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Saucony Endorphin Pro+ Multiple Tester Review
By Chief Editor Matt Klein, Senior Contributors Nathan Brown and David Salas


There are many great options in regards to carbon fiber plated, PEBA based shoes. The majority of the time however, most attention is paid to the soles of the shoes and not the uppers (as evident by how I introduced/referenced this footwear category). The Saucony Endorphin Pro+ takes the Endorphin Pro series, already a favorite among our testers, and overhauls the upper. Coming in with material inspired by their track spikes, Saucony improves the versatility of the Endorphin Pro+, already a serious contender at longer distances down to shorter distances as well. 

Saucony Endorphin Pro+ in hand. All white upper with a silver midsole and black Saucony logo streaking across midfoot.



Specifications for the Saucony Endorphin Pro+ (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 6.9 oz / 195 g (men's size 9) 5.9 oz / 168g (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 35.5 mm / 27.5 mm
Drop: 8 mm
Classification: Racing Shoe (Carbon Plated / Peba Foam)


RUNNING SHOE SUMMARY


Matt: The Saucony Endorphin Pro + is an Endorphin Pro 2 with a track spike-like upper. Dropping the weight to under 7 ounces, this racing shoe is comfortable from the 5k up to the marathon. A completely updated upper features a track spike like, super lightweight and breathable mesh that hugs the foot well in all the right spots. Despite supposedly having a similar sole, the lighter weight makes it far easier to turn over faster in the Pro +, dipping its versatility into shorter distances. For those who want a super shoe with a track spike upper, the Saucony Endorphin Pro + is worth a look. 

David: The Saucony Endorphin Pro + is an elite racing shoe designed for any distance. The shoe is a continuation of the "super shoe" Endorphin line and progresses the lineage by stripping down the upper to be much more light weight. The shoe no longer has a heel counter and the material is all around lighter. The shoe is now sub 7 ounces in Men's size 9 and should be a shoe that many will be looking at for racing at any distance. 

Nathan: The Saucony Endorphin Pro + give us a full glimpse of the impact of an upper and how it can change a shoe. It sports a track spike-like upper that drops the weight to below 7oz for my men's size 9. The upper changes include the largest alterations in toe box space and the heel construction.
 


FIT (LENGTH / WIDTH / COMFORT)

Matt: The Saucony Endorphin Pro+ fits me true to size in my normal men's US size 10. The whole upper fits slightly snug but the mesh stretches to accommodate the foot. David put it best that it fits like a wider track spike. The upper is fairly unstructured outside of a mild toe guard and slightly thicker mesh around the Achilles. This requires locking down the laces well before running. When I have made sure to tie them down well, there are no security issue surprisingly. I have not had to lace lock these at any point. However, if you fail to tie the laces appropriately, you will get extra movement. The mush is a thin Formfit upper that will hug your foot if you lock it down. The tongue is also thin and sits well against the foot if you place it correctly. Since it is not gusseted, it wrinkles unless you flatten it out when you put your foot in the shoe. Once it is adjusted properly, it stays put. The upper comfort level is quite high. I have worn this shoe sockless for 10 miles without any issue (except that they now smell, but that's really a problem with me). Those with. sensitive toes should still ease into wearing them sockless with the toe guard, but most will be fine over short to middle distances. There is no heel counter in this shoe at all. Those that are sensitive to heel counters will definitely want to look at this shoe and those that need them should be a bit wearing. Overall the upper is thin, comfortable and reminiscent of track spikes, which makes running fast in the Endorphin Pro+ really fun.

David: The Endorphin Pro+ fits true to size in my normal Men's 9.5. The upper lockdown is pretty good throughout but does feel a little different from a lot of the other high stack racing shoes. This model feels more like a wide track spike and provides a good hold throughout with just enough room for swelling accommodation. The heel, midfoot, and forefoot are all normal width throughout. The shoe does not have a heel counter in this model and instead has a very small amount of padding in the region. If you do not lock the shoe down well it can feel like the heel has some susceptibility to translation but once you lace it down well the heel stays put just fine. The tongue is not gusseted and does have a tendency to fold underneath itself slightly if you don't lay it out before lacing down. The mesh upper is simple, lightweight, and breathable throughout. The mesh itself seems to be a little more robust than the Endorphin Pro 2 mesh, but with no overlays or counter. There are some sidewalls present in the shoe through the midfoot which also seem to help with keeping the foot on the platform and providing a nicer lockdown and stable ride.  

