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Road Running Shoes • February 3, 2024

Saucony Endorphin Speed 4 Review: The Tip of the Spear

saucony endorphin speed 4 - feature

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What You Need To Know

Weight

8.2 oz. (233 g) for a US M9,

7.2 oz. (206 g) for a US W7.5

Stack Height / Drop

36 mm in heel, 28 mm in forefoot (8 mm drop)

Best For

Anything up to — and including — well, anything

Key Features

Winged nylon plate, XT-900 lattice outsole, zonal mesh upper, PWRRUN PB midsole, Super Responsive Sockliner

On The Run
Absolutely shines at any pace Supremely breathable upper The tongue and laces are a little much
Price / Availability

$170, February 29, 2024

Introduction to the Saucony Endorphin Speed 4

ROBBE: If you’ve been following Believe in the Run for more than a year or two, you know there are a few shoes that sing to me like a siren of the seas. Go to my author bio page, and you’ll see my all-time favorites. One of the shoes on that podium is the Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 Runshield, a water-resistant take on the second version of this shoe. It wasn’t too far off from the standard version, or the OG, really. But it was a gem of a shoe either way, providing a perfect upper fit, a snappy and quick turnover, and just the right amount of bounce.

Then came the third version, which I initially enjoyed. I thought Saucony ultimately made a more runnable shoe for the general public. But in reality, the magic of the Endorphin Speed was that it wasn’t meant for everyone and everything. Also, the upper in the Endorphin Speed 3 just felt too sloppy and too roomy. It seemed that “Endorphin” became the safe word, and I’m not sure if I liked that.

I had no idea what to expect with the Endorphin Speed 4. Would it play nice again, becoming the accountant who plays in a weekend cover band? Or would it quit its job and load up the saddlebags on the Harley, ready to rip some backroads on a cross-country trip?

I’ll say this much: Sturgis, here we come.

CARYN: My love for the Endorphin Speed runs deep. We’re talking Meg Murray and the original Alphafly kind of deep. So jump in your compression boots, grab your popcorn (I’d actually probably go with Cheez-Its), and get comfortable because I need to start from the beginning.

As someone with a pair of Achilles tendons that didn’t vibe with the original Vaporfly 4%, I was thrilled when Saucony released the Endorphin Pro 1. The fact that it offered similar technology with a midfoot that was more than an inch wide thrilled me. Case in point — I put over 300 miles on my first pair. When the white mutants reached retirement, I knew I needed another workout-friendly shoe, but I wasn’t keen to shell out $250 for a Nike-branded carbon plate. Enter the Endorphin Speed.

I more or less stumbled onto this shoe when my run specialty store received our initial shipment. A coworker described it as a “tempo shoe,” which was unfamiliar territory back in 2020. Nevertheless, I liked the feel, and given my success with the Endorphin Pro, I took a pair home with me that day. Little did I know that the Endorphin Speed would become my benchmark for pretty much every other self-proclaimed multi-purpose shoe I’d test in the following years.

You think I’m kidding, but I’ve had over 12 pairs of the Endorphin Speed across all four versions, putting upwards of 300 miles on each one. The shoe has been with me for track workouts, long runs, easy runs, and everything in between. While I’ve enjoyed all versions of the Endorphin Speed in some capacity, the initial release has always remained my favorite. When version four showed up on my doorstep, you bet I couldn’t wait to test it out.

CHAD: Here’s a fun fact about me: Before joining Believe in the Run, I had to demonstrate my shoe-reviewing chops by writing a sample review. Robbe told me to pick a shoe that I enjoyed and had strong opinions on. That shoe? The Saucony Endorphin Speed 2. To this day, I feel like the Speed 2 was one of the best tempo day and speedwork shoes of all time. It was bouncy, snappy, and lightweight — an all-around great shoe, even though I felt it ran a bit small.

I never laced up the Endorphin Speed 3, but many people relayed some disappointment, as apparently the Speed 3 didn’t have the same bounce and snap of the second version, trending closer towards the daily trainer category. When I found out I’d be reviewing the Speed 4, I was interested to see what the shoe world was going to get. Would Saucony continue the trend away from being an elite speedwork option, or would the Speed 4 bring back the magic of the Speed 2?

What we like about the Saucony Endorphin Speed 4

ROBBE: Anyone who’s already seen photos of the shoe knows it’s a visual stunner. Aside from the short-lived ska version of the Saucony Endorphin 2, Saucony has always thrown down some beautiful designs in the Endorphin line. This is one of the winners.

