By Brian Metzler
If you’re training for a fall marathon like me, you’re probably several weeks into your training plan and ramping up your mileage. For the summer months, I’ll be doing a lot of my training on the trails to strengthen and save my legs, but I am making it a point to mix in a few longer runs on the roads so I can develop the quicker leg turnover I’ll need when I’m six to eight weeks out from race day.
One of my favorite road shoes I’ve been running in for the past month is the vastly improved second edition of the New Balance SuperComp Trainer (aka SC Trainer v2), which might be the best update of any shoe on the market this year. While the initial version of this daily training shoe was very good, the updated model fits better, feels better and has a much nicer ride. The improvements have put this shoe (which has a carbon-fiber plate embedded in its midsole) in the top-tier of lively and versatile daily trainers along with shoes like Saucony’s Endorphin Speed 3 and the ASICS Magic Speed 3.
What’s New: This SC Trainer v2 went through a minor but significant overhaul in its second iteration, with new materials and new design specs that have made it a vastly better shoe. The biggest changes are the new midsole foam package and geometry. The new formulation of FuelCell foam is less dense and heavy compared to the original, but instead more airy, more bouncy and much more lively. The stack height and heel-toe offset has also been reduced, going from an 8mm drop (47mm/39mm) to a 6mm drop (40mm/34mm).
New Balance also changed the upper to a less stretchy but more secure engineered mesh material and went away from the stretchy knit collar of the previous version and reverted to a more traditional padded heel collar.
Fit/Feel/Ride: The New Balance SC Trainer v2 fits true to size with a medium to narrow interior volume in the heel and midfoot but a tiny bit of wiggle room in the toe box. The step-in feel is comfortable but not overly plush like the original. However, the thin gusseted tongue, padded heel collar and thin, pliable upper do a better job of locking down your feet to the cushy sockliner. The ride is also improved and not nearly as marshmallow soft as the original. The rolling, easy-flexing ride sensation is smooth, energetic and stable for a wide range of training paces, although it’s not quite as fast and edgy enough for interval workouts or 5K/10K racing efforts. It could be a good choice for running a half marathon or marathon for middle-of-the-pack runners who want a responsive feeling without the sharp feeling of super-stiff marathon racing shoes.
Why It’s Great: The vast changes have made the new SC Trainer v2 feel more compact, agile, stable and energetic, eliminating the overly soft and somewhat sloppy ride that some runners (including me) complained about with the first version. The heel stack height of the original version was 47mm under the heel following the trend of a few shoe brands that were defiantly building shoes in excess of the World Athletics 40mm standard for competition. (Those standards only applied to elite runners and the original SC Trainer wasn’t meant to be an elite marathon shoe anyway, so the design specs became a moot point – especially because the excess amount of super-soft foam made it a bit mushy.) The more compact design specs (and new materials) of the SC Trainer v2 not only give it more proprioceptive feel for the ground, but it’s also made it lighter, livelier and more fun to run in.
New Balance SC Trainer v2
Weights: 7.8 oz. (women’s size 8), 9.7 oz. (men’s size 9)
Heel-Toe Offset: 6mm (40mm in the heel, 34mm in the forefoot)
Why You’ll Love It: If you prefer a lightweight and responsive sensation in your long runs, you’ll absolutely love the SC Trainer v2. It’s not quite as light as a performance trainer and not quite as energetic as a high-end marathon racing shoe, but, for a high-mileage everyday trainer, it’s pretty darn good in both categories. I’ve done three long runs in this shoe and each one allowed me to run at a faster pace than I expected, including a 10-mile jaunt that spontaneously turned into a tempo run. I’ve raved about the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 (which has a nylon plate embedded in its midsole) as the best daily trainer shoe around, but the SC Trainer v2 (which has an Energy Arc carbon-fiber plate) is not only in that same realm but it’s actually more energetic at moderate and moderately fast paces.
Pro: The SC Trainer v2 is much more stable than the original version, both because it’s lower to the ground, but also because the sculpted channel under the heel has more structure and is less likely to wash out. The improved foam and upper also help it feel more compact and secure, and that helps it feel more nimble and precise at higher speeds.
Con: If there is a downside to the major changes of this shoe, it’s probably that the toe-off sensation isn’t quite as crisp and poppy as the original version, especially at fast paces. That can be mostly attributed to the lower heel-toe-offset (going from 8mm to 6mm) that results in longer stride-turnover transition times. It still feels energetic and capable of half-marathon and marathon race paces, but it’s not quite as snappy at toe-off as the original version and therefore not as conducive for running faster workout paces.
New Balance SuperComp Trainer v2 is available for purchase here.