Nathan: Fit is really the major change to this shoe. The upper of the Pro and Pro 2 were thin, but had some reinforcements through the midfoot, some reinforcements to the laces, and a semi-structured heel. Those two iterations of the Pro also have quite ample room in the toe box, particularly in top to bottom depth. The Pro removes all the structure to the heel, removes all overlays, and  strips away most lacing reinforcements (minus some thin synthetic lining), and decreases volume of the toe box. The result is an upper that feels much more locked down, particularly in the mid to forefoot. 

The heel does not have any structure, but just a bit of padding with a suede cover that sits at the upper part of the heel. This effectively locks the heel down and I did not have any slippage once I laced correctly. Moving to the lacing/tongue. The tongue is a very thin and perforated layer of material. Although it did not slide around at all, it did take some effort to ensure the tongue way laying correctly and not folding under prior to lacing up. Once laced up, the tongue stayed put. The biggest fit change is in the mid to forefoot, where it really wraps around the foot well with just a bit of space in the toe box. I found that on my first run, the upper loosened a bit, which required lacing down more mid run. Since that time, the lock-down has stayed consistent with my initial lacing. So just expect a little initial stretch. This locked down nature had real impact on the performance, so let's go there next. 


PERFORMANCE (RIDE / SPEED)

Matt: The Saucony Endorphin Pro+ is an Endorphin Pro 2 with a different upper. The midsole continues to be PWRRUN PB (PEBA based foam) with an S-shaped carbon plate and a significant toe spring (called SPEEDROLL). Due to the substantial lower of weight from the upper, the Pro + does ride slightly differently. The overall ride is similar, in that the midsole still feels slightly firmer, but is plenty cushioned for longer distance efforts. The SPEEDROLL makes toe off smooth and super easy, while a small heel bevel that is slightly laterally biased combined with the slightly softer PEBA foam in the rear provides a smooth transition if you land there (like me). The difference is that with the weight increase, turning the shoe over faster feels easier. While I kept the Endorphin Pro 1 and 2 for tempo runs and longer efforts, the Endorphin Pro + does that and feels like it can handle faster workouts like track work. This truly feels like a racing flat the second you put it on, although it can certainly handle training miles if you are used to running in shoes like this. There is plenty of protection underfoot, as evident by how easy it feels to warm up and cool down in this shoe after workouts. Use wise the Endorphin Pro + works best as a racing flat for distances from 5k to the marathon. It is efficient enough to be used up to longer distances but now feels nimble enough to run fast in during short distances). The durability continues to be good. I have 30 miles on my pair with only slight wear on the exposed PEBA foam and almost none on the reinforced XT-900 outsole pieces. Traction wise I have been able to test this on the wet streets of Indianapolis and had no trouble while turning on wet concrete or brick. The traction is still good, although I would not use this shoe for anything other than the road due to the white upper and exposed PWRRUN PB. While the Endorphin Pro 1 and 2 feel better at longer distances, but the weight/upper change of the Endorphin Pro + has made this shoe feel far more versatile into shorter distances while maintaining the ability to run long in.

David: The Saucony Endorphin Pro+ takes everything you experience in the Endorphin Pro 2 and makes it lighter. The midsole and outsole are the same as the previous versions but with a much more stripped own upper. The ride is lighter and more nimble while still having a significant rocker effect that rolls smoothly at many paces. The shoe feels a little more dialed in when laced down tightly and the shoe indirectly feels more responsive when the pace picks up because of this. This is probably the closest feeling hybrid of a "super shoe" and an old school road racing flat. The shoe feels light and aggressive if you want it to be but still very protective and ready for long mileage. Overall I am very pleased with the upper update and it makes the ride of the shoe much more alive and fast feeling. This is everything I wanted in the original Endorphin Pro 2 since it still felt a little trainer like on foot in the previous model. 

