My name is Nick, I am a Wisconsin dad who loves all things fitness, diving, and food! Persistent Resilience is a log of the fun and craziness that is my life. I am passionate about running, I love to see how far I can push myself, and my favorite runs are off-road. Currently I am trying to add to my ultra-marathon experience. If you have any questions about how/why I run or eat the way that I do please do not hesitate to contact me by leaving a comment, via facebook, or by email at Thanks for Visiting

29 June 2012

Gear Review - Mizuno Wave Ronin 4

Recently I was contacted by the Mizuno rep, Matthew Baum, here in the Chicago region to participate in a new running program they started called the Mezamashii Running Project.  A quick explanation of the project is that Mizuno was looking for a way to test their current shoes, future models, and spread the passion of running.  As a part of the Mezamashii project I was allowed to choose a pair of Mizuno’s to run in.  I chose the Mizuno Wave Ronin 4, what follows is my review of the Ronin 4, as well as the schedule for the Summer Sizzler Mizuno 5K events where you can try current and future models.  The first race is June 28 and there will be 3 more, please see the end of this review for the details!

Mizuno Wave Ronin 4

The Mizuno Wave Ronin 4 is Mizuno's neutral racing flat (they also offer the ultralight 3.9oz Wave Universe 4, but the Ronin is their more versatile neutral flat). The Ronin weighs in at 7.0oz for a men's size 9 and 6.0oz for a women's size 8. It has a stack height of 25/15, giving it a drop of 10mm. Running Warehouse describes the Ronin as such:

The Wave Ronin 4 is a minimum feature, minimum neutral shoe deigned for speedwork or racing. It is built with a semi-curved shape.
  • Mizuno Wave consists of an elastic, thermal plastic wave running from the heel to the midfoot, creating an incredibly springy and well-cushioned ride.
  • AP+ is Mizuno's top of the line full length midsole copolymer material for a lighter, more resilient ride.
  • Smooth Ride is a gender specific network of grooves that minimizes the rapid acceleration and deceleration of the foot to create a smooth heel to toe ride.
  • AIRmesh covers the entire upper and provides breathability to keep the foot cool.
  • Standard Sockliner provides underfoot comfort.
  • Dynamotion Fit creates optimal fit with stretch material in the forefoot and a collar construction that prevents the heel collar from buckling under load.
  • Flex Controllers placed in high flex areas on the outsole act as miniature wave plates for increased flexibility and reduced weight.
  • X10 located in the heel and forefoot is made of durable carbon rubber for enhanced traction.
  • G3 Sole is a lightweight rubber dot pattern in the forefoot for increased grip and flexibility.

The Ronin is a highly responsive shoe with very firm cushioning. The Wave plate is pretty shallow, and seems to do more with aiding the transition onto your toes, if you heel strike, than providing much in the way of cushion. There's not a lot of forgiveness, but I don't expect much forgiveness in a racing flat.  In general, if someone wants a lightweight shoe to race in with some forgiveness, I'd recommend they try a performance trainer. This very minimal firm cushioning makes the Ronin feels fast as there is no extra cushioning to slow you down. You get a fair amount of ground feel if that concerns you.

The ride of the Ronin is super smooth. This holds true whether you're forefoot striking or midfoot striking.  Probably not forgiving enough for a heavy heel striker, but it's a racing flat, so I kind of doubt you're going to be smacking the ground hard if you're running fast enough to warrant a racing flat. The transition is fast and smooth, this means that you probably don't want to just jump into wearing the Ronin unless you want your calves to hurt, or you already run in low drop shoes. Make sure you wear them for some speed work before you decide to race in them. Additionally, they're a very light shoe, which aids in their feeling fast.

