Is the Saucony Tempus the Future of Stability Shoes?

Saucony’s new Tempus defies easy categorization. Is it a stability shoe? Yes; it provides strong foot support and guidance when you need it. Is it a speedy, lightweight, cushioned trainer and racer? Again, yes; it weighs in at under nine ounces, wraps the foot with a svelte, stretchy hold, and delivers a smooth, plush, propulsive ride. Few running shoes manage to excel in all of these categories.

The Tempus’s peppy underfoot feel stems from a full-length midsole of Pwrrun PB, an ultralight, high-cushioning, and maximum-rebounding polyether block amidebased foam (PEBA). Saucony uses this same foam to power the Endorphin Pro, its top-end, carbon-plated, marathon-racing super shoe, and the Endorphin Speed, a popular up-tempo training shoe. The foam delivers a trampoline-like response that makes you feel like you’re being propelled forward—as long as you remain tall, balanced, and efficient. But as soon as your stride turns sloppy, the ride can feel downright scary, as the foam amplifies every unsteady landing or unstable push-off.

“When you use a high-energetic foam like Pwrrun PB, the cushioning actually creates instability for the runner,” says Chad Holt, product line manager at Saucony. “You have to be strong and stable when running in the Speed or Pro.” The goal of the Tempus, then, is to deliver the comfort and excitement of super foam for runners who need or prefer more stability underfoot.

To make the super foam stable in the Tempus, Saucony surrounded the soft, bouncy material in a frame of denser, more supportive EVA foam. The idea of enclosing a softer foam in a sturdier one isn’t new: many brands through the years have placed a soft inner footbed within a stable midsole shell, and Hoka uses a J-shaped frame around the heel of its stability models. Such designs, however, place the firm material on the outside of the sole, which creates the desired structure in the platform but also introduces a different type of instability: the torque that happens as the foot rotates off the landing edge down to the flat bottom of the shoe.

Saucony Tempus midsole
The firmer frame of the Tempus midsole rests atop the soft, bouncy core at the heel, spans the full height under the arch, and runs underneath the forefoot. (Photo: 101 Degrees West)

The magic of the Tempus frame, Holt explains, is that by putting the PEBA foam on the bottom at the heel, its softness works to reduce the instability caused by the shoe. On impact, it compresses and deforms, rounding the edge of the sole and creating a smooth, gentle transition as the foot rolls inward and forward. Meanwhile, the firmer frame that surrounds the top of the heel wraps the foot and keeps it centered on the platform. The frame expands to the full midsole height under the arch, slowing the foot’s rotation and supporting it as needed. If your foot stays in the middle, it remains on the energetic PEBA foam throughout the stride; only those who roll farther inward will feel support from the firmer foam under the arch.

In the forefoot, the frame dives under the softer foam and curves up along the bottom to the toe. This lets you feel the Pwrrun PB’s cushioning and rebound directly underfoot, while the firmer foam on the bottom adds a bit of rigidity to the rocker for quick-rolling, snappy toe-offs.

How does the Tempus work in real life? I’ve worn the shoe now for three weeks on daily runs, a couple of longer outings, and for one speed workout. I can’t speak to its durability but can attest that the shoe performs as advertised and exceeds expectations in comfort and responsiveness.

I currently have rather complicated stability requirements. My left foot is high-arched and neutral, while, due to recent injuries, my right foot appreciates support. Too much support, however, makes my right knee hurt, as it has to pronate inward to off-load stress from old injuries. Somehow, the Tempus accommodated all of these demands: my left side barely noticed the stability features, while my right found the support under the arch strong enough to coddle my iffy ankle tendons but not so firm that it blocked the path my knee needed to take.

On step in, I could feel the frame under my arches, but it was more supportive than intrusive and largely disappeared on the run, especially after a few miles when I dialed in the fit so my foot was positioned correctly over the contoured midsole. But the support, even if not obvious, was always present, and the farther I ran and the more tired I became, the more I appreciated the shoe’s guided roll and side-to-side stability.

The wide forefoot—about half an inch broader than that in the Pro or Speed—significantly added to the shoe’s stability. It’s also low enough to provide the ground feel necessary for a solid, propulsive push-off, and flexible enough to allow a natural roll at any pace or stride angle.

Knowing that Saucony-sponsored Olympic marathoner Jared Ward tests most of the brand’s new models, I asked if he’d put the Tempus through its paces and relay how it compares to other shoes in the line. “I really love the Tempus,” Ward responded. “I got a pair four weeks ago and have probably put over 200 miles on them. I have always viewed myself as a neutral runner—until I started recognizing how much I was pronating in the soft foam of the Pros. The Tempus gives me some soft, gradual guidance on easy days, which I think has helped ease stress on my posterior tibialis.”

Yet stability wasn’t the shoe’s only, or most, outstanding feature. What I noted first were the smooth landings and springy toe-offs. I even found myself hitting splits 10 to 15 seconds faster than the effort suggested. The shoe felt responsive and fast at any pace, and it performed like a light racing flat when I cranked it up to 5K speed or faster, with no hint of the stride-sapping sogginess you’d expect from a highly cushioned shoe. The ride doesn’t have quite the propulsive response of a carbon-plated super shoe, but I could tell they share much of the same DNA.

While the Tempus is clearly designed for roads, the ride is versatile enough to take the shoe off the beaten path. Nicholas Triolo, Trail Runner magazine’s digital production editor and an ultrarunner, has been out for long runs on paved streets, forest roads, and moderately technical trails with the shoe and described it as “a perfect combination of light weight and lateral stability, while unbelievably responsive under the entire foot.” The fit of the engineered-mesh, recycled-material upper impressed him, holding the foot snugly over the wide platform underfoot. He also had high praise for the Pwrrun PB foam, remarking that it “delivered a nice ride on smooth singletrack and happy feet after three hours.”

No other shoe on the market that I’m aware of quite compares with the Tempus. Models with a similar level of stability, like the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 23, don’t provide the same comfort or pop, and those with a similarly responsive ride, like the Nike ZoomX Invincible Run, lack the Tempus’s foot support. If you want a strong performer on both fronts, whether for everyday training or just runs when you’re tired and looking for something to lean on a little, give the Tempus a try.

MSRP: $160
Weight: 7.9 ounces (women’s) / 8.9 ounces (men’s)
Stack Height: 36.5-millimeter heel / 28.5-millimeter forefoot / 8-millimeter drop

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