Weight: 10.3 oz (men's size 9)
Heel Drop: 30/18, 12mm Drop
Classification: Moderate Support Trainer
The best way I can describe the fit is comfortable (at least for me). Classic Mizuno (being a Japanese) company, tends to have a wider forefoot with a normal width midfoot and heel. The heel is held well via the Dynamotion Fit, which creates a somewhat adaptive fit to the foot. The Airmesh upper stretches very well, especially around the forefoot. The mesh does not create any hotspots and breathes very well.
Those with thin socks or sensitive feet should feel at home in the Inspire 14 as the upper is very comfortable and I have not noticed any hot spots. My only concern was with the toe guard. Although it is minor and has never once bothered me, I would like to see more companies move away from these. Mizuno has actually moved away starting with their Waveknit uppers, which are awesome (and I will be reviewing soon).
Another classic Mizuno feature. The ride is firm but protective. I found that the shoe was somewhat stiff starting out but then breaks in nicely after 30-40 miles. At that point it runs a hair softer, but still remains on the firmer side of soles.
The sole is not full ground contact, but I do not feel the missing midfoot due to the thick wave plate extending from heel into midfoot (problems arise more when the shank is only in the midfoot. This should imitate the plantar fascia). The wave plate does a great job of both absorbing force and rolling the foot forward. It is nice to get that rebound whereas most EVA tends to just sink in. The full thickness plate extending from the heel into the midfoot adds great stability to the sole. Mizuno has been slowly closing the gap between the heel and forefoot and some of their shoes are now full ground contact (which I hope more will be soon).
Heel landings are very smooth due to the great heel bevel as well as the additional wedge cushioning. The Mizuno Wave Inspire does have a traditional 12mm drop, but I would encourage people not to be afraid of that. I tend to be more of a heel to midfoot striker and have found that the combination of the wave plate and heel bevel make landings very smooth. The heel does not feel like it gets in the way, rather is part of the package.
The forefoot is very stable due to the wider last up front, so those that forefoot strike will also feel at home here due to the great U4ic midsole that provides durable cushioning up front.
I will discuss the wave plate more later, but the Double Fan Wave is a favorite. It provides stability without being intrusive and provides a VERY smooth ride. The firmer ride combined with the wider forefoot with appropriate flexibility in the sagittal plane (Smooth Ride Tech) really helps direct the foot forward without forcing it (see thoughts as a DPT). The Smooth Ride is cool as it provides gender specific flexibility based on the fact that men and women have different feet!
The Mizuno Wave Inspire 14 is definitely a trainer. It is on the lighter end for a support shoe at 10.3 oz. The U4ic midsole, wave plate and appropriate flexibility in forefoot does lend to a shoe that can handle uptempo miles as I have done many steady state and long runs in this shoe. However for intervals, tempo runs and races I personally would choose something else. For those needing support over long miles, like a marathon, this would be a great smooth and protective choice.
The durability of the Inspire 14 is decent. I am seeing some wear at the heel despite the X10 rubber. at 135 miles. The forefoot is is very durable and I barely any where there. The ride is interesting and seems to get better as the age and break in. There is a (non-researched based) understanding from many who wear Mizuno that they need some time to break in. Once they do, the ride is awesome. I expect a high number of miles out of these but will probably still retire them at the 300-400 mile mark due to my concerns about running too long in a shoe that has excessive wear patterns that emphasize my gait abnormalities. For everyone else I would expect to get an average if not slightly higher number of miles out of these due to the durability of the wave plate.
Thoughts as a DPT
Mizuno has a very interesting way of providing support and cushioning. The Wave plate acts like a spring under pressure, much like the arches of the foot are supposed to. The Double Fan Wave in the Mizuno Inspire acts similar with additional "waves" in areas where those may need stability. This is far different from a post or second density foam, which is just a thick slab of foam many in the industry try to use to "stop" pronation, which is rarely how you should go about correcting mechanics. Pronation is not necessarily something that should be stopped. It is a natural method of shock absorption that should be controlled, not stopped. The posterior tibialis, fibularis longus and the intrinsic foot muscles all work to eccentrically lower the arch during impact and the concentrically shorten the arch for stability during toe off. They should not rigidly hold the foot or the impact forces will be dispersed through the joints. In fact, rigid high arched feet may have a higher injury risk than those that pronate! These muscles should be there to control and lower the arch, not abruptly stop it! The Double Fan Wave acts similarly, flexing and responding to impact and helping the arch rebound back during the push off phase. Strangely my arches have felt more stable after running in the shoes walking barefoot, whereas most traditional support shoes have given me a feeling of greater instability while walking barefoot after. This is completely anecdotal, but I feel that the double fan wave plate actually helps facilitate motion rather than prevent it. Whereas traditional posting simply does the work for you (in this case just stopping things. also anecdotal as there is no evidence arch support makes you weaker. If there is please post below). I really like what Mizuno is doing in imitating the shock absorbing components of the foot very well and hope they continue with this.
For those that need a comfortable fit with a firmer ride with somewhat lighter and adaptive stability, take a look at the Mizuno Inspire 14. This shoe is one of the lightest in its class (moderate stability) and while it provides plenty of stability, does not force it upon the foot. I think a variety of people could use this shoe for training and perhaps longer distance running (marathon) given the double fan wave plate. There is a bit more heel drop, which is classic Mizuno, but I did not feel like the heel got in the way thanks to the awesome bevel and smooth ride. I think Mizuno does not get enough attention and hope more people look this way with the interesting things coming from them soon.
Thanks for reading!
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Kaiser SoCal Manual Therapy and Sport Fellow