New Balance Supercomp Trainer Review: Feels Illegal Cause It Is
11.4 oz. (332 g.) for a US M10.5,
8.7 oz. (247 g.) for a US W7.5
47 mm in heel, 39 mm in forefoot (8 mm)
Ultra-high stack of FuelCell midsole, EnergyArc carbon fiber plate
Far more stable than the Adidas Prime X, feels like a race day shoe in a long run package
THOMAS: When we were first introduced to the New Balance Supercomp Trainer (which we’ll call the SC Trainer from here on out) at The Running Event last year, we were told this thing was technically illegal.
And by illegal, we don’t mean it was trafficked through international waters or worn on the feet of a prize-winning rooster in an underground cockfight. It’s illegal in the most white collar of ways, a running shoe that exceeds the stack height limits for a race day shoe, set at 40mm by World Athletics (this shoe has 47mm in the heel, 39mm in the forefoot). You can wear it, but elites can’t, as evidenced when Derara Hurisa won the Vienna Marathon in the Adidas Prime X and was subsequently disqualified.
So yes, with all that lovely cush, the New Balance SC Trainer exceeds the standards set by World Athletics for race day elites. Luckily, this is primarily a training day shoe and one that is designed to help you get to the start line with fresh legs. In short, the SC Trainer shares the high-stack plated trainer formula but elevates that core formula into a sophisticated execution. New Balance does this by utilizing its carbon-plated Energy Arc system, which ultimately adds a more dynamic feel to the traditional plate used in the predecessor to this shoe, the Fuelcell TC from a couple of years back. (I’ll get into the Energy Arc tech in the good section.)
This is the second Supercomp shoe from New Balance this year, the first being the 5K-oriented racer, the SuperComp Pacer. Of course, the SC Trainer is available now, just in time for marathon training. And finally, we’re still awaiting the final word on the Supercomp Elite v3 (the follow-up to the RC Elite v2), but we’re hoping it sneaks in at the end of this calendar year.
This is a wild shoe, so let’s get to some law breakin’.
WIDE FOOT JARRETT: Ever since the carbon plated phenomenon came about, I’ve been practically begging for them to come in wide. I got so desperate to get that race day advantage that I started testing standard width plated options to see if they could fit us larger foot folk. I even had a pair of wide RC Elite 2s shipped from Europe. However, USPS sabotaged me by “losing” them within 30 miles of my house…
Well, #WideFootFam, we’ve reached the light at the end of the tunnel with the New Balance FuelCell Supercomp Trainer. New Balance provided us a ticket to the ball, and this carbon-plated shoe review finally features the true WIDE model.
ROBBE: Whenever I think of development meetings for these super high stack shoes, I just picture Kylo Ren in full meme style, sitting at the head of the table yelling “More! More!” And, of course, nobody wants to be severed in half by the team member with the light saber, so they listen to him.
By far, the New Balance Supercomp Trainer is the highest stack shoe I’ve ever run in. Coming off a freshly-rolled ankle (evergreen sentence for yours truly), I was more nervous than a cat in a room full of rocking chairs to put these on my feet.
But I’m always willing to take one for the team, and since I am in marathon training, I thought, “Hell, a trainer is a trainer. Let’s try it out.” Let’s see if that worked out.
MEAGHAN: I love that brands are pushing the boundaries with stack height, and the New Balance SC Trainer is a prime example. As Thomas noted, you’re gifted with 47mm of squishy FuelCell under the heel and 39mm under the forefoot. That’s a heck of a lot of foam for one shoe. New Balance also sandwiched a carbon fiber plate in the middle to provide extra pop and rigidity. This plate, paired with a strategic void, creates the ‘Energy Arc’ — the technical name for the propulsive magic this shoe provides.Shop New Balance SC Trainer - Men Shop New Balance SC Trainer - Women
THOMAS: Let’s talk about Energy Arc. Energy Arc is the proprietary tech New Balance uses in the Supercomp line. Design-wise, on a simplistic level, it’s a carbon-fiber plate that looks traditional front to back (i.e., spoon-style lever) but throws in an additional camber on both the lateral and medial sides of the plate. This results in three dynamic structures working together during the run.
