New Balance SuperComp Trainer versus New Balance SuperComp Elite

The New Balance SC Elite v4.

New Balance released their SuperComp line in 2022, with the brand-new SuperComp Trainer v1 boasting an “illegal” stack height of 47 millimeters in the heel and essentially starting the conversation around “super trainers.” This was shortly followed by the SuperComp Elite v3 replacing the RC Elite v2. Don’t worry, there won’t be a quiz at the end of this article on the different naming conventions and models. All you need to know is that the SuperComp Trainer = fast and the SuperComp Elite = super fast.

Both shoes offer responsive midsole foams, snappy carbon-fiber plates and light weights to keep you moving forward with ease. In this article, we’ll break down the differences between the SuperComp Trainer v3, available August 1, and the SuperComp Elite v4 to help you decide which shoe is right for you.

Buy the SuperComp Trainer v3 if…

  • You enjoy a soft, bouncy underfoot feel
  • You appreciate some extra padding around your heels and ankles
  • You want a versatile shoe that can withstand a variety of workouts

Buy the SuperComp Elite v4 if…

  • You prefer a stiff, propulsive underfoot feel
  • You want your shoes to be as lightweight as possible
  • You want one shoe that’s dedicated to racing

New Balance SC Trainer vs New Balance SC Elite: Tech Specs

Tech Specs

New Balance SC Trainer v3

New Balance SC Elite v4

Weight

7.3 oz (W), 9.2 oz (M)

6.1 oz (W), 7.8 oz (M)

Stack height (heel/forefoot)

40 mm/34 mm

40 mm/36 mm

Heel-to-toe drop

6 mm

4 mm

Category

Neutral, training

Neutral, race

Surface

Road

Road

Price

$180

$250

The New Balance SC Trainer V3.

New Balance SC Trainer vs New Balance SC Elite: Fit & Materials

Both the SC Trainer and the SC Elite use what New Balance calls a Fantom Fit upper, which is a double-layer engineered mesh upper. The two layers are fused together in a way that provides a reinforced lock-down in key areas, like the midfoot and heel, while remaining incredibly lightweight.

Because the SC Trainer is designed for long term training rather than just racing, it uses more material to add comfort and durability. It has more padding in the tongue and heel collar, which I found to be a game changer in my overall running experience.

When I tested the SC Elite, I ended my run with some pretty gnarly blisters on the backs of my heels. The heel collar was too stiff and rigid without enough padding to decrease the rubbing and chafing that causes blistering. I didn’t have this issue in the SC Trainer, but I will admit that I wore my super thin racing socks to test the Elite which likely aggravated the issue.

Kate wore crew socks to test the SC Elite and had no issues. She also complimented the fit.

“I really like the fit of the SC Elite v4. It's true to size, and as you commonly see for a speed shoe, it’s on the snugger end of the spectrum,” she says. “It also has what I consider to be a normal tongue, which I prefer. I’ve tested a few supershoes recently that have thin, super stretchy connected tongues, which often get bunched up on the top of my foot because of excess material. The tongue on the SC Elite v4 is easier to adjust, so it will accommodate more foot shapes.”

If weight savings is a game changer for you (and you don’t have sensitive skin like me,) you may prefer the SC Elite. It all comes down to your individual preferences and, of course, what you’re using the shoes for. Most of our reviewers contended that the SC Trainer should be used for its intended purpose as a training shoe and simply won’t cut it for a race day shoe. However, if you aren’t as competitive as some of our reviewers, or if you like a softer shoe for race day, you may find that it fits the bill just fine.

New Balance SC Trainer vs New Balance SC Elite: Ride & Performance

The New Balance SC Elite v4.

Both the SC Trainer and the SC Elite use a blend of FuelCell and PEBA foam to create an energetic ride. Both shoes also offer a full-length carbon-fiber plate, returning energy with each stride. The plate works in conjunction with New Balance’s Energy Arc Technology, a hollow channel in the midsole, which the carbon-fiber plate is flattened into during landings and rebounds out of upon take-offs.

Differences in the midsole formulation, as well as the overall weight of the shoe, make for different running experiences.

The midsole foam in the SC Trainer v3 feels softer and the geometry of the shoe feels broader, leading to a plush and stable feel. The ride of the Elite v4 feels much more rigid, which some reviewers prefer when trying to run at top speed. And, of course, weight factors in when picking up the pace, too. A 2016 study found that an additional 100 grams of weight in a shoe can decrease running economy by over 1%.

“I didn’t attempt to run at race pace in the Trainer; I think they would be a little too heavy for those efforts,” says Travis. “The FuelCell cushioning is very bouncy and fun to run in and the rocker geometry keeps the momentum moving forward. The carbon fiber plate gives it some much-needed rigidity that keeps the bouncy cushioning more responsive. Compared to other carbon-plated shoes, it doesn’t feel like a typical racing shoe. Runners who are expecting that kind of aggressiveness will be let down by the SC Trainer. But as a training shoe, it may be my favorite so far this year.”

Unlike Travis, I found the SC Trainer to be a lot more comfortable because I prefer a soft midsole to a firm one. For that reason, I’d reach for the Trainer over the Elite for a race like a marathon where I’d be spending lots of time on my feet.

New Balance SuperComp Trainer v3 vs New Balance SuperComp Elite v4: Which is best for me?

The New Balance SC Trainer v3.

At the end of the day, the SC Trainer is designed for training and the SC Elite is designed for racing. But that doesn’t mean you can’t race in the SC Trainer, or do a regular run in the SC Elite.

With the SC Trainer, you’ll enjoy some extra cushioning around the heel and ankle, as well as a touch of added softness. You’ll also get more durability with the Trainer than with the Elite.

With the SC Elite, you’ll enjoy a featherlight shoe with a stiff, propulsive ride. This is a shoe that some reviewers found suitable for chasing down a new personal best.

Still having trouble deciding? Your best bet will be to head into your local Fleet Feet to try on the shoes in-person. Fleet Feet outfitters use 3D fit id® foot scanning technology to gather information about your feet and the support they need by taking precise measurements of your foot length, width and arch height, so you can learn a lot about your feet while you’re there.

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