Physical Therapists Using Clinical Analysis To Discuss The Art And Science Behind Running and The Stuff We Put On Our Feet

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Ready for about 100 tangents? Well here they come. Today we are continuing our run through our DPT Approved Awards. Our team has tested over 110 shoes and ran over 14,500 miles in 2021 (so far) and we are ready to dish out our picks for numerous categories of shoes. We break down the best plated performance trainers in 2021 while presenting our individual picks and our team's consensus pick. We define performance trainer as "a shoe that specializes for uptempo running, workouts, and can even double as a racer for some. It's even better if the shoe can handle warm-ups well and do a few easy miles on the ends of workouts, but typically isn't as comfortable for daily mileage."

We discuss that some plated shoes designed for racing may function well (or even better) for some in a performance trainer capacity, but that does come with a higher price tag. This was the first time where all three members had the same three shoes in their top 3 (albeit in different orders).

PS: Haven't checked out our Non Plated Performance Trainer Awards? Click here to read.

Best Plated Performance Trainer of 2021 | Podcast

Our team discusses our favorite plated performance trainers of 2021. Listen to the full verison here via Apple Podcast.

Writer's Pick - Social Media Wizard Bach Pham


I have such a love/hate relationship with this shoe. It features a really unique ride that's springy and for my mechanics good at both easy and uptempo paces. It does run a touch firm and very stiff throughout due to the plate, but that springiness and pop shines through and makes it a fun ride. The Nitro foam is protective and comfortable, and the PumaGrip is both excellent at grip and durable. The one demon of the shoe is the heel fit, which is quite loose and takes some real lace locking to dial in. Despite that, I've poured mile after mile in my pair and keep gravitating towards it when I just want a shoe I know I can rely on for whatever I have planned - or unplanned - for the day. - Bach Pham

Writer's Pick - Senior Contributor Nathan Brown


The Carbon X2 sits in a wonderful spot of being moderately soft, moderately responsive, and has a moderately aggressive rocker. Nothing about this shoe is extreme, and that allows it to work well for a number of different types of runs and different types of runners (as long as you get get along with a more typically narrow HOKA fit). The plate is bifurcated and mildly flexible, giving a combination of a natural feel and snappiness as the pace picks up. The rubberized EVA outsole isn't the most grippy on wet or snowy surfaces, but over fresh pavement it is one of the most quiet and soft landings of any shoe out there. On top of that, it is one of the more stable high stack plated shoes out there. - Nathan Brown

Writer's Pick - Senior Contributor David Salas


The Mizuno Rebellion is the definition a performance trainer. The geometry is consistent with a higher drop trainer but dynamically the Enerzy Lite midsole and glass fiber plate provide a lot of responsiveness. The shoe rides that line between racing shoe and trainer very well. - David Salas

Writer's Pick - Chief Editor/Founder Matt Klein


The RC Elite v2 really surprised me. With a shoe this soft, I was worried that it would feel unstable and uneasy, but New Balance did a wonderful job with the geometry of this shoe to help make it runnable for someone who typically needs stability like me. While this is not the speedy performance trainer or racer like our consensus pick or others, this was a shoe I was able to daily train in comfortably because it is so comfortable and take on long runs. It is most suited for the marathon distance, but has excellent durability for usage during your training which I think is valuable for many runners who do want to put some miles in their race shoe outside of race day without fear of it degrading quickly. - Matt Klein



Of all the categories we've done so far, this was the easiest to come to a consensus on for 2021. Even though the Endorphin Speed 2 didn't have dramatic changes on paper, the extra lockdown was a big enough deal to our team in terms stability to do some daily training in this comfortably, whereas before it really only worked as a workout trainer for us before. For some of us, the shoe even felt faster due to the lockdown helping make us feel more connected. Don't underestimate upper changes.

Outside of the lockdown change, the shoe rides just as fun and fast as its predecessor. You can take the Endorphin Speed on so many different types of runs comfortably. It's been an easy go-to for us during the few times of the year when we're not reviewing a billion shoes. While we still gravitate towards our carbon plated shoes for race day, for people who feel carbon fiber may be too stiff for their needs, this could be the shoe for them as it's a bit less aggressive. It's just a really good shoe that many people will - and have - get on with.

Thanks for reading! Make sure you also visit our
Best Non-Plated Performance Trainer of 2021 here.

Find all Shoe Reviews at Doctors of Running here.

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Next: Best Daily Trainer of 2021

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