Figuring out a new running shoe takes a bit of time and a few decent outings. I’ve recently been running in the Mizuno Wave Musha 4, a pretty radical looking shoe that has drawn mixed reviews in the appearance stakes.
Getting my head around the Musha as a running shoe has been a bit of a challenge. I liked the look of its profile before I tried it on, and was pretty sure I’d like it as a change-up shoe to wear during tempo running and even the occasional longer run.
The Musha (or Warrior in Japanese) looks a lot like a marathon style racing shoe, along the lines of the original Adizero Adios. But once I had the shoes on my feet I immediately felt grounded and well in contact with the ground, much more so than in the original Adios.
The profile of the Musha is relatively flat – 9mm drop from heel to toe, although it feels flatter. I’ve seen it advertised as a stability shoe, but it really doesn’t have any noticeable features that might fit that description – aside from perhaps a little bit of inner-sole shape under the arch that hardly qualifies as meaningful support.
Plenty of forefoot feel and flexibility
The flexibility in this minimal shoe gives you the first clue that it’s more like a daily trainer than something you’d slip on to race your next 10k road race or half marathon. It makes sense, one of the things Mark Gorski has said to me a few times is this: the Japanese already run in minimal shoes, period. Larger shoes in the Mizuno range are made for the US, Australian and European markets, not the Japanese, who apparently wouldn’t consider pulling on something much more supportive than the Musha or Ronin.
A minimalist or minimal transition daily trainer
The Musha is a daily minimal trainer and if you thought of it as a slightly more structured version of a Nike Free you wouldn’t be too far off the mark. It lacks the spring of a racing flat and is slightly heavier than most performance shoes. Having said that it’s a pretty good shoe, but keep your use of it to easy runs of up to an hour rather than taking them on long runs or using them for short fast repetitions. I have done a small amount of up tempo running in them which leads me to think they’d be ok for the odd tempo run.
Flexible and soft through the forefoot
The cushioning and forefoot sole is very flexible, this is a good thing, but you need to be aware that it is quite soft and thin. It’s perhaps slightly too soft for my taste, but for easy running it has presented me with no unusual problems. The one 80 minute run I did in the Musha was ok, but left my forefeet a little more tender than usual.
Not suitable for trails
Keep your use of the Musha inside city limits, waging war on the trails is just not going to work in the Musha, the cushioning is much too soft to withstand stone penetration and you could be at risk of bruising.
The Mizuno Musha is a different style of shoe than others I’ve run in before and probably one that we’ll see more of in the future. A forefoot or light heel striker could wear the Musha and it would be a reasonable shoe to include in a minimalist running transition plan. For an experienced minimalist runner it could be used as a daily trainer to rotate with Nike Frees for example.
Written by Brian Martin