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Saucony Endorphin Shift Multiple Tester Review


The Endorphin series from Saucony is a trio of road shoes meant to support runners for whatever training they might need. Our review of the carbon fiber plated, PWRN PB midsoled racing shoe, the Endorphin Pro is also up (REVIEW). The Saucony Endorphin Shift is the maximalist training shoe of the trio (with the Speed as the workout shoe). Although similar looking, the Shift does not feature a plate but does have a PWRN TPU/EVA blended midsole, a Speed Roll design for efficiency, a great deal more sole and a very comfortable, breathable, and luxurious upper. Although the focus has been on the Endorphin Pro, the Shift is a fantastic maximalist training shoe that can handle long miles and fast paces alike.


Specifications (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 10.1 oz
Stack Height: 38 mm / 34 mm
Drop: 4mm
Classification: Structured Cushion Trainer
Release date: 07/01/2020


HIGHLIGHTS


Matt: The maximalist trainer of the Endorphin line, the Saucony Endorphin Shift can handle your long, uptempo and average pace road miles with ease. With a very cushioned and thick sole featuring a PWRN TPU/EVA blend, Speed Roll design for a smooth ride, a luxurious upper with a great fit and surprisingly durable outsole, the Shift manages to combine comfort up top with speed below. If you like maximalist/cushioned shoes but want something a little faster, the Endorphin Shift should be on your try list.

Nathan: The Endorphin Shift is a beautifully designed maximalist shoe that glides through long runs and some uptempo paces alike. A smart design that integrates subtle stability to a neutral shoe, this is a maximalist trainer for the masses. Couple the versatile training with a comfortable and well-fitting upper, and you have yourself the Endorphin Shift.

 

FIT


Matt: The Saucony Endorphin Pro features a full length engineered mesh that is breathable, comfortable and adaptable. The fit is true to size, with my normal size 10 (men's) fitting perfectly. Light overlays are strategically placed to provide structure to the upper while allowing flexibility in the right places. The fit is mostly traditional Saucony, however the toebox is less tapered. The first toe has plenty of space and I experienced only a little pressure on my 5th toe during the first mile. This provides for a little wider toebox than expected. The midfoot is normal width and the tongue is connected to the upper to prevent slippage. The mesh in the midfoot and forefoot is secure yet flexible, allowing for an upper that disappears off the foot when you start running. The overlays in the midfoot remind me of an external flywire and does a great job of locking down the midfoot without being too stiff or structured. The heel features an external plastic heel counter that provides structure while a very cushioned heel collar provides a more secure and comfortable fit. The plastic heel counter is more flexible than most and my sensitive heels had no issues with it. The heel is more secure than the Endorphin Pro and fits more normal width for a trainer. I still lace locked the heel, but did not experience any slippage.

Nathan: Of all three of the Endorphin line, the shift was the most comfortable fit throughout. The engineered mesh upper is adaptable and has a high enough volume to accommodate many foot types. The midfoot is also of typical width, and the heel has an external heel counter that extends inferiorly on the medial side (more on this later). The attached tongue and overlays help the foot stay secure in the shoe. You'll notice a high tongue and slightly high heel, but these are very well cushioned and I never once felt them on any of my runs. An ample toe box without much of a taper finishes it off. This is a great fitting shoe and is true to size.



RIDE


Matt: As with the rest of the Endorphin line, the ride is exceptionally smooth from the midfoot forward. The Speed Roll technology provides a great roll forward, but is not as aggressively rockered as other maximalist shoes. The ride feels very consistent from heel to toe thanks to continuous use of the PWRUN TPU/EVA blend. The foam is slightly firmer, stable and responsive when the pace starts to pick up. The heel is a bit clunky at first despite there being a heel heel bevel and I suspect this is due to the small size of the bevel given the maximalist design as well as the small posterior flare. However, this disappears once the pace picks up. The Speed Roll creates a very smooth toe off that feels better the faster you go. It works well enough that I had no problem transitioning into the 4mm heel drop, which I almost did not notice. Like many of those who transition into maximalist shoes, the toe spring (Speed Roll), does a great job of unloading the achilles/calf, so many will be able to transition from higher drop shoes without issue.

