Performance Review: Mizuno Wave Enigma 6

During the test run for the Wave Enigma 6 last April 19 at the Mizuno store in SM Mall of Asia (READ article HERE), I had different impressions towards the shoe. It was understandable since it was entirely brand new and would require a break-in. I decided to hold my assessment and give the shoe further tests. 
At this point, my accumulated mileage input in the Wave Enigma 6 has already reached 47 kilometers. I believe that the shoe has already gone past its break-in period and adjusted well already to my foot.
At first, I struggled during the first few miles due to the concerns I had with the shoe. The first concern I had was the stack height. The pair I often use only has a 22m on the heel and 18mm on the forefoot.  On the other hand, the Wave Enigma 6’s measures 32 mm on the heel and 20mm on the forefoot.
(The rear view of the Mizuno Wave Enigma 6’s heel   PHOTO BY: The Road Titan)
That’s high. The higher the heel-to-toe drop, the more likely I’d land on my heel (which bugged me since I’m a natural midfoot striker).  The last thing I’d want is pain caused by unintended heel striking. Good news since nothing as such occurred and my appreciation for this shoe grew overtime.
The other concern I had was the underfoot. It felt a little stiff. It was soft but not as plushy as I’d hoped it to be considering the weight penalty it already had due to the midsole foams installed in it. On a positive note, it’s the right kind of stiffness I want in a shoe. Perhaps  the Parallel Wave plate inserted within caused this. I gave consideration to the Wave Enigma 6 since it is a neutral-support shoe. It’s meant to have a more structured functionality.
Heading to the cushioning and ride topic, a runner must remember that the degree of cushioning can affect the shoes’ overall ride. Most shoes nowadays are beefed-up with unique cushioning technologies that brag an all-new level of “comfort”. As a consequence, the ride of the shoe feels dull or sluggish. I once bought a shoe that was generally known for its marshmallow-like cushion. Unfortunately, I ended up disliking it since it eats up additional energy or effort in every stride. It made me feel slow and tired than usual afterwards.   
I believe this is where Mizuno’s Wave Enigma 6 comes in. It’s one of the few pairs in the world that found the sweet spot between support and responsiveness. It might not be too squishy but it maintained my ground feel without compromising too much comfort. For me, that is relatively important than running in a very cushioned shoe. 
The Wave Enigma 6 compensated a lot when it comes to responsiveness. In long runs, I liked how the shoe remained stable due to the heel-to-toe transition guided by the Wave plate inside the midsole. It was fun and impressive. The transition of each stride was fast since the forefoot helped my feet launch quickly.  Despite being a support shoe, it felt a bit snappy.
 However, my guts tells me that the Wave plate itself, despite its effectiveness to distribute the impact received by the foot, causes the rigid feeling I had underfoot. It didn’t significantly affect anything in my performance actually. I’m just a weenie when it comes to the midsole area.
(The Wave Enigma 6 after 15Km run)
After additional miles logged into the shoe, the ride became more forgiving and comfortable. The stiffness of the shoe will eventually wear off. Just give it more time.
The upper construction of the shoe allowed my feet to stretch freely and naturally inside while running on uneven roads. When it comes to grip or traction, the outsole of the Wave Enigma 6 is definitely a winner. There was a time when I decided to train outdoors after raining. To fully test the grip, I decided to run on the wet sidewalks since it was more slippery than asphalt roads. The traction of the outsole performed well despite the condition I set.   
The Wave Enigma 6 is perfect for long distance runs and training sessions. It can take a serious beating in high mileage runs. The shoe was highly responsive and performed better than the other cushioned shoes I tested before. For neutral runners who tend to land on their heels, the Wave Enigma 6 can adequately provide the support you need. However, it needs a longer break in period to reduce the stiffness of the shoes.
I hope Mizuno will look into the possibility of reducing the weight of this trainer by making adjustments in its components and figuring out how to enhance the underfoot comfort. Aside from those, the shoe did a very fine job. Fine enough for me to consider it as my marathon trainer.

(I would like to thank our friends in Mizuno Philippines for providing us a sample of the Wave Enigma 6. It did not affect or had any bearing on the results of this review.)



Shoe Review: ASICS Gel-Nimbus 18 "The Cloud Runner"

The Gel-Nimbus 18 is ASICS’ newest iteration to their world-renowned shoe that has spanned for 18 years.  Honestly, ASICS is doing a pretty good job in maintaining and updating the quality of the Nimbus-line; considering the fact that there are only a handful of shoe models that lasted for more than a decade. It’s like watching your favorite TV series in its 18thseason.
Last year, a lot of runners had their personal take about the Nimbus 17. Many are curious about the updates done to their favorite neutral shoe after the Nimbus 18’s release date was announced several months ago.

