By Brian Metzler
Just when I thought Saucony had already produced two of the best high-energy training and racing shoes, it drops another one without warning. The Endorphin Elite released on February 21 and, like the brand’s exceptional Endorphin Pro 3 (racing) and Endorphin Speed 3 (training) models, it’s a best-in-class racing shoe that immediately is on par with the best models on the market.
What’s New: The Endorphin Elite is an entirely new shoe and the new materials that make this shoe what it is are the PWRRUN HG high-rebound midsole cushioning and an articulated carbon fiber propulsion plate with a slotted fork design for adaptive toe-off.
Fit/Feet/Ride: The Endorphin Elite fits true to size with a narrow volume interior from heel to forefoot. (My toes had room to flex naturally, but there’s not much wiggle room at all.) The combination of knitted and mesh materials provides a locked-down fit that’s optimal for agile, quick cadence running at fast speeds. The interior feels race-ready and sparse, with just a small bump of interior padding at the back of the heel. The fully gusseted perforated tongue adds to the secure fit and is soft enough next to your skin to wear barefoot if desired.
What makes this shoe so special is the energetic ride. In addition to the extremely responsive PWRRUN HG midsole cushioning and springy footbed (made from PWRRUN PB foam), it also features a very aggressive version of SpeedRoll geometry, which means it has a sharp toe spring design that creates a snappy sensation that promotes forward propulsion. Unlike the Endorphin Pro 3, which creates a plush, rolling sensation, the Endorphin Elite creates a feeling like your foot is falling off an edge just before you reach the toe-off phase of a stride. The forked design of the plate — which is a solid piece under the heel but separates into four long narrow flanges under the forefoot — allows your foot to move with its own natural dynamic movement patterns instead being forced into a specific pattern dictated by a solid plate.
Why It’s Great: It’s great because it’s one of the most energetic and efficient shoes I’ve ever run in. The moment I slipped them on and laced them up I was inspired to run fast. And in fact, after a mile warm-up, I did a 6 x 300-meter uphill workout that was one of the best and most effortless training sessions I’ve ever done. The extraordinary combination of the responsive foam and very aggressive rocker shape seemed like it was doing all of the work for me. I felt so fast and light on my feet I could barely feel the resistance of running uphill.
Saucony Endorphin Elite
Weights: 6.5 oz. (women’s size 8), 7.2 oz. (men’s size 9)
Heel-Toe Offset:8mm (39.5mm in the heel, 31.5mm in the forefoot)
Why You’ll Love It: If you run with more of a quick-cadence stride pattern (as opposed to a longer loping stride), you’ll really appreciate the aggressive shape and snappy feeling of this shoe. (In that way, it feels like the ASICS Metaspeed Edge.)
Pro: The new upper design combines knitted and mesh materials for next-to-skin comfort and weightless performance, while a midfoot webbing system ensures a secure, race-ready fit. The outsole has just enough durable rubber for traction and protection, but not enough to weigh the shoe down at all. It’s a spartan feeling that inspires speed when it’s on your feet. I set out to do an 8-mile run at my typical long-run pace but wound up running about 45 seconds faster per mile without even thinking about it.
Con: This isn’t a shoe I’d wear for anything but racing and fast workouts. Because it’s so aggressively shaped, it feels slightly awkward while jogging at warm-up or recovery/cooldown pace. That’s just the nature of the beast because this is a one-trick pony and that lacks the versatility of the Endorphin Speed 3 and even the Endorphin Pro 3 can provide.