The Mizuno Wave Rider 26 is the latest entry in Mizuno’s flagship running line. In recent years it’s been a little light on the cushioning but this year’s version is the softest Wave Rider ever. How does it perform out on the mean streets of marathon training? Keep reading…
Mizuno Wave Rider 26
Release Date: October 2022
Weight: M 10 oz, W 8.3oz
Sizing: True to size
- Rundown: The Mizuno Wave Rider 26 is a solid daily running shoe with some nuances to be aware of before purchasing.
- Cushion Softness
- Upper Comfort
- Smooth Ride
- Outsole Durability
- Cushion Thickness
Drew: We mentioned above that this is the softest Wave Rider ever and it’s true. The addition of Mizuno Enerzy takes the cushion from meh to solid. Now, it’s not near as soft as the majority of supercritical or Pebax foams available today, but it feels great underfoot, especially compared to previous Wave Rider midsoles. You can now tackle 8-10 miles in the Wave Rider whereas before I’d have advocated a maximum of 5-6 mile runs.
Tyler: I grew to enjoy the cushion of the Wave Rider 26 the more I wore it. Out of the box, I was a little concerned with the amount of cushion under the forefoot, but I credit the Wave plate for such a nice transition across the entire foot that any concerns I had were quickly forgotten.
Drew: The Mizuno Wave Rider 26 upper is a simple multi-layer engineered mesh with plenty of ankle collar and tongue padding. Nothing special but it does the job well. There are no potential hotspots, and it molded to my foot well.
Drew: The Mizuno Wave Rider 26 doesn’t feel as slappy as some other Mizuno shoes. It hits the ground and rolls nicely through the transition from heel to toe. The Wave Rider 26 doesn’t look like it has much of a rocker, so my guess is the Enerzy foam combined with the curvature of the TPU Mizuno Wave plate is doing the majority of the work here. Whatever the reason, the shoe felt very smooth no matter what speed I was running.
Tyler: As I hinted at above, the Wave plate really drives home a sweet ride when you’re running. To Drew’s point, there isn’t so much a rocker sensation as there is just the slightest bit of arch support, most likely just the curvature of the plate, that helps on toe-off. While it’s not enough to be put in the con section, this sensation doesn’t feel as good when you’re just walking around, so these will strictly be a running shoe for me.
Drew: The outsole of the Mizuno Wave Rider 26 is the source of one pro and one con. The Pro is that it grips well on any surface. I didn’t have trouble making quick turns and never felt slippage. So the rubber compound used is A+. The durability, however…
Tyler: Like every Mizuno we’ve tested this year, traction is fantastic on the Wave Rider. With leaves falling and more early-morning runs on my calendar, it’s much appreciated this time of year.
Drew: Despite the outsole of the Mizuno Wave Rider 26 gripping like crazy, the toe is wearing down quickly. The forefoot and heel seem to be doing ok, but the toe wear is happening too fast for my liking. Just be aware that the outsole may not last as long as typical Mizuno outsoles (which basically never show any wear during our test periods).
Tyler: Currently at 32 miles on my pair, I have some slight wear on the outsole, but not as much as Drew. Your mileage may vary, so keep it as a consideration when you think about how long you need your pair to last.
Drew: The Mizuno Wave Rider 26’s stack height just isn’t very big, so there’s not a ton of foam underfoot. I felt much lower to the ground than in most shoes I’ve tested recently. So while the cushion is soft, I don’t think it will be particularly long-lasting nor is the Lebron 20 fit to be a long run shoe. The 12mm heel-to-toe drop also seems excessive. I’d much prefer a typical 8mm drop with 4mm more foam in the forefoot. That extra foam is appreciated when your legs and feet are tired from lots of running.
Tyler: Totally agree with Drew on this one. My current rotation was in need of a more straightforward, everyday runner (first-world problems, I know), but the 12mm drop in addition to the arch sensation of the plate I noted above didn’t bode well for runs longer than about 10K from my experience. But, if you just want a reliable shoe to hammer out those quick after-work miles, it performs great.
Mizuno Wave Rider 26 Summary
Drew: The Mizuno Wave Rider 26 is a solid daily running shoe. It can handle most runs, can go fast if needed, and most of all, it’s comfortable and smooth. It’s the type of shoe where, if you like the amount of cushion and the fit, you won’t ever have to think about it when it’s on foot. I like shoes like this because it allows me to focus more on pace and podcasts (lol).
Tyler: Another great shoe from Mizuno, with some nuances to be aware of before purchasing. I love how straightforward the shoe is: from fit to feel. But I could see the Wave plate causing raised eyebrows from some runners. At the end of the day, it’s a well-priced shoe for what it does and would be a great addition to most rotations looking for a straightforward, no-frills shoe.