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Saucony Endorphin Elite Review: 95% Energy Return!?
By David Salas, Andrea Myers and Matthew Klein

The big reveal is here. The Saucony Endorphin Elite debuts a brand new midsole (PWRRUN HG) with improved resilience and energy return. The Endorphin Elite has aims of being one of the best racing shoes on the market. With 95% energy return (per Saucony) and a fast-rolling carbon plate, this shoe delivers a new top-shelf option to the road running scene. 

Price: $274.95 at Running Warehouse
Weight: 7.2 oz, 204 g (men's size 9), 6.5 oz, 185 g  (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 39.5 mm / 31.5 mm
Drop: 8mm
Classification: Elite Distance Racing Shoe


Matt: The Saucony Endorphin Elite is a next-level super racing shoe for almost any distance. Featuring a massive amount of PWRRUN HG foam and an aggressive geometry, the Endorphin Elite is among the top racing shoes for fast 10ks to marathons. A wider upper with a lower volume fit combined with a sharply rockered sole makes for a fast shoe that moves at a whole other level.

David: The Saucony Endorphin Elite is a very streamlined racing option for nearly any distance. This shoe will shine mostly above 10km and provides a bouncy and fast rolling ride. The PWRRUN HG foam is a little more firm than that of the PWRRUN PB in the Endorphin Pro 3 and the toe spring up front is sharper. This shoe really makes you roll and bounce into that next step. The experience is very lively and exciting for the racing shoe category.

Andrea: Saucony has taken their super shoes to another level with the Endorphin Elite. The reported 95% energy return from the PWRRUN HG foam make the shoe the most responsive Endorphin yet and the more aggressive forefoot rocker give this shoe pop at push-off that the more rolling Endorphin Pro line lacks. The Endorphin Elite has a wider and less tapered toe box than any of the Endorphin Pro shoes, making it a high-performance and accommodating option for races up to marathon distance. 

: Mizuno Wave Rebellion Pro, Nike Alphafly 1


Matt: The Saucony Endorphin Elite fits me true to size in my normal Men's US size 10. The fit is a little on the wide side for a racing shoe but has a low riding and low volume upper. While my toes had room, the upper sits low across them. The superficial toe guard also provides some structure up front but did initially cause some rubbing against my toes. This feeling went away after 1/2 mile. The fit overall is normal to slightly anatomic in the forefoot, slightly snug in the midfoot, and snug but flexible in the heel. The mesh is breathable and see-through in the forefoot. It does not stretch, which adds additional security upfront. In the midfoot, there are clear cut-outs to save weight. There is a thin gusseted tongue and midfoot wrap that both lock the foot down well to the platform. The heel is flexible with no heel counter and an external wrap. The upper is secure, but initially does not feel so. I had to tighten down the laces, which interact really well with the midfoot wrap to lock the foot down. I was still nervous about the security, but had no slippage, felt the upper completely disappear and completely forgot about it while running at all paces. I was also concerned about turning but found the midfoot wrap and high sidewalls to do an excellent job of keeping my foot on the platform. This is one of the lightest uppers I have ever experienced that still does a great job with security and lockdown. 

David: The Saucony Endorphin Elite fits true to size in my Men's 9.5. The lockdown throughout is very good and consistent with most racing options. Everything in this shoe is geared at performance and you can even see this in the upper. There are cutouts medially and laterally with thin overlays to reduce weight. There is also a midfoot strap/wrap that extends both medially and laterally. If you look underneath the shoe it also wraps around the plate and helps give even more lockdown when laced up. The mesh itself is really lightweight and grid like throughout. There is no heel counter, though there is an extension of the overlay/plastic wrap that meets together in the back of the shoe to make a heel collar. There is light padding to this region and I had no irritation. The sensation of having no counter and the wrap felt a little different at first on the heel but I forgot about it pretty quick. The upper slides in with the sidewalls in the midsole and you feel very centered. The tongue is gusseted and very lightweight and thin. There are holes throughout it as well to reduce weight further. Width in the heel and midfoot are slightly snug with the forefoot being normal for a marathon racing shoe. The overall experience is really good. I felt secure to the platform, though I will say I got some biting from the laces. The tongue almost felt a little too thin for me, but I can live with that. The attention to detail on this upper is very good. 