Nathan: Full disclosure, the Endorphin Pro/Pro 2 is my marathon shoe of choice, so this shoe works really well for me. With the Pro+ coming in, I had to make decisions on which I'll take for my next marathon (next week). Therefore I took it for 17 miles of an easy run with a steady finish out of the box and then a 9 mile interval workout (including the warm-up and cool-down). An upper change can really impact the best uses of a shoe. The Pro+ lock-down really make it feel ready to rock, and I particularly enjoyed taking it out for the interval workout. Where the Pro 2 seemed most appropriate for the longer races, the Pro+ now is versatile enough to bring down to 5K. The reason for that is due to the significant drop in weight as well as the more locked-down upper. It was more ready to take on turns at higher speeds due to the snug mid-forefoot. What remained consistent from previous versions is the feel of the PWRRUN PB and Speedroll geometric design. You get a firmer yet responsive foam that rolls really well due to the bevel in the heel and toe spring. It still has one of the more rigid plates, but is not intrusive on the cycle thanks to the Speedroll. 


STABILITY 

Matt: The Saucony Endorphin Pro+ is a neutral shoe. We have discussed previously how the forefoot of the Endorphin Pro series is very stable with the wider last, well design toe spring/SPEEDROLL and S-shaped carbon plate. The heel has a decent amount of flare, which creates stability without being too intrusive thanks to the slightly lateral heel bevel. The midfoot is still somewhat narrow, although it is offset by the stiffness from the plate as well as small sidewalls on the medial and lateral aspect of the sole and the guidance line in the outsole. Although the upper is more minimal than previous, when you get the laces tied appropriately it locks the foot down really well. So overall a similar level of stability compared to previous Endorphin Pro models. 

David: The stability of the Endorphin Pro+ is pretty decent. PWRRUN PB is one of the firmer PEBA based midsoles out there and combined with the Speedroll technology provides a shoe that is good at producing fluid transitions throughout the gait cycle. The carbon fiber plate also firms up the platform and helps provide some stability throughout as well. The upper is more stripped down but if the shoe is locked down well does just fine on the platform. The upper may be a tad less stable than the normal Endorphin Pro 2 but nothing concerning. The full contact outsole provides great traction regardless of road or light trail. The midline groove also seems to help with giving a small amount of guidance through the middle of the shoe extending from the rearfoot through the midfoot. Overall pretty good stability for a racing shoe but the lockdown of the upper could probably be refined a smidge through a gusseted tongue or slightly more padded tongue for lacing tightly. 

Nathan: As we've talked about previously, the Endorphin Pro series has been one of the more stable options in the super shoe market (though still a certainly neutral shoe). The wider outsole contact, firmer foam compound, rigid plate, and smooth geometric design all add to that stability. The main difference here is the upper. We discussed the impact of heel counters on stability in our most recent podcast episode on the Endorphin Pro+. Given that there is no structure to the heel counter, some people might end up preferring the Pro 2 to get that structure (I am one of those people). At the same time, the lock down over the mid and forefoot make the Pro+ more stable on turning at faster paces. All that said, the overall stability between the Pro+ and Pro 2 will be very similar. 


THOUGHTS AS A DPT / FOOTWEAR SCIENCE

The Saucony Endorphin Pro + is a great example of how small weight changes can make a big difference when it comes to performance, or at least perception of performance. There is a decent amount of research out that suggests that there is about a 1% change in oxygen consumption (one of the many estimates of running efficiency) with a 100g change in shoe weight (Franz et al., 2012; Hoogkamer et al., 2016; Nigg et al., 2020). This translates into the fact that lighter shoes do have the ability to improve running efficiency. With less weight to carry, it makes sense that someone would run faster. There is a point however where this starts to become less efficient. Further research has shown that running barefoot or in minimal shoes can be less efficient (in regards to oxygen consumption) than a lightweight cushioned shoe (Franz et al., 2012). The most efficient option seems to be very light shoes that still have enough cushioning (Franz et al., 2012; Nigg et al., 2020). The theory behind this is that when running barefoot, runners will use more energy from muscles having to handle and control impact given the lack of underfoot protection assistance from a shoe. Even when weight is controlled for, running barefoot requires more work metabolically than running in a shoe (Franz et al., 2012). This is not necessarily a bad thing as safe and carefully progressed barefoot running can be a great training tool/adjunct. However, when it comes to current measures of efficiency, lightweight cushioned shoes provide the best balance of performance and protection for efficiency over distance racing. The questions that haven't been answered are 1) Is there is a ceiling effect for increasing stack height even if the weight is kept low and 2) Do these same metabolic differences occur over longer races as most of the research has been done over shorter efforts (3000m or about 2 mile efforts).

