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Saucony Endorphin Speed Multiple Tester Review


A great deal of interest has been paid to the recent Saucony Endorphin Pro (REVIEW). However, just as much attention should be paid to the very similar Saucony Endorphin Speed. The Endorphin Speed is categorized by Saucony as the lightweight trainer/workout shoe of the Endorphin line (with the Shift as the trainer and the Pro as the racer). It has been billed as an accompanying shoe for the Pro, however the actual result of testing has been that the Speed may actually fit the requirements of a far larger group of runners as a marathon racer. While only coming in at 0.2-0.3 oz heavier than the Pro, the Speed has softer cushioning, a more structured upper and similar speed. Here's why you should pay attention to this shoe as you consider your next long distance racer. 


Specifications (per Saucony)
Weight: 7.8 oz men's size 9
Measured Weight Men's Size 10: 8.4 oz
Stack Height: 35.5 mm / 27.5 mm
Drop: 8 mm drop
Classification: Lightweight Trainer / Distance Racer
Price/Availability: $160, July 1st 2020



HIGHLIGHTS


Matt: The Saucony Endorphin Speed distinguishes itself from the slightly lighter Pro with a softer sole and more structured upper. This translates to a bouncier ride (although less stable), a more snug and secure upper and a little more versatility for use as a lightweight trainer. A fantastic shoe that will double as a racer and trainer for many, the Endorphin Speed is a more versatile shoe that will work for a larger number of runners.

Nathan: The Endorphin Speed was my personally most anticipated shoe in the Endorphin line (we will see later if it was my favorite). An energetic and bouncy ride is aided by the PWRRUN PB midsole, which is Saucony's lightest and most springy foam as well as a semi-rigid nylon plate. This is a shoe that shines at tempo paces and also will be able to double as a race day shoe for longer races for many.

David: The Saucony Endorphin Speed is the workout and training companion to the much anticipated Endorphin Pro. Only a hair heavier, this shoe features a very plush ride, more of a trainer build, and a more flexible nylon plate instead of a carbon plate. This shoe is crazy versatile as a workout shoe, recreational racing shoe, or long run/training shoe.


FIT


Matt: The Endorphin Speed fits true to size in my normal men's size 10. Overall the fit is on the snug side, particularly in the forefoot. The mesh is still very breathable, but is thicker and has more structure to it than the Endorphin Pro. The midfoot and heel also fit snug, with a thin heel counter present in the rear of the shoe (not present in the Pro). There is enough security in the upper that I did not have to lace lock the shoe as the heel counter, snug fit and increased upper knit held my foot on the platform well. There is a thin toe guard in the very front of the shoe, but I had no issues with rubbing. Overall the upper is comfortable and breathable, but fits on the snug size, as most faster and racing type shoes do.

Nathan: This shoe fits true to size in a men's size 9. The mid and forefoot are a bit more narrow, but the overall volume of the fit is higher, making it accommodate well to different foot types. The more snug midfoot locks in the heel well and minimizes slippage. There is a heel counter that has enough cushioning to protect the achilles and calcaneus (heel bone). The upper is an engineered mesh that isn't necessarily flexible, but does have perforations that allow it to accommodate in any direction depending on your foot type. The tongue is attached, and this was the one area that I personally had problems. I had to be very careful to prevent folding of the medial attachment of the tongue, as sometimes it would fold and create pressure and discomfort. That said, this would not occur DURING a run, only if it occurred when I was putting the shoe on.

David: Disclaimer, I was using Matt's pair after his initial testing so I was a half size up running in the Endorphin Speed. Because this is a performance trainer, the shoe tends to run on the snug side, so being a half size up it fit very much like daily trainer would. The upper is a very breathable mesh with some very light reinforcement for structure. Being a half size up, the forefoot was normal width, midfoot still held down fairly well, and a little bit of room in the heel but still fit very well. I had no translation and could easily trust the fit of the shoe. So for those who may not like the snug fit, a half size up could be an option! 

RIDE


Matt: The full length PWRRUN PB midsole provides plenty of softer and responsive cushioning throughout the length of the shoe. There is a nylon plate in the shoe that provides extra propulsion during toe off. This combined with the Speed Roll (toe spring) provides a comfortable yet fast toe off as you hit the front of the shoe. The heel is slightly beveled so landing at the rear of the shoe is fairly smooth. Compared to the Endorphin Pro, the ride of the Speed is softer. The high stack height is evident in this shoe and provides excellent cushioning over long and fast miles alike. There is more bouncy cushioning compared to the slightly firmer and faster ride of the Pro, giving a slightly less aggressive ride but still a protective and fast one.

