Today, I’m going to go over my best running shoes for speed for men and women (2020-2021).
I have to be honest with you, it was a very difficult list to come down to because there’s so many good entrants in this category.
But even as that was, the top five that I settled upon had four brand-new shoes for this year, i.e. these were brand-new shoes right out of the gate, and in their first year, they’re already in my top five list for speed shoes.
With those top five, there’s also brand-new foams that were introduced for the first time this year as well.
So, 2020 was definitely a year where some of the running shoe brands swung for the fences and it paid off big time because we had some fantastic shoes. These are shoes that we can certainly race in or do our faster training in.
We’ve got a wide variety of shoes, too. We’ve got stack heights in the forefoot ranging from 16 millimeters to 27 millimeters and weights ranging from 7.2 ounces to 9.3 ounces.
So, quite a big variety of speed shoes depending on the kind that you’re looking for.
Related: Best Running Shoes in 2020
Let’s go over them now …
Comparison of the best 4 shoes for speed
|8mm drop||8mm drop|
|7.3 oz||8.5 oz|
|Light woven upper||Light uncluttered upper|
|Light DNA Flash midsole||Lightstrike Boost midsole|
NB Fuelcell TC
|8mm drop||10mm drop|
|7.8 oz||9.3 oz|
|Light mesh upper||
Light synthetic mesh
|Light PWRRUN PB midsole||
Light FuelCell midsole
5 Best Running Shoes for Speed
What is a Speed Shoe?
Let’s define the boundaries of what a speed shoe is. To define it by like a negative definition, it’s not a daily trainer and it’s not necessarily like your carbon plated racer.
It’s something right in the middle.
The speed shoe is that shoe that you’re going to reach for for your longer workout day. If you’ve got some tempo miles or some threshold repeats that you want to put in, a speed shoe is the type of shoe that’s perfect for that task.
Anything that can go from tempo pace or around marathon pace all the way up to mile repeat pace, that’s something where these shoes tend to shine.
And anything that’s outside of that like easy days, super long run or recovery run days, these shoes might not be all that great because they want to go fast.
A lot of people will probably use a lot of the shoes on this list for their half marathon or their next marathon.
So, that’s kind of where the speed shoe comes in. It’s a speed shoe, it’s a high-performing shoe, it might even be your race shoe.
Now with that definition set down, let’s talk about my best running shoes for speed for 2020 in no particular order.
Brooks Hyperion Tempo
The Hyperion Tempo is one of the new shoes in 2020. It’s got brand-new foam and a brand-new midsole material from Brooks called DNA Flash.
It was a much-needed jolt of energy that the Brooks brand needed. It’s long been known as the very reliable, the very predictable, the very stable brand that moves a lot of units but maybe isn’t the most exciting.
That definitely changed this year with the Hyperion Tempo.
The Hyperion has got that electric blue foam of a midsole. This midsole compound itself is just an absolute delight to run in.
At those easy paces and your warm-up paces, you just feel like this is a little bit stiff. But once you start pushing off and getting those paces quicker, that’s when the foam really starts to come to life.
It starts to really absorb everything that you’re pushing into it and gives it back with a nice sense of horsepower to it. It’s nothing too jerky and nothing too abrupt.
The Hyperion comes in at 7.2 ounces making it the lightest shoe that I’m going to be talking about today.
It definitely feels very light on foot.
The upper is relatively minimal. It’s not quite like a racer minimal but not also as robust as a daily trainer is going to be.
I feel like it did have a couple of issues with fit that I hope Brooks will address for version two. But otherwise, it’s just a fantastic shoe.
It’s definitely one of my favorites overall for 2020 and very easy to put into this category.
The next shoe that I want to talk about is the Boston 9…
Adidas Adizero Boston 9
This is the only shoe on this list that has some heritage behind it. This is the 9th iteration of the shoe.
Perennially, it tends to be a shoe that I tend to underrate, but this year, I haven’t made that mistake.
It still has Boost, but it also has a new foam in it. Boost isn’t dead and I think when used correctly like they’re using it in the Boston 9, Boost can be a very useful foam to have from a long-distance runner’s perspective.
This year, with that LightStrike, I just think that it’s a nice combination of those two foams.
