Shoe Review: Mizuno Wave Rider 20

I’m usually not a new shoe pioneer, but I jumped at the chance to try the Wave Rider 20 and I purchased it the first day it was in stock at my local running store. I was lucky that Hollie was working, so we got to chat a bit about running and life and she helped me choose my shoe color.


I decided to try the Wave Rider 20 because I was coming off two solid weeks of cross-training to rehab a nagging injury in my right leg and I wanted to hit the reset button on my running. The Mizuno Wave Rider is the shoe I started running in 8 years ago. (My first Wave Rider was the 11!) It’s a classic, high-cushioned, neutral shoe. The Wave Rider had always been good to me, but it went through some design hiccups in its 17th-19th editions, when I switched to training primarily in Asics and, occasionally, Hokas. However, the Wave Rider 20 generated a lot of buzz in the running community, promising a return to the classic Wave Rider experience, with a plusher, more forgiving feel.

I was slightly nervous to hop back into my old shoe after two years, but I’m really glad I did. I feel the Wave Rider has the perfect amount of cushion for me (a lightweight, mid-high mileage road runner), and it’s played an integral role in my recovery.

I’ve run about 100 miles in the Wave Rider 20. Here are my initial impressions:


COST: I had been training in the Asics Gel Nimbus, which runs $150 for a brand new pair. The Wave Rider costs only $120. I bought this particular pair for just $98, with the community discount I receive at my local running store + another discount they so generously offered for taking a few extra days to stock the shoe.

FEEL: This is the softest Wave Rider I’ve ever trained in, but it’s still extremely responsive, so you don’t feel like you’re “sinking” into the cushion. The Wave Rider 20 strikes the perfect balance between soft and springy.

WEIGHT: At 8.3 ounces, the Wave Rider 20 is significantly lighter than the Gel Nimbus 18 (9.2 ounces). That might not sound like a huge weight variation, but every ounce really does add up when you run quite a few miles. I haven’t raced in the Wave Rider 20 yet, but I think it will work nicely as a training and a racing shoe.

VENTILATION: Whenever I wear my Asics in the rain, they feel like (sinking) boats after the first puddle I hit. It’s uncomfortable to run when there’s water in your shoes; it’s also not smart, because it can irritate your feet and cause/aggravate injuries. I took the Wave Riders out in the rain yesterday and they really did live up to their name. Puddles are less of an obstacle when you’re wearing a shoe that so easily and quickly drains excess water.


None so far. I’m that happy with this shoe.

Questions for the Internets:

Do you run in Mizunos? If so, which model?

What’s your favorite color running shoe?

What’s the first running shoe you ever tried?








Add yours →

  1. My first “real” running shoe was the Mizuno Wave Inspire. I have had several pairs of Wave Riders though and am glad to read that they are more cushiony and softer now. I’ll admit the reason why I switched was because of those versions you mentioned and how “hard” the shoes were. It took like 50-60 miles to break a pair in! I actually switched brands entirely, not due to injury just because I run on hard surfaces like bridges, connectors, garages, etc. Now that you’ve written this I might have to try them on the next time I go to a running store and need shoes.

    Also, really glad you are running again post-injury! Good to see you back 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • The 17s were the worst. They were SO hard. I only ran 50 miles in them before I decided they didn’t work. I think you will really enjoy the feel of the 20s. They’re perfect. Let me know if you try them out!


  2. I’m happy you could work yourself out of an injury in two weeks. You are definitely tougher and more dedicated than me. Well done. Maybe I should look at your example, and then take care of myself. Anyways, glad you’re running.
    I have had three pair of Wave Rider 18s. I won the first two pair and bought the third. For me, they feel hard too, but I wear them mostly in the dirt or finish them off with cross training or bumming around town. All in different colors with no favorite, except my least favorite was red. They were a close out sale for 54.88, and color doesn’t matter at that price. Plus, covered in the dirt. Now out of the dirt, has been the Cumulus or 33 series for faster stuff. My first shoe was a grey/silver Saucony Shadow, circa 1985. They still sell them as the Shadow original, but 70 bucks for nostalgia isn’t my taste.
    Thank you for the Wave Rider 20 update about softness, I appreciate it. Small question back please. How is the width? I wear the Rider one size up to protect my toes on those long heavy runs, and it is still is snug enough. I can’t get that from my Asics.

    Smiles, Konrad

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for the kind words! I didn’t wear the 18s, but I know a few people who liked and stockpiled that model. I agree that half priced shoes can be any color! I would say that the toe box is wider in the 20s (at least compared to the 11-17s). They are much roomier, but still work for my feet, which are relatively narrow. Hope that helps!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The first shoe I ever ran in wasn’t actually a running shoe lol I showed up to my first cross country practice in 6th grade wearing Skechers but this was before that brand started making running shoes

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love my mizunos! But…I recently switched to Altra and my knees and feet have been so happy! I rotate between my Mizuno prophecy and Altra One

    Liked by 1 person

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