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Saucony Triumph 21: Staying True
By David Salas & Matthew Klein

The Saucony Triumph is the premium daily trainer in the neutral category for the company. The shoe gives a much softer and bouncier midsole than the Ride and Guide footwear lineups with a more plush upper. The Triumph 21 makes some tweaks to the upper and lacing system to create a more sturdy-footed workhorse to pound miles into the earth. 

Saucony Triumph 21
Price: $159.95 at Running Warehouse
Weight: 9.8 oz, 279 g (men's size 9), 8.8 oz, 250 g (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 37 mm / 27 mm
Drop: 10mm
Classification: Daily Trainer // Premium Trainer



RUNNING SHOE SUMMARY

Matt: The Saucony Triumph 21 is a premium neutral daily trainer with a bouncy ride and a brand-new, well-fitting upper. The new flat knit upper provides a normal to slightly wider fit in the forefoot with a secure midfoot and heel. The tall PWRRUN+ midsole is bouncy, protective, and fun. Continuing as one of the lightest premium daily trainers sitting under 10 oz, the Triumph 21 is a great shoe for eating up easy miles, pounding out long runs and it can even handle a little uptempo work. 

David: The Saucony Triumph 21 is a premium daily trainer that has cleaned up a few things to make for a more sure-footed ride. The PWRRUN+ midsole is very soft and bouncy. In the previous model the upper had a little too much stretch for me, making the security a little harder to trust. The new model cleans up the upper lockdown and makes for a much more versatile training shoe in terrain. This is a high stack, high cushioned, workhorse for logging miles.

SIMILAR SHOES: New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v12
PAST MODEL: Triumph 20




FIT

Matt:  The Saucony Triumph 21 fits me true to size in my normal men's US size 10. The width is normal to slightly wider in the forefoot and midfoot, while the heel fits normal to slightly snug. The upper features a new flat-knit material that provides a secure but slightly stretchy fit throughout. There is an internal mesh that fits comfortably against bare skin and I have been able to run several miles sockless in these. The mild toe guard is also part of this mesh and did not irritate my toes at all (like many shoes do). The width in the forefoot was comfortable and allows for some mild toe splay. The midfoot fits wider and I had to tighten down the laces to get a secure fit. The tongue is gusseted and locks in well while tightening the laces.

Once the midfoot was locked down, I did not have to lace lock the heel. The rearfoot fits slightly snug with a stiff and large heel counter. This is offset by a large amount of heel collar cushioning, although those sensitive to heel counters may not do well in this shoe.

Despite the complexity of the knit, the upper feels extremely comfortable and disappears during running. The security is just right and is a massive improvement over the prior version.

David: The Saucony Triumph 21 fits true to size in my men's 9.5. The shoe uses a new flat-laying knit design that feels a lot more comfortable for me than the previous model. The lacing system has also been updated to give a more snug lockdown through the midfoot. This is certainly noticeable. as there is a little sling that deepens the lockdown both medially and laterally. I could feel hug the foot rather snug in that region when locked down, though it did not give any irritation. The width in the heel and midfoot are normal. The forefoot is slightly wide. The tongue is heavily padded and allows you to lockdown as tight as you like without any biting. There is a heel counter present that holds the structure of the foot. This is padded and did not give me any irritation. The material has a little stretch to it, though not so much it gives in turns or off road conditions.

The upper material feels plush, though still breathable enough for long efforts (I have a 19 mile run in the shoe with no issues). The feel throughout is comfortable. I will say I notice the lacing system sling on the lateral side a little more than I'd like too at rest. Perhaps padding that area a tad in the lacing system would make that a little more comfortable. Otherwise, this is a huge upgrade in the upper from the previous model for me. 