Usually, I’m not a huge fan of dual-density foams or having like two kinds of foam within a shoe like something in the heel and something in the forefoot, but they’re really making it work with the Boston 9.
There aren’t a lot of changes that are happening in the upper of the Boston 9 compared to the Boston 8, but I think what they’ve done is they made it feel more race-tuned a little bit and more speedy in a good way.
I don’t think it’s overly tight and I don’t think it’s too snug in the forefoot. It just feels a lot better for me in terms of the fit.
They just took a good fitting shoe and made it even better for this year.
Because there’s Boost in the heel, I can use the Boston as a daily trainer. This shoe has 16 millimeters of stack height in the forefoot and weighs in at 8.4 ounces.
So, it’s kind of like in the middle ground of weight probably because of that Boost but on the lower end in terms of feeling low to the ground.
So, this is definitely a speed shoe that you should not be underrating this year. Even if you’ve done it before in other years like I have, don’t overlook it this year and go and check that one out.
We’ve reviewed some really nice Adidas running shoes including the Boston.
The next shoe that I’ll talk about is another brand-new shoe for the year. It’s from Asics …
Asics is actually using an existing foam, FlyteFoam, but they’re using it in a fantastic way with their GuideRail system.
It’s a way that’s supposed to help you rock and move with your footstrike in a little bit more of a fluid way to help keep that turnover moving quickly and this does a fantastic job of it.
At first, I actually really didn’t like it at slower paces because I didn’t quite understand what the shoe was.
But then once I figured out that this is a shoe for faster paces, that’s when it really started to come to life for me.
Once you get on your toes on this shoe, it really starts to sing.
My first experience with FlyteFoam midsole material was from several years ago in the DynaFlyte 2. That shoe was great and had a lot of promise but some issues with the upper.
I have always said that Asics need to figure out this upper, they need to keep that midsole foam, and then kind of like just strip away all the other stuff that makes Asics shoes heavy and a little bit clunky at times. Then, they’re going to have a real winner on their hands.
That’s this shoe. This is the shoe that I’ve been looking for from Asics for several years now. I absolutely love the EvoRide.
Again, this is one of my favorite shoes from the year overall and easily belongs in this top five.
The 4th shoe that I’m going to talk about today is another brand-new shoe for this year and it has a brand-new foam as well. It’s the Endorphin.
Saucony Endorphin Speed
This is a unique shoe and it’s different from some of the other shoes that I’ve talked about already in that this shoe has a nylon plate and it’s got PWRUN PB foam in it which is a new foam that they have from Saucony.
This midsole material looks like Boost and it kind of behaves like Boost, but it’s a lot lighter than Boost.
I feel like it’s “out-boosting” Boost. PWRUN PB is just a fantastic material to run in.
I love running in the Endorphin Speed. It has the right level of bounce and it’s not too mushy.
I’m getting a really nice level of energy return and spring to it for me, my speeds that I’m running at, and the amount of power that I’m pushing into the ground.
It’s giving it back to me in a really nice level of balance. It’s as if they tuned the shoe specifically for me and the way I run.
I’ve run everything from threshold repeats all the way up to a 30-mile race in this shoe and it handled everything fantastically.
The Endorphin Speed is a shoe that you can take to the distance, but it’s also a shoe that’s very happy to downshift and hit that red line and let you pick up that pace.
I keep saying this but the Endorphin Speed is super fun to run in. This shoe is one of my favorite shoes of the year, but it also makes it to my best running shoes for speed.
Now let’s talk about the last shoe that I’m going to put on this list, The FuelCell TC.
New Balance FuelCell TC
This might be a little bit controversial because while the Endorphin Speed had a nylon plate, the TC does have a carbon fiber plate in it, but I still think it fits in this speed shoe category.
I believe the TC stands for training and competition so it definitely can be a shoe that you race in but it’s meant to be kind of like race-day feel but meant for training.
The TC has got New Balance’s FuelCell foam in it. The way they’re using it on this shoe you’ve got tons of stack height. It’s actually 27 millimeters of stack height in the forefoot and it’s a 10-millimeter drop shoe.
So, you’ve got 37 millimeters of stack height in the heel getting really close to the upper bounds of what’s even street legal for a road marathon.
It’s definitely a nice comfortable shoe even for some of your easier paces, but that FuelCell foam, like a lot of the foams that are on this list, really starts to come alive once you start picking up the pace.