Nathan: I thought that Saucony made an interesting choice in having the Shift be a 4mm drop while the Speed/Pro are both 8mm drops. However, as someone who has a preference towards 8-12mm drops typically, this shoe did not feel as low as the 4mm drop. This is likely due to the combination of the high stack height with the Speed Roll design. For a heel striker like myself, there is plenty of cushion in the back while the Speed Roll works throughout the entire stance time to produce a smooth transition. Typically I develop calf and posterior tibialis soreness with lower drop shoes, but this did not happen once in the Shift (again thanks to the Speed Roll design). The PWRUN midsole is no where as springy as the PWRUN PB used in the Speed or Pro, and has a slightly firmer feel that gives back some responsiveness as you pick up the pace. This foam feels much more stable than the PWRUN PB and is still has a cushioned feel to it. My longest run in these was 15 miles, and the ride was smooth the entire way. As you can expect with a stack height of this nature, you won't be feeling the ground in these bad boys, but they give a smooth, floating ride without being overly plush.


 

STABILITY


Matt: The Saucony Endorphin Shift is classified as a neutral trainer, however there are several elements that make this a very stable shoe. The heel counter wraps not only around both sides of the heel, but also extends down underneath the foot. This is evident and provides what feels like some gentle resistance to rearfoot eversion. This is very mild and is not obtrusive thanks to the very cushioned heel collar. The sole shape (last) is also on the wider side, particularly in the midfoot. Featuring one of the few uptempo shoes without a narrow midfoot, the last is very straight and consistent in width across the length of the shoe. Additionally, there appears to be a combination of medial sole flare and a mild green pseudo-post (an bit of eva in the heel to midfoot on the medial side), which combined with the heel counter provides a very stable rearfoot. The shoe is not officially a stability shoe, although the green bit of EVA foam on the medial side is firmer than the rest of the TPU/EVA blend. The overall shape of the sole is wider without being clunky like most maximalist shoes. The Speed Roll technology also helps keep movement in the forefoot direction. Overall this is a very stable shoe without any traditional methods like posting. Those with neutral to mild stability needs will feel very comfortable in this shoe over long miles.

Nathan: I mentioned this above, but this neutral trainer has some beautifully integrated stability that makes it a very stable shoe for daily miles and long miles. The photo just above this section shows a downward continuation of the external heel counter into the medial side of the stack, and there is a slight build up of the outsole rubber near the junction of the rearfoot and midfoot. These additions do not seem to "force" the foot into or out of any particular motion, but they will, in the long run as foam changes occur, prevent breakdown of the foam in areas that typically take more of a beating, especially when a person fatigues and is placing more force on the inside of the foot. This also has a slightly wider base, which helps offset some of the inherent stability of a high stack height.


SPEED


Matt: The Endorphin Shift, although a 10.4 oz trainer, works best when going at uptempo paces. The weight does not hold the shoe back and every time I wear the Shift, my pace picks up. This trainer is versatile enough to handle workouts. The PWRUN TPU/EVA blend responds very well to pace changes and has been my go to shoe for hill repeats, uptempo long runs and impromptu fartlek workouts. Even during strides, the combination of the foam and Speed Roll help the Shift transition like a far lighter shoe. That being said, the Shift seems to be a bit more problematic for me at slower paces. Until the pace picks up, the Shift can feel a little clunky but as soon as you hit your stride, it smooths out. This may be due to the small heel bevel, which may need to be a increased given the sole thickness and lack of flexibility.