On first step-in out of the box, I could already tell we were on the right track. The upper felt more form-fitting but not narrow or roomy. More like a blend of the Speed 2 and the Speed 3. A thicker mesh provides more comfort than ever, while larger ventilation holes try to balance things out. The mesh tongue is more breathable and thin and is held securely on both sides by the always-beneficial gussets.

On the run, the feels kept coming. From the first time I wore it until today, I’ve loved every moment in this shoe. The combination of the PWRRUN PB midsole, the nylon plate, the always lovely Speedroll geometry, the all-new sock liner, and the better upper fit all make this shoe a hands-down winner. If your love of the Endorphin Speed waned due to the last one, I implore you to return to your roots. It’s essentially a more stable version of the Endorphin Speed 2, which was fun as Hell but a bit squirrely underfoot. Essentially, this shoe is a perfect blend of both the Endorphin Speed 2 and Endorphin Speed 3. It can still function as a daily trainer but isn’t so safe that it’s not exciting.

By that, I mean that this shoe can do everything, and it does it exceptionally well. From the easiest of days to the quickest of tempos, it can handle anything you throw at it. I’ve put over 60 miles on the shoe, going up to 16 miles on a long run, and I can tell you that if I’m not reviewing other shoes, this is the one I keep reaching for again and again. The midsole is softer than the first two versions but not mushy at all. Anything that sinks into the foam floats back to the surface in quick order. I mean it when I say this shoe feels good every time, all of the time. Meg (who isn’t on this review) is also a huge fan and has racked up over 100 miles on it already.

I’d go into more details, but I’m not sure what else to say. I know it’s only January, but good luck to all the other do-it-all super trainers out there — this one is going to be hard to beat in 2024.

CARYN: This turns out to be a tale of second chances. My first run in the Endorphin Speed 4 was lackluster, at best. I felt like the shoe was mushy, not responsive, and had none of the pep that I so loved in prior versions. Truthfully, I was so disappointed that I came home and started looking at buying a few more of the current version to stock up a bit. After a few days of sulking, I resigned to try it again. There was no way it could be as bad as that first run, right? Fast forward over 150 miles, and my tune has most definitely changed.

Out of the box, I loved the look of the Endorphin Speed 4. I received a white colorway with sunset-esque ombre sides. I could commandeer a soap box in regard to my love of white shoes, but I’ll save you the sermon on why blanco is best. That said, it is the best.

I’ve always found both the toe box and midfoot on most Saucony models to be accommodating, and the Speed 4 is no exception. The overhauled mesh upper made for no rubbing or lockdown issues at any point during workouts or long runs. We love a gusseted tongue over here at Believe in the Run, so thank you, Saucony, for obliging.

Coming back to this shoe, I realized I may not have had my coffee before that first test run. An unfair shake, if you ask me — even the very best shoes can feel tragic in an under-caffeinated state. The shoe actually seemed to shine as the miles stacked up. I had found the Speed 2 to be a bit unstable, largely in part due to the sloppier upper and shorter toe box. The Speed 3 was an improvement in stability but lacked forefoot cushioning to the point that it bottomed out as the foam wore down

The Speed 4 somehow solves all of these problems, bringing me back to the magic of the original version. The PWRRUN PB and nylon plate provide the soft but responsive hallmark of this shoe that I’ve come to love over the years. Saucony’s super-responsive sock liner (yes, that’s the actual technical term) melds with the sidewalls to provide a very stable heel without limiting the shoe’s performance and versatility. I’ve always found Saucony’s foam to last longer than other comparable shoes with fewer changes in performance, which to date has certainly held true with the Endorphin Speed 4.

CHAD: Saucony went above and beyond when it came to getting this shoe out to the team for review. I got this shoe in October, giving me over four months to log miles in this shoe before writing this. First things first, this shoe is a real looker. While some things stayed the same (PWRRUN PB midsole with a nylon plate), Saucony’s design team went for a full redesign on the Speed 4, and from an aesthetic perspective, they nailed it.

Moving beyond the look of the shoe, every mile I put in the Speed 4 since October I thoroughly enjoyed. Fresh out of the box, it felt like it had the bounce and snappiness of the Endorphin Speed 2 in a far more stable package. This version of PWRRUN PB felt slightly firmer, but with Saucony’s Speedroll technology, the ride was still incredibly smooth. The shoe felt good at easy paces during warm ups and cool downs, but felt great once I picked up the pace during tempo efforts or intervals. I nailed every pace and often had to intentionally dial it back to avoid going too fast.

