Saucony Endorphin Speed and Pro 4 Review

The Saucony Endorphin Pro and Speed 4.

All shoes are reviewed by the Fleet Feet tester team, which represents a wide variety of goals, foot shapes, running locations and terrains. Reviewers pound the pavement, climb the hills, tackle the trails, then come together to compare notes. Debates ensue over the feel of the cushioning, the purpose of the shoe, and how it compares to last year’s model. While each reviewer has their own individual preferences, we hope that capturing our debates will help you make an informed decision.

According to Elle Woods of “Legally Blonde”, exercise gives you endorphins, and endorphins make you happy. After years of shoe testing, we can confirm that this is true. And there's no better way to chase those endorphins than in a new pair of shoes that's built for speed.

The aptly named Saucony Endorphin line launched in 2020 with the Endorphin Pro, a carbon-plated supershoe, the Endorphin Speed, the training day counterpart with a nylon plate, and the Endorphin Shift, a well-cushioned daily trainer. While the Endorphin Shift has been discontinued, the Pro and Speed remain at the forefront of the supershoe conversation.

Fleet Feet reviewers wore the Endorphin Speed and Pro 3 for plenty of races and workouts, so we were anxious to test out the new iterations. The Saucony Endorphin Speed and Pro 4 have been updated with a brand-new midsole formulation and a redesigned upper.

Will the new updates bring us more endorphins than ever before? Or will they leave us crashing from our post-workout high? Read on to find out.

Tech Specs

Saucony Endorphin Pro 4

Weight 6.5 oz (W), 7.5 oz (M)
Stack height (heel/forefoot) 39.5 mm/31.5 mm
Heel-to-toe drop 8 mm
Category Neutral, racing
Surface Road, track
Price $225
Comparable to… HOKA Rocket X 2, New Balance SC Elite v4

Ride

Cushioning

Energy

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Tech Specs

Endorphin Speed 4

Weight 7.2 oz (W), 8.2 oz (M)
Stack height (heel/forefoot) 36 mm/28 mm
Heel-to-toe drop 8 mm
Category Neutral
Surface Road, track
Price $170
Comparable to… New Balance SC Trainer v2, ASICS Novablast 4

Ride

Cushioning

Energy

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The outsoles of the Saucony Endorphin Pro and Speed 4.

PWRRUN foams take center stage

The Saucony Endorphin line is built around their innovative PWRRUN PB foam, made up of PEBA–an ultra-light, highly responsive foam often referred to by the brand name Pebax. Both the Saucony Endorphin Pro and Speed 3 used PWRRUN PB foam to deliver a lightweight, energetic ride.

The Saucony Endorphin Pro 4 has been updated with a completely new dual-cushioning system. It’s a fusion of PWRRUN PB foam and Saucony’s new PWRRUN HG (high gradient) foam, which you may have experienced in the Saucony Endorphin Elite. Saucony claims their PWRRUN HG foam is the most energy-efficient cushioning yet, so it’s certainly an upgrade for the Endorphin Pro 4. It’s also a way for the brand to further separate the Pro 4 and Speed 4, the latter of which still uses the same PWRRUN PB foam.

“Who knew a shoe could transform you into a gazelle? Running in the Endorphin Pro 4 made me feel light on my feet, swift, smooth and like I could outrun a lion,” says Mandy, an ultra-runner who enjoys bouncy shoes. “It was better than a shoe disappearing on my foot, it felt like I strapped rockets onto my feet. Each run was smooth, comfortable and bouncy. My legs turned over effortlessly and quickly.”

While the Endorphin Speed 4 may not have PWRRUN HG foam in the midsole, it still offers plenty of energy return.

“The Speed 4 has some pop!” says Heather, a Cincinnati-based mother runner. “Saucony did a great job of giving the shoe some thick cushioning without taking away any responsiveness. I had planned to test these shoes on an easy run so I could focus on the feel of the shoes, but it turned into a tempo run just because I was having so much fun with these on my feet. I had trouble reining in the pace, so finally I just let it fly and enjoyed the ride.”

The other main difference between the Pro 4 and the Speed 4 are the plates used in the midsole. The Pro 4 features a carbon plate, while the Speed 4 uses a nylon plate. Both plates help compress and expand the midsole foam more quickly, sending more energy back to the runner. But carbon is lighter and stiffer than nylon, so the benefits are exaggerated in the Endorphin Pro 4.

Both shoes offer a rocker shape, which Saucony calls their SPEEDROLL technology, to make heel-to-toe transitions quick and efficient. I tested both shoes, and I definitely noticed the rocker shape more in the Pro 4. When placing both shoes on the ground, the toe appears to curve upward at a sharper angle in the Pro than the Speed. If I had to explain the difference between the Pro 4 and the Speed 4 in 10 words, I’d say the Pro 4 is the Speed 4, but on steroids.

Redesigned upper offers light, airy feel

The Endorphin Pro 4 and Endorphin Speed 4.

The midsole isn’t the only thing that got a makeover in the Endorphin Pro and Speed 4. A brand new upper made with engineered mesh wraps around your foot, while a gusseted tongue holds everything in place.

The upper in the Endorphin Speed 4 is noticeably thicker and more plush than the Pro, with extra padding in the heel and tongue. However, it’s still much more streamlined than your average trainer.

“The upper of the Speed 4 is certainly a highlight of this shoe. I’d argue that it’s perhaps one of the most breathable uppers I’ve experienced,” says Max, who probably would have changed his mind if he’d tested the Pro 4. “The porous mesh zones in the tongue and throughout the toe box and midfoot allows all of that outside air to pass through, almost so much so that you forget there’s even an upper there.”

The Pro 4 is even lighter and sleeker–another nod to the Pro 4’s designation as the brand’s top-tier racing shoe.

