Spring, I will qualify for Boston again, and it may just be in the Wave Sayonara.