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Saucony Endorphin Shift 3 Review: Tall, but Also Light
By Senior Contributor David Salas and Chief Editor/Founder Matt Klein

The Endorphin line from Saucony has been a hit from the beginning. The Pro, Speed, and Shift have all used well-integrated rocker designs and Saucony's "speedroll technology". The Shift 3 continues upon this with an even more streamlined design and lighter weight.

Price: $149.95 at Running Warehouse (coming soon)
Weight: 9.4 oz, 266 g (men's size 9), 8.1 oz, 229 g  (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 39 mm / 35 mm
Drop: 4mm
Classification: Maximal Stack Height Structured Training Shoe



RUNNING SHOE SUMMARY

Matt: The Saucony Endorphin Shift 3 is a maximal daily performance trainer with a highly rockered geometry, a performance fit, a structured sole design and surprisingly lighter weight. The new upper provides a snug fit with a mesh that hugs the feet well. The sole provides a guided, stable and rolling ride that encourages a forward transition. The Shift 3 is the lightest version yet, providing a snappy yet protective underfoot feel that will easily work for uptempo workouts and longer efforts.

David: The Saucony Endorphin Shift 3 is a neutral daily trainer that features a rocker geometry and lightweight package. The rolling motion throughout the shoe is very evident and gives you a quick transition through toe-off. The sidewalls and upper are well-integrated and give you a solid offering to the maximalist category.

SIMILAR SHOES: New Balance Fresh Foam More v4, On Cloudmonster, Asics Glideride 3




FIT

Matt: The Saucony Endorphin Shift 3 fits true to size in my normal men's US size 10. The fit is tapered in the toebox, snug in the forefoot and slightly snug in the midfoot and heel. The mesh in the forefoot does stretch, allowing the upper to mold to the foot. Initially this felt narrow, but it accommodates the foot and provides a performance fit. The tongue is slightly thinner and gusseted, further wrapping the foot. The gusset from the tongue extends into the forefoot, acting as a second inner layer of the upper. The laces interact with the mesh well, although I did not have to tighten them much to get a secure fit. The heel collar sits a little low, which made me nervous about heel slippage. However, thanks to the security from the midfoot, I did not experience any slippage and have not had to lace lock the shoe.

There is a moderately flexible heel counter in the rearfoot. It is most stiff at the posterior section and is more flexible on the sides. It only comes up 3/4 of the way as the sidewalls lock the heel in well. The counter is thinner and did not bother me at all. However, those sensitive to these should approach with caution. This is a shoe that should be worn with socks due to some internal stitching. Overall, the upper is comfortable and hugs the foot well providing a performance-oriented fit.

David: The Saucony Endorphin Shift 3 fits true to size in my Men's 9.5. The upper locks down very well throughout the full length of the platform. The mesh upper is comfortable and on the thinner end, while still having some periodic reinforcement. The volume is slightly snug throughout and has a performance-esque feel to it while still leaning on the trainer side of things. The width in the heel and midfoot are normal with a slightly wide forefoot and toebox. There is a shallow heel counter present that is not full-length vertically that holds the structure of the region without giving any irritation to the Achilles tendon. The tongue is relatively thin but still has enough padding to allow for good lockdown without irritation. There is a mild toe guard present that holds the structure of the region without being obtrusive. There are also overlays in the medial and lateral aspect of the rearfoot that extends up towards the midfoot that seem to help maintain some structure as well. The Shift 3 overall features a very well-done upper for high stack rockered shoe. 




PERFORMANCE

Matt: The Saucony Endorphin Shift 3 is a maximal cushioned shoe that can surprisingly pick up the pace. The ride is highly rockered, especially in the forefoot. The rearfoot now features a strong posterior lateral bevel that guides the feet well on impact. As expected with a maximal shoe, there is little flexibility throughout the length of the shoe. This is offset by the overall rocker (Speedroll) making this shoe roll more than bounce. The stack height has increased from previous versions, maxing out at 39mm/35mm (the 4mm is only somewhat noticeable due to the highly rockered sole).  While PWRRUN typically is firmer, the higher amount of it and what I suspect to be a PWRRUN PB insole makes for a cushioned ride that feels slightly soft. There is a decent amount of give to the sole when you land, which does bounce back somewhat depending on your speed.