PERFORMANCE

Matt: The Saucony Triumph 21 is a highly cushioned premium daily training shoe. There is a large amount of PWRRUN+ throughout the length of the sole that provides a soft and moderately bouncy ride. The cushioning is resilient with some bounce but does not feel soft/mushy. There is a large centered heel bevel in the rearfoot. Combined with a separated heel, the lateral pillar of PWRRUN+ does collapse to ease transitions after the midsole breaks in. There is a 10mm drop listed but this feels closer to 7-8mm thanks to the amount of midsole compression at the rearfoot. The forefoot features mild to moderate flexibility, which combined with a large and longer forefoot rocker makes for an easy transition off the toes. The toe spring is low despite the large forefoot rocker, so those that don't want their toes held in extension will like this shoe.

The Triumph 21 works for a variety of mileage efforts. This shoe does extremely well on easy runs, recovery runs, and long runs. The lighter relative weight despite the high amount of cushioning combined with an easy transition makes running through longer miles easy. The midsole bounce does provide a little reach into uptempo work. I was able to do some lighter fartlek runs and uptempo pace runs, but the shoe does better at easy and steady efforts. The flexibility and rocker balance out well and makes for one of the few highly stack height shoes that still feel natural.

The outsole is covered with a large amount of durable carbon rubber. I have 20 miles on my pair with a variety of efforts on road and there is no wear on the outsole. The traction is excellent on concrete but the amount of exposed PWRRUN+ and rearfoot cut-out made me nervous to take it on trails. The one time I tried, a rock got stuck in the rearfoot. For those reasons, I would keep this shoe on roads.

David: The Saucony Triumph 21 is a workhorse for logging mileage. The shoe is able to do just that as I have had both a 19 mile run and 12 mile run with no issues. The cushioning maintains itself well. PWRRUN+ is soft, though not pillowy marshmallow soft. The structure seems to hold pretty well. The shoe has a lightly rockered design throughout and does feel like it is overly "roll-y." The outsole provides good traction throughout and I had no issues with running through dirt or decent footed trails and grass. The midsole has a bounce that is evident coming off of the forefoot. This bounce is nice for daily efforts, as it does not feel like a snappy racing shoe type bounce. The weight of the shoe is just under 10 ounces, and I think works really well for what it is. I don't have any inclination to push the pace in the Triumph 21, but it feels nice to have a little bounce in the later miles of runs. The shoe is a good example of maximum cushioned shoe that does not have an overly dramatic rocker to it. 




STABILITY

Matt: The Saucony Triumph 21 is a neutral shoe. While the upper lockdown is improved, the softer midsole and slightly narrowed midsole still make it neutral. The large stiff heel counter does provide a solid lockdown in the rearfoot and there are long sidewalls from the heel all the way to the forefoot. The taller and slightly more narrow heel still stays neutral as the sidewalls collapse easily. The forefoot is more stable thanks to the sidewalls and wider platform upfront. Those that need mild guidance a the forefoot will do well but the remainder is a solid neutral ride that isn't unstable, but is not overly stable either. 

David: The Triumph 21 did a great job of improving stability from the previous model. In the previous model I could feel my foot moving around anytime I was off of the road. This shoe locks you into the platform and lets you use it much more efficiently. The upper material is a little less stretchy and the lacing system is much more dialed in. The platform and transitions are similar as before, though feel much more sure footed. The shoe does have some good sole flaring in the forefoot as well. The heel has some slight sole flare, though not enough to feel like it is making a huge different. The PWRRUN+ midsole is definitely soft and leans on the unstable side. The other components do help with the overall design.


Thoughts as a DPT: Super Shoe Concepts in Premium Daily Trainers
By Matthew Klein

While the previous version of the Triumph series also did this, the fact that the Saucony Triumph 21 sits under 10 ounces as a premium neutral daily trainer baffles me. 9.8 oz used to be light even for a normal daily trainer and now we have highly cushioned models coming in at this weight. The Triumph 21 is one of (if not the lightest) of this group of shoes that include the New Balance 1080 v12, Nike Vomero 16, ASICS Nimbus 25, Mizuno Sky 6, Brooks Glycerin 20 and the Puma Magnify Nitro (among others). While the others are slowly moving in this direction but have not gotten there, the Saucony Triumph 21 clearly takes lessons learned from the application of newer foams, super shoe designs and geometry modifications that we have seen over the last few years.

