Saucony Endorphin Speed Review: The Best All-Round Running Shoe For PB Seekers
The Saucony Endorphin Speed is a hard shoe to get hold of. As hard as the carbon plate racing shoes that are never in stock longer than an hour or two when made available. There is no carbon plate in the Endorphin Speed, unlike its sibling the Endorphin Pro, but even so it’s been frequently hailed as a contender for the shoe of the year. That’s really saying something given that every major brand has released a carbon plate super shoe in 2020, including Nike’s Vaporfly successor the Alphafly.
The Endorphin Speed has a nylon, rather than carbon, plate in its midsole because it’s designed to be a training shoe. The nylon plate is less stiff and produces a softer ride, which is what you want when logging significant mileage in a shoe, whereas on race day the propulsive feel of a firm carbon plate is preferable.
Other than that, the Speed has all the key features you’ll find in Saucony’s Endorphin Pro. There is the same lightweight and springy PWRRUN PB foam, and the same SPEEDROLL technology in the midsole which moves you from heel to toe in almost effortless fashion.
The Speed is a touch heavier than the Pro – my UK 9 weighs 240g compared with 233g for the Pro. However, the ride feels significantly different: the nylon plate makes it softer and even bouncier, because the PWRRUN PB foam comes to the fore without the stiffer carbon plate in there.
If you’re searching for all-out speed, the Pro would be the pick of the two – but the Speed is still a very fast shoe. Saucony is pitching it as a training partner to the Pro, with the Speed designed for your hard sessions.
It does a great job with those. I’ve done a couple of tempo runs and an interval session in the Speed, and I was impressed by how well it performed. As you increase the pace it becomes a little less springy and a little more responsive, though the high stack still means you don’t get a huge amount of feel for the road. Holding a fast pace over 10-15km felt comfortable, and in the interval session (running one minute on, 30 seconds off) I was surprised by how good it felt at my 5K and 10K race paces, even if only for a minute at a time.
So a big tick in the box with regard to the fast training it’s intended for, but confining it to that box would be to do it a disservice. I really enjoyed my easy runs in the Speed too. It’s soft and cushioned enough to roll through your base miles, and over long distances it’s terrific.
I also feel it would be a good race day option for many people, especially over a half or full marathon. It’s not as fast as a carbon plate shoe, but it’s not far off and it’s so much more versatile than a full carbon racer. Because it’s more durable, you can use it for training more comfortably and then still be quick on race day.
If you’re an all-in runner and are happy to buy and rotate specific shoes for different sessions, the Speed works well as a fast training option – though there is some competition there, which I’ll come to. But if you’re a runner who just wants one shoe to do it all and be able to push hard for PBs on race day, you can’t do better than the Speed.
Some people may prefer an even softer ride on easy runs, but I had no complaints on that front. It may not be as durable as a shoe more directly designed for logging big mileage, like the Nike Pegasus 37 or Saucony Triumph 18, but I’ve seen no signs of wear and tear after 70km or so – and even though there isn’t a vast amount of outsole rubber it grips well on both roads and light trails. There is some exposed foam on the bottom of the shoe though, which could be gouged out on gravel tracks, so that’s one surface I’d stay away from.
Along with the Endorphin Speed, there have been several fast training shoes released in tandem with carbon plate racers, with the Brooks Hyperion Tempo, Nike Tempo NEXT% and the New Balance FuelCell TC providing the stiffest competition.
The Nike Tempo is the flat-out fastest training partner shoe, but it’s uncomfortable on easy runs, and it has a stack that’s too high to legally race in. I found it also has an odd ride that’s worth experiencing yourself if at all possible before buying.
The Hyperion Tempo and the Endorphin Speed are similarly excellent – fast, light and versatile, but I’d give the Speed the nod as the more comfortable all-round shoe, making it better on easy runs while still being as quick on speed sessions and races.
For its part, the New Balance FuelCell TC is the closest to a full carbon racer – it has a carbon plate for one, plus a huge stack of bouncy FuelCell foam. It’s a brilliant shoe, but a little unstable compared with the Brooks Tempo and the Endorphin Speed, so it’s not as good at logging a lot of training miles.
The Endorphin Speed has lived up to the hype, not only matching expectations for fast training, but surpassing them for versatility. If you want one shoe for all your runs and have PBs in mind, the Endorphin Speed is the shoe to go for.