The Shift 3 is far lighter than previous versions, coming in at 9.4oz (men's size 9). The combination of the weight drop and more responsive ride make this shoe great for uptempo efforts and workouts. There is still plenty of cushioning and rocker underfoot for easy and longer runs. However, the weight drop makes it far easier to turn the legs over in. I have done the majority of my fartleks and intervals in this shoe and it feels snappy and lighter than expected when the pace picks up. Thus, the Shift 3 can easily perform multiple duties including being an easy day, long run, and uptempo workout shoe.

The durability has been great like previous versions. I have over 60 miles in my pair and have yet to chew through the outsole rubber. Overall, the Shift 3 is a great daily training shoe that is now on the lighter end and can pick up the pace better despite having such a tall stack height.

David: The Endorphin Shift performs incredibly well for how high the stack is. The shoe is very lightweight on foot and transitions smoothly throughout. The shoe does use a rocker geometry with a rounded heel and forefoot. The toe spring is a little sharper up front and gives you a pretty solid rolling-forward feeling. The heel is beveled well and not overly dramatic. Traction underfoot is pretty decent as well. The PWRRUN foam normally runs on the firmer end, but there is so much of it that it still feels pretty protective and soft underfoot. The shoe maintains its structure well and provides a consistent rolling ride. The foam has a small amount of bounce, though it mainly runs off of its geometry. The shoe feels best at daily runs, but it can handle a little uptempo pacing if you need it to. For me, this is a solid easy day and daily trainer.





STABILITY

Matt: The Endorphin Shift 3 is a stable neutral shoe. It is even classified as "structured cushioning" by Saucony. Although it has been significantly redesigned from the previous version, it has remained a well-guided shoe throughout the length of the sole. There are significant sidewalls that wrap the heel and extend into the midfoot on both sides of the foot. An additional heel clip further locks in the rearfoot, almost making the heel counter redundant. There is a large amount of sole flare, particularly on the medial side of the heel that resists motion in that direction. The sole is on the wider side throughout the length fo the shoe (as a maximalist shoe's sole should). Like the previous versions, the highly rockered ride contributes to keeping the foot's motion forward. This is particularly evident in the forefoot, where the sole flare and high rocker transition everything forward. The heel has a greatly improved posteriorly lateral bevel that guides the foot in on landing. A new guidance line in the rearfoot further contributes to rearfoot guidance. The Endorphin Shift 3 continues to be a stable neutral shoe that borders on stability in the rearfoot given the numerous methods that promote forward movement. 

David: The Endorphin Shift runs pretty stable throughout. The shift is still in the neutral category but does a lot of things well. The shoe has a wide platform underfoot that is still well integrated with the upper thanks to the usage of sidewalls in the medial and lateral rearfoot. The upper locks down well with minimal heel slippage for the rocker design. The traction underfoot is decent and can even handle some light runnable off-road conditions, but is best as its intended for the roads. The foam maintains its structure well so you don't feel like you are on an unstable marshmallow. Overall, you feel decently grounded and stable. As with anything high up, there is some inherent instability having foam between you and the ground but they did a pretty good job here. 

THOUGHTS AS A DPT / FOOTWEAR SCIENCE


Our Favorite Topic

The Shift 3 has evolved greatly from its predecessors. Among the large changes is the addition of a significant posterior lateral heel bevel. I discuss and recommend this frequently for multiple reasons. The major bone of the rearfoot is the calcaneus bone. In the majority of people, the posterior-most part of this bone is curved. This is part of an efficient biomechanical mechanism called the heel rocker (one of three of these in the foot). The curve in our calcaneus bone serves to roll our feet forward during the initial contact (landing) and loading response phases of gait (foot rolling from heel strike to foot flat position). This rolling motion is efficient and energy-saving, compared to a square/sharp heel that requires more muscle force to pull over or control the front of the foot as it gets pitched forward (you don't want your forefoot to slam into the grand). The reason I suggest this be biased toward the posterior direction is that the majority of human beings land on the outside part of their foot. This allows the foot and ankle to pronate (eversion, dorsiflexion and abduct with control) as it progresses through the first part of the stance (foot on the ground) phase of gait, which helps with shock absorption.

