Mizuno Wave Ascend 8 Trail Running Shoe Review
My Muddy Mizuno Wave Ascend 8 Running Shoes
What's Your Running Focus?
What surfaces do you usually run on?
The Search for a Great Set of Trail Running Shoes
Heading cross country provides significantly different demands on both the body and a running shoe. Many road-specific running shoes simply want to slide out from under you on the first patch of glutinous mud that you hit and will leave you wanting for more traction as you try to push yourself up a steep, loose scree slope.
Trail running shoes aim offer a balance for a runner between the stability and cushioning of a road running shoe (Unless you're looking at the latest "minimalist" designs) whilst offering levels of grip in abundance to tackle a gloopy peat bog or rocky track. If you're lucky a trail running shoe will also have the flexibility to cope with those couple of miles running to get to the trails too and that's where this review of the Mizuno Wave Ascend 8 will help you understand more about the shoe.
Why I Bought the Wave Ascend 8
Living next to Sherwood Forest (You can see the entrance literally meters from my kitchen window) means I have a natural playground for running and cycling on my doorstep. I'm also not someone to stick to running on the main, wide paths which a regular road running shoe can handle without issues. I like to challenge myself and have some excellent runs on trails involving an old sand quarry, lots of rugged single-track with plenty of loitering tree roots and the Great British Mud that goes so well with our climate.
Our newest running shop is The Nottingham Runner so I had to check it out with the view of picking up a new pair of trail running shoes that could tackle the local trails during my winter training and hopefully be a good option for a few races if I chose too.
The people at The Nottingham Runner were great and brought out pretty much every trail shoe they had in my size from like likes of Brooks, Inov-8, Salomon, and Saucony. I eventually narrowed my options down to being between the Mizuno Wave Ascend and a pair of Inov-8 Trailroc 246's based on fit and feel of the shoes. I eventually opted for the Wave Ascend as I felt that it offered a better level of cushioning which would help to protect my joints over the course of long runs over the winter while I'm cross-training for cycling as well as feeling a fast shoe with a tread pattern that told me I shouldn't be lacking for grip on the trails.
The Aggressive Mizuno Wave Ascend 8 Tread Pattern
"X Lugs" for Aggressive Foot Drive and Trail Control
The Wave Ascend 8 features a very interesting set of "X" Lugs. Whereas many trail shoes feature V-shaped lugs the X lugs allow both grips to drive you forwards when the ground gets soft or loose and the ability to dig into the trail when you're desperately in need of some control. I definitely like this aspect of the tread and it provides that much-needed bite into the ground that seems to be lacking in some trail shoes. It almost feels like a less aggressive version of a full-on fell running shoe with the additional protection a trail running shoe provides.
The Forefoot On The Wave Ascend 8
Excellent Grip on the Trail, in the Mud, and Even on the Road to the Mud
Not everyone has the luxury of having the countryside on their doorstep. And whilst some city-based runners have to get in the car and drive to where they wish to start a trail run, others have a short 'commute' to get to the trails. I've found that the Wave Ascend 8 works well on those short commutes and connecting sections between sets of woodland which I do on a regular basis.
There is a small amount of squirm from the cross-country specific sections of the tread but it's not overly pronounced and as a result I would happily do a full run on the pavement in these shoes in the case of an emergency but I know that if I did that too often the relatively soft lugs would start to vanish. A few road runs haven't made an indent into the tread depth so far but I'm not really going to take too many chances.
The awesome "X lugs" pictured below are great for really driving through each leg cycle and help you maximise your power output for each leg cycle in soft and sandy conditions. As a forefoot striker, they're also confidence inspiring as the reverse side of the X helps you stabilise on loose downhills and when you need to come to a stop suddenly.
The only times I've struggled for grip is when it's insanely muddy underfoot and for extended periods of time but these are not designed to be a fell running type shoe. The tread does give a generous level of grip in the mud as I've found in a few late summer obstacle races and running across the local slack heaps after lots of wet weather. I'd happily trust the tread in a mixed conditions race but for pure fun in the mud, I'd ideally want to wear something like a pair of Inov-8 MudClaw's or Salomon Speedcross shoes.
Testing Trail Conditions For The Mizuno Wave Ascend 8
Breathable Uppers and Solid Grip at the Ankles
Whilst the Wave Ascend 8's sole appears bulky and aggressive: The upper is much more minimal and streamlined. The ultra-breathable mesh offers excellent summer capabilities for this shoe although does mean that plenty of water can get into the shoe on a cold winters run but that's true of anything but the few trail running shoes out there with a Gore-tex waterproof membrane.
The "X" theme and it's functionality is extended to the uppers with the red plasticised cross which feeds into the toe-box section of the shoe to provide some additional stability across the very flexible upper. The toe section features a good, solid toe protector toe so you shouldn't have too many worries over stubbing your toes on an errant tree root or rock.
I love the relatively high ankle section of the shoe. It's well padded and holds my feet in place snug and secure. I'm not worried when I hit a muddy bog during an obstacle race that it could leave without my shoes on my feet.
Strengths and Weaknesses of the Wave Ascend 8
Great aggressive tread for soft ground
Not a winter shoe
Fantastic breathable uppers
Marmite colour scheme
Awesome mixed terrain shoe
Not as effective in the mud as a fell shoe
Good ankle grip
Fast yet supportive
What Do You Think of the Wave Ascend 8?
Have you tried this shoe yet? What do you think of their trail running abilities?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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© 2013 Liam Hallam