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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Saucony Endorphin Speed 3: Different, For the Better
By Senior Contributors Nathan Brown, David Salas and Chief Editor Matthew Klein 

The Saucony Endorphin Speed and Pro were originally designed based on the concept that different people will respond best to different levels of longitudinal bending stiffness in shoes. The Speed features a nylon plate while the Pro features a carbon plate. Previously, both were somewhat similar with the major differentiation being the plate type (although the uppers were also quite different). The only challenge many of our team had with the previous versions of the speed was that it was far too unstable in the heel over longer efforts, limiting its ability to function as a lightweight trainer. The Endorphin Speed 3 drastically changes that with a complete overhaul. Featuring a softer but more inherently stable ride with a now winged S-shaped nylon plate, the Endorphin Speed combines the best of being both a potential racing and training shoe. 

Price: $159.95 at Running Warehouse
Weight: 8.1 oz, 229 g (men's size 9), 7.2 oz, 204g  (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 36 mm / 28 mm
Drop: 8 mm
Classification: Nylon Plated, Superfoam Lightweight Trainer/Performance Trainer



RUNNING SHOE SUMMARY

Matt: The Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 is a nylon plated, super foam shoe that will double as a lightweight trainer for some and a long-distance racing shoe for others. Featuring a slightly wider fit that matches a wider base, the new version has been completely redone. Sidewalls and a winged nylon plate provide inherent stability, while a softer PWRRUN PB midsole provides a more fun bounce. The ride continues to be rockered with a slightly more flexible nylon plate. This provides smooth transitions for easy training miles, while the bouncier PWRRUN PB still makes this shoe excellent for workouts and even longer races for some. A shoe that can do a little bit of everything, the Endorphin Speed returns with better versatility into easy training while maintaining its ability to pick up the pace. 

David: The Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 is a performance trainer that utilizes a Peba based midsole named PWRRUN PB and a nylon plate. The shoe stays true to its lineage as a highly versatile shoe that many can even race in and daily train in. The big updates to the Speed 3 can be seen in the platform. The heel and midfoot is widened out a little bit and the sidewalls are a little bit larger. The upper is a tad more snug and locks the foot down to the platform a little more than the previous version. The plate has also been redesigned a little bit as well. Ultimately the DNA of the Speed 2 is maintained and a some stability elements were added to this model. 

Nathan: The Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 is the biggest update since the initiation of the line. It gets a wider heel contact surface, a wider plate that spans the width of the midfoot, but maintains the energetic and rolling ride that people are used to from previous versions. It is a shoe that responds to pacing, and feels smooth and rolling at easier pace while giving a good amount of pop and bounce as you rev things up. One of the best performance trainers get just a bit better and more accessible for some runners (like me) who previously had some issues with heel instability.



FIT 

Matt: The Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 fits me true to size if slightly short in my normal men's US size 10 due to tapering at the toe box. The width is fairly normal and slightly wider than the previous version. However, the upper has a lower volume, so still provides a snug feeling fit. This is especially noticeable at the 5th toe, where I have plenty of room but the upper sits low on it. The upper mesh has some stretch to it, so I only notice this while putting them on. The heel is a bit more snug than the rest of the shoe. There is a mildly flexible heel counter and a posterior external counter in the rear. This locks the heel down and contributes to the snug fit. There is only light padding there, so those with calcaneus/heel sensitivities should approach with caution. That being said, the heel is secure and I did not have to lace lock the shoe.

The tongue is wide, slightly thinner and is locked down well thanks to being gusseted at the midfoot. The laces and the midfoot interact well and it is easy to adjust the fit by loosening or tightening the laces. Those with narrow and normal width feet will be able to easily adjust to whatever they want each day in regards to security or more room. The forefoot actually has a solid amount of room. As mentioned, the upper sits low, so I had some pressure across my 5th toe that went away on the run. The toe box does taper quickly and I did note some mild pressure on my 1st toe. This makes the Speed 3 feel almost slightly short, but the upper does stretch as you start running. This does contribute to a secure fit, especially with the ability to adjust the laces down and the locked-down heel. Overall the Endorphin Speed 3 provides a secure fit with an adjustable midfoot, slightly more forefoot width, a mildly stretchy upper, a lower volume and a locked-in heel. 

David: The Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 fits true to size in my normal Men's 9.5. The fit throughout is definitely a performance fit, hugging close to the foot. The tongue is gusseted and lightly padded. There is a heel counter that is moderately rigid but padded well. The mesh material is lightweight and breathes well with good comfort. The tongue can be a tad crinkly at the distal aspect of the forefoot dorsally creating a little bit of a folding point. I did not get any major irritation but it was noticeable at the beginning of my runs. The width through the heel, midfoot, and forefoot are all narrow with the lacing system creating the snug hold all around. Overall a good upper for the platform, though the crinkly folding at the distal part of the tongue was a tiny bit annoying for me. 

