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The Monday Shakeout: Reflections on Saucony's Running Economy Study
By Nathan Brown

In this week's Monday Shakeout, Nathan tackles a topic we've had a lot of fun speaking with running researchers about recently on the podcast. He explores what the science has shown regarding running economy at different speeds and if shoes really have an impact.

In the last several years we have seen huge changes in the running industry. We saw a movement from minimalism to maximalism and the advent of the Vaporfly and subsequent super shoes. Over the past year, we are starting to see a new trend popping up, which some people are starting to coin "super trainers." Some examples of these shoes are the New Balance SC Trainer, the Kinvara Pro, and the ASICS Superblast. These shoes typically have a high resilient foam (such as PEBAX) and a stiffening agent such as a carbon-fiber plate, but they typically are built on a less aggressive platform in terms of geometry. These shoes also go over the World Athletics maximum stack heights, breaking into 40+ mm territory.

Saucony's Study

With the emergence of these shoes also come in-house running economy and biomechanical testing performed by brands and the subsequent marketing. We recently sat down with Saucony to discuss their new Kinvara Pro and the testing they performed, and it raised a few points that I think deserve some clarity.  

To summarize testing (a short, crude version), Saucony tested the running economy of runners while wearing Kinvara Pro against the Endorphin Pro 3 at two different efforts: easy and uptempo. They basically found that at harder efforts, the Endorphin Pro 3 was superior to the Kinvara Pro (shocker right?). They found at easy efforts, the running economy benefit was the same between the Kinvara Pro and the Endorphin Pro 3. What I don’t have are details on the number of subjects, the nitty gritty numbers, or specifics on the subjects. I do know that the testers included runners at a variety of performance levels, with some being more toward the elite level and some being more recreational.  

Points to Note

My goal here is to point out some important distinctions that are drawn out in this study.  

  1. Effort is Different Than Pace: Marketing across companies is starting to talk about topics like “paces tuned shoes.” Outside of the study by Joubert et al that looked at super shoe performance at different paces which found decreased benefit for running at slower paces, the evidence is minimal on the difference of running economy at different paces with varying shoe types (Joubert et al., 2023). What the Saucony test did NOT do is say that the Kinvara Pro has a better performance at slower paces, but rather had equivalent performance enhancement to the Endorphin Pro at easy efforts, regardless of what that pace was. This brings us to the second point:
  2. Consider the Comparator: What we know from this study is how the performance of the Kinvara Pro is compared to the Endorphin Pro 3. That’s it. Not a regular trainer like the Ride, not the Kinvara, nothing else. Just the Endorphin Pro 3. The value here suggests that at easy efforts you may get a similar benefit in a less aggressive and more structured platform (Kinvara Pro), meaning you can get improved running economy on those runs without racking up miles in a shoe designed for race day. The limitation is that we know that everyone responds differently to super shoes (McLeod et al, 2020; Hoogkamer et Al, 2018). So if you aren’t a responder to the Endorphin Pro 3 in the first place, it wouldn’t matter if you respond the same in the Kinvara Pro.
  3. Decreased Fatigue: Something I see coming in the marketing of shoes is talking about a shoe’s ability to decreasing the amount of fatigue you experience during a run and therefore you can handle more training. At this point, reading that in a marketing slogan should raise a bit of a yellow flag for you, and you shouldn’t hang your hat on it. Fatigue is complex, and a shoe that close acclaimed as one to decrease your fatigue shouldn’t give you permission to double your training. I would love to see studies that look at the potential markers of fatigue and how different footwear can impact those markers, but I’ve yet to read quality studies on that (if it’s out there, please share it with us!).   

Final Thoughts

I’m thankful that Saucony even verbally shared with us some of the testing they are doing in their lab. It helps spark conversation and use it to consider how testing like this should actually change (or not change) the way we buy shoes or use them in our training. In this specific case, this data also can help those who know how they respond to the Endorphin Pro as they consider where the Kinvara Pro may fit in their line-up. As more shoes come into the fold like super trainers, keep a critical eye and ear as you hear marketing telling you everything that a shoe may be able to do for you.


Joubert, D. P., & Jones, G. P. (2021). A Comparison of Running Economy Across Seven Carbon-Plated Racing Shoes. (Pre-Print).

Joubert DP, Dominy TA, Burns GT. Effects of Highly Cushioned and Resilient Racing Shoes on Running Economy at Slower Running Speeds. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2023 Jan 10;18(2):164-170. doi: 10.1123/ijspp.2022-0227. PMID: 36626911.

McLeod, A. R., Bruening, D., Johnson, A. W., Ward, J., & Hunter, I. (2020). Improving running economy through altered shoe bending stiffness across speeds. Footwear Science, 12(2), 79-89.


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