Again, it’s got that carbon fiber plate in it to help give you that really strong sense of push-off after your foot hits the ground.
It’s also got a much more comfortable upper than a lot of racing shoes would so that’s another thing that sets it apart from some of the racers that I’ll be talking about in a couple of weeks.
But for this shoe, all of the comfort in the upper, the amount of midsole foam, and that carbon fiber plate comes at a little bit of a weight penalty.
This shoe is the heaviest on the list coming in at 9.3 ounces.
So, the FuelCell TC is not exactly a light shoe, but still, when it comes to longer distance races, half marathon, and the marathon, it’s something that’s not prohibitively heavy and this shoe is just really fun to run in.
The first time I ran in it, it felt really tall and I felt a little bit nervous taking some corners.
But the more I started to run in it, the more the shoe just kind of really molded to my foot and I felt like I really understood what it could do and it was really understanding what I was doing.
Somehow, I just felt like the shoe’s starting to get me. The more I run in it, the more it just seems to make sense.
Even at 9.3 ounces, I don’t even feel like I notice it anymore. I just feel like I’m wearing a really powerful shoe that’s somehow still really comfortable as well and so it’s a really great shoe to run in.
For a lot of people that are looking for a shoe that they could do their hard workouts in and race their marathon in, this is a shoe that you should certainly be considering.
Also, a lot of people are overlooking it because it has kind of like a big brother shoe, the RC Elite, but this TC Elite is definitely something that can handle the marathon paces and even your marathon training workout.
So, the New Balance FuelCell TC definitely deserves to be on this top five list.
Among those top five running shoes for speed, which is my favorite?
This is tough. It’s really tough this year because all five of these shoes in a lot of other years would be in the running for shoe of the year because they’re so good.
But this year, I’m going to give the best running shoe for speed crown to the Saucony Endorphin Speed.
I just absolutely love it. From the moment I put it on, I knew this shoe was an absolute winner.
The fit is great, the midsole feel is great, and the power that you get from it is great.
Again, I feel like there might be other shoes that are out there like those carbon fiber plated running shoes and those other shoes that are made for pros, but for someone who’s a non-elite and who’s just a regular guy that just likes running, the Endorphin Speed is pretty much your dream speed shoe.
I’m not saying it wasn’t close, but I don’t have any reservations in giving the Endorphin Speed my title for best 5 speed shoe of the year 2020.
Bonus Speed Shoe
Before I wrap this up, I do want to give you one bonus shoe. The bonus shoe for this year is easily going to be the SL 20 from Adidas.
Again, in another year, the SL 20 would have easily been in the top 5 speed shoe and could have even been the best speed shoe of the year.
But this was just such a stacked feel this year. It was crazy. So, the best place that I could fit it was in the bonus round and the SL 20 easily picks that one up.
It is a quirky shoe. It’s also brand-new for this year. There’s all LightStrike in the midsole foam, but it’s an incredibly snappy shoe to run in.
I loved running fast in it. It wasn’t so great at slower speeds, but when you’re running fast, the midsole foam is fantastic and the outsole grip was nice and tacky.
The upper was like a weird soccer boot, though. It just was so strange, but somehow it worked as well.
Whatever reason, Adidas had this fantastic shoe and they were deep discounting it almost right away.
Then they would release new colors, and then those would get deep discounted right away, too.
And then they kind of went away for a while. You can only find them like on the other third-party retailers.
Then, Adidas just released more SL 20s again at full price, but they’re already eligible for Cyber Monday discounts and holiday discounts.
I don’t know what Adidas is doing with this shoe. They keep making it and they keep discounting it like crazy.
But just don’t look at a gift horse in the mouth and pick up a pair of these shoes because they’re so fun to run in.
I just love the SL 20 and I wanted to give it some attention in this speed shoe list.
So, those are my thoughts on the 5 best running shoes for speed plus a bonus speed shoe for this year.
Let me know what you guys think about it? What were some of your favorites?
There were so many good ones out there this year and there’s a ton of different ways that I could have gone with this list, but those are my five and I’d love to hear yours too down in the comments down below.
That’s all I have everybody. Thanks so much for making it all the way to the end of this article. Hopefully, you guys are staying safe out there on your runs and I’ll see you in the next one.