Lighter, lower, firmer shoes are a trend in top flight running kicks, but for Mizuno, according to Rod Foley, director of marketing for athletic footwear, “it’s what we’ve always been; it’s what we’ll always be.” STACK recently caught up with Foley to learn about the soon-to-be-released Mizuno Wave Prophecy, the company's most innovative running shoe to date. Check out its performance features below.
Planting the Prophecy Seed
“Our product philosophy has always been 'what can we do to be unique? And [how] can we do more with less?'" Foley says. Enter Wave Technology, created "to achieve the two things people look for in running shoes—cushioning and stability—without putting two separate and often contradictory materials [e.g., a soft area for cushioning and hard foam for stability] into the shoe. Wave does both of those things at the same time," Foley asserts.
Innovative Wave technology eventually spawned another idea: create a no-foam shoe. Foley explains, “Because of the materials we use, Wave’s properties don’t change the life of the shoe. It’s that durable. We can make areas soft where we want them to be soft and firm where we want them to be firm, and we can really engineer the sensation at each and every step.”
The first Wave Prophecy prototype was born seven years ago, but “it was always in our minds even before that," Foley claims. "I've run in [approximately] 12 to 15 prototypes." Once the science and the manufacturing process caught up with Mizuno’s vision, the design team dove into creating the shoe, fine-tuning every characteristic—optimizing the amount of compression in the heel; alleviating stiffness in the forefoot; and reducing the shoe’s overall weight.
After perfecting the last detail, forefoot flexion, Mizuno brought the Prophecy to fruition. Says Foley, “With Wave, we believe we can provide a running experience that you just can’t get with any other shoe. It’s really going to showcase what we’re capable of [and] what we want to do for runners.”
Infinity Wave Plate
“The hero is the Wave,” Foley says. The shoe features two Wave plates stacked together and molded at different densities to facilitate landing on either the forefoot or the midfoot. Foley explains, “You get this really cool, dynamic feeling in your foot, because the Wave is doing all the work for you at different points along the way.”
“We want the shoe to become an extension of your foot,” Foley says. So Mizuno studied how human skin moves. “We found that the biggest area of stretch when you’re running is along the top of your toes. As you toe off, your skin shrinks a lot, and as your foot returns to the ground, it resumes its original shape.” The company used this knowledge to integrate Dynamotion Fit, a material that shrinks and expands in harmony with your foot, into the forefoot.
Listen here as Foley explains how Dynamotion helps prevent blisters.
This minimizes energy loss by optimizing flexibility in the forefoot. The Wave Prophecy’s forefoot flexes to a point, but stops around a 15-degree angle and then becomes somewhat rigid, so runners don't lose any energy when toeing off.
Hear Foley explain how a shoe’s flexibility impacts toe off.
Constructed of solid rubber, the outsole is built to be durable, “but it’s thin enough to not be particularly heavy,” Foley says. “We wanted to make sure that the pattern is such that lots of little independent studs provide traction and also allow each of those individual studs to move and displace, which creates a cushioning sensation.”
The Mizuno Wave Prophecy will be available in separate models to suit male and female foot types. Since in general women have higher Q-Angles [the alignment of the pelvis, leg and foot] than men, their feet typically hit the ground at a greater angle, causing overpronation [learn more about pronation here]. Men typically run in a more neutral line.
"We wanted to make sure we engineered women’s shoes to be more flexible when they hit the ground, so they slow down women’s propensity to roll inward," Foley says. "The more the shoe is flexible and can compress on the lateral heel, the less it’s going to roll over."
The Wave Prophecy is primarily suited for runners who have few concerns about stability. But overall, the shoe provides natural stability and some protection against overpronation. To hear Foley explain the Wave Prophecy's design details, click here.
The Mizuno Wave Prophecy drops May 6 and will retail for $200.