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Ask the Test Team: How to Work a Second Pair of Shoes Into Your Rotation

Plus: What's a faster alternative to the Brooks Adrenaline GTS?

saucony endorphin pro worn by editor amanda furrer
Lakota Gambill

How do you work your non-workhorse shoes into rotation wisely? Even before I read the most recent “Ask the Test Team” column in the newsletter, I’d bought a pair of Saucony Endorphin Speed. This was on the advice of a local running store person after I’d asked about building a second pair into the rotation. But I was also told that the Endorphins weren’t “workhorse” shoes and not for typical daily runs. So are they only for speed workouts, or only for long runs, or what? I find myself not using them because I don’t want to “waste” them, which was really not the point!
esd7637, via the Runner’s World+ Community Page

Jeff Dengate: What a great question. I like to say that shoes are just tools. You wouldn’t grab a hammer to tighten a loose bolt, right? Similarly, we can think about the variation between shoes to determine how and when we should wear them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you can’t wear Endorphins on every single run if you’d like. Who am I to say how you should spend your money or what you find most comfortable when running? But generally, an Endorphin (or any lightweight racing shoe) should be saved for race day or speedwork. It’s fun to feel fast, and a shoe like that can give you a boost over your daily trainers. I like to harness that feeling whenever I ask my body to go fast. If I were to wear those shoes every day, I fear the magic sensation would wear off. Plus, by using them somewhat infrequently, you won’t have to open your wallet as often.

As for how to work a shoe into your rotation, I always suggest starting with a short run to break-in the shoes. Try the shoes out to make sure the fit and feeling is right before you do any real hard efforts. If you want to take the Endorphins to the track, that’s a good start. You can easily stop between intervals and swap your shoes if an issue crops up. But what happens if you’re 10 miles from home on an out-and-back course? Ouch. After a couple of easy, short runs, you’ll have the confidence to know that they’re going to work for you—or not.

I wear Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21/22 for training and for races because I overpronate and am flatfooted, but I recently invested in a pair of Nike Vaporflys. They did their job—I PR’d a half marathon by six minutes, and my muscles were overall less sore afterward. But the lack of support was a killer on my ankles, which were sore for almost a week. By mile 10, I knew the Vaporflys didn’t offer nearly enough support to run a marathon or even another half. Can you recommend a carbon fiber or similar lightweight racing shoe for people who need more support to prevent overpronation?
ari1875, via the Runner’s World+ Community Page

Carbon fiber shoes are not a magic pill for all runners. I recently talked with one of my old high school track teammates who asked about pairs she could wear with an orthotic. I suggested that she might be better off sticking with her current shoes if she can’t find one that comfortably accommodates the insert, because the performance gains of these new super shoes might not be enough to offset any compromises with fit. In your case, it’s helpful to know that many of these new racers can be terribly unstable. Part of that is because the foam is so lightweight and squishy—the earliest versions were hell on sharp turns, even for the most efficient runners.

If you’re used to the Adrenaline, a possibility might be to check out the Launch GTS 9. It’s going to be lighter and faster, but it will still offer you some of the stability you’re already familiar with. And the fit will be comparable to the Adrenaline.

You may soon have a more high-powered alternative, however. We just received the Saucony Tempus for testing. It’s replacing the Hurricane, a stability shoe on par with the Adrenaline. But it has the same bouncy, lightweight foam that Saucony uses in the Endorphin Pro and Speed racing shoes. It should give you a mix of that performance with the extra stability you need. That shoe is scheduled to be released this summer, and we’ll have a review on it soon.

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