Friday, February 5, 2016

Mizuno Wave Catalyst Review

I typically don't review products on my blog. I don't have relationships with particular brands, and I
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Mizuno Wave Catalyst, released February 2016
am usually not offered free stuff. But when it comes to something I am passionate about, like my beloved but discontinued Mizuno Wave Elixir shoes, I need to speak out. Today I offer a Mizuno Wave Catalyst Review, which is supposed to be a replacement for the Elixir.

About two years ago, Mizuno discontinued the Mizuno Wave Elixir, arguably one of the best running shoes ever created. This shoe had it all. It was supportive enough to run a half marathon in (and some people even ran marathons in them) but also lightweight and fast-feeling. The shoe molded to my foot perfectly and had just enough cushion to be comfortable, while still feeling the ground beneath me.

I wasn't alone in my love for this shoe. It had a cult-like fan base who are all in strong agreement that it was a huge mistake for Mizuno to discontinue the shoe. Online forums and discussion groups exploded with heated comments about the decision. And whenever I wear my Elixirs to a race, other runners tell me how much they loved those shoes, and how disappointed they are that they are no longer available. Whenever I post a photo of myself racing in the Elixirs, people comment asking me where I got them. Fortunately, I stock-piled about 10 pairs of them, so I still have two of them new-in-box, and one of them with about 2/3 life left.

When Mizuno discontinued the Elixir, they came out with the Wave Sayonara. I liked this shoe quite a bit, but the drawback was that it didn't have as much cushion as the Elixir, so I was afraid to wear it in a half marathon, when my feet begin to hurt at mile 10. I added the Wave Sayonara into my rotation, using it for races shorter than a half marathon, and shorter, faster speed workouts. I continued to use my Elixirs for half marathons and longer workouts, like 5-6 mile tempo runs. I should also note that I wear the Nike Lunarglide for long runs and the Mizuno Wave Inspire for easy runs.

Mizuno Wave Catalyst
After two years, Mizuno realized its error, but instead of simply putting the Elixir back on the market, or making the Sayonara more similar to the Elixir, it came out with a new shoe--the Mizuno Wave Catalyst. I pre-ordered my pair on RunningWarehouse and expected it to arrive on Feb. 19.  The shoe unexpectedly arrived early, however, and I received it this week.

My first order of business when I received the Wave Catalyst was to weigh one of the shoes, and compare it to that of the Wave Elixir.

Top Left: Inspire 11, Top Right: Catalyst, Bottom Left: Sayonara 2, Bottom Right, Elixir 8. All shoes size 6.5
A few things to note about my shoe-buying habits. For some reason, I only get about 180-200 miles out of my shoes. After that, my legs begin to ache and I feel a distinct lack of support. So to save money, I always buy the previous year's shoe model on sale. I've gotten year-old Inspire models for as low as $45!  In the photo above, the Mizuno Inspire is last year's model, as is the Mizuno Sayonara. I have not yet tried this year's models and I will not try them until they go on sale! I will be basing my review and comparisons off of these models.

Before I even put the Catalysts on my feet, I made some observations based on their weight, and what I know about their specs from RunningWarehouse. My first question is, why does Mizuno have three
Mizuno Wave Catalyst, fresh out of the box
pairs of shoes that are so similar in terms of weight, stack height, and support? Apparently, the new model of the Sayonara, Inspire, and Catalyst all weigh almost the exact same amount! The only real difference is the amount of stability, but even the Sayonara, which is supposedly neutral, has enough stability for me.

I think the biggest disappointment, though, is that the Wave Catalyst is 1.3 grams (about half an ounce) heavier than the Elixir. And RunningWarehouse rates it as a shoe for "standard" running-- not for "performance" like the Elixir was. And the Sayonara 3 (not pictured here) supposedly weighs more than the 2. Meanwhile, the Inspire keeps getting lighter. In other words, they are making their lightweight performance shoes heavier, and their supportive everyday shoes lighter. That makes no sense to me.

Test Run
I figured I would try out the Wave Catalysts on an easy 60-minute run. I didn't want to experiment with a new shoe during a workout, for fear that they wouldn't support me properly.

When I first put the shoes on and walked around I was optimistic. They felt comfortable and they fit pretty well (as all Mizuno shoes tend to do with my narrow feet). The first two miles of the run were promising. The shoes seemed to have more bounce/spring than the Sayonara and the Elixir, and they felt more cushioned as well. In fact, they seemed most similar to the Inspire.

But as I got further into the run, I determined I didn't like the shoes as much. They actually started to feel more like the Elixir in that I could feel the ground beneath my feet a bit more. But the downside was that my feet started to hurt a little, and the shoes became uncomfortable. I felt like my left big toe was hitting the top of the shoe (and I've been wearing 6.5 in Mizuno for years without that problem) and on the right, the shoe seemed to get tighter around the forefoot, and the ball of my foot began to hurt. Sometimes these issues resolve themselves once the shoe is more broken in, but I never had to break-in the Elixir.