Before impact, the plate (sandwiched between two layers of FuelCell) is bowed upward from side to side in an arch shape. Upon impact, that bow flattens into the hollow channel in the outsole, harnessing the energy in the downstep. Upon release, it pops that stored energy upwards as it returns to its cambered shape. At the same time, the traditional heel-to-toe levered carbon-plate design helps propel the runner forward.
To load the plate and remove weight from the shoe, New Balance basically threw a canyon into the midsole in the heel-to-midfoot, leaving a large gap from the heel to the palm of the foot. As your foot lands, the walls of FuelCell foam compress and spread out, helping with stability and loading the arc of the plate to maximize energy return. Surprisingly, it isn’t a gimmick. You can feel the results while running. Some plated shoes just feel firm at best and snappy. Energy Arc can be felt both in an upward rebound and an assist moving forward.
The issue I had with the other illegal height trainer I tried (Adidas Prime X) was that while the shoe had great cushion and propulsion, the stability and direction of the energy were difficult to channel in one direction. After trying the SC Trainer, I have concluded that some of the problems were the upper. The SC Trainer has a well-executed upper that securely holds the foot over the oversized midsole. The knit is airy over the toes with lots of stretch. The over-the-arch construction has a built-in tongue that acts more like a soft sleeve than a separate unit. A secure lockdown can be obtained without any lace bite over the arch. The heel counter gently locks the foot in. The SC Trainer has a top-tier upper that flexes and secures the foot as well as anything I have experienced.
Miles cruise by in the SC Trainer, and the recovery after the run is the benefit we don’t discuss enough. The shoe’s cushioning helps keep the legs protected from impact during the run, and with your legs less beat up, the SC Trainer has you ready for more miles or hard workouts in a shorter recovery window. I liked using the SC Trainer to up my weekly mileage with a lower risk of injury.
WIDE FOOT JARRETT: It comes in wide. That’s it.
The upper is a nice lace knit material with a bit of stretch (not as extreme as the Hypoknit). I tried on Thomas’ standard width pair over a month ago and thought it felt too tight in the midfoot. The wide version’s extra upper material makes the fit much more comfortable. It may just be the best-fitting plated shoe I’ve tried. The midfoot is a little snug but not tight, and the toe box has more space. Besides the lateral midfoot logo, there are no overlays to cause excessive pressure. The gusseted tongue is nice, and I had no problems with the collar.
The SC Trainer is the evolution of the FuelCell TC. This time around, New Balance decided to blow past the legal World Athletics height limit of 40mm with 47mm of FuelCell goodness.
New Balance is touting its Energy Arc midsole technology, which contains a cambered carbon plate sandwiched between two layers of FuelCell foam. The bottom layer contains a void going down the center of the entire length of the shoe. This allows the shoe to maximize energy return.
I was pretty concerned about how stable the shoe would be with the vast void. However, I’m pleasantly surprised to say it’s even more stable than the FuelCell TC and RC Elite 2. The heel width is much better than both those shoes, and it helps with the pronation. Remember that this isn’t a stability shoe; if you pronate badly, you may have some issues.
The midsole foam is absurd with how soft it is. It may just be the softest shoe I own. While people talk about the compression, I’m fairly confident the technical term would be “the squish.” In the SC Trainer, the squish factor is next level. Paired with the carbon plate, I get a soft landing with excellent energy return to keep me moving.
My miles have been excellent. I had mile pickups with Thomas during our long run, and on other days I took it slow and easy. The shoe can perform at higher paces if needed but shines on easier everyday running.
ROBBE: Full confession, I’ve never really loved a lot of New Balance shoes I’ve run in. Something has always felt a little off in sizing for my foot, which even applies to lifestyle shoes like the 574. The exception to this was the much-loved Rebel v2.
Then there’s the Supercomp, the first New Balance upper that’s truly felt great on my foot. The stretchknit forms perfectly and gives a secure, glove-like fit and lockdown, which is 100% needed in a high-stack shoe. I’ve read that some people have had issues with Achilles abrasion with the padded ankle collar, but I didn’t experience that in the shoe. If you wear long-enough socks, you should be good.
Comfort-wise, New Balance nailed it with this FuelCell/Energy Arc combo. It’s a genuinely unique sensation of trampoline-like bounce that is undeniably fun. It provides a ton of comfort and energy return, which — as Thomas and Meaghan said — keeps the legs fresh. Which is really what this shoe is meant for. Training miles, filler miles, junk miles, whatever you want. Miles racked up during a marathon cycle. Would this also work for a first-time marathoner? Probably, though the weight may come into play later in the race (more on that later).
