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Mizuno Enigma 5 Running Shoe Review

Marketing done right can elevate the human spirit. It can give us new mantras like “Just do it.” or Adidas’ “Impossible is nothing.” or how about Under Armour’s “Protect this house” and “Erase all Doubt.” All the slogans have made their way into our collective conscience. The dark side of marketing is when the marketing promise disconnects with the experience, the result is a disappointment. 

Marketing for the original New Balance Fresh Foam ads promised a cloud soft ride while the shoe delivered a stiff brick-like performance. I think it felt more brick-like than it was simply because I was expecting foamy clouds from the advertisements.

Mizuno sent out packages in advance of the new Enigma 5, a box of feathers and a pillow with a note, “soft as a pillow, light as a feather.”

The Good

Meaghan:  The Mizuno Enigma 5 is a neutral trainer, but also the “max cushion” shoe from their lineup. The upper construction is soft. The tongue and collar have lots of cushioning and the semi-flat lacing system does a nice job of securing down the foot. They’re softer than other Mizuno shoes, which I would attach to the extra cushioning. Mind you, this is still a Mizuno shoe, so soft is relative. You’re still getting a firm ride; the Enigma 5 incorporates the plastic wave plate throughout the entire shoe. Mizuno introduced a foam cushioning in the midsole unit called U4ic-X. It covers the bottom half of the Enigma 5’s midsole in both the heel and forefoot. This is apparently more responsive and softer than previous editions of the Enigma (I haven’t tried other models). The shoes offer a good deal of support for a neutral trainer. The outsole is covered in a carbon rubber which has held up well. I never had any issues with hot spots or chafing.

Thomas: The upper fits well and the materials used will hold up as you put in your training runs. I would like this upper on a different midsole. There are ample amounts of Mizuno’s X10 rubber on the outsole that will give you many miles of durability and grip. The cushioning is noticeable in the mid-foot and under the toes.

The Bad

Meaghan: The word “Enigma” is defined as “something mysterious” or “puzzling.” That is kind of how I feel about this shoe (and the marketing). Two words I would not associate with the Enigma 5 are light and soft, so you can understand my disappointment when they arrived shortly after a box of feathers and a pillow. My W7.5 weighed in at 9.05 oz, not the lightest shoe on the shelf. While the upper provides a soft and structured fit, the landing felt hard. I know the wave plate technology is meant for shock absorption, but every stride felt like I was slapping the pavement. In my opinion, the wave plate technology + extra padding and cushioning creates an unfortunate, clunky ride.

Thomas: The shoe is not light as a feather, at least 12 oz. for a size 10.5 doesn’t feel as light as a feather when you compare the ultra cushion of the Hoka Clifton 2 at 8.45 oz. or even the beefier weight of the Skechers GOrun Ultra Road with loads of good cushion, at 11.6 oz. The wave plate makes the shoe rigid. I found when my foot landed the Enigma was jarring. The full-length plate forced the stride to slap down. I land on the outside of my foot, so the stiffness of the shoe would cause my foot pancake on landing. I would like to try Mizunos with and without wave plate technology and see which I would prefer. For those of you that don’t know what the “wave plate” in Mizuno’s shoes are, it is a piece of plastic, in this case, it runs from heel to toe. The shoe does have some supple cushioning, however, the wave plate and the full coverage of the X10 rubber outsole does a good job of masking it.


Thomas: I am at a loss here. The marketing was perhaps conceived by a team that doesn’t really know running shoes or decided not to compare the shoes to any other models on the market. “Light as a feather”, Nope, heavy as a Coke can. A full 12 oz. for my size 10.5. “Soft as a pillow,” uh, no. Not unless you sleep with a plastic plate in your pillow. Would I have liked the shoe without the lofty marketing promises? Hard to say. It is too heavy for picking up the pace on long miles where I need some cushion, and it isn’t soft enough to make up for the weight. There is no mystery to the Enigma, it is heavy and inflexible. I like the Mizuno Hitogami and the Sayonara quite a bit. I just think the Enigma 5 is a miss.

Meaghan: The Mizuno Enigma 5 is a durable, high-mileage trainer. However, this is not a shoe that I find myself picking up time & time again. To be completely honest, I think my expectations of this shoe were thrown off from the marketing efforts. Who will this shoe work for? If you run in Mizuno’s and love the wave plate technology, I think you’ll enjoy the added comfort of this shoe. Or, if you’re a heavier runner looking for extra support, this could be a good option.



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