The overall point here is that changing shoe weight without lower the cushioning properties can still alter performance or the perception of it. Although 0.6 oz isn't a ton of weight, running in the Endorphin Pro 1 and the Endorphin Pro + with one on each foot feels different in regards to the ability to turn the legs over fast while running fast (yes... I did it). Nothing about the sole was changed, but the upper was completely overhauled. As companies continue to look for ways to reduce shoe weight, upper design should be a major focus. While shoe midsole design and technology has dramatically improved over the last few years, uppers continue to remain thicker than necessary in many but not all companies. So for companies looking to take their shoes a step further, see what you can do about the thickness of the upper. Any changes must be undertaken without a loss of security, so like shoe cushioning there is an optimal balance.

References


Franz, J. R., Wierzbinski, C. M., & Kram, R. (2012). Metabolic cost of running barefoot versus shod: is lighter better. 
Med Sci Sports Exerc44(8), 1519-1525.

Hoogkamer, W., Kipp, S., Spiering, B. A., & Kram, R. (2016). Altered running economy directly translates to altered distance-running performance. 
Med Sci Sports Exerc48(11), 2175-80.

Nigg, B. M., Cigoja, S., & Nigg, S. R. (2020). Effects of running shoe construction on performance in long distance running. 
Footwear Science12(3), 133-138.

Wang, I. L., Gao, J. J., Wang, L. I., & Zhang, K. K. (2021). Effects of shoe weight on landing impact and side-to-side asymmetry. 
Plos one16(8), e0256061.


RECOMMENDATIONS

Matt: I am really enjoying the Endorphin Pro+ and only have one major suggestion. The tongue would benefit from a light gusset just to hold it in place. Having to make sure it was in the right place before ever run was slightly annoying, but only a tiny inconvenience overall. Outside of that, the 6.9 oz (men's size 9) weight makes the Saucony Endorphin Pro+ a true competitor with other models in this weight category. 

David: I really like the Endorphin Pro+. I think the outsole and midsole geometry is really good for a shoe in this category. I like that they stripped the upper down in this new iteration as well. I think they probably could still make the tongue gusseted or make the tongue a hair more padded. I had some small irritation to the dorsum of my foot when locking the shoe down tightly. If I lay out the tongue over my foot though that does seem to help. This is an immediate competitor to the Vaporfly, Metaspeed Sky, Puma Deviate Nitro, and other really lightweight racing shoes on the market. 

Nathan: What to say...this shoe looks awesome, fits great, and performs very well at a variety of race paces. The only consideration here is always price point. Is the material used in the new upper worth $50 more than that used in the Pro 2? Or are you paying for a difference in weight? Whatever the rationale, I would love to see Saucony be able to produce top notch racing shoes at lower price points, even if comparable to more expensive options. The other thing is that the tongue was just annoying to get set when putting the shoe on. Maybe a small gusset would help (but that would add material and weight as well). 


WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR (Conclusion)

Matt: The Saucony Endorphin Pro+ is an elite racing shoe with versatility over any distance on the road. The super light upper creates a lighter and more nimble ride that makes it easier to turn over the legs faster. The sole continues to be cushioned but slightly firmer than other racing shoes, providing a little more stable ride. The upper does need to be tied down well to ensure security and the tongue needs to be placed in the right spot, but this shoe definitely takes a top spot among racing shoes for me. For those sensitive to any form of heel counter or those wanting a high level racing shoe with a track spike upper, the Saucony Endorphin Pro+ is worth a look!

David: The Saucony Endorphin Pro+ is an elite racing shoe that can be used for any distance (road mile to marathon). The shoe is very versatile and features an incredibly stripped down upper compared to to its previous models. The upper feels lightweight and similar to a wide track spike throughout. There is no heel counter and security feels a little ominous at first but when the shoe is locked down well there are no problems. This is going be racing shoe for those that still like a lot of protection underfoot but still like a slightly firm ride with a pretty prominent rocker feel to it. This is certainly a shoe worth mentioning in top racing shoes of 2021 for me. 