Nathan: Unlike Matt's experience, my favorite runs in this shoe were at casual paces for my long and recovery runs. I didn't feel the cluckiness that he experienced at slower paces. However, that isn't to say that this shoe couldn't handle pace though. As I brought this shoe through my testing protocol, it had no problem on my tempo days. However, it wouldn't be the first shoe I grab for a workout or tempo run. If you are someone who needs one shoe to do a lot, this is a great option given its performance at different speeds. However, if you have a shoe rotation for different kinds of runs, I would recommend this shoe for daily miles, long runs, and some slight uptempo work.

DURABILITY


Matt: I was expecting to chew through the outsole, but despite the hard miles on the Saucony Endorphin Shift, I have barely made a dent. There is some very mild wear at the left posterior-lateral heel, which is normal for me. However, seeing this little at over 70 miles is not normal. There does not appear to be any extra special rubber out the outsole, yet it is holding up very well. The PWRUN TPU/EVA blend has remained consistent and bouncy throughout my use of the shoe. Although the ride has broken in a bit, it is just as bouncy and fast as they were during my first run. The upper has also remained intact, with no signs of wear except some dirt. The reinforcement from the overlays give enough structure that the upper should hold. My only caution is taking this shoe on trails will likely wreak the white upper and the smooth outsole. Given the midsole height and durability, I expect a very high number of miles out of this shoe above the industry standard (300-500 miles).

Update 4/2/20: I have 107 miles on my pair and still see next to no wear along the outsole, including the posterior lateral heel. The midsole continues to feel smooth and the ride is stable. I am extremely impressed and have to give the shift a full 10/10 for durability given how well it has worn. 


Nathan's forefoot outsole: 35 miles

Nathan: So far so good for durability. Given the outsole design that has limited rubber coverage, I expected to wear through the heel and midfoot portions pretty quickly. However, I haven't had any wear of the posterior aspect at all as of 35 miles (which I typically do). The one place where I have more wear than I typically do is actually the forefoot where I have my weight through during toe off, likely partially due to the work of the Speed Roll helping with a quicker transition and possibly more time on the forefoot. The midsole has not lost any of its cushion or bounce at this point. A very durable shoe.

THOUGHTS AS A DPT 


Matt: I discussed the Speed Roll / toe spring in the review of the Endorphin Pro (REVIEW). This is even more important in a maximalist shoe like the Endorphin Shift given that the sole becomes so thick that flexibility is a challenge in the forefoot. What I found more interesting was the medial flare of the heel as well what looks likeas a very small EVA post.  This is minor enough that people sensitive to posting should not be worried, but technically the use of a denser foam on one side of the shoe compared to the remainder of the sole is a post. This design reminds me of the more dense plastic arch supports seen in the old Saucony Mirage (a light stability trainer that was sadly discontinued some time ago). Instead of being plastic, this appears to be a little more firm EVA compared to the TPU/EVA blend in the rest of the midsole. This design is very mild and I do not feel any additional pressure into my arch or rearfoot, yet I still find the inclusion interesting. The other nice inclusion is that the midfoot is filled in and there is not a huge cut out on the medial side. This does wonders for stability during the midfoot transition due to basic physics. The more surface area, the more stable something usually is. It is nice to see more companies work to create stability with a variety of methods and the Saucony Endorphin Shift is a great example.


RECOMMENDATIONS


Matt: I really like the Saucony Endorphin Shift. I have had a difficult time finding things to change because I have enjoyed training in it. However, as I mentioned earlier, the heel takes a little bit of time to break in. I think that may have to do with the fact that the heel bevel is centered. My suggestion to Saucony is to move that bevel a little more lateral, since a majority of people tend to land on the posteriolateral aspect of the heel (if their initial contact point is at the rearfoot). That and maybe increase the bevel a little bit more given how thick the midsole is. That may smooth out the ride in the back. Overall though this is a great shoe. Maybe make it a hair lighter, but other than that I hope they don't change too much!