Nathan: My first run in the Endorphin Speed was on the treadmill and I felt like I was going to bounce through the ceiling...yes, that was an exaggeration. The PWRRUN PB midsole (which is a PEBA-based material) gives noticeable return and bounce, and I felt that this return occurred at all paces, whether for slower or tempo runs. The idea of Saucony's Speed Roll technology was very noticeable here. The idea of the Speed Roll is to combine high cushioning with a rigid forefoot to give a forgiving landing and propulsive toe off. I was wear-testing this shoe at the same time as the 361 PACER ST, which made the stack height and bounciness of this shoe even more noticeable. If you want some ground feel, you won't find it here. The stack height and foam give plenty of protection and responsiveness for tempo runs as well as long runs. As the title suggests, it was most smooth when picking up the pace a bit.

David: I took this shoe out for 2 very different trial runs. A 4 mile tempo at 5:35 pace (warm up and cool down on both ends too) and a marathon at a controlled uptempo/casual pace (6:27/mi) long run to simulate a recreational racer. The PWRRUN PB midsole is very plush, but still provides a good amount of rebound when the pace heats up. At slower paces, the shoe might come off as unstable with the stack height and plush nature of the shoe. However the ride smoothens out when the pace picks and also picks up a little more rebound from the nylon plate. The shoe does a very good job at controlled faster paces and at tempo paces, but does struggle a little bit at top speed paces (nylon plate being a little more flexible loses some spring). The speedroll design of the shoe really begins to shine late in runs. After I was starting to fatigue around 20 miles into the long run, the roll kept my momentum forward and fluid even when I was beginning to break down. There isn't great ground feel with this shoe, but if you are using it on roads there is just enough to get by.


STABILITY


Matt: The Saucony Endorphin Speed is a neutral lightweight trainer / workout shoe. Other than the addition of a heel counter, there are no additional measures of stability in this shoe. The forefoot is stable due to the plate and wider shape. Although the sole width is supposed to be the same as the Pro, the Endorphin Speed feels like the overall shape of the shoe is narrower, particularly at the midfoot and heel. A visual inspection actually refutes this, although the Pro does begin to widen at a slightly earlier point in the transition to the forefoot. The stack height is the same between both shoes, but the Endorphin Speed feels much softer than the Pro. With less stability from the plate (nylon vs carbon fiber) and a softer sole in a tall stack height shoe, the Speed is not as stable as its racing counterpart. For those with stable mechanics, the bounciness of the sole will feel awesome over longer distances, but for those with less stable mechanics, the Pro will be a better option.

Nathan: The stability of this shoe seemed to be dynamic. First, thanks to the semi-rigid nylon plate, there was decent stability primarily in the forefoot despite the very soft/bouncy foam. However, the heel and midfoot (which is slightly narrower) have more noticeable instability. I noticed this instability when taking the shoe out for slower miles. This is likely because at slower paces I spend a bit more time back on the heel and through the midfoot. However, on tempo days, the instability was not as noticeable. This is why I say the stability is dynamic: less stable during slower runs, more stable during faster runs. Even in comparison the the Pro, there is more of a "wobbling" sensation when on the heel. Because of the nylon plate, this shoe is stable enough for most (however you --as the runner-- may need to be a bit more efficient/stable for longer miles).

David: The Endorphin Speed is most stable at faster paces with how the shoe is built. At slower paces the shoe is very plush without great ground feel and so your foot spends a little time trying to figure out where its at. The shoe wants to push you. When the pace does pick up, the nylon plate begins to take action and the speedroll has more influence, so the shoe has a relatively linear progression. There is much more outsole in the forefoot (and more ground feel as well), so when all of these features kick in the shoe is actually surprisingly stable. I did have some trouble turning in these shoes, but I think in large part that is just because of the sheer amount of foam and decreased ground feel.


SPEED


Matt: At 7.8 oz with a nylon plate and a bouncy PWRRUN PB, the Endorphin Speed can pick up the pace quite well while still offering enough protection to be a lightweight trainer. The slightly softer cushioning makes this shoe a little more versatile as a lightweight trainer, yet is still light and fast enough to be used as a half to full marathon racer. I have used this shoe for many types of workout, from short hill repeats, tempo runs and road fartleks. The nylon plate and Speed Roll make turning over fast very easy and getting up on your toes feels very natural. For someone that has more stable mechanics, this shoe will work well for long distances but can handle quick pace changes due to the bouncy sole and secure upper. So while it isn't 5k-10k fast, it still has plenty of speed for longer distance racing.

