Sunday, September 1, 2013

Review: Mizuno Wave Evo Cursoris Has a Weird Name But Rocks

The buildup
I have been searching for the perfect shoe for me for a while. I thought I had it in the Adidas adipure Gazelle. They are amazing, and I love them, but they wear out way too fast for me, and I end up feeling like I'm running off the edge of them because of how badly the upper has stretched (within 50 miles, no less!).  I thought I had them in the Merrell Bare Access 2. They're great, but I found the sole to be a bit stiff, causing forefoot pain when toe striking, and the form is a little too rigid, allowing for some slop in the toe box. They are really good shoes, though, but not perfect.

I've been seeing things about the Mizuno Wave Evo Cursoris, and waiting for RunBlogger to review them because Pete and I seem to have similar preferences in shoes.  He finally did, and I didn't hesitate to pick up a pair (on closeout for the Halloween color version from RunningWarehouse.com - great deal).

All I can say is that I'm done. The search is over. I think. Read on to understand.

What it is & How it works
The Wave Evo Cursoris is one of two shoes Mizuno came out with this year to feature truly anatomical design and minimalism philosophy at play (the other is the racing shoe, the Wave Evo Levitas, which I'd love to try for my next 5K or 10K - hint hint, Mizuno, can send me a pair to review?). The shoes look adequately weird, and have a terrible name. Both good traits in running shoes in my book.
They are narrowish around the heel, and come out around the toes, with a really nicely shaped and sized toe box that looks like the shape of the foot. I don't know anyone with a foot the shape of most running shoes, but I know pretty much no one with feet that aren't shaped like these.

The Cursoris (I don't have time to write out their full name, ok?) has fantastic flex, and a nicely cushioned 18mm sole that has no drop between the forefoot and heel. The lacing has a slight bias so that it follows the movement patterns of the metatarsals rather than cutting across them. Another good design move.  The shoe came in a couple of bad colors (green and blue or orange and black), and has this weird lizard/leopard/flower pattern on a few parts. They discontinued these colors and moved to a white, black and blue scheme that's really nice looking.  I have the Halloween editions, and basically don't mind if my running shoes are majorly fugly because that only adds to the power with which I shout out that I am a runner (silently shout, that is).

Another thing to note about them is that they run larger. I used the awesome Shoefitr system on Running Warehouse's site to find my size since I couldn't find a local shop that had them to know what size I needed.  I put in my Gazelles in size 10 as the comparison point, as they fit me perfectly. Shoefitr said I needed 9.5s.  They were spot on for fit. I've never worn other Mizunos, so I can't say if they all run large or if it's just the Cursoris, but you should either try them on or use Shoefitr.  I've found Shoefitr to be a total life saver when ordering shoes online or even buying locally with a try-on as new shoes don't always fit the same after a little break in (I should have listened to Shoefitr when I bought the Kinvaras - it said go with a 10, but I felt the 10.5s fit better...after about 5 miles, I realized that was a mistake, but I couldn't return them).

My impressions
Seriously, these are the best running shoes I've ever owned. They're fantastic, and only get more fantastic the faster I run in them.  I've put about 50 miles on them so far, with runs ranging from two miles to 9 miles. They're fine at 9+ minute pacing and outstanding at sub-7s. I really notice how they are just primed to respond when I need to really kick it into high gear. It's like their structure is made to go faster and faster, and they're just waiting for me to hit the turbo button on my legs.

I ran my fastest mile ever at about 6'50" the first time I ran with them.  Then, on a 9-miler, I had to cut across a busy street really quickly about 3 miles into the run.  I had been doing maybe 8'15" pacing so far with the Cursoriseseseses (not sure what the plural is, but it probably isn't that - maybe Cursorii like Toyota Prii) proving good traction, flexibility, fit and cushioning without being obvious or obtrusive in any way.  When I called on my legs to sprint across the street (probably a 50 yard sprint - nothing major), the shoes felt like something different than they had been. They gripped even better without being overly grippy (I can't describe too well - they just give immense confidence without feeling too tacky), lightened up, flexed more, and the cushioning just seemed to know what I needed of it. They also disappeared even more on my feet at the same time.  Yes, they're magic, if that's what you were wondering.

The funny thing about them is how they feel when standing or walking. That is to say, not great. The sole is fine, and the shoe is light and airy, but there is a feeling of some sort of constricting seam or band over my forefoot (a little behind the toes, yet forward of where the laces end and the material changes, which is where I would expect to feel it). I was concerned about this for my first run, but as soon as I took off, they felt 100% invisible.  I've heard people talk about shoes disappearing under foot, but figured that was a BS marketing line or something. I now know what that feels like.

My depressions
Honestly, I'm really struggling here to find things that concern me. I may have a list after doing 100-150 miles on them, but there's nothing at all that's worrying me.  The only potential thing I see is how fast the sole will wear.  The cushioning is largely dense EVA (see the white sections of the sole shot here - though there's a white rubber insert on the heel, as are the green pods), and sure enough, it's wearing already. I am in the middle of recovering from knee surgery, so I know my gait is a bit off, which is why one shoe is wearing faster than the other as I tend to turn my foot a bit on impact. That said, so many people have muscle imbalances, so it's not like everyone else runs perfectly.  I don't notice it while running, but can blatantly see the wear when I look at the sole.  Oddly enough, it's smack in the middle of the mid-foot (first white pod to the left of the wide green one in the shot above, sort of sandwiched between the lateral and medial green pods of the mid-foot).  You'd think it would be an outer or inner pod, but it's not.  This goes to the rotation I have in my stride.

I have three pairs of Gazelles that are almost unusable after 40 miles due to the upper stretching out too much, so I'm not at all unhappy with how the Cursoris is holding up.  I'm sure I'll be able to get somewhere between 150 and 200 miles on them.  For the $60ish I paid for them on close out, I'd say that's a damn good value.

To buy or not to buy?
Buy them. 'Nuff said.

OK, not really enough said.  I really do love running in these shoes. I'm side-lined with tendonitis in my left big toe right now (not from these - it started before I bought them, and is possible because I was trying to forefoot strike in my Saucony Kinvara's, which just aren't flexible enough for my stride), so I'm really antsy to get back out on them.

I am bummed that I didn't order 2 pairs when I got them as they're now out of my size in the orange and black ones, and I don't like the green and blue, and don't want to pay full price for the white and black (which look really sharp).  If I am going to still run the half marathon I have planned for October, I'll need a new pair.  I'll probably go for the white and black to give me a little amping up for the race.  Maybe some good coupons will come out by early October or maybe Mizuno or Running Warehouse will just the coolest companies and throw me a pair out of the goodness of their hearts.  Yeah, probably the former, though they're both cool companies.




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