I first came across the Mizuno Wave Ronin thanks to Toby Lambert at Alton Sports. After talking to a few runners about what they thought made for a good racing flat, I got so confused that in the end I emailed Toby, told him about me and my running, gave him my credit card details and asked him to suggest and send me a pair of racing flats.
My first Mizuno Wave Ronin
What arrived was a pair of Mizuno Wave Ronin 3s. They were impressive out of the box, not least because they were jet black and I had never had a pair of black running shoes before. They looked stealthy and certainly drew a few comments and enquiries from other runners. They also felt amazing on my feet and have come to be one of my favourite pairs of shoes for races up to half marathon distance and for threshold and tempo sessions. I even raced a track 3000m in them once!
The other thing about the Wave Ronin 3 that came as a bit of a pleasant surprise, was their durability. Despite feeling like a real racing flat with an upper as aerated as Ron Hill’s famous string vest and an out sole that has sections of little dots that I always think wear away pretty fast, my good old Ronin 3s are still going, although I must admit that I now tend to just use them on the track.
So I was rather pleased when the lovely people at Mizuno offered to send me a new pair of Ronins. And rather surprised when I discovered that whilst enjoying my light, black, resilient 3s, I had skipped a generation and a pair of the Mizuno Wave Ronin 5s – in a bright electric blue with yellow accents and laces – landed on the doorstep. I just can’t help but wonder what the Ronin 4s were like…
Straight outta the box
The first thing about the Wave Ronin 5s is a familiar lightness. It is almost hard to work out how Mizuno manage to pack so much in to a shoe that weights so little: there is a proper grippy looking out sole, there is a decent looking heel to offer some cushioning, then there is the wave plate. On top there is a really nicely cushioned tongue and collar. And a solid feeling heel counter.
And yet the shoe feels like it is made out of helium. That must be in part due to the very open-meshed upper material that you can completely see your socks through. But then in my opinion, having a really open upper is a great thing: I can’t remember the last time my feet got too cold when I was out running in normal weather conditions and if it is freezing cold I tend to be wearing more substantial shoes anyway (but maybe that is just me)!
How do they feel? And perform?
On the feet, like all the Mizuno shoes I have run in, the last is not too ‘racey’ and curved, so my feet feel really comfortable. The midfoot lacing means that you can find a really good level of snugness and yet there is a nice wide toe-box that perfectly accommodates my ample feet (do my feet look big in these…?) The lacing is also slightly asymmetrical, which is a development from the Ronin 3s, and mean that the upper of the shoe conforms to the shape of my foot really nicely.
Under the foot, the sole is nicely wide and feels really stable. The heel and midfoot also incorporates the plastic ‘wave’ that gives the shoe part of it’s name (the word Ronin refers to a samurai with no lord or master during the feudal period (1185–1868) of Japan and literally means ‘wave man’) and the design of the wave is intended to give the shoe high levels of responsiveness through the gait. There are also a couple of ‘bridges’ linking decoupled sections of the EVA in the mid-sole which also seem to be there to create spring during the toe-off.
When running in the Ronin 5s, I have been really impressed with the level of grip. The tiny dots of black material seem to ensure that no matter what is under foot there is as much as possible in contact, giving a really secure feel. Since I have been trying the shoes I have not actually managed to run in the rain in them – that has to be a record in the UK, because I have had them for at least a month! – but I will update this review when I have tried them in the wet. From what I can feel so far though, I think they will cope with typical English weather admirably.
Black or blue, the Wave Ronin still impresses
So there you have it. I have long been a fan of Mizuno shoes and the Wave Ronin 5 does not disappoint. I think that if you are looking for a racing and ‘fast-paced training’ shoe that is not of the minimalist variety – something that will feel appropriately light and fast for a track 3000m as well as offering cushioning sufficient for a half marathon or even a marathon if you are light enough – then the Ronin 5 is a good choice. And if anyone tried the Wave Ronin 4, please let me know what I missed out on!