Heel-to-toe drop. Stack height. Footstrike.
What does it all mean?!
This post is sponsored by Mizuno Running and FitFluential. All reviews and opinions are my own.
If you’ve been running for any amount of time, or if you’re a newbie on the running scene, you may hear phrases like “stack height,” “drop,” and “footstrike” thrown around during conversation within your running circles. Yet you may not quite know what they mean.
Let’s start with some definitions.
Heel-to-toe drop refers to how much a shoe literally drops from the heel to the toe. The easiest way to think about this is in terms of a high heel shoe. The heel is much higher than where the toes go, right? Visually, it’s easy to see the drop in height between where the heel is located and where the toes are located. The same principle is applied to running shoes (actually all shoes but is most often discussed within the running community). In traditional running shoes, the heel is higher than the toes. The measurement used is millimeters. There are varying degrees of drop ranging all the way from 12 mm down to 0 mm.
The stack height of a shoe refers to how much material is in the bottom of the shoe. Cushioning is another term that sometimes can refer to stack height. Generally speaking, the more cushioning, the higher the stack. When applied to footwear, racing flats have a minimal stack height. They usually fall in the 9-13 mm range. For long training runs, most people choose a shoe with a higher stack height, generally 14-18 mm but also much higher, oftentimes into the 25 mm+ range. Stack height really varies by preference and terrain.
Footstrike refers to where your foot lands when you run. Most of us mere mortals have a natural tendency to heel strike for easy and long runs. It’s very common, it’s not bad, and no, it won’t cause injury. It could, but there are usually other factors involved, not just footstrike alone. Some people use variables such as drop and stack to help alleviate strike issues if any are present. You can read more about footstrike in this article from Runners Connect.
Now that we’ve got our definitions out of the way, let me tell you about my footwear.
I currently run in four different shoes:
The pair I wear most often is comfortable, very low stack height, and has a 3 mm drop. They’re lightweight and durable. I wear them for most of my easy runs.
I wear a similar pair for speed work at the track. They’re a 4.5 mm drop with very low stack height. They’re responsive and light.
For my long runs I wear yet another pair. They are maximally cushioned, with a 24/28 stack. The drop is 4 mm.
And the third pair I wear are a pair I got on sale for $20. They are zero drop, minimal stack, racing flats. I wear this pair for very short runs — generally when I’m coaching. They’re comfortable but definitely not my favorites.
So that’s my current footwear rotation. (And this is why it’s important to track the mileage on my shoes!)
But I have a secret. I have a stash of old shoes that still have some good wear on them. The ones I don’t have in current rotation but are still very wearable are all much higher in drop — they’re about 12 mm. This isn’t ideal for me for running anymore per my physical therapist, but I love the cushion and I love the fit of the shoe. Whenever I have aches or pains, particularly in my feet or arch, I slip them on and wear them around for a while. If I have a long day on my feet ahead of me, I opt for these shoes since they are cushioned and comfy.
I’ve been waiting for a pair with a slightly lower heel-to-toe-drop to be released so I could add them (or something similar) back into rotation of my training shoes. Well, ask and you shall receive because Mizuno recently released a shoe that I can comfortably wear, run in, and add in with my current rotation. Win!
These Shoes Were Made for Running: Mizuno Wave Sky Review
When I received the #WaveSky, it was like the Mizuno gods were smiling down on me. I’ve never seen a sexier pair of running shoes. They arrived on the very same day I was experiencing some calf pain and as soon as I took them from their unmarked box and slipped them on, it was like a match made in running shoe heaven.
The new Mizuno Wave Sky are highly cushioned but have a lower drop than the models I was used to wearing (Wave Riders). This is ideal for me since I run in lower drop shoes — the switch isn’t quite as drastic back to the higher drop.
For the first couple wears, I wore the Wave Sky around the house and for strength training. It was amazing. Like walking on clouds. But the real magic happened on my 18-mile training run. (Remember, the Run of Death?) I had just run 15 miles of a super challenging run and had three miles left. When I came home to refill my water and change shoes, I slipped on the Wave Sky. It was like putting on a pair of those super cushy gel slippers.
My Wave Sky and I headed out for three miles and my feet and legs felt amazing. The rest of my body hated me, but that’s yesterday’s news.
Mizuno Wave Sky Specs and Technical Details
If you’re a shoe geek like me, you’ll enjoy this part. It’s where I give you all the specs and technical details of the Mizuno Wave Sky. Check it out:
Weight: 11.5 oz.
Sizes: 7-13, 14, 15
Ramp: 10mm <—- this is the drop
Weight: 9.3 oz.
Ramp: 10mm <—- this is the drop
This shoe is really comfortable. It’s intensely soft and it has a super smooth ride. The Wave Sky features a redesigned neutral Wave plate and “optimized cloudwave® technology and the most u4icX foam of any Mizuno shoe.” It’s cushy yet still very responsive. The Wave Sky is truly a treat for your feet.
Mizuno Wave Sky is Officially in the Rotation
I’m happy to say I’ve found a new shoe to add into my rotation. I’ll be using these for my easy runs in addition the pair I already wear. Not only will it keep my feet and legs fresh, but it’ll prolong the life of both these and my current shoes. A win-win in my book!
TALK TO ME!
How many pairs of shoes do you have in rotation at any given time?
Do you wear Mizuno? Which ones?