Nathan: The Endorphin Speed is a fast shoe. It performed best on moderate to long tempo runs as well as fartleks, where the shoe was providing excellent return and was super smooth. I did run a 1 mile time trial in these, which I do in all performance shoes, and although it performed well, was light enough, and plenty of bounce/rigidity from the foam+nylon plate, it wouldn't be my first shoe for even 5-10ks. At workout paces like my time trial, I did feel like I was having to pull the shoe along with me and the foam/nylon plate didn't seem to be giving much to the run at that point. This shoe is definitely best for half to full marathons, and is plenty fast as a race day shoe for a large majority of runners. The locked in nature of the upper adds to this shoes ability to handle tempo and race days.

David: The Endorphin Speed is about as fast you get in a shoe without being designed for pure racing. The midsole and nylon plate help give the shoe some spring and rebound while remaining plush and cushioned for long distances. The shoe felt great at 5:30s to 6:30's for me and works very well for workouts and long runs. Speed and pace wise, I feel like you can do very well at half marathon and full marathon racing paces in workouts. The shoe definitely leans more towards performance trainer than racing flat though since there isn't too much rigidity through the forefoot like in a racing flat. 


DURABILITY


 Matt: I have almost 40 miles on my pair of Endorphin Speeds and have seen even less wear on the outsole rubber than in the Pro. The PWRRUN PB midsole feels exactly the same as when I first ran in them and the upper, despite being white, shows no signs of wear. I am very impressed with the durability of this shoe and outside of chewing at the exposed PWRRUN PB there really isn't any wear. I would expect the Endorphin Speed to have a lifetime of most normal training shoes given how it blends into the lightweight trainer category.

Nathan: This shoe has surprised me with its durability. It's shining right now in this category. Despite the relatively large amount of exposed foam on the outsole, the rubber that is there hasn't shown any wear. The engineered mesh is holding up extremely well. Despite being a performance trainer, you can expect robust trainer shoe miles out of this shoe -- AKA whatever you normally get out of your daily trainers.

David: This shoe is VERY durable. I have 73 miles on my pair (Matt's miles + mine) and there is hardly any wear at all on the outsole. Even the exposed midsole through the midfoot has held well since there is a lining of outsole along the medial and lateral sides of the midfoot. The foam has held very well and has not broken down through any of my runs in the shoe. This is one of the most durable shoes I have run in, and probably the most durable performance/speed trainer shoe I have run in. 


THOUGHTS AS A DPT 


I am always amazed that small changes can drastically alter the ride of a shoe. The Endorphin Speed and Pro should be similar based on specs, yet ride completely differently. Small changes in midsole durometer (sole hardness) can drastically affect stability, ride, cushioning and more. It should also be noted that it is not just about the changes, but also how different runners respond. With the introduction of all these special foams and plates, research is now finally coming out that responses to the shoes are subject specific.  A study published this year by Mcleod et al., (2020), with Jared Ward contributing, suggests that the optimal stiffness of running shoes is dependent on the subject and less so on the correlations they measured between different biomechanical and anatomical measures. Further evidence has come out regarding the Nike 4% when factoring in the midsole that not all runners will benefit from these types of shoes and those that do vary greatly (Hebert-Losier et al., 2020). The study by Hebert-Losier et al still needs to go under peer-review, but the initial evidence suggests what we may already know. Not everyone will benefit from these shoe types and those that do will have a variety of responses to each one. Variety is key to be able to match the needs of the variability of human locomotion. 


RECOMMENDATIONS


Matt: I like the increased security of the upper, but the instability of the sole really got to me. If this is to be the lightweight trainer, I highly suggest Saucony widen the midfoot and heel a little, especially if the ride is going to be softer. Stability is really the only issue I have with the Endorphin Speed. I love how light it is and the cushioning really makes for a versatile shoe. However, the instability limits the use of this shoe to shorter workouts and not longer miles for me.

Nathan: As my most highly anticipated shoe of the three, I was overall very pleased (which I think says a lot...because when my expectations are high I'm usually disappointed). My recommendation is similar to Matt's, as my one area of difficulty with this shoe was stability. Given it's bend towards training versus race day only, I'd love to see additional stability mechanisms built into this neutral shoe. A great option may be widening the midfoot platform so that the shoe can maintain the locked-in fit while increasing ground contact for a bit more of stability. As for the heel instability, maybe they could consider extending the heel cup inferiorly like they did with the Shift. Not sure how that would mesh with the PWRRUN PB, but just one idea to throw out there.

