Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 | Review - Outdoors Magic

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Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 | Review

Built for race day speed, the carbon-plated Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 is a super-fast road running shoe for PB chasing – as our writer James Forrest found out

Carbon plate technology has revolutionised the world of road running footwear over the past few years. Elite runners have been smashing records wearing them – Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge broke the mythical 2-hour marathon barrier in a pair of Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT%, while Ethiopia’s Tigist Assefa set a new women’s world record wearing the Adizero Adio Pro Evo 1 at the Berlin Marathon. And it’s not just the professionals that are getting in on the act. Everyday runners – from ParkRun enthusiasts to club athletes to London Marathoners – have been switching to carbon-plated shoes in their tens of thousands, motivated by that never-ending quest for an “edge” that will bring about a new personal best.

It’s easy to understand the trend. Carbon-plated shoes are a game-changer – they make you faster and improve running economy by up to 4%. Countless marathon wins, world records and scientific studies prove this. But how does it work?

Each shoe has a carbon fibre plate – which is incredibly strong but also ultralight – embedded within the midsole. As the runner runs, this plate helps to compress and expand the midsole foam more quickly, thus improving energy return for the runner (rather than energy being wasted). The end result is – to put it simply – better and more efficient forward momentum.

You can massively geek out on all of the science behind this, and the internet is awash with a million and one articles on the subject – mostly positive, but some more critical and cynical. Do carbon- plated shoes help reduce muscle fatigue, improve recovery times and aid knee, hip and ankle performance, or can they actually cause injuries? Are the speed and efficiency gains mostly seen by elite runners, or are they still relevant to amateurs?

I wanted to see what all the hype was about for myself. So I got my hands (or, more accurately, feet) on a pair of carbon-plated Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 trainers and put them to test.

Saucony Endorphin Pro 3: Review

The Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 is the “ultimate go-fast experience”, according to the specialist American running brand, which was established in 1898. It delivers “speed over everything” and “more pop underfoot”, thanks to its carbon-fibre plate and super-thick stack of PWRRUNPB foam cushioning. The end result is a race-ready shoe that’s performance engineered to “give you an effortless feeling of top speed”.

It costs £230 in both men’s and women’s versions, and is available in eight colour-ways for men and seven for women. It is a vegan-approved shoe and contains partially recycled materials.

The Carbon Plate & Midsole

The Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 features an S-curve carbon-fibre plate within the midsole. The plate is designed to “give you the perfect amount of spring and pop” with every stride. The midsole, meanwhile, features a mega-cushioned stack of PWRRUNPB foam – a light, responsive and snappy “super-foam” made from PEBA (polyether block amide). The heel-to-toe offset is 8mm (39.5mm at heel, 31.5mm at forefoot).

In combination, these design features – along with the stack height, midsole shape and overall materials – ensure the Endorphin Pro 3 also benefits from Saucony’s SpeedRoll technology. This approach enables the runner to “get from heel-strike to toe-off with ease”, with excellent forward propulsion, an amplified stride and good energy return.

Before receiving the Saucony Endorphin Pro 3, I was a carbon plate virgin. I had never run in a pair before and, therefore, had a completely blank slate in terms of prior experience. My first impressions were superb. They felt super-soft and supremely-cushioned under foot, with high bounciness and a good forward momentum. The roll and ride of each stride felt natural yet efficient, and – in general – I’d never felt so fast. Was this just the placebo effect or a genuine sensation? I couldn’t wait to put them to a real test in a race, rather than just on a few tempo training runs.

In their first race conditions, the Endorphin Pro 3 worked brilliantly for me. I felt fast and confident, and set a new lifetime personal best of 19 minutes and 17 seconds at the Keswick Park Run in the
Lake District. I’d previously never run under 20 minutes before. Of course, not all of this should be attributed to the shoe (in the few months prior to this race, I’d joined my local running club, completed a marathon and taken my training more seriously than ever before) – but the Endorphin Pro 3 certainly helped me along the way. I followed this success up with another new lifetime personal best of 1 hour 27 minutes and 20 seconds at the Lancaster Half Marathon on November 5, beating my previous best by over six minutes.

Upper

The upper of the Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 is made from a breathable mesh. It is incredibly lightweight with a near-transparent look. The mesh itself is a latticework of intricate, delicate materials, weaved together to create a web of thousands of rhombus-shaped holes.

This approach ensures maximum breathability and high levels of lightweight comfort. Ventilation and improved air-flow keep your feet cool and help prevent over-sweating when you’re working hard, and the overall construction is incredibly ultralight. Each shoe weighs just 209g in a UK size 8 (according to our scales) and feels almost weightless on your foot.

The upper of each shoe is incredibly flexible too, offering minimal support. There is a tiny extra bit of rigidity in the heel, but not much. Yet none of this really matters and these shoes are clearly built for speed, not stability or support. Saucony classes the Endorphin Pro 3 as a “neutral” shoe.

Personally I found the Endorphin Pro 3s very comfortable. The upper was so gossamer thin and lightweight, it didn’t rub or pinch my foot at all, and the fit felt very forgiving and comfy straight out of the box. I liked the minimalist tongue and the lacing was fine too. Saucony’s FormFit design is supposed to “hug every part of your foot for a personalised fit and feel”, and it worked well for me. Based on customer feedback, Saucony recommends you buy half a size up in this style, but I didn’t do so and I was ok with my normal size.

Outsole

The Endorphin Pro features Saucony’s XT-900 outsole, a rubber compound designed to “grip the road better”. The lugs and tread are rather minimalist, and are made for speed on the road. As such, they are not suitable as a trail running shoe.

During the Lancaster Half Marathon, I found the outsole traction pretty decent overall, but it struggled a little on country lanes with mud and grimy, wet surfaces. This was probably the worst performance area for the shoe, in my opinion – but it didn’t pose any major problems.

Who Is It For?

The Endorphin Pro 3 is designed for competent runners who are looking to take their performance to the next level, whether that’s bagging a PB in a 5km, 10km, half marathon or marathon race.

Saucony Endorphon Series

If you don’t think the Endorphin Pro 3 is quite right for you, there are three other trainers in the Saucony Endorphin collection. The Endorphin Shift 3 has extra support and cushioning, and is great for everyday and recovery running. The Endorphin Speed 3 has a nylon plate (not carbon) and is designed for fast speed training and intervals, while the new Endorphin Elite features a new superfoam and an exclusive carbon plate for “turbocharged performance on race day”.

Price: £230
Weight: 208g per shoe (men’s UK 8)
Men’s sizes: 6-14
Women’s sizes: 3-10

BUY NOW: SAUCONY.COM

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