The new mesh upper is probably as breathable as a shoe can get, something which comes in handy during warmer summer months. Also, the Speed 4 (and I believe the Pro 4) features an integrated tongue and a new Super Responsive Sockliner (SRS). This significantly amps up the comfort level underfoot and adds to the bounce of the shoe on the run. And for my last comment (which I also noted in my review of the Ride 17), Saucony has greatly improved the traction on its outsoles. Several of my runs had some wet and/or snowy conditions, and I had no traction issues.

Shop Saucony Endorphin Speed - Men Shop Saucony Endorphin Speed - Women

What we don’t like about the Saucony Endorphin Speed 4

ROBBE: I can only come up with a single thing here and it’s a stretch — literally. The stretchy dual-layer mesh tongue can get bunched up if you’re not careful about it. In fact, I think there’s a little too much fabric in the tongue overall. It doesn’t ruin the shoe, I’m just not sure it’s the best design.

CARYN: I have to be honest, I don’t have anything I can legitimately include here. The only thing I’d note is that this iteration of the shoe feels softer than version 3. It’s not necessarily a negative, but it could be polarizing for some.

CHAD: If I was pressed into coming up with a negative, I would say the only thing I don’t like about Saucony’s redesign is the reshaping of the toebox. The lateral side angles inward sharply, which doesn’t provide much space for the toes. The flexibility and comfort of the upper mesh prevent the fit issues from causing too many problems, but I could see people with a wide forefoot having issues. Oh, and the laces were far longer than they needed to be. I feel like even if you have to use the extra eyelet or do a runner’s loop, you’ll still have lace to spare.

Shop Saucony Endorphin Speed - Men Shop Saucony Endorphin Speed - Women

Final thoughts on the Saucony Endorphin Speed 4

ROBBE: I’ll be honest, I was a bit nervous for Saucony in 2024, especially with the inner turmoil of its parent company (Wolverine) closing down its Boston HQ and moving to Grand Rapids, Michigan, a town in which I woke up hungover on many occasions on random people’s couches and also found an artsy girl to date long distance, a relationship that started through T9 texting (we once searched out The Royal Tenenbaums house in NYC and took photos in front of it with my point-and-shoot digital camera because that’s what you did in the mid-aughts).

Speaking of hangovers, if there’s a residual hangover from the Wolverine restructuring, it may still be a couple of years away since shoe development typically has upwards of a two-year lead time. For now, we’ll mark Saucony safe from drama and call the Saucony Endorphin Speed 4 one of the best shoes of 2024.

CARYN: Having taken the Endorphin Speed 4 on tempo runs, track workouts, and long runs (in quite a variety of weather, I might add), I stand by my dedication. For $170, there are few other shoes that can match this shoe’s versatility or durability. Whenever a runner with some experience asks me to recommend a single shoe, a “do-it-all-for-you Dolly,” if you will (please tell me someone gets this off-season Santa Clause reference), my go-to answer has always been the Saucony Endorphin Speed. I’m pretty pumped to say that my answer will remain the same, perhaps with a few additional exclamation points.

CHAD: Welcome to my permanent shoe rotation, Endorphin Speed 4. For the last few months, the Speed 4 has been my go-to tempo day and speedwork shoe during my current marathon build. Truth be told, with the comfort level of the shoe when I turn up my paces, I could see myself using this as a 5K/10K or even half marathon race day shoe. I think Saucony really did something special with the Speed 4, bringing back the magic of the Speed 2 while keeping the stability improvements made to the Speed 3.

You can pick up the Saucony Endorphin Speed 4 for $170 on February 29, 2024, at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) using the buttons below.

Shop Saucony Endorphin Speed - Men Shop Saucony Endorphin Speed - Women

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11
Comments

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  1. Sam says:

    I loved the Speed 1 and 2 (and shout-out to the Pro+ while we’re on the subject of beautiful white shoes) but I got plantar fascitis in the Speed 3 and when my symptoms finally went away I didn’t trust it anymore. The PF then came back during a 10k race in the Endorphin Pro 3, so it’s either a coincidence or there was something about the 2022 line of Endorphins that my right foot hated. I’ve never found anything to fill the Speed-shaped hole in my life and as much as I want to try the 4 I’m nervous about derailing yet another marathon build. First world shoe problems.

