The Saucony Endorphin Pro had a limited release during the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta and Big Peach Running Co. was the exclusive retailer for this limited release. It is now available globally (as of June 1st) including our stores. The Saucony Endorphin Pro is the most anticipated running shoe for 2020 and we’ve got a complete review for those looking for a fast shoe.
By Dave Martinez
Carbon Plated Shoe Background
The idea of inserting a carbon plate into a shoe has been around for a long time but only in the last 2 years have we seen the introduction of this technology into most major brands. Nike was the first major brand to release a shoe with a carbon plate and over the last 2 years has continued to make improvements with several models available including the VaporFly, Next %, and now the AlphaFly. For the most part, these shoes have been the choice of elite runners, amateur runners chasing that PR, or those seeking Boston Marathon Qualification. One of the reasons that carbon plates are being placed in shoes also has to do with the advancement in new materials that make up the mid-sole. They’re more cushioned and when paired with a carbon plate can provide a responsive feel without fatiguing the legs.
Endorphin Pro Midsole Foam: PWRRUN PB
Every brand used its own proprietary foam to create a unique feel. Saucony is using what they call PWRRUN PB. The PB stands for Polyether Block Amide (PEBA) which is a is a thermoplastic elastomer that “offers a unique combination of low density, flexibility, small hysteresis, and excellent flex fatigue resistance.” This basically means that “PEBA” is lightweight, flexible, and durable. The key here is durable as many of these lightweight foams tend to compress significantly under repeated loads and over a short amount of time, become firmer. There are reports of a $250 shoe with only 50 miles before it loses it’s cushioning. From what we can tell, the PWRRUN BP will last quite a bit longer. While it’s still too early to tell based on the miles we’ve put into the Saucony Endorphin Pro, we feel that it could easily hold up to 200 miles. Of course, this depends on the runner and its use.
Testing The Saucony Endorphin Pro
I got my pair of the Endorphin Pros a couple of days before the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. I put them on and they felt good. Light. Secure. Because of all the events leading up to the “Trials”, I didn’t get a chance to do a short run before my half marathon. I was signed up for the Publix Half Marathon and decided this was as good as any distance to test out this shoe. 6 weeks prior I had run the Jekyll Island Half Marathon using the Hoka Carbon X. While I had a great race and was on pace to PR, I screwed up my nutrition strategy and slowed down the last 3 miles. I still finished in a respectable 1:45:39. My long-shot goal was to finish under 1:42:00.
My training leading up to the Publix Half Marathon was not great. I took a couple of weeks easy to recover but even my long runs didn’t feel great after those easy weeks. (Recovery takes longer as I get older.) I didn’t have high expectations for the Publix Half Marathon and considering it’s a hilly course (Jekyll is completely flat and at sea level), I would be happy finishing under 1:50:00. I ran from our Midtown location to the start for a nice ~1.5-mile warm-up. I never really paid attention to my splits but I felt good and was waiting to slow down once I got tired. I got my nutrition figured out and I know that contributed to a great race however I beat my Jekyll Island Marathon by 7 seconds. There are some things to consider as Atlanta was 36ºF at the start and Jekyll Island was warmer at 64ºF. That being said, Atlanta is really hilly and despite that, my heart rate was an AVG 8 beats lower than Jekyll Island. It’s hard to compare both of these races as they are different courses at different times. It’s far from any true scientific test.
Comparison: Saucony Endorphin Pro vs. Hoka Clifton 6
Recently I did another test a week apart on the route I run daily. Weather conditions were the same (63ºF & 64ºF). My average heart rate was within a beat of each other (148 & 149 BPM). However, the splits were significantly different. I wore the Hoka Clifton 6 (daily trainer) against the Saucony Endorphin Pro. I’d consider myself an average runner and this course, much like anywhere in Atlanta, is hilly.
I’ll be upfront and point out that on a good day, I’ll average an 8:45/mile pace in cooler temps. Warmer days tend to be closer to 9:00/mile. As I pointed out earlier temps were very similar and my heart rate was almost identical. There is a little discrepancy in the total mileage (.05) but overall it is the exact same course. I may have stopped my watch a little earlier which could account for the marginally shorter distance in the Endorphin Pro. That being said, I was still over 3 minutes faster over this course. On average, I was 35 seconds faster per lap. On the 3rd mile, I was 52 seconds faster versus the Hoka Clifton 6. This section has a few good hills and I’m surprised at the difference in times between the shoes. Mile 4 has a nice gradual downhill and I think due to the SPEEDROLL geometry of the Endorphin Pro as well as how light it is, contributed to that speedy time.