Andrea: I normally go up 1/2 size in the Endorphin series to get enough length in the shoe. When I first tried on the Endorphin Elite, I wondered if I should have stayed true to size, because it does run a little longer than the same size Endorphin Pro 3. After my first run, I was glad that I sized up because I did not have any issues with foot translation and found the length to be comfortable and sufficiently accommodating for longer runs. The toe box is wider and more squared off as compared to the rounded shape of the Endorphin Pro 3. I tend to get irritation at my 5th MTPs in shoes that taper too quickly at the toe box, and found the width of the Endorphin Elite to be near perfect for my feet. The toe box of the Endorphin Elite is what I had hoped the Asics Metaspeed Sky+ would be, but found that shoe to be too low volume in the toe box for my foot shape and biomechanics.

The thin mesh upper does not stretch and has a decent amount of structure from the large Saucony overlay that runs the entire length of the lateral aspect of the shoe. Medially, the midfoot strap and the lacing overlay contribute to the structure of the upper. The upper has cutouts around the midfoot strap, which makes the shoe very breathable. The tongue is soft and thin with extensive cutouts and folds over easily when the laces are tightened. I did not experience any discomfort related to the tongue folding over because of the flexibility of the tongue. I initially had some issues with heel slippage until I got the lace tightness dialed in. The heel is very different from the Endorphin line (even the Pro 1) in that there is no heel counter. Instead, there is a small pad/Achilles pillow at the top of the heel that helps to keep the rearfoot secured. The upper overlays wrap around both sides of the heel, but I did not have any sensation of the overlays providing any stability or structure to the rearfoot while running. For me, the fit of the Endorphin Elite makes it the best fitting Endorphin shoe so far.


Matt: The Saucony Endorphin Elite is a high-level, maximally cushioned, aggressively rockered racing shoe. The Elite features Saucony's new PWRRUN HG foam, which runs slightly firmer than the most recent iteration of PWRRUN PB in the Endorphin Pro 3. It does feel more resilient, meaning it bounces more despite being slightly firmer, which is in line given reports of this foam having upwards of 95% energy return. Combined with a large heel bevel and a slightly late but aggressive toe spring, the ride feels fast and weirdly smooth. The forked carbon plate is integrated well into the sole and while it is stiff, it seems to work well with the toe spring and foam. The ride is propulsive, feels incredibly light (7.2 oz men's size 9) and makes you run faster than you expect to run. I have been returning from a fractured toe and found myself hitting paces I absolutely did not expect to hit (including a 6 min pace tempo, a fast uphill tempo and a 5:14 mile racing my students). The shoe feels better the faster you run, but feels best during consistent efforts like tempos and threshold efforts.

Given the size (39.5mm / 31.5mm) it feels better at efforts above 10k pace but can hit faster efforts if necessary. This makes it an excellent choice for 10k to marathon races and efforts. That said, this is a shoe you may want to break in and save for special efforts. I have already seen some wear of the exposed PWRRUN HG. Thus, this may not be the most durable of shoes and may be one you want to be picky with on mileage. Traction wise this shoe will only work on smooth dry pavement. I had some slipping issues on wet track during a workout and got a rock stuck in the gap when I mistakenly ran over some loose gravel on the road. This is a specific tool for a specific purpose, so make sure you use it as intended. 

David: The Saucony Endorphin Elite delivered for me. The shoe provides good protection and a fast rolling sensation when running. The shoe has a gradual bevel in the heel and midfoot with a sharp toe spring through the forefoot. The shoe really feels like it wants you to roll into the next step. The midsole is updated with PWRRUN HG. They have found this to have upwards of 95% energy return and improved resilience from PWRRUN PB. The foam itself is not quite as compliant as PWRRUN PB and so it feels a tad firmer on foot when compared. Despite that this still provides a good bounce when loaded. The shoe feels pretty good at all paces, but really likes you to push it. I notice once I open my stride up right around marathon pace or faster this shoe really responds and rolls.

