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New Balance FuelCell SC Trainer: FORTY Seven Millimeters in the Heel
By Chief Editor/Founder Matthew Klein, Senior Contributor David Salas, and Contributor Andrea Myers

New Balance tackles a training shoe with the theme of maximum stack heights, carbon fiber plates, and rockered geometries in the SC Trainer. The goal of the SC Trainer specifically is to try and make the running experience as effortless as possible. New Balance pulls out all of their new generation materials to try and make this training and recovery shoes something the runner will not forget. The notable materials in the SC Trainer include the EnergyArc carbon fiber plate, FuelCell midsole, and a maximum stack height and rockered design. 

Price: $179.95 at Running Warehouse
Measured Weight: 11 oz, 312g (men's size 10), Women's Weights Not Provided
Stack Height: 47 mm / 39 mm
Drop: 8 mm
Classification: Super Training Shoe


Matt: The New Balance Fuelcell SC Trainer is one of the first "Super" trainers to hit the market. A huge amount of Fuelcell midsole sits underfoot (47mm/39mm) with a large carbon fiber plate that provides a highly rockered, cushioned and bouncy ride. A unique geometry is required for a shoe this tall, including a stronger rocker and a deep guidance line to keep the shoe stable. A secure but surprisingly light upper sits up top, providing a unique contrast for the incredible amount going on below the foot. The New Balance Fuelcell SC Trainer is designed as a mileage shoe, bringing the elements of recent super shoes into daily training, recovery runs, and long runs.

David: The New Balance SC Trainer is a maximum cushioning trainer that utilizes new materials to deliver a ride with the goal of making each stride effortless. The shoe uses the FuelCell midsole materials in the RC Elite and TC, though does feel a little firmer in this model specifically. The shoe features a highly rockered ride throughout with a few elements throughout to help with stabilizing this much shoe. Overall, an easy day shoe that does a really good job of getting in rhythm, and potentially a racing shoe for those looking to finish marathons at a more recreational level. 

The New Balance Fuelcell SC Trainer is a very high stack, max cushioned trainer. The thick Fuelcell midsole provides exceptional cushioning and underfoot protection. Running in this shoe is like having a dirt road attached to your feet. Runners looking for a break from the harshness of pavement will find a welcome reprieve in the SC Trainer. The shoe is highly rockered, which combined with the carbon plate and guidance lines result in a smooth and fairly stable ride. This shoe works best as an easy day or long run shoe, but its weight precludes it from being used at faster paces.


Matt: The New Balance FuelCell SC Trainer fits me true to size in my normal men's US size 10. A full-length engineered knit upper sits on top, providing a light and surprisingly secure fit. The heel and midfoot are normal width, although they will stretch to accommodate slightly wider feet. The forefoot is slightly wider with plenty of stretch. The toebox does taper slightly thanks to the toe guard, but I only notice this when trying the shoe on and not when running. The midfoot is secure thanks to the tongue being a thinner elastic knit that is gusseted and wraps around the foot. The laces integrate with this tongue and make it easy to adjust the fit of the midfoot. The heel features a large and flexible heel counter. There is padding around the entire length of the heel and those who have sensitivities to heel counters will have no problems. The upper overall is thinner, breathable and gets out of the way. It does a great job of keeping the foot on the platform while providing a high level of comfort and getting out of the way so you can enjoy the run. 

David: The SC Trainer fits true to size in my Men's 9.5. The dimensions of the fit are dialed in really well and the foot feels secure on the platform. The width in the heel and midfoot are normal with a slightly wide forefoot. The mesh material itself is comfortable and still provides good security. In the forefoot it feel similar to a sock, though with reinforcement in the heel and midfoot you get a little more rigidity. The lacing system does a great job of locking down throughout, though it does decrease the volume vertically a little bit. There is a heel counter present that is moderate with rigidity, but padded decently well. The upper feels like a hybrid between a daily trainer and a performance shoe. 

Andrea: The New Balance FuelCell SC Trainer fits true to size in my usual women's 9.5. The toebox is wide enough to allow for mild toe splay and the mesh upper is incredibly comfortable and secure. The mesh of the SC Trainer feels a little thicker than the SC Pacer, but it is very breathable and comfortable on foot. The heel is flexible and has internal padding that wraps all the way around the calcaneus. I found the fit of the heel to be very comfortable and secure without any hot spots or irritation. The upper has a sock-like fit, in large part due to the fully gusseted tongue that is also held in place by a lace loop closest to the ankle. The laces have mild stretch and run asymmetrically across the dorsum of the foot. A secure upper is important in a shoe this heavy to prevent superior-inferior translation of the foot due to the weight of the midsole. Overall, the upper fits exceptionally well and contributes to excellent lockdown and comfort.


Matt: The New Balance Fuelcell SuperComp Trainer is a super stack height training shoe. The huge amount of FuelCell foam underfoot is noticeable, adds to your height, and provides a bouncy ride underfoot. Due to the carbon fiber plate (Energy Arc) sitting close to the foot in the rearfoot, the ride is protective but not mushy. There is noticeable compression of the midsole underfoot, but the firmness of the plate balances this out. The SC Trainer is not light as my men's size 10 comes in at 11 oz. The weight is noticeable, especially during warm-ups. However, this does break in throughout the run and feels best when you get into a rhythm. The heavier and bouncier ride makes the FuelCell SC Trainer best for longer runs, easy runs and recovery runs. This shoe has the bounce to handle some uptempo work, but the weight makes it far better for normal training paces.