Once again, this was not a true scientific test. It also wasn’t at what I would consider a true race pace/effort. My heart rate at race pace is probably between 158-165 BPM. Both of these runs were at 148-149bpm. Both results would be much different at a higher effort but I still think the Endorphin Pro would provide a noticeable advantage. It’s also not fair to directly compare a racing shoe with a daily trainer. However, I have raced in the Hoka Clifton through various races over the last 6 years. If anything, this comparison illustrates why someone would train in one shoe and race in another if you’re looking for a new PR. The results may surprise many just as it surprised me.
The fit is snug and secure. With most racing shoes they have a “racing fit” which typically means narrow. I would not describe this shoe as narrow but this shoe is not for those that need a wider fitting shoe. I feel the toe box is accommodating as I had no issues running a half marathon. The one issue that seems to be a common theme is a loose heel. I’ve never experienced a loose heel cup in any of my shoes but I had to use the “runner’s loop” to secure the heel. I’d also say it is true to size. I normally run in a size 10 and this fit just like my other shoes with ample room for those long distances with no fear of black toenails.
The first thing you’ll notice is the weight. It feels really light. The upper is an engineered mesh with plenty of ventilation throughout the shoe. There’s no worry of it getting hot or retaining moisture from sweat or running in the rain. If you press down on the heel either with your hand or while wearing them, you’ll notice a good amount of cushioning providing a comfortable feel. The tongue is gusseted or attached to the sides to keep it from moving around. It’s a very thin material and has more of a sock-like feel. You definitely don’t feel the shoe once you have them on.
If I had to describe the Endorphin Pro in 3 words it would be smooth, light, and fast. As soon as you start running you notice the cushioning but it’s not like your sinking into the shoe. Every step feels soft but there’s a nice bounce or energy return. The only way that I could tell there was a carbon fiber plate in this shoe was trying to bend/fold the shoe. It’s stiff but it doesn’t feel that way while running. Unless you start thinking about it, you never really notice the shoe. It sort of disappears and lets you focus on you run, surroundings, effort, or anything else. While not a “rocker” type of shoe, the SPEEDROLL Technology smooths out the transition and puts your feet in a position to push off on your toes.
|Weight||7.5 oz||Weight||6.3 oz|
|Drop||8 mm||Drop||8 mm|
This is a neutral shoe and while I tend to lightly overpronate, I had no issues. I also run exclusively in neutral shoes. It’s hard to determine if this shoe will work for overpronators. I think a lot has to do with your history in running and issues you’ve encountered in the past. In comparison to the Nike Next%, 4%, & Vaporfly that tend to run narrower and have a softer midsole, the Endorphin Pro feels more stable. If you’re an overpronator, you’ll have to try the shoe for yourself and see if it will become a problem.
Overall, this is a great shoe and I think it can work for a lot more runners than some of the other carbon plated shoes out in the market. If you’re just getting started in running, this probably isn’t the shoe for you. If you’re racing and looking for any advantage to get a PR or get on the podium, then you owe it to yourself to visit one of our locations and try this shoe on for yourself. While priced at $200 it’s not a shoe for everyone, it’s also not a shoe you’re going to run in every day. This is a shoe that you only wear for race day and for those tempo days leading up to your race. It’s not a shoe you’ll replace every few months unless you race a lot. Saucony is stating that the durability is comparable to regular racing flats which means around 200-250 miles. Will I race in this shoe? Absolutely! I’ll continue to run in my other daily trainers (Hoka Clifton 6, Asics Gel-Cumulus 22, & New Balance 1080 v10) and do tempo runs/hard efforts in the Hoka Carbon X but on race day, regardless of the distance, the Saucony Endorphin Pros will be right there with me at the start line.
To see the Saucony Endorphin Pro in action and an abbreviated review, check out our YouTube video.
The Saucony Endorphin Pro is available at our locations and can also be purchased online.