  2. Simon Harris says:

    I need a new pair of shoes for daily miles and some uptempo work, should I get the Rebel V4 or these? Budget isn’t an issue and I’ve had the Speed 1 before and Rebel V2 and loved both, so finding this a tough choice to make!!!

    1. Robbe says:

      Personally, I’d go with these but it’s a close call

  3. Brendan Wise says:

    Good to hear the performance matches the colorway (stunning).
    As someone who likes comparing shoes. I am curious where this stands head to head with the Boston 12. The Boston 12 is my long run shoe where I add in interval speed workouts. But I find I need more cush around the 18-20 mile mark. Is the Speed 4 a better cushioned or softer competitor to he Boston 12?

  4. Matt says:

    Same as one of the other comments, I would like to hear how these shoes compare to the Boston 12s. I’m looking for a versatile/do it all daily trainer.

    1. Robbe says:

      More comfortable upper on the Speed, definitely softer midsole. Not quite as snappy but quick underfoot.

  5. Chad Z says:

    More cushioned and softer, but has what I think it takes to go longer distances. Between the two my preference would likely be the Boston 12, but I could see someone else preferring the Speed 4.

  6. Paul Donovan says:

    Boston SAT Question: The Endorphin Speed 3 is to the Asics Superblast what Drew Bledsoe is to [Answer: Tom Brady]. Is it safe to go back into the PWPB? Or will I be running (happily) in the worst (available) colorways in the history of sports. The suspense is killing me.

  7. Mat says:

    Man I’m happy to hear the Speed 4 are the 3 but better. I had a pair of 2 that induced a navicular injury because of the lack of stability and that I had to throw reluctantly because of that… and man I loved running in those. Speed 3 have been my go to pair for the past 2 years now, I ran my first marathon in them and all my speed sessions are done with them (or sometimes my beloved Kinvara). I recently ran a 10K with them too because I’ve been a bit nervous transitioning to Pro 3 for faster paces but I’m finally there so I’ll probably stick to Speed 3 for marathon and Pro 3 for half/10K races.

    I still have 2 pairs of Speed 3 to burn so I’ll patiently wait for the first discounts but I’m definitely buying a pair this year!

  8. Kyle says:

    I’m in a similar boat… I’m new to running and have been building my base for about 5 months. I’m looking to add a shoe for uptempo work and to use as a race day shoe for 10k and possibly a half marathon in the fall. There aren’t a lot of options in my size (15 EE), so I’m looking hard at the Speed 4 and Rebel v4. Any thoughts on which you would prefer for that half marathon distance, or would both work?

    1. Robbe says:

      You really can’t go wrong with either one. The Rebel 4 will be more accommodating for your foot size though.

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Authors

Robbe Reddinger
Senior Editor
  • Strava
  • Instagram

Robbe is the senior editor of Believe in the Run. He loves going on weird routes through Baltimore, finding trash on the ground, and running with the Faster Bastards. At home in the city, but country at heart. Loves his two boys more than anything. Has the weakest ankles in the game.

More from Robbe
Shoe Size

7.5

Fav. Distance

13.1

PRs
  • 3:27

    Marathon
  • 1:30

    Half-Marathon
  • 40:36

    10k
  • 19:17

    5K
Caryn Just
Road Reviewer
  • Instagram

Caryn is a recovering ball sports athlete and native Baltimorean who used to cry before the timed mile in gym class. Discovered running somewhat reluctantly when her pants stopped fitting in college, now a big fan of the marathon– go figure! Pediatric ICU nurse and avid UVA sports fan. Can usually be found with her chocolate lab, Gus, looking for a good cup of coffee.

More from Caryn
Shoe Size

9

Fav. Distance

26.2

PRs
  • 2:52

    Marathon
  • 1:21

    Half Marathon
  • 18:45

    5K
Chad Zimmermann
Clydesdale Reviewer
  • Instagram
  • Strava

An attorney by day, Chad lives in Central Pennsylvania with his wife and three kids. Never much for running growing up, Chad began running as a way to improve his physical health. He went from his first 5k in 2015 to running the Paris Marathon in 2016.  Given his larger physical build, Chad is the resident Clydesdale runner, providing shoe and gear insights for those with a bigger build and taller stature.

More from Chad
Shoe Size

11.5

Fav. Distance

10K

PRs
  • 5:42

    Marathon
  • 56:33

    10K
  • 26:34

    5K
  • 2:11:05

    Half Marathon
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