By Brian Metzler
Since the advent of marathon racing shoes with carbon-fiber plates a few years ago, Saucony has quietly been one of the top brands in the super shoe genre. I say “quietly” because while Nike, Adidas, ASICS and HOKA have received a lot of attention from the podium finishes of their athletes, Saucony has produced some very good shoes even though it hasn’t garnered the fanfare. The original Endorphin Pro and Endorphin Pro 2 were both very good for marathon race-day execution, and the more minimal Endorphin Pro+ was surprisingly exceptional for 10K and half marathon racing (but not produced in mass quantities). It’s just that Saucony hasn’t had as many high-profile athletes wearing their shoes at big road races. But all of that might as well be ancient history with the release of the maximally cushioned Endorphin Pro 3 (which debuted on August 2). If you’ve never run in Saucony’s modern racing shoes or if you felt the first two Endorphin Pro models were too rigid and aggressive, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with how good this shoe is.
What’s New: To develop the Endorphin Pro 3, Saucony broke the mold of its previous shoes and started from scratch. This shoe has thickest stack of hyper-resilient PWRRUNPB foam ever incorporated into a Saucony shoe (about 4mm thicker than previous Endorphin Pro shoes) and it also features a new, curvier carbon-fiber plate to provide the optimal spring and pop in every stride. A new, lightweight engineered mesh upper that’s breathable and supportive, a new segmented rubber outsole configuration and a slightly wider footprint round out this dazzling new model and put it in position to be the best Saucony shoe ever made.
Why It’s Great: The Endorphin Pro 3 is a light, soft, bouncy and (potentially) very fast long-distance racing shoe. It retains Saucony’s SpeedRoll technology, which is a combination of the high-end component materials (especially the Pebax-based PWRRUNPB foam) and a unique rocker geometry that promotes forward propulsion and maximal energy return with the least possible energy output from the runner. That means you can run longer and farther with less metabolic cost than in other shoes. The maximal midsole cushioning helps produce a smoother and less aggressive ride than the original Pro series shoes, but, even though it’s a bigger shoe than its predecessors, it’s actually about a quarter of an ounce lighter.
Fit-Feel-Ride: The Endorphin Pro 3 fits true to size with a medium to low interior volume from heel to toe. It has a snug, locked-down feeling from heel to toe with slightly higher volume in the arch area but very little wiggle room in the toe box. There’s a soft and comfortable step-in feeling, thanks to the premium footbed, gusseted tongue and thick midsole chassis. Combined with the curvy carbon-fiber plate embedded in the midsole, it results in a lively rolling sensation the moment you start running. If you’re familiar with the aggressive ride for the Endorphin Pro 1 and Endorphin Pro 2, you’ll immediately notice how this third incarnation has a softer and more accommodating ride, and that the added width of the outsole gives it more inherent stability.
Why You’ll Love It: If you want to run fast and efficiently for long distances, this is a shoe to consider. It’s obviously meant for racing from 10K to the marathon and in my 20 or so wear-test runs (including a 10K and a half marathon), I can vouch for its race-ready vibe. But I also really loved this shoe for its long-haul comfort and performance on higher mileage runs. Running 10 to 20 miles in this shoe at moderate to faster paces is dreamy, both because it’s so buttery smooth but also because it’s one of those shoes that reduces the wear and tear on your feet and lower legs. The day after those long runs (and races), I didn’t feel like I had to recover quite as much because I didn’t feel beat up from the roads like I do in some other shoes.
Saucony Endorphin Pro 3
Weights: 8mm heel-toe drop (39.5mm in the heel, 31.5mm in the forefoot)
Weights: 6.2 oz. (women’s 8), 7.2 oz. (men’s 9)
Pro: The Endorphin Pro 3 is all about forward propulsion and energy return, especially when running fast with longer strides and a higher cadence. You’ll feel like you’re being flung forward the moment you start running in this shoe, but once you get into a race-paced rhythm — or even a tempo-paced rhythm — you’ll experience the magic of what this shoe is all about. It’s ideal for tempo runs, fartlek workouts and longer intervals (i.e., mile repeats or 3x 2 miles), but not as great for shorter track intervals (i.e, 6 x 800). It’s not a shoe you’ll want to run slower paces in (definitely not recovery pace) but it excels running at marathon pace or faster.
Con: Like a lot of high-stack, maximally cushioned shoes, the Endorphin Pro 3 feels exceptionally high off the ground. If you don’t enjoy that feeling — or if you appreciate a shoe with a better feeling for the ground or more agility — then you might not love his shoe.