David: I think we are all in agreement. This shoe is not the most stable at slower spaces, even though it is supposed to lean more on the training side of things. I am in very close agreement with Nathan. I think having a slightly wider midfoot (being a half size up, my midfoot actually felt pretty good) and bringing the heel a little more close to the ground (inferiorly) will make the shoe feel a little less like you are floating and unstable. Outside of the stability measures, this is a great shoe.


CONCLUSION


Matt: The Saucony Endorphin Speed is the distance racer/lightweight trainer for the masses. With a slightly softer ride, a little bit more forgiving but still fast ride, the Speed will work for many as a distance racing shoe and for others as a lightweight trainer and/or workout shoe. There is plenty of cushioning for longer miles and the PWRRUN PB does an excellent job of keeping legs fresh. The Speed Roll contributes to a smooth toe off combined with the nylon plate, albeit less aggressive than the Pro. For those with neutral mechanics, the Saucony Endorphin Speed will check off a variety of boxes for use.  I highly recommend checking this shoe out as a more versatile trainer racer.

Nathan: The Saucony Endorphin Speed is likely the most versatile shoe in the Endorphin line. The foam compound, Speed Roll technology, and nylon plate create a very fast and bouncy ride, while the upper and outsole are robust enough to allow this to be a training shoe. For those with efficient mechanics and want a bouncy and floating ride, this would be a great tempo day shoe as well as a wonderful half and full marathon racer.

David: The Saucony Endorphin Speed is probably the shoe that will agree the most with the masses. The shoe is crazy light, durable enough to train in, and fast enough for recreational racing or doing workouts in. After a tempo run and a marathon long run, my legs still feel relatively fresh. The shoe is on the unstable side, so for those who are mechanically efficient, this could be a do it all shoe that can be very fun to run in.


GRADING

Matt:
Fit/Upper       9.5 /10 (Snug and secure upper.  -.5 for slightly narrow forefoot)

Ride/Midsole  10 /10 (Bouncy and softer Peba midsole. Very fun ride)
Stability          7.5 /10 (not the most stable shoe due to tall stack height, soft and narrow sole)
Speed              9.5 /10 (Very bouncy and fast. -.5 for less stiffness at toe off compared to Pro)
Durability       9.5 /10 (Almost zero wear on normal areas, minus -.5 for PEBA abrasion)

Nathan:
Fit/Upper        9.5 /10 (Versatile fit due to higher volume in forefoot, -0.5 for folding of tongue)
Ride/Midsole  9.5 /10 (-0.5 for high floating feel, high marks for bouncy, fun ride)
Stability          7 /10 (-3 for combined instability in the heel and midfoot)
Speed              9.5 /10 (Smooth and propulsive at high tempo/long race pace)
Durability       10 /10 (No wear at this point)

David: 
Fit/Upper        9.5 /10 (Slightly wide in the heel at half size up, though great everywhere else)
Ride/Midsole  9.5 /10 (Very smooth at faster paces, but unstable and awkward at slow paces)
Stability          7.5 /10 (Unstable at heel, turning problems, but improves at quicker paces)
Speed              9.5 /10 (Everything but fast racing, workouts, tempos, long runs, and rec racing)
Durability       10 /10 (Minimal wear after 2 people tested through mileage)





TOTAL (%): Matt: 92% Nathan: 91% David 92%


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

Dr. Salas is a 135 lb male with notable PRs of 3:54 1500m, 14:56 5k, 31:06 10k, 1:08 for half marathon. He typically runs 40 to 50 miles per week and trains from about 7:30 recovery runs to fast shorter efforts at 4:30 pace. He normally prefers neutral shoes with a firmer ride, but is completely open to other types of shoes.  He is a footwear enthusiast at heart and will always appreciate a high quality shoe when it comes around. For updates on training or testing, IG handle: @docsofrundavid

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 I (Matt) have 38 miles on my pair, 73 miles (David). 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.

References

1. Hebert-Losier, K., Finlayson, S., Driller, M., Dubois, B., Esculier J., & Beaven, C. (2020). Evidence of variable performance responses to the Nike 4% shoe: Definitely not a game-changer for all recreational runners. (Pre-Print).

2. Mcleod, A., Bruening, D., Johnson, A., Ward, J., Hunter, I. (2020). Improving running economy through altered shoe bending stiffness across speeds. Footwear Science, 1-11.

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