Almost all of my running shoes fall into one of two categories: shoes for speed and shoes for distance. It’s not every day that I run in a shoe that matches my two fast speeds and slow requests. But then I was asked to try the Mizuno Wave Sky 4 Waveknit shoes and I want to tell you that these kicks are really suitable nearly any kind of run.
The Mizuno Wave Sky 4 Waveknit design looks pretty much identical to the Mizuno Wave Inspire 16 Waveknit, which I also rated for the 2020 SELF Certified Sneaker Awards. If you put the two next to each other, you won’t be able to tell the difference immediately. Although they look similar, the two differ in that the Wave Sky 4 contains Mizunos XPOP PU foam and Mizuno Enerzy, which gives this iteration a more cushioned feel than the Wave Inspire 1
How I tested
Just like my other Sneaker Awards reviews, I’ve built a mix of speed drills (one to two miles) and medium distance runs (three to four miles) into these Mizunos. Again, I usually categorize shoes into two areas (speed or long distance), so I wanted to use my runs to determine which category these Mizunos would best fit into. Unfortunately for my Type A personality, I couldn’t put these shoes in just one category – because they honestly work for both scenarios!
My test routine followed the criteria recommended by our experts. Read more about their criteria here and read my thoughts on how the Mizuno Wave Sky 4 performed for each of the following criteria.
Fit and shape of the shoe
These Mizunos are closely related to the Mizuno Wave Inspire 16 Waveknit in both areas.
It’s a flat shoe with decent slack for your toes. The sides of the shoe basically hug your feet so they feel secure without feeling tight. These shoes have a traditional lace-up style with a tongue that is easily adjustable so you can really find a tight, custom fit. The ankle collar is lightly padded. So, if you’re looking for a more minimalist feel, these may not be for you. There’s also a pretty average drop, which means the profile of the shoe isn’t too bulky and doesn’t add inches to your overall height. (The drop of a running shoe refers to the difference in height between the heel and the tip of the shoe. The drop of this Mizuno shoe is 10 millimeters.)
Other than these points, both the fit and shape of this shoe are pretty straightforward. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – it just looks and fits just like … most other running shoes.
Feeling of the shoe
In Feel I will go into the main differences between Sky 4 and Inspire 16: the XPOP PU foam and Mizuno Enerzy. The addition of the additional cushion becomes very pronounced, especially during the quick drilling. Rather than feeling like my feet and shoes joining forces to hit the sidewalk, these Mizunos felt more like my feet and shoes as bodyguards against impact – which my body valued the days after my harder runs ! Because my legs weren’t exerting as much energy, I could push myself more than if there was less cushioning.