This shoe is definitely a road racing shoe and though I have not died running on packed dirt in these, I wouldn't necessarily choose to. The outsole is very thin and hugs the platform tightly. It is relatively flat with circle cutouts throughout. It reminds me a lot of the Adidas Adios Pro outsole. On the road it grips decently, though I did notice it slides a tad if there are dirt, mud, or more slick conditions. If you keep this on the road it should treat you just fine though. The midsole is exposed on the medial heel and though this probably does make the heel feel a little softer, I am finding that I am chewing through that region rather quickly. Racing is the main priority in this shoe that is felt. This shoe works really well with my mechanics and will be my racing shoe for my next marathon in February.

Andrea: For me, the Endorphin Elite is the best Saucony super shoe yet. The more aggressive toe spring, firmer midsole, and wider toe box make the Endorphin Elite more responsive and comfortable for my biomechanics. While I love the bounce and rolling ride of the Endorphin Pro 3, the Endorphin takes performance to the next level with the more resilient PWRRUN HG. I tested the shoe during a long tempo run, threshold pace mile intervals, and hill repeats. The shoe performed beautifully for each of these workouts, and I was particularly surprised at how well it went for my hill reps, which I did on a hill with a 10% grade. I think the shoe performs best between threshold and marathon pace, and I plan to use it for an 8 mile race coming up in February. I would also consider using it for my next half and full marathon later in the year. I really like the firmer ride of the PWRRUN HG because it actually feels like I lose less energy with each landing in this shoe. The more aggressive toe spring provides a propulsive feeling at the end of push off, which I find to work well with my mechanics. 

The outsole covers the lateral rearfoot and midfoot as well as the entire forefoot. The exposed midsole at the medial rearfoot and midfoot will likely wear down quickly for rearfoot strikers. For me, that part of the shoe is dirty, but does not yet show any wear. I also noticed decreased traction on wet or sand covered roads, but not enough to significantly affect my workout. While both the Endorphin Pro 3 and the Endorphin Elite are 8mm drop shoes, the Endorphin Elite feels more like 4-6mm due to the more aggressive forefoot and rearfoot rockers.


Matt: The Saucony Endorphin Elite is a neutral shoe. However, it does several guidance elements extremely well. The Elite has some of the best sidewalls I have seen in a super shoe, with an extensive wrap from the anterior midfoot all the way around the heel. This provides a noticeable level of center guidance during the run and has been comfortable even over longer efforts for me. The forefoot is incredibly stable with the wider base and aggressive roll forward. The midfoot features lateral cut-out with a filled-in medial side. Although I would expect this to guide my foot laterally, the well-placed sidewalls kept my foot centered even in the middle of the shoe. The HG foam, despite feeling more responsive than anything I have put on my feet, feels a hair firmer than many many other true super foams. This further adds to the feeling of the shoe feeling inherently stable. While not being a stability shoe, the design of the Endorphin Elite not only keeps your locked on the platform, it does a great job of keeping things centered so you can focus on the run. Those who do well with sidewalls will enjoy the design of this shoe. 

David: The Endorphin Elite is a neutral road running shoe geared at racing. Stability normally doesn't go hand-in-hand with that. Despite that the shoe does do some things well. The shoe has decent sidewalls throughout the entirety of the shoe that genuinely make you feel centered. The high stack and softer foam do make this a little unstable inherently. The upper locks you down to the platform really well and so you know exactly what to expect with each step. The turning in this shoe was pretty good, though still a little tip toe like with the softer foam. Traction is decent for road conditions, but does not carry over super well in other conditions. The heel does have a nice bucket sensation with a good hold throughout that extends into the midfoot. This is a shoe that feels surprisingly good on stability when running in it. It doesn't necessarily feel "stable", but it feels more stable than it probably should for the stack and foam combination. I think adding some outsole to the medial heel might help with making feel a little more stable as well with running on road or potentially even turning. 