A centered heel bevel can create some lateral sole flare, which can instead cause an early initial landing. The muscles of the lower body are tuned to turn on at a certain point prior to landing to prepare for shock absorption. An early landing means they may not be completely ready and thus more impact forces may be attenuated by passive structures like bone, cartilage, and ligaments, rather than active tissues like muscles (which do far better at handling these forces repetitively). Thus, it is best to design footwear to encourage this natural efficiency for comfort and normal biomechanics. I am happy to see this started to be added into the design of the Saucony Endorphin Shift series. 




RECOMMENDATIONS

Matt: The Endorphin Shift 3 demonstrates another step forward for Saucony with this series. With the lighter weight and performance fit, it has been able to handle long runs, uptempo workouts and easy runs well. My only suggestion is to consider easing off the taper at the toebox. Though accommodating, she does have a snug fit. I would like to see a little more room up front. The other thing I would like to challenge Saucony with is thinking about incorporating more PWRRUN PB into the midsole. It appears like the insole is made of PWRRUN PB, which contributes to the slightly softer and more responsive ride that I immediately noticed than prior versions. However, some integration similar to the Saucony Xodus Ultra (REVIEW) with a PWRRUN PB core may make for a unique evolution of this series. 

David: I don't have many recommendations for the Saucony Endorphin Shift 3. This is my favorite version of the shoe so far. The only thing that I really noticed was that I would still get a small amount of heel slippage if I did not lock the shoe down well. It normally wasn't a problem, but I have had to re-lace the shoe on one occasion. I'm thinking just slightly reworking the heel collar and tightening up that region should do it. The volume at the tongue and dorsum is still quite good. 

WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR

Matt: The Saucony Endorphin Shift 3 is a stable neutral daily trainer for those who want a maximally cushioned ride with a snug foot-hugging fit for longer and uptempo efforts. The FORMFIT upper adds to the adaptable mesh that will work best for those with normal to narrow feet wanting a performance fit. The ride is cushioned, protective, and although it has some bounce from the higher stack height, is a roller that can handle easy, uptempo and longer efforts. A performance-oriented stable neutral training shoe, the Endorphin Shift 3 is the tallest, lightest and fastest version of this series that continues to be an excellent choice for longer uptempo road miles. 

David: The Saucony Endorphin Shift 3 is neutral daily trainer for those looking to have a maximum cushioned ride with a lively rocker. The shoe has a sharper toe spring and you feel like you are rolling forward off of the front pretty quickly. The Shift is still grounded pretty well and rides pretty stable for how high up it is. It can handle itself in some runnable off-road conditions but caters much more toward more predictable surfaces. 


GRADING

Matt
Fit: B+/A- (Snug, form-fitting upper. Lightweight and surprisingly secure)
Performance: 
A/A- (Highly cushioned, snappy and rolling ride. Works well for daily training, long runs and uptempo workouts. Well rockered ride)
Stability: A [Stable Neutral] (Sidewalls, well-placed sole flare a wider platform and a posterior-lateral heel bevel all make for an excellent stable neutral shoe)
DPT/Footwear Science: A- (Excellent stable neutral design with a weight drop and increased stack height. The addition of the posterior lateral bevel improves the ride, but a little more toebox room is needed for appropriate toe mobility)
Personal: B+/A- (A continued favorite of mine for uptempo efforts, but wish there was more room in the toebox)
Overall: A- 

David
Fit: A- (Very dialed in while still being comfortable throughout. I still had a small amount of heel slippage though.)
Performance: A 
(Great shoe for rhythmic daily paces while still giving a lively ride and cushioned feel. Can handle a small amount of uptempo pacing.)
Stability: A- (Good stability and usage of geometry, sidewalls, and upper. Some inherent instability with exposed outsole and high foam in certain regions, but overall great stability for the maximalist category.)
DPT/Footwear Science: A- (Good use of sole flaring and geometry for a high stack shoe. Small bit of heel slippage and integration with upper on platform, but overall very good and lively configuration.)
Personal: A- (The Endorphin Shift I have been waiting for. Lockdown is improved and integration is better. Still a tiny bit unstable in all terrain conditions, which I run a lot, though will work well as an easy day shoe on roads.)
Overall: A-/A (A well-done maximalist shoe with a lively rocker and surprisingly stable ride)

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FURTHER READING

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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.

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

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Adidas Boston 11

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