I Tried Mizuno’s $300 ‘Bubblegum’ Running Shoes — Are They Worth the Money?

Last month, while scrolling through Instagram Stories, I spotted a shoe shared on a runner friend’s account that caught me off guard. I didn’t know if I loved or hated it, but it certainly was intriguing.

The look was The Mizuno Energy, an aesthetically bold running shoe sporting an electric red hue on its midsole and outsole, which is paired with a black upper.

I sent a link from Mizuno’s website to a friend to get his opinion and he said the cushioning looked like clouds. On social media, the comments were a lot more colorful. Some users likened the look to bubblegum, while others offered graphic commentary that isn’t safe for work.

Once I had the sneakers in hand, they confused me even more. They weren’t the lightest running shoe I’ve worn, and the uppers, although secure and breathable, didn’t seem too distinct from others on the market. So I still had questions surrounding their appeal.

As I do with several shoes, I decided to test them out on a local high school track. It’s roughly two miles from my apartment, so I decided to lace them up and walk rather than drive. During that walk I realized the story of The Mizuno Enerzy.

It isn’t aesthetics. It’s the underfoot feel.

The Mizuno Enerzy
The Mizuno Enerzy on foot.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Peter Verry
The Mizuno Enerzy
A closeup of the cushioning of The Mizuno Enerzy.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Peter Verry

To Buy: The Mizuno Enerzy, $300 (Mizunousa.com) 

The Mizuno Enerzy is equipped with a proprietary cushioning compound of the same name. Mizuno has stated it features a 15% increase in rebound and 17% bump in softness compared to conventional materials. I’d say those numbers are conservative.

After breaking a toe in March, my feet hurt significantly more now than they ever have after long runs — something I attributed to a long period of inactivity. However, after months of foot pain, I felt none post run in The Mizuno Enerzy.

Also, there was more bounce with each step than I have ever experienced with a running shoe. I physically felt propelled forward every time I planted my foot and pushed off — not in an awkward way, but in a way that made me feel like I wouldn’t gas out and could run for a longer stretch.

Even with the feel, The Mizuno Enerzy is a tough sell. The shoe is aggressive aesthetically, to say the least, and it has a $300 price point, which most people aren’t willing to spend on a pair of sneakers. Also, it is limited edition so you may not even be able to secure your size.

However, if the look is too bold for you and the $300 price tag is too steep, you can still own a pair of shoes featuring the Mizuno Enerzy cushioning tech.

In July, the brand added a new model to its acclaimed Wave Rider franchise, the Wave Rider 24, which is available with two uppers. One version comes with a new lightweight engineered mesh with horizontal laser perforations and the other employs proprietary Waveknit construction meant to provide comfort, breathability and support.

Both iterations of the Mizuno Wave Rider 24 are available for men and women, as well as wide widths, for $130.

Mizuno Wave Rider 24
Mizuno Wave Rider 24 with Waveknit uppers.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Mizuno

To Buy: Mizuno Wave Rider 24 for Men (engineered mesh upper), $130
To Buy: Mizuno Wave Rider 24 for Women (engineered mesh upper), $130
To Buy: Mizuno Wave Rider 24 for Men (Waveknit upper), $130
To Buy: Mizuno Wave Rider 24 for Women (Waveknit upper), $130

And at the start of August, Mizuno revealed the Wave Sky 4 Waveknit, the second performance running sneaker to utilize the Mizuno Enerzy rebound and softness-focused midsole material. Aside from Mizuno Enerzy, the Wave Sky 4 Waveknit — which is available now and retails for $160 — is equipped with an updated lacing system aimed at providing a comfortable and consistent fit, the brand’s Waveknit upper construction designed to offer a secure yet flexible for natural foot movement and 3-D RunBird branding to give the shoe a sleeker design. 

Mizuno Wave Sky 4 Waveknit
Mizuno Wave Sky 4 Waveknit.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Mizuno

To Buy: Mizuno Wave Sky 4 Waveknit, $160 (Men’s)
To Buy: Mizuno Wave Sky 4 Waveknit (Wide), $160 (Men’s)

To Buy: Mizuno Wave Sky 4 Waveknit, $160 (Women’s)
To Buy: Mizuno Wave Sky 4 Waveknit (Wide), $160 (Women’s)

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