Nathan: Compared to previous models, the Speed 3 gets a bit more of a trainer fit. The toe box feels a bit wider and there is plenty of room around the toes. It is still a light, breathable mesh that doesn't overheat, and there is a semi-rigid heel counter for some structure. The midfoot and heel are a bit more on the narrow side, providing a naturally secure fit. The tongue and lacing are top notch. They hit the sweet spot with padding of the gusseted tongue, and the laces have just enough elasticity that you can ratchet them down without any irritation to the top of the foot. Unlike Matt, I did not have any issues with length and the volume was more than enough for longer runs and swelling. This was the best fitting Speed yet, keeping in mind that I have a slightly narrow foot.




PERFORMANCE 

Matt: The Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 is lighter, responsive performance trainer/workout shoe. It sits at 8.1 oz (men's size 9), slightly heavier than its predecessor due to a slightly higher stack height of 36mm/28mm. Despite the only slight increase in stack height (0.5mm), the Endorphin Speed feels softer and bouncier. The midsole is full-length PWRRUN PB with a winged, S-shaped nylon plate. The plate provides mild stiffness to the sole, but there is still some decent flexibility up front that makes for a smooth toe-off. The ride is rockered, with a solid forefoot rocker (Speedroll) and slightly lateral posterior heel bevel. This provides smooth transitions now matter where you land. There is an 8mm drop that feels just right to me. However, with the softness of the midsole foam, that number will change depending on where and how hard you land. 

Unlike the previous versions that felt highly rockered, the softer PWRRUN PB midsole feels far more like a bouncy ride than a rolling one. At easier paces, the ride feels protective but as soon as the pace picks up, the Endorphin Speed 3 feels lighter than its 8.1 oz listed weight. There is plenty of cushioning and inherent guidance for daily training miles and long runs. The ride is comfortable and rolls/bounces smoothly along. When the pace picks up, the bounciness begins to multiply. With the slightly more flexible ride, the Endorphin Speed 3 continues to excel at tempo and uptempo efforts. It also does well at interval and speed workouts, especially for those who want a little more flexibility compared to other carbon-plated shoes. Like its predecessors, the Speed 3 can handle a bit of everything, but now has a softer and far more bouncy ride.

Durability wise the Speed has done well. I have 40 miles on my pair and the outsole rubber has remained intact, with only minor abrasion. This leads me to expect an above-average number of miles out of these for a lightweight trainer (>200-300) and even more if you are light on your feet (unlike me). For many looking for a do-it-all shoe, the Speed 3 may be it. It has the cushioning and durability to be able to handle easier and longer efforts. It has the responsiveness and mild stiffness to handle workouts. With the lighter weight and combined above factors, it may also work as a half/full marathon racer for those who want a super foam shoe with a little more flexibility (ie don't like the stiffness of carbon plates).

David: The Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 is a lightweight performance trainer that gives you a lot of super shoe DNA in a training package. The PWRRUN PB midsole is still very resilient and provides a lot of energy return upon loading. The foam is a little more structured than other Peba shoes on the market and does not have a lot of give to it upon landing. With that said it still is pretty cushioned underfoot and will do just fine at all distances. The shoe uses a winged nylon plate that provides responsive rigidity but still has a balance of flexibility through the forefoot. The platform is a little bit wider in the heel and midfoot providing a little more platform to land underfoot. The shoe now weighs 8.1 ounces and has gained a little bit of weight from the previous version. The weight is nearly negligible and this shoe still performs well as the Speed 2. I have been able to take this shoe through nearly all paces and this is a solid workout shoe and training companion. The rocker is still noticeable but does not feel as sharp as it did in the Speed 2. The ride underfoot is more balanced thanks to the slightly wider platform. The shoe may not feel quite as "fast" but still has plenty of DNA to get you moving. I used to have a hard time running slow in the Speed 1 and 2 and now this geometry allows me to slow the shoe down a little too. The Speed 3 is a highly versatile shoe that can handle nearly any pace fast or slow. 

Nathan: With the Endorphin Speed 3, you get a full thickness midsole of PWRRUN PB with a newly designed plastic plate that has "wings" that span the width of the midfoot. Primarily this change affected stability, so I'll address that change more in the next section. However, given the change in plate geometry, there is an improvement in versatility. At slower paces, the forefoot rocker helps provide a very smooth, rolling ride on mildly soft platform. The semi-flexible plastic plate gives just enough to keep easy miles smooth and comfortable. I found that this really allows this model to perform well at daily paces and even some recovery paces. When you put more effort into the run, you really start to feel the foam "give" and the bounciness of the PWRRUN PB come alive. Therefore this shoe can do daily mileage, tempo runs, long runs, and some recovery runs. I appreciate that the plate stabilizes the foam while allowing the foot to flex a bit through the forefoot, giving just a touch of connection to the ground. 