At one time I was concerned how training in super shoes would impact our bodies. There was not (and as of this writing, still isn't) any evidence on the long-term impact of running on super stiff super cushioned shoes for long periods. Tall stack heights were one thing but a super soft bouncy foam was another. I had concerns regarding the body changes seen in response to running in super soft shoes, including stiffening of the lower extremities and amplified joint loading (Kulmala et al., 2018). 

Now that so many of these technologies are coming to daily training shoes, I accept that people will probably be fine as long as things (like training) remain balanced. I was concerned that the transition between super shoes and daily training shoes would be too drastic for some people but now the daily training shoes share similar (if not the same in some cases) foams and bounciness to many super shoes. I am happy to see that plates have been left out of the premium daily training shoes as stiff shoes only work best all the time for certain people and variations in paces will change their efficiency and impact on our systems (Hebert-Losier & Pamment, 2022; Roy & Stefanyshyn, 2006). If there is adequate toe motion available, some shoe flexibility can be a good thing for people in appropriate doses. However, the foams are getting softer, bouncier and lighter. 

We know that people tend to gravitate toward softer shoes because they can often (but not always) be perceived as more comfortable. We also know that softer and more resilient foams (ones that bounce back) tend to improve running economy and in certain individuals can decrease running-related injury risk (Hoogkamer et al., 2019; Theisen et al,. 2014; Worbet et al., 2014). So now people are often getting a little "super" in all their shoes. The problem is that continually doing one thing all the time may have consequences. Always running in softer shoes may increase lower limb stiffness and joint loading. An easy way to address this would be to have a variety of shoes that ride a little differently. One pair that lets your body do a bit more work while another does more work for you. We know from evidence that variation in running shoe use (having more than one pair) can decrease injury risk (Malisoux et al., 2015). I am curious to now if using two pairs of the same shoe or two different shoes have a different impact on injury risk. 

Regardless, now that there are increasing amounts of "super" in daily training shoes, I would encourage those focusing on long-term function to think about either some strength work or drills barefoot/in minimal shoes (if able and safely). This will help provide normal sensory input that is often lost with super-tall shoes. It may also provide some activation of the intrinsic foot muscles, which are important for normal foot stability. The key is to balance the inputs and not stay in the extremes for too long. Staying super minimalist all the time may have unintended consequences (increase risk of stress fracture/bone injuries, calf strains, etc) while staying in super cushioned shoes may also have some (increased stiffness of lower extremity, instability, muscle strains). So don't make a big deal out of this but if you are spending a ton of time in super shoes, walking around inside barefoot or doing some barefoot balance may help keep some of your systems active that may not get as much work with your new super trainers. The new technological advancements in shoes are fantastic but we still need to think about what body systems may need a little more love with these changes to keep things moving the way we want. 

Sources:

H├ębert-Losier, K., & Pamment, M. (2022). Advancements in running shoe technology and their effects on running economy and performance–a current concepts overview. 
Sports Biomechanics, 1-16.


Hoogkamer, W., Kipp, S. & Kram, R. (2019). The biomechanics of competitive male runners in three marathon racing shoes: a randomized crossover study.
Sports Medicine, 49(1), 133-143.

Kulmala, J. P., Kosonen, J., Nurminen, J., & Avela, J. (2018). Running in highly cushioned shoes increases leg stiffness and amplifies impact loading. Scientific reports, 8(1), 1-7.

Malisoux, L., Ramesh, J., Mann, R., Seil, R., Urhausen, A., & Theisen, D. (2015). Can parallel use of different running shoes decrease running‐related injury risk?. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports25(1), 110-115.


Roy, J. & Stefanyshyn, D. (2006). Shoe midsole longitudinal bending stiffness and running economy, joint energy and EMG.
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: 38(3), 562-569.