What I loved about this shoe is that it’s a very enjoyable ride once you get rolling. Very smooth, rolls right along, and gives a lot of comfort.
The most surprising thing about this shoe, no doubt, is that it’s oddly stable. I believe the hoof-like design of the midsole in the heel aids in this endeavor. The essentially separate pieces of FuelCell on the medial and lateral sides fully compress and create a stable base upon landing. My fears were assuaged, and I was able to get in some good miles.
Now, that’s not to say it’s a nimble shoe. Taking corners is still a bit dicey, but it seems to work out if you hit the toe instead of the whole foot.
Also a great shoe for wearing to concerts. Short people know what I’m talking about.
MEAGHAN: The SC Trainer feels super plush on step-in. The soft cushioning underfoot is forgiving when walking around but comes to life when you start to pick up the pace. The more miles I’ve logged in this shoe, the more I’ve enjoyed it. Not only is this shoe fun during the run, but your legs feel especially fresh afterward. The recovery properties of the thick stack plus the carbon plate are a nice bonus.
All that stack requires a solid, secure fit, which this shoe does well. The knit upper is comfortable and stretchy but also supportive. The flat laces and gusseted tongue provide a nice lockdown, and I never felt unstable.Shop New Balance SC Trainer - Men Shop New Balance SC Trainer - Women
THOMAS: Weight, Weight, Weight. The FuelCell paired with the Energy Arc setup provides you with more energy return, but is it enough to counter the 11.4 oz./322 grams for a US M10.5? Not enough for me to consider the SC Trainer as anything but a recovery/easy run shoe. The SC Trainer might serve more of your running needs if you are more concerned with comfort than speed. We’re fortunate that we get to try multiple shoes. I’ll use the SC Trainer for easy runs, Rebel v3 for days I want to play around with pace, and the SC Elite 3 for Fall marathon training. The SC Trainer vs. the More v4 might be enjoyable as well.
WIDE FOOT JARRETT: With such a high stack height and the soft midsole, I’ve been constantly concerned with cornering. My ankle strength is pretty good (suck it, Robbe), but I can’t help taking turns wider than an 18-wheeler.
It’s also a little bit of a bummer seeing these clock in at 11.5 oz. There’s no doubt it’s a chonk of a shoe, but to be fair, it’s a training shoe and not meant to break any land records. For the lightweight option, the SC Elite will be the answer.
ROBBE: Well, the weight is absurd, as Thomas already pointed out. It’s the heaviest running shoe in the New Balance lineup right now. I have hamstrung hamstrings attached to chicken legs and obviously do zero core conditioning because I’m a runner, so pistoning these things up and down felt like a chore at times. That said, I feel like it all came together once I got in a rhythm.
Undoubtedly, the weight was my biggest concern and would probably keep me from using it all the time. But I feel like the weight is a bigger deal to me than most people for the reasons I mentioned above. Otherwise, I really have no complaints. Even the $180 price tag isn’t crazy for the amount of midsole and carbon plate technology crammed into here.
100-MILE UPDATE: I keep falling more and more in love with this shoe. It just feels so good for pretty much every run outside of a speed day and my legs feel incredibly fresh the day after long runs.
MEAGHAN: I had some issues with the tongue/collar rubbing against my shin on my first few runs. I made sure to use some taller socks, which seemed to eliminate the problem, but definitely something to note.
I also felt like I could go a half size up. Since the upper is so stretchy, it wasn’t a deal breaker, but I’d suggest a half size up if you like a wider toe box.
Lastly, we have to talk about weight. My W7.5 came in at 8.7oz (247g) — a solid ounce more than most daily trainers. Not the greatest.Shop New Balance SC Trainer - Men Shop New Balance SC Trainer - Women
THOMAS: The first time I slid my foot into the New Balance SC Trainer, I felt this was something new. It is a shoe that helps you enjoy your running. The lean forward with the pop of the Energy Arc set up will have you clicking away miles in comfort. I would compare the shoe to the Nike Invincible, Hoka Bondi X, and the Adidas Prime X. Between those choices, the SC Trainer wins. Our team will be getting a lot of miles on the SC Trainer as we train for the NYC Marathon. Keep an eye on our social channels to see what we are up to as we prepare for Fall racing.