STABILITY 

Matt: The Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 is a neutral shoe, but has evolved into a stable neutral shoe. Several things have been added the create inherent guidance to this version that greatly improves it over previous ones. The most significant is that the shape of the sole has been widened along the length of the shoe. While the midfoot is still narrower than the rest of the shoe, it too has been widened. There is a large amount of sole flare in the forefoot and heel on both sides of the shoe. This helps center the foot and resists motions in each direction. There are now significant sidewalls on both sides of the midfoot. Combined with the wings from the nylon plate that extend the full width of the midsole there, the midfoot features guidance in both directions thanks to both physical resistance and stiffness. I do not feel this pushing into my foot, but it provides a noticeable difference in ride quality. While this is technically a neutral shoe, those with mild stability needs in either direction will do fine in the Speed 3, especially in the midfoot and heel (also thanks to the heel counter). Those with neutral stability needs will also do fine here as the methods of guidance are not intrusive unless you are sensitive to sidewalls. 

David: The Endorphin Speed 3 is definitely not a stability shoe, but makes some strides to improve this category from previous models. The platform through the heel and midfoot is a little bit wider underfoot and the sidewalls are better integrated. The nylon plate was redesigned slightly to incorporate more of a winged design to allow for some forward guidance. The foam itself is still on the softer end and the platform still has a little give to it. Though the shoe has a little more stability underfoot, I would definitely still classify this as a neutral shoe. The upper locks down well and certainly fits snug wrapping the foot globally when locked down. There is slight stretch to it but the shoe does a decent enough job tackling most situations. 

Nathan: I finally could enjoy the Endorphin Speed the way so many other have. In version 1, 2, and in the RunShield [Review], I couldn't go more than 5-6 miles without getting soreness in my peroneal and tibialis posterior muscles. Those muscle help  support the back part of the foot and ankle, and the more narrow platform and more flexible plate in previous version left me grasping for more stability in the rear foot. With the wider heel platform and the winged plate, I have had no problems on runs >1.5 hours (10+ miles). The shoe is still very much a neutral shoe (verging on stable neutral for me, but not quite there). For those who typically need some guidance and are considering if they should choose the Endorphin Speed 3 or the new Tempus [Review], it will certainly depend on your specific needs and desires for the shoe. For those who really like a bit more structure and want something more geared for daily mileage and long runs (not so much workouts), the Tempus is a clear choice as the Speed 3 is still not extremely stable. However, if you are someone who only needs mild stability and wants something for tempos or racing, the Speed 3 might fit the bill, and is certainly faster-feeling than the Tempus (though the Tempus can certainly be a long distance racer for many).


THOUGHTS AS A DPT / FOOTWEAR SCIENCE

The foot and ankle are controlled by around 29 muscles in combination with joint articulations and ligaments. That means that 29 muscles need to coordinate with one another each time you take a step, and each person has different amounts of mobility in those joint articulations (of which there are about 30). No wonder it's so hard to nail down what kind of guidance each person needs based on foot type; each person has different intrinsic strength and stability as well as different areas of weakness and room for growth or support. This is why, as we say all the time, one shoe cannot provide the perfect fit, support, or guidance for every runner. You will have to learn your preferences, needs, and areas to train over time while always recognizing that your needs may change.

In the case of the Endorphin Speed 3, we saw a change in plate design and platform contact width that made a market difference for my personal running experience. The wider heel and plate that spans the width of the midfoot resists compression both laterally and medially in the back of the shoe during the transition from initial contact to mid stance. With less compression there is less potential for the subtalar joint to move into inversion or eversion, which therefore decreases the potential demand on the ankle stabilizers such as the peroneal muscles. I saw "potential" because forces are only altered depending on your individual landing position and running mechanics. For me, this resulted in a shoe that I can do long runs in without pain, which was not the case for previous versions. Be a student of yourself, find your own weaknesses, work on them with exercises and training, and use shoes as tools along the way.



RECOMMENDATIONS

Matt: The Endorphin Speed 3 is my favorite of the series. It fixes the inherent instability I felt with the prior versions that limited my ability to use them for daily training. The Speed 3 now feels far more versatile for daily training, but is still light and responsive enough to be used for faster workouts. I am particular to lightweight trainers and with the responsive ride and inherent guidance, the Speed 3 has been a favorite recently. Some people may be concerned with the changes that have occurred, but I want to say the changes are positive and the shoe can still move quickly. The only thing I would suggest is to work on the toebox. The forefoot has plenty of room, but the front tapers a little quicker than I personally would like. Widening this or reducing the taper until later by just a hair may be beneficial for those who use this as a mileage training shoe and those who use this for longer races and workouts.