Nathan: Here is the thing. This shoe was great and I don't have any major functional changes I'd like to suggest. One thing, which is so minor that I didn't even mention it in the review, is that the insert was a bit squeaky when walking and running at slow paces. Would be nice to have a better integration between the insert and the last of the shoe. If this bothers anyone who gets the shoe, there are simple DIY solutions at home, like securing the insert or getting a new one.


CONCLUSION


Matt: The Saucony Endorphin Shift is an excellent uptempo road trainer that features a very comfortable yet secure upper and a fast midsole with an fantastic toe off. The responsive PWRUN TPU/EVA foam combined with the Speed Roll creates a ride fitting of a much lighter shoe with plenty of midsole for protection over long miles. The upper is extremely breathable and luxurious while providing a good lock down of the foot. Featuring many elements that create a stable ride without being obtrusive (and not enough to list it as a true stability shoe), the Saucony Endorphin Shift should be on your try on list as a reminder that training shoes can be fast too.

Nathan: The Saucony Endorphin Shift does maximalist footwear right. It is a protective/stable distance trainer that can handle very high milage at slow and uptempo paces. The Speed Roll design mitigates the weight of the shoe so it can be smooth and fast. Top off the ride with a beautiful, adaptable, and comfortable upper, and you have an all around top notch trainer. If you are looking for a floating yet stable ride that also provides stability for long runs, this is a need-to-check-out shoe. For so many, this is going to be a perfect marathon shoe.

GRADING


Fit/Upper       9.5 /10 (Extremely comfortable and breathable. -.5 for initial pressure on 5th toe)
Ride/Midsole  8.5 /10 (Great at normal to fast paces, -1.5 for clunky heel at slow paces)
Stability           9.5 /10 (Great non-traditional stability methods. -.5 for neutral heel bevel)
Speed               9.5 /10 (Great at normal to fast paces, -.5 for clunky at slow paces)
Durability       10 /10 (No change in midsole bounce, next to no wear at 100 miles)

Fit/Upper       10 /10 (true to size, adaptable toe box that also get a good lock down)
Ride/Midsole  10 /10 (smooth and cushioned while still having responsiveness)
Stability           9 /10 (Great subtle stability features, -1 for high stack)
Speed               9.5 /10 (Great for almost all training paces, not best for workouts -0.5)
Durability       9.5 /10 (Wear noted at forefoot, midsole doing great and overall great outsole)

TOTAL (%): M: 94%, N: 96%

TESTER PROFILES


Dr. Klein is a 140 lb male with notable PRs of 14:45 for 5k and 2:32:44 for the full marathon.  He typically runs 70-100 miles per week and trains at a variety of paces from 8min per mile recovery runs to 4:40 per mile 1k repeats.  He prefers firmer and responsive shoes with snug heels and medium to wide toe boxes.  He is particular to less cushioned shoes and close to the ground shoes, but can handle a little cushion when he gets beat up.  IG handle: @kleinrunsdpt

Dr. Nathan Brown is a 155 lb male with notable PRs of 19:18 5K, 39:25 10K, 1:29 half marathon, and 3:54 marathon. He typically runs between 20-40 miles per week at a variety of paces from 8-8:30 min/mile for recovery runs to 6-6:45 min/mile for tempo runs. He typically prefers shoes that provide some cushioning underfoot but still maintain a more firm and responsive feel. Current goals for 2020 are to break the 1.5 hour half marathon (CHECK) and 3:30 marathon. IG Handle: @nate.docsofrunning

Thanks for reading!

Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

Matthew Klein, PT DPT OCS FAAOMPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists

Nathan Brown PT DPT MS
Doctor of Physical Therapy 
Masters in Anatomy and Clinical Health Science
Movement Performance Institute Certified in Advanced Functional Biomechanics 

David Salas PT DPT CSCS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the  people at Saucony for sending us a pair.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We put at least 35-75 miles on trainers and 10-25 miles on racing flats prior to reviewing them. Currently Matt has 107 miles on his pair and Nathan has 36 on his. My views are based on my extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.


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