Nathan: The Endorphin Pro + is a race-ready shoe that can used for any racing distance 5K to Marathon, unlike previous versions of this shoe that were more geared toward 13.1 and up. If you like a firmer, rolling ride and an upper that almost feels like you're strapping on a track spike, you gotta check out the Endorphin Pro+.


GRADING (SHOE CATEGORY)

Matt
Fit: A- (Super light and thin upper that hugs the foot well with a racing type fit. The tongue does fold, so it needs to be put down properly before each run)
Performance: 
A (Similar design that feels faster thanks to the weight drop in the upper. Versatile from mile to marathon and pretty much any workout)
Stability: B+ (SpeedRoll, plate, guidance line and small sidewalls provide a little stability, which is good for this neutral racing shoe. Very stable forefoot with a plate and some other designs that somewhat offset instability in the midfoot).
DPT/Footwear Science: B (The weight drop from the upper is great, but nothing overly new in regards to footwear science)
Personal:  A (My go to choice for workouts and road races right now. The weight drop and upper changes makes this shoe work really well for me. )
Overall: A- (A high level racing shoe with a great upper and improved versatility for workouts and races from short to long distances)

David
Fit: A- (Tongue has tendency to fold on itself, pretty thin even for racing shoe on tongue, otherwise upper great and lockdown decent)
Performance: 
A (Fast, nimble, and responds well to cadences at fast and slow paces. The shoe is definitely a shoe I want to keep reaching for with fast efforts.)
Stability: A- (The lockdown through the midfoot secondary to the tongue issues could be improved a little bit, otherwise pretty good)
DPT/Footwear Science: B (Uppers make a difference and I'm glad they focused on shaving as much weight off as possible. However nothing overly innovative or creative in this section outside of the upper change.)
Personal:  A (Potentially my racing shoe of choice going forward. It's got some stiff competition but I like the light, nimble, fluid, and slightly aggressive feel this shoe gives me)
Overall: A- (A really solid addition to the racing shoe line of 2021 that certainly adds versatility to the shoe and makes it more comparable with weights of competition)

Nathan

Fit: A- (Minor stretching early and the tongue folds under until laced up.)
Performance: 
A (So light, so fun, rolls extremely well)
Stability: B+ (The upper secures the foot really well on the platform, stabilizing a high stack for turns at higher speeds)
DPT/Footwear Science: A (A nice tribute to show how an upper can effect a shoe and the weight, and continues to utilize geometry and foam to optimize performance)
Personal:  B+ (Likely my go-to for shorter races, just like the bit of heel structure for longer races)
Overall: A- (A top notch racing option)
      
VIDEO REVIEW



The team got together to discuss the Saucony Endorphin Pro+. You can also listen to the full podcast here.

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FURTHER READING

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Saucony Endorphin Shift 2 - Speedroll in daily training form, with a high amount of stability

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TESTER PROFILES:


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

Dr. Matthew Klein is a 150 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.  The stability guy of the group, he also prefers a little stability in his footwear. However, as a researcher, clinician and running shoe aficionado, he will run in anything. 

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

Dr. David Salas is a 135 lb male with notable PRs ranging from 3:54 in the 1500m to 1:08:36 for half marathon. He typically runs 60 to 70 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, 

Nathan Brown PT DPT OCS
Doctor of Physical Therapy 
Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Movement Performance Institute Certified in Advanced Functional Biomechanics 

Dr. Brown is a 155 lb male with notable PRs of 18:18 5K, 39:25 10K, 1:29:01 half marathon, and 3:54 marathon. He typically runs between 20-50 miles per week at a variety of paces from 8:00-9:00 min/mile for recovery runs to 6:45-7:15 min/mile for tempo runs. He typically prefers shoes that provide some cushioning underfoot but still maintain a more firm and responsive feel. 

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.

***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 systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state run run as well as a warm up and cool down in each pair prior to review. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. Our views are based on our 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.

Please feel free to reach out, comment and ask questions!
Contact us at doctorsofrunning@gmail.com

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