Saucony Endorphin Speed Review (2021)

Buy these shoes if…

  • You’re a serious road runner who does a speed or tempo workout once every one or two weeks. These are great shoes for workouts, no matter if that’s 400 meter intervals on the track or a five mile tempo on the road. 
  • You’re planning to race anything from a 5k to a marathon in carbon plate sneakers but want a softer shoe for workouts.
  • You’re intrigued by carbon plate shoes but aren’t ready to commit to their $200-plus price tag. 

Keep reading for the Run the Shoes’ full review of the Saucony Endorphin Speed.


Offset: 8mm

Weight: 7.0oz (Women) // 7.9oz (Men)

Price: $160

The story of how I came to own a pair of Saucony’s Endorphin Speed running shoes is proof that marketing truly gets people to buy things. But the story of how I came to love them enough to make a repeat purchase is what this review is really about. 

I first saw them in a photo pro runner Molly Seidel had posted to Instagram back in early 2020; a few days later, she had a podium finish at the Olympic Marathon Trials wearing them, or what appeared to be them (I soon learned that she was wearing another sneaker from the Saucony Endorphin collection, the Pro).

I’ll admit I was initially attracted to the shoe because I liked its color scheme. The first iteration of the Endorphin sneakers came in white with neon pink, teal, and yellow accents. Lots of shoes come in neon colorways, but these weren’t too loud. Colors aside, what made these even more appealing? The answer is the shoe’s unique value proposition: it is a training shoe with a nylon plate that makes you feel fast. I didn’t buy them at the time because I really didn’t need them—I was recovering from a tibia stress fracture and the onset of the pandemic had us all confined to our homes with racing plans canceled for the foreseeable future. I kept them in the back of my mind as I eased into training over the summer, forgot about them, then saw a (very well-targeted) Instagram ad and bought them as I trained for some virtual races. 

To date, the Endorphin Speed are the best sneakers I’ve worn for speed and tempo workouts. After wearing them one to two times per week for almost a year, I recently made the upgrade to the newer version of the shoe, the Endorphin Speed 2, which came out at the beginning of July 2021. 

Saucony Endorphin Speed two review

The difference between carbon and nylon plates

Before we get to the raving part of this review, we need to quickly cover the concept of plates in running shoes. Hobby joggers like me didn’t bother ourselves too much with running shoe technology until 2017, when Nike released the Zoom Vaporfly 4%, a version of which was famously worn by Eliud Kipchoge in his first attempt at breaking the two-hour marathon. The Nike Vaporfly 4% was revolutionary, and controversial, because it combined an ultralight foam midsole with a full-length carbon plate, which according to the shoe’s first press release, was “intended to minimize energy loss during toe bend without increasing demand for the calf.” Basically, the carbon fiber plate is supposed to propel you forward, making you a more efficient (and faster) runner. So many elite runners crossed the finish lines of major races wearing the shoes in 2017 that any amateur runner looking for an edge put down $250 for a pair of Vaporflys for their fall marathons. Many have followed Nike’s lead with carbon-plated running shoes, including Hoka One One’s Carbon X and Saucony’s Endorphin Pro, the aforementioned shoe worn by Molly Seidel at the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials. 

The thing about carbon plate shoes is that they have the unique combination of being expensive and fragile. They wear out quickly! They’re the type of shoes you want to break in with a few runs then save for race day, not lace up once a week for speed workouts. That’s where nylon plate shoes come in.

A few companies, Nike included, offer a “beginner” version of their carbon plate shoes that are made with nylon. These shoes are softer (many people, myself included, find the carbon fiber plates very hard) and notably less expensive. They’re also a bit heavier, which makes them a great option for a workout shoe—train heavy, race light. That’s exactly what the Saucony Endorphin Speed are: the softer, cheaper, nylon-plate alternative to the Endorphin Pro.

What to love about the Endorphin Speed

First of all, I love the color and design. Rereading this, it felt like a small thing to be motivated by a pretty shoe, but it helps me get started on an interval session before a long day of meetings and spreadsheets. If you’re like me, then the look of the shoe shouldn’t be glossed over. 

Looks aside, I really love how these shoes feel while on. They’re firm but not hard, soft but not too cushiony. They’re incredibly responsive, like the shoe version of a super supportive mattress. Comfort is important, but what really makes the Endorphin Speed stand out is how fast they make me feel. The first time I wore them for a workout, I was dubious that the combined comfort and speed I felt was due to the footwear, but I swear—almost every time I wear these shoes for a workout, whether on the track or pavement, I really feel like I’m hitting fast paces easily.

What not to love about the Endorphin Speed

There really isn’t much to dislike about the Endorphin Speed, but I do notice that when the road is wet, like the morning after it’s rained, they feel slippery. The lack of grip is particularly noticeable when I’m doing strides or short speed intervals.

What’s new about the Endorphin Speed 2

There’s not too much of a noticeable difference between the first and second versions of the Endorphin Speed. Saucony claims on its website that the 2 has a “snugger heel fit, more breathable mesh, soft suede detailing and anti-slip laces to lock it in.” Nothing groundbreaking, just small improvements on an already-great shoe. 

The bottom line

If you’re looking for a great pair of shoes for speed or tempo workouts, the Endorphins are an excellent choice. The nylon plate gives much of the benefit of high-end carbon fiber models at a substantially lower price and with much better comfort. They also look great. I’m already on my second pair and will have them firmly in my rotation for the foreseeable future. 

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Elaheh Nozari

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