The Endorphin Elite is a neutral racing shoe with some elements that center the foot and provide guidance from initial contact to pushoff. The wide base of the forefoot makes the Endorphin Elite one of the most stable feeling super shoes for me as a lateral midfoot striker. The aggressive rocker geometry is also somewhat stabilized by the wider forefoot base. The extensive medial and lateral sidewalls help to center the foot in the shoe and provide structure to the mesh upper. The firmer ride of the PWWRUN HG foam also provides a more responsive and stable feel as compared to the Endorphin Pro line. While the Endorphin Elite is definitely not a stability shoe, its design does contribute to a balanced ride for runners with more neutral mechanics. 

Thoughts as a DPT: Are Super Shoes ALSO Protecting Runners More Than Ever Before?
By Matthew Klein

The Saucony Endorphin Elite is a sign of super shoes moving to a completely different level. While the original Nike Vaporfly was found to provide energy return levels around 87%, the Saucony Endorphin Elite has been reported to provide 95% energy return (Hoogkamer et al., 2018).  While the Vaporfly, Saucony Endorphin Pro 3, Asics Metaspeed Sky and others still sit in the super shoe category, newer products like the Saucony Endorphin Elite, Mizuno Wave Rebellion Pro and even the more seasoned Nike Alphafly are sitting at an almost entirely different level in regards to aggressiveness and performance. We will likely see more companies enter into this level, which begs the question of whether we need a different name for this category. 

As exciting as the new shoes are, they are still tools that will work for specific runners and others that are patient and cautious enough to figure out how to use them. These will not make you invincible and while some people report reduced soreness after hard workouts in them, others have reported more due to their bodies have to get used to something so drastically different. Though we do not yet have evidence on how they affect injury rates, from clinical experience (expert opinion) it appears that injury rates are not changing (they are still high). The types of injuries, however, are changing. As expected with more aggressive, softer, stiffer and rockered shoes, I have seen more hamstring, calf, Achilles and soft tissue injuries compared to more bone stress injuries seen during the minimalist era. 

As we have stated repeatedly, these shoes are tools, they will impact your body in different ways and you must continuously condition your body to handle those changes. As we move to an even more aggressive level of performance footwear, working on single-leg stability on unstable surfaces (soft unstable foams), hip strength (stresses are moved proximally toward the hip), and resiliency of the Achilles tendon and calf (working with the plate and instability of the foams) are three major things I suggest that runners work heavily on if they want to use these new shoes. 

This does not mean that shoes like the Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 don't have a place. How people respond to these shoes are highly variable and dependent on many factors including the person's lower extremity stability, proprioception, unique biomechanics, sense of comfort and many other factors. There are some that will probably do better in the Endorphin Pro 3 while others will do better in the Endorphin Elite. There is also a group that will do better in the Kinvara! These options are now out there and we encourage people to explore what works best for them. The "what works best" search is what made us start this website, so know that from our experience, what will work for you may change over time. So enjoy the many changes occurring in the running industry as they are moving toward people having more options, but will require people to explore what works for them as individuals. 


Boyer, K. & Andriacchi, T. (2009).  Changes in running kinematics and kinetics in response to a rockered shoe intervention.  Clinical Biomechanics.  doi: 10.1016/j.clinibiomech.2009.08.003

Hoogkamer, W., Kipp, S., Frank, J. H., Farina, E. M., Luo, G., & Kram, R. (2018). A comparison of the energetic cost of running in marathon racing shoes. Sports Medicine48(4), 1009-1019.

Sobhani, S., Heuvel, E., Dekker, R., Postema, K., Kluitenberg, B., Bredeweg, S., Hijmans, J.  (2017).  Biomechanics of running with rocker shoes.  Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport.  20(1): 38-44.


Matt: The Saucony Endorphin Elite is everything I hoped this shoe would be. It has guidance elements that work well for me, a secure fit without the need for an aggressive heel counter and an incredible ride that has me running faster than I should be able to right now (recovering from a mild fracture in my 4th toe). My only issue with this shoe is the durability and traction of the outsole. This may be a required sacrifice for such a massive shoe coming in at only 7.2 oz. However, I still want Saucony to experiment with this, especially at the price tag. Outside of that, right now this will be the first shoe I reach for when preparing for any dry surface road race. 