The Ronin has a pretty good amount of flexibility to it, as you'd expect from a shoe with a thin midsole, but its forefoot is still stiff enough that it makes for a fast toe-off. That probably sounds like I'm contradicting myself, but it's almost like the shoe flexes, and then quickly snaps back for toe-off, which definitely helps the shoe to feel fast. Interestingly, the most anterior flex groove (which is positioned where your toes flex) is very flexible, but the flex groove further back in the midfoot has Mizuno's Flex Controllers over it, and it doesn't really flex there. Instead, it flexes just behind the Flex Controllers. This characteristic didn't really impact the ride of the shoe at all.  Lateral flexibility is about what I would expect for a racing flat. Surprisingly, the Wave plate is thin enough that it flexes and doesn't make the Ronin a lateral board,

The Ronin has a fairly firm heel counter that provides a small amount of rear foot support. Other than the heel counter, there's not a lot of support to the Ronin. There's a little bit of arch support, but nothing significant at all. The Wave plate provides a little bit of structure, but since it's flexible, you're not getting much there either. However, since it is built off a firm base, it also shouldn't exaggerate any existing over pronation as the Ronin is built off of a semi-curved last. This is definitely a shoe for the neutral, biomechanically efficient runner, though the fact that the last is semi-curved rather than extremely curved may make it appropriate for the very mild over pronator for short races.

The upper of the Ronin is minimal. It breathes well, and the fit is sock-like. The fit through the midfoot is great, and the toe box is average.  As a forefoot/midfoot striker my toes splay out and there were 1 or 2 spots where the tongue rubbed across the tops of my toes. It's very comfortable sockless when walking.  The tongue is a little weird and I have to play around with it to get it centered right, but once I get it adjusted, it's comfortable and padded enough that the laces don't dig into my instep.
Regarding durability the Ronin uses the same hard carbon in the sole that several racing flats use, so I would assume the outsole will last for a while, and there's not much cushioning to compress and degrade. However, they are still a racing flat with a very minimal and light upper, and often times the uppers on my racing flats do not last quite as many miles.

Other things to note: there is a shallow groove in the heel of the sole that rocks, snow and mud will get lodged in, but it's not nearly as deep as the groove on other Mizuno models, and I've only had it happen once or twice.

The Ronin is a solid racing flat that I would not hesitate to wear for any road race distance up to 50K, and even well groomed trail races. It's responsive, smooth, and low-slung, like other racing flats. It's also versatile enough that I've worn it off pavement on well groomed trails. I would recommend it for the neutral, biomechanically efficient runner looking for a fast-feeling racing flat for speed work and longer races, and perhaps even the slightly less efficient runner who wants a short-distance racing flat.  My only complaint with the shoe is that I'm not a fan of the Mizuno horseshoe shaped heel, because I prefer to run off road and it collects debris.  My current shoes of choice are the New Balance 110 (0-50K trail 4mm drop), Montrail Rogue Racer (any distance road or trail 10mm drop), and Hoka One One Stinson B Evo (Trail or Road any distance 4mm drop).

The Mizuno Wave Ronin 4 retails for $104 and is available at Performance Running Outfitters and on Mizuno's Website. I have found that they run true to size, and I received the same size that I wear in Montrail, New balance, and Hoka.

Full disclosure: I received the Ronin free of charge, as part of the Mizuno Mezamashii Running Project in exchange for a review. The opinions expressed in this review are mine and based on my experience, and do not reflect the opinions of Mizuno or anyone else.  They did not request a favorable review nor was one promised.

Stay tuned for more updates regarding this shoe, the Mezamashii Running Project, as well as Summer Sizzler Mizuno 5K run series!

Summer Sizzler Mizuno 5K Series Details:

Thu, June 28, 6:00pm – 7:30pm
Thu, July 26, 6:00pm – 7:30pm
Thu, August 30, 6:00pm – 7:30pm
Thu, September 27, 6:00pm – 7:30pm

Performance Running Outfitters, map)
4401 N Oakland Ave, Shorewood WI 53211

Join Performance Running Outfitters, Mizuno, and Three Lions Pub for our first annual "Summer Sizzler Fun Run Series!" On the last Thursday of each month this summer join us for a 5k fun run through the Shorewood neighborhood. After the run we'll head over to Three Lions Pub for food and beverages. Three Lions Pub will be offering specials on food and beverages that night! Performance Running Outfitters and Mizuno will be offering 10% off specials on all shoes and apparel during Summer Sizzler Fun Run Series nights. On various nights Mizuno will be bringing test shoes to try out during the runs as well! You can also receive: Participants who take part in 2 out of 4 Summer Sizzler Fun Run Series nights will receive a custom Mizuno wicking t-shirt. Run Starts - at 6pm sharp from PRO - Shorewood!
2012 Summer Sizzler Fun Run Series Dates: 6/28, 7/26, 8/30, 9/27 Any questions call 414-332-2786

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