“The upper in the Pro 4 is light and airy,” says Ashley, who has a high instep. “In some ways, it feels like I’m wearing a sock with a sole. And honestly, I can’t think of a better feeling for a fast workout and race-day shoe than that! I love the built-in tongue because it makes lacing up easy. I had just the right amount of width in the midfoot for the shoe to feel smooth against my foot.”

However, Kate, who has a low instep, wasn’t a huge fan of the tongue construction in the Pro 4.

“The Pro 4 has a one piece upper where the tongue is directly sewn into the same level as the laces. So, when I tighten my laces, the excess tongue material buckles on my foot and creates a lumpy pressure point on top of my foot,” she says. “I figured out that I can move the buckled material to the side so it doesn’t hurt as much, but I wish it was constructed differently.”

Based on my fitid® scan, I have a low-to-medium instep. I didn’t notice any issues with the fit or construction of the Speed or Pro 4. In fact, the fit felt perfect. My favorite update is the new material lining the inside of the heel collar. I was an avid wearer of both the Pro and Speed 3, but I would get the worst blisters on the backs of my heels during my first few runs in the shoes. Something about the material did not mesh (no pun intended) with my skin. But I didn’t have any issues with the Pro and Speed 4. The material feels softer and smoother, and I can breathe easy knowing I won’t have to religiously wear my Balega Enduro Quarter socks for every run.

Saucony Endorphin 4 Series vs Endorphin 3 Series

Tech Specs

Saucony Endorphin Speed 4

Saucony Endorphin Speed 3

Saucony Endorphin Pro 4

Saucony Endorphin Pro 3

Weight

7.2 oz (W),

8.2 oz (M)

7.2 oz (W),

8.1 oz (M)

6.5 oz (W),

7.5 oz (M)

6.2 oz (W),

7.2 oz (M)

Drop

8 mm

8 mm

8 mm

8 mm

Stack height

36 mm/28 mm

36 mm/28 mm

39.5 mm/

31.5 mm

39.5 mm/

31.5 mm

Price

$170

$170

$225

$225

On paper, not much seemed to change between the Endorphin Pro and Speed 3 and the Pro and Speed 4. The Pro 4 gained a tiny bit of weight from the 3, which could be due to the reformulated midsole, redesigned upper, or a combination of both.

I wore the Saucony Speed 3 while I trained for the 2023 Boston Marathon, and I wore the Pro 3 on race day. It’s safe to say I had a good experience with the shoes. I noticed that the Pro and Speed 4 feel remarkably similar, albeit maybe a touch softer. Kate and Nate both agree that the 3 and 4 feel almost the same underfoot, despite the updated models looking pretty different from the 3s.

I’ll just start off and say that I was really excited to test this shoe,” Kate says. “I’ve run in the Saucony Endorphin Speed and Pro pretty consistently over the past few years. The Pro 4 landed on my doorstep when I had just happened to complete a workout in the Pro 3 that morning, so the fit and feel of the previous model was fresh on my mind. The Pro 4 has a different look from the 3. But, the cushion feels the same, which I’m grateful for because I love that bouncy foam over the stiff, propulsive plate.”

The heels of the Endorphin Pro and Speed 4.

How do the Saucony Endorphin Pro and Speed 4 compare?

We took a look at how the Endorphin Pro and Speed 4 stack up against Saucony’s other racing shoe–the Endorphin Elite. Here’s what we found.

Tech Specs

Endorphin Elite

Endorphin Pro 4

Endorphin Speed 4

Weight

6.5 oz (W),

7.2 oz (M)

6.5 oz (W),

7.5 oz (M)

7.2 oz (W),

8.2 oz (M)

Stack height

39.5 mm/31.5 mm

39.5 mm/31.5 mm

36 mm/28 mm

Drop

8 mm

8 mm

8 mm

Midsole

PWRRUN HG

PWRRUN HG & PWRRUN PB

PWRRUN PB

Plate

Slotted carbon fiber

Carbon fiber

Nylon

Price

$275

$225

$170

The Endorphin Elite is billed as the monster of all Saucony shoes, and it might be hard to see why based on the tech specs. It has the same stack height, the same heel-to-toe drop, and almost the same weight as the Pro 4. Both shoes have carbon plates embedded in the midsole, too.

However, what makes the Endorphin Elite truly elite is the innovative shape of the carbon plate and the pure PWRRUN HG midsole. Because PWRRUN HG is touted as Saucony’s most energy-efficient foam yet, it makes sense that the Elite would have a full HG midsole while the Pro only has a partial HG midsole. The carbon plate in the Elite has been slotted into four sections in the forefoot, giving the plate more flexibility for an accommodating feel. These thoughtful details are what elevate the Elite to the top spot in our Saucony racing lineup, and also what gives it a premium price point of $275.

Which shoe is best for me?

The Saucony Endorphin Pro and Speed from behind.

Now that you know the differences between the Endorphin Pro 4, Speed 4 and Elite, you may be wondering which shoe will suit your training.

As mentioned above, the Endorphin Speed 4 is billed as a training option that’s more durable than the Pro and Elite. More durability comes with more material, leading to more weight, which is why some runners may opt for the lighter Pro or Elite for races when every second matters. But if you want one versatile shoe that can handle both speedwork and racing, the Endorphin Speed 4 might be your jam.

When it comes to choosing between the Pro 4 and Elite, this is where individual preferences regarding underfoot feel come into play.

While the shoes feel similar, I found the Elite to offer a much more aggressive rocker shape. Some runners love the feeling of being rolled into their next stride. I found the rocker shape to be a little bit too aggressive in the Elite, leaving my toes feeling sore over long distances. I typically opt for the Elite for shorter races (fun fact, my current 5K and 10K PRs were both run in the Elite) and wear the Pro for half and full marathons.

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