The Saucony Endorphin Shift was released in June and is the lower-priced ($140) option in the Endorphin line. It was announced in early 2020 as part of the entire Endorphin collection that included the highly anticipated carbon plated Saucony Endorphin Pro and the lower-priced Endorphin Speed. Saucony is the only brand to simultaneously release 3 models based on the same technology but targeted for different types of runs or runners.
By Dave Martinez
I have been wanting to try out the Saucony Endorphin Shift since it was first announced but they were difficult to get due to demand. I can’t complain as I was one of the first to get my hands on the Endorphin Pro in February during the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials weekend and actually raced in them the following day at the Atlanta Publix Half Marathon. I’ve put in just over 160 miles in this shoe and can now provide a full review from my perspective.
First of all, let’s discuss the purpose of this shoe according to Saucony. It’s an everyday trainer designed to provide ample cushioning for long miles. According to Saucony’s website, it’s in the Structured Cushion category while others have it listed as in the Neutral Cushion. They’re both right as there are elements that suggest it should be a structured shoe but it’s technically missing an element (medial post) that would definitely place it in the neutral category. Let me explain. Typically, a structured shoe has a medial post, a denser and stiffer material on the medial side under the arch to provide a more stable platform for those that tend to overpronate. Saucony doesn’t list a medial post in the specs of the Saucony Endorphin Shift but it kind of does have one, although very small.
The light green foam on the medial side, while small is a denser foam and could be classified as a medial post. The heel counter made of TPU provides some additional support but it’s not as stiff as heel counters in other shoes. It is slightly flexible and it does extend down into the midsole on the medial side. These two elements provide some “structure” to the shoe and may help those that need some additional stability. If you’re a runner that typically runs in a neutral shoe, these elements may turn you away. As a neutral runner, I was concerned about this but I have not had any issues and I can not notice either of those elements during my run and I shy away from even the minimal stability shoes as I can sense the medial post underfoot.
Another thing worth mentioning is that this shoe is technically a maximal shoe due to the amount/height of the midsole. For comparison, the Hoka Bondi has a midsole height of 36mm (heel) & 32mm (forefoot). The Saucony Endorphin Shift has a midsole height of 38mm (heel) & 34mm (forefoot). These are numbers that I’ve gotten off of the manufacturer’s websites. Saucony did a great job with the lines and colors in the midsole to hide the height because it doesn’t look as high as a Hoka shoe. It also doesn’t feel that high either. Of course with those numbers, both models are in that lower drop range of 4mm.
Testing The Saucony Endorphin Shift
At this point, I have run over 160 miles in this model. I’ve been alternating between the Asics Gel-Nimbus 23 and the Endorphin Shift. The Nimbus has been my easy/recovery shoe while the Shift has been my tempo run shoe. I’ve read that for some, the Endorphin Shift is more of an easy shoe for those slow and long miles. Depending on the runner and how your foot lands, you may experience a different type of run. Due to the SpeedRoll design and my mid/fore foot landing, the Endorphin Shift feels fast and based on my runs, is faster (than the Gel-Nimbus 23). I believe that for those that land on the heel, the Shift will feel more of an easy/recovery shoe.
While I was eager to try out the Saucony Endorphin Shift, my expectations did not meet my reality when I first put them on in the store. Since it is a maximal shoe, I expected to have a very soft, even plush feel while walking around or even pushing down into the shoe. I expected a Hoka Bondi-ish type of cushion. Based on the description of being highly cushioned, I was hoping this would be my shoe for long slow days (LSD) to help build my endurance. Despite my initial thoughts, I went ahead and purchased the Endorphin Shift. I’m glad I did because it wasn’t anything like I expected but in a good way. The shoe feels quick and provides a quick turnover. The cushioning is not soft but it does a great job of damping the impact from the road allowing me to go long but also do so faster.
The fit is true to size. The toe box is roomy. In most shoes, even if there’s a comfortable amount of room in the toebox, at push-off, the 5th metatarsal (pinky toe) presses against the upper. Eventually, there’s a bit of wear or stretch in that area. After 160 miles there’s no sign of this and I certainly don’t feel it. I’ve done runs up to 9 miles so far with no issues of the shoe feeling tight or experiencing hot spots. The design of the upper also tapers inward in the mid-foot providing a secure fit. There’s ample cushion around the ankle including at the top of the tongue and heel collar. The tongue is also gusseted so you don’t have to worry about it moving or shifting during the run.
The Saucony Endorphin Shift feels light. If you measure it on a scale, it’s not going to be as light as other shoes, but sometimes it’s not about the numbers but how it feels during the run. That being said, it’s slightly lighter than the Hoka Bondi and I’ve always been surprised at how light that shoe is with so much midsole. Looks can be deceiving. The Endorphin Shift uses PWRRUN cushioning which has been described as plush. My idea of plush is that you sink into the shoe as weight is applied. That’s not what I felt. It feels firm, yet during the run, it absorbs the impact or any jarring sensation from the ground. The ground feel disappears and you feel like you’re floating.
My first couple of strides in the Endorphin Shift felt quick and peppy. I’ve experienced some quick runs on my regular course, even setting some PRs on some Strava segments. The midsole feels responsive and there’s a feeling of energy return at push-off that helps in that quick feeling. The combination of that SpeedRoll design provides that quick feel and I have the sensation that I’m running more on the ball of my feet. I’ve tried to use these on slower runs but they just want to go fast. I have to purposefully run in a different shoe to run slower for those recovery/easy runs. My stride feels more efficient and it also gives me more confidence as I push myself to improve my pace.
|Weight||10.1 oz||Weight||9.5 oz|
|Drop||4 mm||Drop||4 mm|
I was interested in the Endorphin Shift because I was looking for a very cushioned shoe for long and easy runs. What I got was a shoe that I can use for quick tempo runs and speedwork. It was a pleasant surprise and I’m not sorry for my choice. It’s made running fun and given me more confidence as I train for the Atlanta Publix Half Marathon at the end of February. I do plan on racing in the Saucony Endorphin Pro and the Endorphin Shift allows me to train at a quicker pace for daily runs and I’ll be able to easily take advantage of the benefits of running in a carbon plated shoe as the feel will be very similar across both models.
After 160 miles, the cushioning is holding up as is the upper. I am experiencing some noticeable wear in the outsole, specifically on the right forefoot and on the lateral side. It’s not unexpected as I usually have significant wear in that spot because that’s usually the first point of contact (my heel rarely makes first contact). I can probably attribute that to the fact that I run on roads and against traffic. The slope of the road slopes from the right to the left for drainage. This means that the right side is landing a bit higher due to the slope and that might be contributing to the noticeable wear. I do not expect this to affect the performance of the shoe but it will become significantly noticeable (visually) once the shoe reaches 300 miles. The Endorphin Shift is a great compliment to the Endorphin Speed or Endorphin Pro. I’d suggest you try any of these on and create a toolkit of running shoes from this collection. While most people may not benefit or be interested in the higher end Pro, the Shift and/or Speed would be a great option for those seeking to enjoy their runs a bit more.
The Saucony Endorphin Shift is available at our locations and can also be purchased online.