I went to a local ASICS concept store and purchased the Gel-Nimbus 18 right after spotting it on the racks. Here are some of my impressions after having the Nimbus 18:

Weight has been one of my top qualifications when it comes to picking a shoe. I used to run in my Saucony Kinvara 5 & 6 while I train using the Adidas Supernova Glide Boost. These models are under the lightweight to semi-lightweight category. I never had a pair which is way heavier than them. The Nimbus 18 weighs 11oz at least, compared to my Kinvara 6 which only weighs a little less than 8 oz (via runningwarehouse). Logic tells me that I’m looking at a shoe which will add 3 ounces to each stride.That’s just how I see it.
However, the significance of weight when it comes to running efficiency or speed is a subjective issue among runners. Some would say it will slow them down while others tell that it’s not noticeable during a run.  I tried jogging inside the store to get the slightest feel of its ride. To my surprise, the weight wasn’t really that much of an issue. (This is just my first impression).   
One must understand that ASICS has always been producing premium high-mileage trainers. Compared to other brands, the Nimbus-line can take a very long beating (proven). It’s made to be highly durable and top quality materials. As a consequence, the shoe will definitely become heavier. If you are a minimalist runner or someone who prefers lightweight shoes, you may have doubts in getting this pair. 
I love these shoes! The fit is just PERFECT. The toe box is spacious enough to give my toes enough room to move. My feet were secured well, thanks to the supportive heel counter and plush ankle collar at the rear, and a non-restrictive fit of the upper (Fluidfit). ASICS retained the engineered mesh used on the Nimbus 17 for lightweight breathability.  
3.) SOLE
I featured the Nimbus 18 last March as one of my most anticipated Neutral running shoes for 2016. I highlighted the modified placement of the ASICS Gel at the rear foot region of the shoes. I was curious what would it feel like if there was Gel inserted closely below my heel. The answer was noticeable.
The heel felt remarkably “bouncy” or “cushy”. This catered my special fondness for a shoe that has a soft heel cushioning. Compared to my Glide Boost, the Nimbus 18 felt a tad softer in the heel area. It corresponds to the purpose of the ASICS Gel to increase support by absorbing and reducing ground impact during strides.  This is a great update for those who are hauling long-miles during training or actual runs.
I almost forgot about the weight issue after walking around while wearing the Nimbus 18. They are just so comfortable to wear!  I have both Adidas Energy Boost ESM and Glide Boost in my rotation. I believe that the Boost technology of Adidas has become synonymous to the word “COMFORT”. In this particular matter, I can attest that the Nimbus 18 is a very competitive rival when it comes to that category. The “Cloud Runner” truly lives up to its name.  
The suggested retail price of the Gel-Nimbus is PHP 8000. Compared to other brands that retail Php 4000- 6000 worth of running shoes, this pair is considered to be a very expensive (Trivia: The ASICS Metarun has a 5-digit price tag to it). The price could possibly explain the quality of the materials fused into the shoe. 
In a way or another, buying an ASICS pair is like purchasing a mobile phone that has a long-lasting battery life.  I know some runners whose ASICS beaters have outlived two running shoes. For a Php 8000 worth of pair, I think that’s worth every buck. 
You may get your pair from local ASICS concept stores near you. 
[UPDATE: 04/24/16]- After testing the performance of the Gel-Nimbus 18, here are some of things I observed:
The Gel-Nimbus 18 truly deserves to be called “The Cloud Runner”. The level of cushion provided by this shoe is luxurious. It’s one of the plushiest pairs I have reviewed so far.  If I am going to associate it using the materials of other brands, it felt like I was running on Adidas Boost and Skechers Memory foam combined. I put premium on comfort, and I’m happy to announce that the Nimbus 18 got a 10/10 in that aspect.
To fully test the performance of the shoe, I decided to run the Nimbus 18 on both flat and uneven road surfaces for 35 kilometers (accumulated). Whenever I tried to shift my foot motion to avoid bumps and rocks, the upper of the shoe (particularly the mesh) had no problem adjusting the stretch it needed to support my feet.  My feet remained perfectly locked in place while being allowed it to move naturally inside the shoe.I coursed through the uneven roads comfortably, thanks to the gel unit that absorbed/reduced the ground impact. Traction won’t be necessary issue since there is plenty of rubber coverage on its outsole. 
As I reached asphalt roads, the steady ride of the Nimbus 18 became more noticeable.  I could barely feel the solidity of the road because of the gel units inserted below the heel and forefoot areas of the shoes (same case while I was running in trail). My toes felt like they were sinking deeply into the forefoot cushioning pads. It felt unnatural at first, but it never became a huge problem throughout the entire testing phase.
My strides were slower than usual. It took my feet a bit longer to achieve toe-off because of the cushioning granted by the shoe and its stiff flexibility. It wasn’t much of a big deal for me. However, some runners find it a bit difficult to run on shoes that are “too cushioned”. Excess midsole cushioning systems may cut the responsiveness of the shoe or reduce ground feel. This often leads to a sluggish pace while running. The shoe’s weight could play a significant factor as well. If you are the type of runner who prefers a “snappier” ride, you may opt for lighter and less cushioned neutral shoes.   

The Nimbus 18 is a great all-around shoe for training and actual runs. It worked well with me. Aside from its sluggishly cushioned ride, Neutral runners may expect a very comfortable running experience as they run short or long distances. The Nimbus 18 comes with a hefty price (Php 8000) and heavier weight compared to other shoe models in its category.  However, the durability/life span and performance of this shoe is definitely unquestionable. In comparison, it may not have the competitiveness of a racing car but it has the quality and comfort of a luxury car.