Saucony Endorphin Speed Review: 100-Mile Rundown
How Saucony's versatile semi-super speedster rides and holds up over the long haul.
Saucony Endorphin Speed Review
A kinder supershoe, the Saucony Endorphin Speed is designed for running fast without sacrificing comfort or rearranging your stride. With a nylon foot plate and lightweight cushion, it’s a model you’ll want to reach for on workout and race days.
How is it that something so cushiony and comfortable feels simultaneously so zippy? A feat of engineering, the Saucony Endorphin Speed allows opposing sensations to coexist. It’s not alone.
In our current era, so-called supershoes marry cushion and energy-returning materials in search of faster times on the road and track. These supershoes, including Saucony’s own Endorphin Pro, have helped carry runners to remarkable performances—sparking debate and even meriting World Athletics rulings on what shoe technology, exactly, is permissible.
As brands have added super shoes to their lines, they have also started to spawn semi-super shoes, with some, but not all, of the characteristics of the elite-level marathon racers. These semi-super shoes, like the Endorphin Speed, are less expensive and tend to be tuned to be more accessible, suitable for training, and mortal racing. The Speed includes a full-length foot plate embedded in the middle of a bulky (but light) layer of high-rebound foam, but unlike the Pro, this plate isn’t carbon — it’s a stiff, but not rigid, nylon piece in the midst of the shoe. Designed to encourage faster turnover and higher efficiency, the Speed’s plate doesn’t feel as aggressive as a carbon plate. But it’s ready to roll.
Weight: 6.8 oz women’s / 7.8 oz men’s
Stack Height: 38 mm heel / 30 mm forefoot
Offset: 8 mm
Midsole: PWRRUN PB foam and Nylon plate
Outsole: XT-900 carbon rubber
Upper: FORMIT mesh
100 Miles In: The Review
Out of the box, the Saucony Endorphin Speed feels light and stands tall. Its pronounced rocker—akin to a rocking chair base—curves under the ball of the foot, and the exposed, chunky foam begs to be squished (and kindly complies).
It’s this material, coupled with the nylon foot plate, that gives the Endorphin Speed its signature ride. Saucony calls the midsole material, the brand’s lightest, most springy foam, PWRRUN PB. It’s made with an elastomer-based material that feels peppy underfoot.
At first step-in, the Endorphin Speed feels like something Goldilocks would like were she a runner: It’s neither too wide nor too narrow; neither too socky nor loose; neither too high nor too low; neither too hard or too soft. The durable sandwich mesh of the upper material doesn’t stretch, but is pliable, conforming and breathing well. Plus, after more than 100 miles, it’s yet to bag out.
On my key-hole shaped feet, the Endorphin Speed fit true to size and well—in particular after I dog-eared the flat, stretchy ribbon laces for a more secure fit around the heel. The low ankle collar is padded and lined; so too is the high but unobtrusive, breathable tongue. For those whose narrow feet leave extra lace, a thoughtful band on the forefoot allows you to tuck in loose ends. A largely unnoticeable interior toe bumper does its protective job. A firm but minimal heel counter stands up well, without blisters or bother.
Once I warmed up, the Endorphin Speed was very fun to run in. For those of us who’ve been avoiding speedwork (or, you know, just trying to survive at least and maintain some semblance of fitness at best during the past year-plus) hopping into a speed-ready shoe requires a little getting used to. For starters, this style is not designed for heel-striking. It prefers and encourages a mid- to fore-foot landing, and wants to run and run swiftly. It invited this plodder to pick up the pace not only on an initial easy run, but later on hill repeats, fartleks, stair workouts, and even steady long runs.
While the Endorphin Speed is versatile and kind enough to tolerate easy mileage, it excels with accelerated pace. I realized its apt name as my velocity increased, but appreciated its flexibility, especially when compared to carbon-plated options that tend to get in the way if you slow your turnover or drift back onto your heels at all.
How They Held Up
The outsole has just enough durable carbon rubber to allow for cornering quickly and avoiding slips on rainy days and slick surfaces. After logging over a hundred miles on hard surfaces, the outsole is still all intact. So, too is the exposed foam, which shows minimal signs of compression (just a few wrinkles) externally.
The Endorphin Speed held up on a range of surfaces, from city sidewalks and streets to paved and pea-gravel paths to concrete stairs and aluminum stadiums. It tolerated a few strides on dirt and grass, but excelled on harder, smoother surfaces (the types of places one opts for when shooting for a PR).
There’s the Rub
At first, this style felt a bit wobbly or insecure in the heel, despite a wider foam base underfoot — likely attributable to the “Speedroll” technology Saucony says propels you forward. The goal, after all, is to run faster. But it does make standing still feel unstable and is comfortable only when moving along steadily.
The Endorphin Speed launched last year, but a new version, the Endorphin Speed 2, will be available this month. A brand rep confirmed there will be updates, including an improved heel fit and a lighter, more breathable upper—but the popular ride should remain unchanged.
The Saucony Endorphin Speed is a versatile and speedy model ideal for anyone craving pep in their running steps.
Elizabeth Carey is a writer and running coach based in Seattle, Washington. Her first book, Girls Running, co-authored with Melody Fairchild, is available at your local bookstore and here.