Theisen, D., Malisoux, L., Genin, J., Delattre, N., Seil, R., & Urhausen, A. (2014). Influence of midsole hardness of standard cushioned shoes on running-related injury risk. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 48(5), 371-376.v

Worobets, J., Wannop, J. W., Tomaras, E., & Stefanyshyn, D. 
(2014). Softer and more resilient running shoe cushioning properties enhance running economy. 
Footwear Science, 6(3), 147-153.





RECOMMENDATIONS

Matt: The Saucony Triumph 21 brings a far better fit to a ride that was already great. The combination of these two things make for one of the best neutral premium daily trainers on the market. The weight is light for the amount of cushion and the ride is extremely smooth. However, there are still a few things that could elevate this shoe. My first suggestion is to move the heel bevel a little lateral, but given the way the heel is split, care will need to be taken so that the lateral side does not collapse too much. Second, I would love to see the midfoot widened slightly. Saucony has already done a great job exploring geometry options, so I would encourage them to continue to do that with this shoe while keeping the weight low. 

David: I really enjoyed my experience with the Saucony Triumph 21. The shoe fixed a lot of things I had a hard time with in the previous model. Though the lacing system is much improved, I would love to see the lateral side of the sling to be less encroaching. I didn't have enough abrasion to create irritation, but it is something I feel at rest and nearly all times. It's a little annoying. Outside of that though this shoe is top shelf.

WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR

Matt: The Saucony Triumph 21 maintains its place as a bouncy, protective, high-stack height premium daily trainer while dramatically increasing the upper comfort. This makes it an excellent choice for longer miles and easy miles. The natural transition due to the surprisingly flexible ride (moderately) makes for a comfortable transition through longer efforts while the moderate bounce and lighter weight make miles fly by. A premium, highly cushioned daily training shoe sitting under 10 ounces baffled me initially but I am slowly starting to not only accept this but expect it. The continued progression foams, geometry and upper materials makes me question why any road shoe would be above 10.5 to 11 oz. This used to be the norm for premium daily and even normal daily training shoes. It is fascinating to see.

David: The Saucony Triumph is a premium daily trainer for someone wanting a shoe that maintains high cushioning with a little bounce when logging long miles. The shoe has a gently rockered design, though not quite as much as many other shoes in a similar category. The shoe feels surprisingly natural through its transition points and gives a medium ground option for the maximum cushioning category. 


GRADING

Matt
Fit: A- (Flat-Knit upper provides security and comfort. Light, slightly wider forefoot/midfoot with snug heel)
Performance: 
A- (Maximal, bouncy, highly cushioned ride that runs lighter. Best for easy and long mileage)
Stability: B+ [Neutral] (Narrowed midfoot and softer ride keep ride neutral, but not unstable)
DPT/Footwear Science: B+/A- (Light with easy transition for such a highly cushioned and light shoe. Cut out provides a little weight drop)
Personal: A- (Comfortable, highly cushioned and bouncy ride that works extremely well for easy and longer efforts. A go-to long run shoe)
Overall: A-

David
Fit: A- (Great update. The lockdown is so much better and the upper is comfortable. The lateral sling feels a little too snug though.)
Performance: 
A (This is exactly what I want in a workhorse trainer. Balanced transitions, good cushioning throughout, good enough traction to get off road a tad.)
Stability: B (The stability is good for what it is, though this is still very much a neutral training shoe. The PWRUN + definitely has some give to it.)
DPT/Footwear Science: B+ (No major innovations here, though the upper security definitely enhanced the experience)
Personal: A (One of my favorite daily trainers this year so far.)
Overall: A- (A good option for a plush daily training shoe in the neutral category that doesn't sacrifice weight and to some degree responsiveness)


SHOP | SUPPORT DOR

Saucony Triumph 21
Price: $159.95 at Running Warehouse

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| Shop Women

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Guide to Puma Running Shoes
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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.

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Guide to Puma Running Shoes

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