David: I really enjoyed the Saucony Endorphin Elite. Like I noted earlier this will most likely be my racing shoe going forward. There are some things I probably would adjust though. The first is the tongue. The lockdown is really good throughout, though tongue biting seems to be pretty consistent on this one. I really wouldn't mind a tad extra weight to pad the tongue a tiny bit at the top. The other is the medial heel of exposed midsole. I normally don't mind exposed midsoles, though I seem to be chewing through this one rather quick. I think filling it in could help with a stability, traction, and overall durability. 

Andrea: For me, the Endorphin Elite is the best super shoe yet from Saucony. I would recommend increased rubber coverage on the outsole to make the shoe a little more durable. The tongue could also be improved to reduce its tendency to fold over when the laces are tightened. Otherwise, I am really pleased with the fit of the toe box and improved midsole resilience and look forward to racing in it next month.


Matt: The Saucony Endorphin Elite is one of the top racing models on the market. A new PWRRUN HG provides a high level of resiliency while a well-tuned and aggressive geometry keeps you rolling along. A new incredibly light upper manages to provide security while still having a wider (but low) toe box. Those wanting an elite-level racing shoe along the lines of the Nike Alphafly ($275 for v2) and Mizuno Wave Rebellion Pro ($250) that also has both more inherent guidance from extensive sidewalls and is the lightest of the three may want to check out this shoe for 10k to marathon efforts and races. 

David: The Saucony Endorphin Elite is a top shelf racing shoe for those wanting a sharp rolling sensation through the forefoot and a poppy midsole. The PWRRUN HG midsole is not as compliant as PWRRUN PB and does come off as a little firmer, but still plenty cushioned for the marathon distance. Despite it being less compliant it is more resilient and provides more of a bounce. The Endorphin Elite can be thought of as a racing class Ferrari to be pulled out for those prized efforts and races. 

Andrea: The Saucony Endorphin Elite is a next-level super shoe for runners who like a firmer ride and a more aggressive toe spring. The wider toe box will make this shoe an option for runners who find the Endorphin Pro 3 toe box to taper too quickly or for those who find the Asics Metaspeed Sky+ to be too low volume. The Endorphin Elite will shine at races distances of 10k-marathon. Due to the durability of the outsole, this will be a shoe that should be reserved for racing and a few key workouts.


Fit: A- (Extremely light and secure upper. A little rubbing from the toe guard that goes away )
A- (Fast shoe that will have you running and turning over faster than expected. Only for dry, well groomed road surfaces)
Stability: A- [Stable Neutral] (Extensive sidewalls and wider platform give a surprisingly centered ride)
DPT/Footwear Science: (Excellent integration of a newer foam, forked plate, midsole geometry, inherent guidance and excellent performance at such a lightweight)
Personal: A (A stable neutral racing shoe that feels incredibly fast and natural for my mechanics. Outside of some durability concerns, this will be the first shoe I grab for racing and faster efforts)
Overall: A/A- 

Fit: A- (Great lockdown throughout while balancing weight, tongue does bite though at the top.)
A- (Fast rolling sensation with great rebound, traction could be a little better if the medial heel is filled in)
Stability: B+ (Stability is not bad for the construction of the shoe, great lockdown, great sidewalls, though high stack, exposed foam make for a little bit of instability with turning and dirt)
DPT/Footwear Science: A (A solid overhaul on the Endorphin Pro series. This is very much its own shoe with geometry and ride/performance. I do expect Endorphin Pro to still be around so they have 2 different racing options.)
Personal: A (It works for my mechanics. At marathon pace this shoe just shines for me and I will be using this for my next race.)
Overall: A-/A (An excellent addition to the road racing category.)
Fit: A- (Exceptional fit in toe box, but tongue could be refined to reduce folding)
Performance: A 
(Aggressive toe spring and highly resilient PWRRUN HG midsole provide a responsive, fast ride)
Stability: B+ (A neutral racing shoe with well done fit and guidance elements to center the foot and encourage forward motion)
DPT/Footwear Science: A (Reported 95% energy return from PWRRUN HG is highly perceptible on foot. A great progression from the Endorphin Pro line.) 
Personal: A (Best Endorphin shoe from Saucony for me due to firmer ride and aggressive toe spring)
Overall: (Great fit, performance, and geometry make this shoe Saucony's best to date)

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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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