David: I enjoyed my time in the Endorphin Speed 3. I think the redesign was a positive thing for the shoe. The main thing I would look into is just the upper integration a little bit. The most distal part of the tongue has a stiffness to it and creates a crinkly feeling when creased. The upper definitely has a good hold when locked down but can create a little bit of pressure around the heel collar if some are sensitive to it. Normally I am fine with it but I did have a small injury to my lateral foot shortly before receiving this model and so the pressure from that heel collar did have some noticeable pressure, even compared to other performance trainers. 

Nathan: It's hard to come up with more recommendations when my thoughts on how to improve the previous version were to widen the ground contact surface. They've done that in this version and also widened the plate, which was done seamlessly. I'm just going to enjoy this one for a while.

WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR 

Matt: The Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 continues as a versatile lightweight trainer/workout shoe that may also be an option for some with longer races. The new version has evolved but maintains the essence of its predecessors. A redesigned upper provides a snug heel, an adjustable midfoot, a slightly wider forefoot with a lower volume upper that maintains the snug/secure fit. A wider sole, new sidewalls and winged extensions from the plate finally make for better inherent stability and guidance. The ride retains its ability to tolerate workouts and training, with slightly more cushioning, a far more bouncy ride and a continued efficient roll no matter where you land. Although it is far more differentiated from the Endorphin Pro series as a lightweight trainer, it still has the ability to tolerate faster efforts. Many will still be able to use this as a half/full marathon racers, while others will continue to enjoy it for daily training, long runs, and workouts. 

David: The Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 is a versatile performance trainer that can pretty much do anything from daily mileage up to racing for a decent amount of people. The nylon plate still provides some rigidity and responsiveness while still allowing for some flexibility through the forefoot. The slightly wider platform creates a little more cross sectional area and stability for those that may have been sensitive to the previous model. Those sensitive to pressure around the foot from uppers in the heel collar region may want to try it on first. Overall the shoe has moved in the right direction and is still the fan favorite performance trainer that it has been. 

Nathan: The Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 is one of the most versatile shoes out there. It's going to be for someone looking for a neutral, do it all shoe that has a new generation foam, some bounce, and a forefoot rocker. This isn't for someone looking for a naturally-riding shoe. The Speed 3 is a neutral performance trainer that could still be laced up for race day and is even more well-suited for longer races given the wider platform. 


GRADING 

Matt
Fit: B+ (Snug and secure due to lower volume, but has decent width. Adjustable midfoot with a secure heel. Toe box tapers a little)
Performance: A
 (Excellent versatile ride that can handle workouts, easy runs and may be a long-distance racer for those who want a plate with some flexibility)
Stability: B+/A- [Stable Neutral] (Sidewalls and winged plate in the midfoot, combined with a wider sole/sole flare creates more inherent guidance)
DPT/Footwear Science: A (Excellent integration of new age guidance methods while maintaining a faster/versatile ride)
Personal: A- (A go-to lightweight training shoe that can handle easy, workouts and long runs equally well.
Overall: A- 

Nathan
Fit: (Great lacing system, no irritation anywhere on the foot)
Performance: 
A (Best for tempo to get the full bounce, but still smooth for easy mileage and rolls nicely at all paces)
Stability: B+ [Neutral] (More stable, particularly in the rearfoot, than previous, but still not extremely structured)
DPT/Footwear Science: A (Wonderful plate redesign to meet the goals they had for the update)
Personal: A (I've enjoyed every step in the shoe so far)
Overall: A

David

Fit: B+ (The mesh material is comfortable and the shoe provides good lockdown throughout. The lacing system around the heel collar can be a little tight when laced down. The distal part of the tongue can be a little crinkly and uncomfortable when flexing over it.)
Performance: 
A (Slightly more stable and equally responsive. Balanced, rockered, but still forgiving ride.)
Stability: B+ (A little bit better from previous versions but the platform itself still has a little give and the shoe went from slightly unstable to neutral)
DPT/Footwear Science: A (Taking an unstable shoe and changing the geometry without overhauling the ride was a good move with the platform and plate)
Personal: A- (I really like this shoe. The shoe does give me a little irritation to the lateral foot but this isn't the only shoe that does that right now. Once the pressure injury calms down I am sure it will be fine.)
Overall: A-
  

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FURTHER READING

Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 - Bigger, with tons of cush for the long distance
Asics Metaspeed Edge+ - A huge update makes this year's Edge a real marathon competitor
adidas adizero Adios Pro 3 - The latest in Adidas racing is the most marathon focused yet
Hoka Mach 5 - The 2021 favorite managed to get even better 
Nike Pegasus 39
- A highly versatile daily trainer reaches v39

Find all Shoe Reviews at Doctors of Running here.

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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 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.

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Asics Metaspeed Edge+

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