There are three models in Saucony's Endorphin series, and just like Goldilocks discovering that Daddy Bear, Mummy Bear and Baby Bear had completely different beds, each feel quite different to run in. The quest is to find the one that is 'just right' for you. We're looking at the Saucony Endorphin Speed and Shift (there's also the Saucony Endorphin Pro, which sits at the priciest end of the range, features a carbon plate, and would typically be your marathon race day shoe).
The Speed sits in the middle of the range, price-wise, and aims to provide you with both speed and comfort at half marathons and over, via its nylon plate and PWRRUN midsole. Then comes the Saucony Endorphin Shift. It's the heaviest of all three, due to extra cushioning that aims to protect your legs from fatigue when you're running long. It's also the cheapest.
So which is the best women's running shoe for you? Working out what you need for your training is important, as shoes are expensive. Can you get away with one pair of shoes, or would you prefer to have two pairs, one for easy days and long miles, with more cushioning, and another pair that will be lighter and more responsive for your speed sessions? If you're not sure what will suit you, there are a lot of versatile shoes that can sometimes cover both types of a run. The benefit of rotating trainers is that you will be using slightly different muscles for each pair, which can help a little towards reducing injury.
Saucony Endorphin Speed v Saucony Endorphin Shift: the tech
The Speed, as soon as you put them on, have an impressive forward roll, due to their full length S shaped nylon plate. This feels fast as it propels you onwards, although it's not as rigid as the carbon plate in the PRO. SPEEDROLL tech also springs you forward, so I'm hoping they will help me reduce my heel striking and ground contact time. The Speed also have a PWRRUN midsole, which means there's a good amount of cushioning, and it's the combination of both that makes them a shoe to love. They have an 8mm drop and are lightweight. In comparison, the Shift feels and looks like a bigger shoe, due to the much denser midsole that is packed full of EVA foam to cushion your legs. This model has just a 4mm drop in height from the heel to the toe, also features Speedroll tech and the engineered mesh upper is thicker, more plush and more comfortable than the Speed.
Saucony Endorphin Speed v Saucony Endorphin Shift: performance
The Shift is aimed at your easy, everyday miles and recovery runs, with thick foam to give you more energy return. So even if you do up the pace in your long runs, you finish without your legs feeling wasted. I've been running in the Shifts for months, and I really appreciate the extra cushioning. If you are a runner who is prone to niggles and injury you will tolerate extra weight to get the extra protection. In comparison, the Speed feels so much more exciting to run in as they just push you forward so easily and help you run fast effortlessly. You'll notice this and speed up even walking in them.
Saucony Endorphin Speed v Saucony Endorphin Shift: Ergonomics
The heel counter in the Shift is more solid and supportive than the Speed, and you get both a heel tab and a tongue tab on the Shift to help you get them on and off. With a heavier shoe you can afford to include these extra features. The toe box on the Speed feels slightly narrower than the Shift. You also get different outsoles on both models, with some exposed midsole foam on the Speed. The outsole on the Shift looks and feels more durable and although they both look similar in patterning, there's more depth in the Shift outsole.
Saucony Endorphin Speed v Saucony Endorphin Shift: aesthetics
The Speed looks like the fastest of these two shoes with a more dynamic design with speed shock waves that travel along the sides of the upper, although both are fresh looking with pops of neon colours. The colour coordination of the Endorphin range is distinctive and smart, with three options for the Speed and four for the Shift.
Saucony Endorphin Speed v Saucony Endorphin Shift: verdict
I can't say I haven't enjoyed running in both of these, as I think they both offer so much. Overall, as the Speed is so versatile, offering speed via its nylon plate, as well as the level of cushioning you want for easier miles, it could be the shoe to invest in if you're budget only allows for one pair. I'm excited to see how the Speed will perform over the summer when we can race again and will be targeting 10 miles or half marathons in these. The Shift is heavier, but provides great cushioning through both PWRRUN cushioning and a layer of PWRRUN+, keeping your legs fresh. Personally, I don't mind the weight of the Shift and don't really notice it – what you are aware on when on the move is how easy running feels. The Shift also feels more stable than the Speed. The slightly thicker upper will also give you more protection from dirt and stones. These are the shoes you can rely on for everyday training, even if you go slightly off-road, and I'm wearing this model more than any other at the moment as I'm enjoying the comfort of the upper and the reliable outsole during the end of the winter weather. If you want a shoe for more mileage and recovery days then go for the Shift.