I am actually on the hunt for a new compatible running shoe. In fact, I was already planning to revisit the shoe depot where I bought an old favorite when this model was presented to me. My most recent fave underwent a design revision that made it too cushiony for my taste. Could this introduction be a fateful one?
Before I proceed let me first delineate what runner preferences this shoe is NOT made for.
Mizuno Wave Enigma 6 is not made for runners who prefer minimalist shoes. It has four layers of differing rubber sole materials meant for maximum cushioning and durability. In fact, at its thickest, the sole measures about 40mm. Neither is this shoe suited for zero drop devotees as its heel-to-toe drop is pegged at 12mm. This is also not for those who like their running shoes sock like in design and feel. This model is designed more in theclassic sturdy trainer construction genre that can weather all abuses.
Now what kind of runners Mizuno Wave Enigma 6 is made for?
Mizuno Wave Enigma 6 is made with both newbie and distance runners in mind. It is designed as the “most highly cushioned” running shoes by the Japanese brand.
This well-built model is designed for newbie runners. Its sturdy yet flexible construction will see newbie runners through many developing years in running. This will also give them a very stable foothold in precarious road conditions. The highly developed cushioning system will protect them from stress injuries caused by the impact of the hard surface on their still developing legs.
Long distance runners will likewise benefit from the cushioning technology that channels heel strike force into forward roll and momentum. Even the most avid midfoot/forefoot strikers will, at one point, revert to heel strike in long distance races. And let me tell you that the heel cushioning of Mizuno running shoes is next to nothing! It is a cut above the rest. It is as if the developers of these shoes themselves experienced the most excruciating knee injury to design the most cushioned heel in a shoe ever.
Initial Testing Impression
Mizuno Wave Enigma 6 looks like your high end, high mileage trainer – sturdy, thick soled, looking well-built, the dark gray-orange-neon green model given us is the initial model in stock and it looks a tad conservative for my taste but none at all bland. The dark gray gives it a classic look while the orange outsole and neon green peeking as a lining on the upper gives it a spunk. This bids well for the taste of the majority of runners.
Wearing these shoes, they feel comfortable and very secure. The snug feeling around the ankle, heel and arch areas countered with loose space around the toe box is usually what runners want to feel upon securing their laces. This translates immediately to a consoling feeling that their feet will be stabilized and comfortable even for extended running.
Being described as the most highly cushioned Mizuno running shoe model, I originally expected a “pillowy” ride. But the design concept of this model does not lend to this outcome. The presence of a sturdier wave plate in between softer U4iC and U4iCX layers disperses their compounded cushioning. Instead, it channels the impact into forward momentum that runs from the heels to the forefoot.
Forefoot cushioning is neither spongy nor springy. However, this suits my preference very well. Being a midfoot/forefoot striker, a very mushy forefoot cushioning is lacking in proper response for my foot strike that I feel my energy is being absorbed than transferred into forward momentum. A very springy cushioning on the other hand gives my foot and lower leg a jolt with every step that eventually compounds into stress injury in the ankle, shin, and knees. Wave Enigma’s forefoot cushioning so far provides just enough responsiveness and just enough cushioning.
Heel cushioning is where this model excels the most. I think this shoe is made with heel strikers in mind – thus my conclusion that this is best suited for both newbie and endurance/distance runners. The heel cushioning is very plush with an added oomph! The cushioning technology of this shoe does not only excel in absorbing the heel strike impact but channels this force into forward propulsion energy that runs from the heel until toe off. In a way, this counters the breaking effect of heel striking.
The sturdy yet flexible midplate design feature gives this cushioning model a stability factor. The tradeoff is the added weight but the stability of both the runner and the shoes more than compensates for this. Again a plus factor for newbie and distance runners. Not your regular cushioning shoes indeed.
Though composed of more than ¾ mesh material, the shoes feel sturdy than flimsy. It is definitely breathable but durable at the same time. In endurance and distance running, cushion support is as important as durable breathability. This is precisely what Mizuno Wave Enigma 6 brings to the table. These shoes can take a beating of a hundred miles or more.
Taking the construction of this shoe into consideration, this is the most lightweight it can get. Not your 8 ounces or less kind but lightweight materials are amply incorporated together with heavier ones that provided the durability factor to keep the weight at a fighting minimum. It felt light running too.
Taking Mizuno Wave Enigma 6 for a spin puts the design concept into proper perspective. Being a midfoot striker, I immediately tested the forefoot cushioning and flexibility. A tad lacking in the softness factor but I would prefer less than overly mushy any time. This makes it responsive but not too springy. Further testing in longer runs is needed to either solidify or contradict my initial impression.
Diverting to heel strike though made a great deal of difference to my running efficiency. The plush cushioning coupled with forward energy transfer made for a smother and faster run. In fact, the speed drills that we did right after the easy run opened me to the real potential of this model. I could barely cope with the forward momentum that, well, it made me fly!
Breathable yet durable uppers, flexible yet stable midsole, cushioned yet responsive outsole, Mizuno Wave Enigma 6 has almost got everything covered for an ideal distance trainer. However, I needed to thoroughly break this in for a few more longer distance runs to totally ascertain its pros and cons. If I can finish a few half marathons with no shin splint, ankle and knee pains and injuries, then I can conclude that Wave Enigma 6 and me are indeed fated.