As a long-time runner who has sustained very few running-related injuries apart from sprained ankles and face-first falls on sidewalks (I have been running regularly since November 1969), I consider heel shock absorption ahead of all other factors in selecting a running shoe.
I have been running on Nike runners for decades, and I credit Nike for its persistent innovation in running shoes, though there has been much silly style-focused product development during the same period. The Nike Air front and rear sole inserts were a landmark development, and the more recent Nike Shox another significant advance. (I also tried the Nike Impax, but found them cheaply constructed and inferior to the Shox.)
However, I have just discovered the Mizuno Wave Creation 8, released in February 2007, and I have been running in these shoes for the past two weeks.
The Mizuno represents another stage of progress in heel shock absorption. Not unlike the Nike Impax, the Wave Creation 8 has a lower strike surface bonded to an upper sole surface by flexible structural components. However, the Wave Creation 8 is much more stable and sturdier by far than the Impax, which in my experience has been an economy to mid-priced shoe.
Thus, the only reasonable standard of comparison for the Wave Creation 8 is the Nike Shox, which is certainly an excellent shoe in its own right. The Shox models have either 6 small or 4 large shock-absorbing cylinders bonding the lower strike surface to the rear sole of the shoe. In my experience, the 4-cylinder model is superior to the 6-cylinder model, as the 4 cylinders are larger in cross-section and higher than the 6 cylinders.
As good as the 4-cylinder Nike Shox is as a running shoe, the Mizuno Wave Creation 8 is a better shoe still.
What sets the Wave Creation 8 apart is its sturdy, resilient and novel heel plate structure. What this boldly conceived heel design accomplishes is to absorb a massive proportion of the shock of heel strike, protecting against injury, but then also to transform the energy of the heel strike into a forceful rebound that propels the runner both upwards and forwards, hence the term “wave creation.”
The Wave Creation 8 is incredibly stable while also maximally resilient, and the combination of these two generally incompatible factors is a testament to the brilliance of its engineering.
In practical terms, I find I am simply running faster in the Wave Creation 8, and this is discernible in my maximum heart rate. In the Nike Shox, I will generally develop a heart rate in the 163 range while sprinting. With the Wave Creation 8, little effort is required to reach the 166 level, and a little extra push can deliver a heart rate of 168, which for me is very difficult to obtain with the Shox, and essentially unattainable with most other running shoes (According to the charts, my maximum heart rate is supposed to be 160, so obviously the shoes plus almost 4 decades of training account for some performance edge.)
I had not heard about the Mizuno Wave Creation 8 until I saw it in a Forzani Sport Mart Store in Winnipeg. As soon as I tried the shoe on, I realized that I had discovered something unique, as I was effortlessly bounding about the store with a few test strides, and there was virtually no sensation of impact shock on the hard surface of the shop floor.
When I took the shoe home and tested it on the road, I knew with certainty that I had found the best running shoe I have so far discovered.
Credit to Mizuno for taking us to the next level of running shoe performance.
Nike, it’s your turn to reply – and try to remember, it’s not about style but performance!