The Verdict
By the time I hit mile 6, I was ready to take the shoes off. They didn't feel as good as the Elixir, and they certainly weren't as fast/light as the Sayonara 2. And they weren't as supportive as the Inspire. My overall impression: mediocre. I think Mizuno is trying to "please everyone" with this shoe, and they make a ton of compromises to do so. It's basically a slightly less supportive version of the Wave Inspire, potentially for people who love the Inspire but are ready to "graduate" to a little less support, and a slightly smaller heel-toe offset.

I will note, however, that my average pace for this 60-minute run was 8:46 (6.8 miles total). Typically, I run my easy runs at a pace of 8:55-9:10, and I wasn't trying to run any faster today. So maybe the shoes were "faster" or maybe it was just a coincidence.

I think I am going to return the shoe to RunningWarehouse for store credit. Initially, I was going to trade it in for the Sayonara 3 to see how that felt, but apparently that shoe weighs even MORE than the Catalyst, so why would I do that? I have enough Elixirs to last me another year, and I'm going to start stockpiling the Sayonara 2 as well. Once those run out, maybe Mizuno will have released a version of the Catalyst that's lighter, that fits better, and is a true Elixir replacement.

Mizuno- PLEASE stop messing with your customers' favorite shoes!

Mizuno Wave Elixir- Bring back these shoes, please!

I hope you enjoyed this Mizuno Wave Catalyst review, and I welcome your comments and experiences.


  1. Great review, Elizabeth! I used to wear Mizunos, but they changed the one I liked and I started getting shin splints, so I switched to Nikes and am now wearing Hoka One Ones for long runs. I may try the Catalyst to see how it works for me.

    1. I forgot to add my name. It's me, George. :)

    2. Hi George! The Catalyst is not a "bad" shoe- it's just not a good Elixir replacement. It's a nice shoe to graduate from the Inspire in!

  2. Wow! Definitely not a great experience! I will keep an open mind and will try the Catalyst when it goes on sale here, but if my experience is similar to yours, that does not bode well for Mizuno. Says someone who ran marathons in Elixirs from the original to 8. Never really liked the Sayonara.

    1. To add, my biggest problem with the Sayonara is not the lack of cushion - It's the lack of support. I can use them for faster shorter runs and races up to 10K, but I would not try long runs or races in them.

  3. I used to run in the Elixir. I had 3 pairs. I still have them and use them for casual walking around or trips to the gym to lift (even though they are not low drop, they are a good shoe for lifting for me, weird). I miss the Elixir and the Precision and agree with you on Mizuno as a whole- they are creating too many shoes that are so much alike and they are changing up their existing models to do this. I liked the Wave Rider, but the newer edition is heavier than usual. The new Sayonara is also heavier. The whole reason I liked Mizuno was because they were lighter weight. I ran 3 half marathons in the Elixirs and numerous short races.

    I ended up switching brands entirely. I didn't really need the stability so much, so I went with the Brooks Launch and the New Balance Fresh Foam Zante. New Balance has a version of the Zante/Vazee with stability features now and it seems like it would be a good replacement for the Elixirs.

  4. Also, for what it's worth on mileage, I have over 400 miles on my first pair of New Balance Fresh Foam Zante's and I'm still running in them. My last Mizuno Hitogami's lasted about 250. The quality of their shoes has diminished in the past few years...

  5. I am surprised the Sayonara is the replacement for the Elixir. I loved the Elixir but did not care for the Sayonara. For some reason they felt heavy. Right now I run in the Brooks Launch 2 and am loving them. However, 12 miles on the treadmill yesterday hurt my feet a little yesterday. But they will have to do because I have 2 more pairs to go through. :-)

  6. I am completely with you! The first time I ran in the Elixir, I was hooked. I went through about 4 pairs to train for and run my first marathon, plus several half-marathons, over the next 2 years. There was no shoe like them for the long run and the marathon. Unfortunately, I have no Elixirs left, and have been trying anything from the Hoka Clifton to the Asics Trainer to the Mizuno Inspire and Rider. Nothing is the perfect combo of lightweight and supportive like the Elixir. I'll be trying the Sayonara 2 or 3, and/or the Catalyst next.
    Another thing about the Elixir: they LASTED! 400+ miles. My God... they were just the best shoe ever(I'm still bitter, LOL).

  7. Thanks for the review, I am also an Elixir diehard! Recently, I hit the jackpot on Ebay and bought 4 pairs of Elixir's for $50 a piece! I have yet to try the Catalyst but definitely will. I bought a pair of Adidas Tempo Boost and really like them so far, it may become my go to shoe.

  8. I miss the Elixir (I had the 6 and 8) before they were discontinued. Nowadays I run in Hitogami and Kinvara but none is as good as the Elixirs 😕

  9. I am jealous of your Elixir stockpile. I bought two pairs two years ago for like $80 each and that was all I could convince myself to spend. I should have just bought like 5. Sigh.

    The Sayonara 1 and 2 have a different fit than the Elixir so I have never liked them as much. The Elixir has good amount of volume in the forefoot (wiggle room!), slightly upturned toe (I feel like it rolls better at toe off), and enough stability for almost any distance. I have run lots of full marathons with them.

    They need to bring them back like then Brooks brought back the Launch (another shoe I like, though it doesn't as long as Mizunos). Maybe we need to start a petition to Mizuno and a social media campaign like people did with the Launch.