WIDE FOOT JARRETT: The more I run in the SC Trainer, the more I like it. Sure, the weight is up there, but this is a high-performance trainer and is going to keep you feeling fresh on those long runs where you’re just going for distance. Oh, and did I mention it freaking comes in wide?! I’ve got a feeling the SC Trainer is going to get pulled off the shoe rack a lot. It’s a winner. Simple as that.
ROBBE: I’m not normally a super max cushion guy, but I did enjoy the handful of runs I’ve done in this shoe so far. It offers a unique feel to the max cushion game, and the high stack of foam is surprisingly stable. I’d compare it to a livelier version of the Hoka Bondi X (but for $20 less!). It’s also more stable than the Nike Invincible and doesn’t sound like giants having a tortilla slap-off challenge when you’re running in it.
For what’s here, I think the price point is pretty fair, and people who are looking for a fresh experience in a comfort shoe will really enjoy the sensation of the Energy Arc coupled with the ginormous stack of FuelCell.
MEAGHAN: I took a very unplanned, last-minute trip down to Florida, and I only grabbed a couple pairs of shoes — one of them being the New Balance SC Trainer. It’s made these swamp-like runs more enjoyable, and my double days feel a lot more manageable. I’ll definitely keep running in the SC Trainer as I start to amp up for the fall marathon season. I think just about everyone could benefit from adding a pair into the rotation.
You can pick up the New Balance FuelCell Supercomp Trainer for $180 by using the shop link below.
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As the founder of Believe in the Run, Thomas’s goal is to help runners pick the shoes and gear that will make their running experience the best that it can be.
All-time favorite shoes: Saucony Kinvara 2, Hoka Clifton 1, Nike Alphafly Next%More from Thomas
Wide Foot Jarrett likes talking about wide shoes. Did you know he wears wide shoes? You should probably know he wears wide shoes. Besides running, Jarrett is a lover of coffee, donuts, pizza, and tacos. Basically, Jarrett is the ultimate race-cation travel companion because he will be on food duty while you’re busy panicking about whether you want to try and break your PR. Will also sleep on the floor. He’ll also answer any question in his DMs.
All-time favorite shoes: New Balance Vazee Prism v2, New Balance FuelCell SC Trainer, Asics Metaspeed Sky.More from Jarrett
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.
All-time favorite shoes: Nike Epic React, Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 Runshield, Asics Metaspeed Edge+More from Robbe
Meaghan signed up for her first marathon three weeks before the race, because it was $10 more than the half she planned to run. She learned everything in running the hard way. Now a USATF & UESCA certified run coach, she loves encouraging friends to go for big goals as she continues to chase faster times. She enjoys a hot cup of coffee, a cold martini, and making bagels for friends and family.
All-time favorite shoes: Nike Alphafly Next%, New Balance SC Trainer, Asics Superblast.More from Meaghan
These are the perfect shoe for long slow distance. They are super soft and squishy and just a pleasure to wear when you’re not pushing it. Guess that’s why they call it “trainer”. I don’t really notice the carbon plate, it doesn’t have the pop i’ve felt on my adizeros. So I guess you could say they are quite expensive for a training shoe but that’s the price I have to pay for something that works for me.
They are a bit on the heavy side, but who cares when doing long slow distance qnd recovery runs?
The sock-like design feels nice and snug, but it does bit in to the ankle bone, especially on the outer side. I got small little blisters there and it can be a bit uncomfortable until they get broken in. Still, this is a pretty obvious design flaw. You could fit it by cutting to shape with scissors, or applying bandaids, but a bit disappointing that such a flaw made it to production.
These shoes are fine on treadmill or road, but be warned if you run on any kind of stony surface, the sole will get torn to shreds and the narrow gap in the heel regularly gets stones jammed in them. I do a lot of treadmill running in them so it’s not the end of the world but whenever I venture onto gravel roads they get beaten up horrendously. I feel the next iteration should have some additional rubber on the sole to give more protection to the precious soft rubber.
Despite these negatives it really is a pleasure to run in these shoes. But I doubt i’d ever use them on race day.