The geometry is well-integrated into this shoe, with a large heel bevel and a forefoot rocker that starts early. This makes for a solid rolling sensation during recovery paces. As things pick up slightly, it feels better to bounce rather than roll as a harder foot strike engages the plate and foam more. This accentuates the FuelCell for the bouncy ride I reference above that overshadows the higher weight. There is an 8mm drop listed and this feels about right. The geometry and foam compression of the midsole make it difficult to pin down exactly, but it does not feel like a lower drop shoe (although an extremely hard heel strike might change that). Durability-wise, I have 125 miles on my pair and have chewed through the posterior lateral heel in my normal spot. This took almost 100 miles to do, so the outsole is incredibly durable (please remember I am extremely hard on shoes and getting past 50 miles without destroying the outsole is challenging for me). Even wearing that part of the outsole, the ride has not been impacted and I expect this shoe to last far beyond the life of most trainers.

The SC Trainer is an interesting shoe. For having so much stack height the shoe does run really smooth throughout. The weight can be a tiny bit deterring but for daily and recovery efforts the shoe works really well for me. The FuelCell midsole provides plenty of protection underfoot and the integration with the carbon plate and geometry stabilizes the foam really well. The shoe is definitely rockered and this is felt pretty quick. The heel bevel and toe spring are not so dramatic that if feels like you falling off the shoe or transferring faster than you want to. The rocker seems to depend on some part to the compression of the foam and midsole as you transition forward. The result is a very smooth feeling rolling sensation as you transition forward through the platform. The shoe does have some bounce at the forefoot thanks to the plate and midsole. This gives a fun and poppy ride to a relatively heavier training construction. I wouldn't personally run in this every day, but it has worked really well for me when I just want something to help me roll forward and can forget about pace. For being a maximum cushioned shoe with FuelCell, it does not feel quite as soft as you would think. It definitely has the protection for any effort, but the plate and and the foam itself feels a little denser. It hovers in that medium-to-soft on the hard-to-softness scale. Overall, a really well-performing shoe for the category with a lot of rhythm.

Andrea: The SC Trainer definitely works best as an easy day shoe for me due to its weight. As an easy day shoe, it provides incredible protection, guidance, and cushion without feeling like a marshmallow. My initial concern when I received the shoe was that it would feel very soft, like the New Balance FuelCell TC. I did one run in the TC last year and found it so soft and unstable that I immediately returned it. Thankfully, I found the SC Trainer much more responsive and stable than the TC due to the denser feeling FuelCell in the SC Trainer. The best word I can use to describe the SC Trainer is protective. You don't feel the pavement when you are running in this shoe; it feels like you have an entirely different surface strapped to your feet (which is the case with all shoes, but particularly noticeable in the SC Trainer due to its high stack). This protective sensation is very welcome when your legs and feet are tired from harder training days. I know I will get some use out of this shoe as part of my marathon build this fall.

The ride of the SC Trainer is smooth due to the heel bevel, forefoot rocker, and toe spring. Midfoot landings feel very natural in the shoe and the overall wide sole, sole flare, and forefoot rocker produce a nice rolling transition from initial contact to push off. New Balance did a great job stabilizing the large amount of foam with the carbon plate and rocker geometry. Even at easy paces, I was aware of the weight of the shoe, but it was a worthwhile tradeoff for the cushioned and protective ride. The shoe feels like its stated 8mm drop to me, although it might feel like less at faster paces depending where a person makes initial contact. The outsole has extensive, but thin, rubber coverage which shows minimal wear after 50 miles. I am surprised to see several chips in the exposed carbon plate on both shoes and will monitor them closely to see if the chips turn into cracks. If I saw these types of chips on a carbon fiber bike, I would be pretty concerned about structural damage to the frame. One thing that I have not read much about is the durability of the carbon fiber plates in running shoes. How likely is the plate to crack with normal use and how does this affect the performance of the shoe?

Overall, I was pleased with the performance of the SC Trainer as an easy day shoe. I would not personally use it for faster paces due to the weight of the shoe, but some runners may find the tradeoff worth it for the cushioned and rockered ride.

Indepth: Discussion with New Balance on the SC Trainer


Matt: The New Balance Fuelcell SC Trainer is a neutral shoe, but the large stack height requires it to have guidance elements. The platform is on the wider side and the midfoot is on the wider side (as it should be for a maximalist shoe). There are mild sidewalls in the heel on the lateral and medial side that do keep the foot a little more centered on the platform. Underfoot, there is a massive guidance line in the midsole (to the point that the plate is exposed). The two pillars of Fuelcell on each side provide some inherent guidance forward through the center. The plate also sits right under the foot in the rear, which balances out the extremely soft Fuelcell. It adds some necessary torsional rigidity to the sole that works well with the guidance line to keep the foot rolling forward. The overall design locks the foot on the platform well and keeps it rolling forward. It will do well for those with neutral and mild stability needs. Those with higher stability needs may have to try it out first and those with hip instabilities should approach with caution (due to the softer foam and increased work at the hip from the rocker). 

David: This section is a continuation upon the performance for me. The reason why this shoe flows so well is because of some of the stability elements they placed in this shoe. The FuelCell feeling a little bit more dense underfoot creates a more stable feeling platform. This is combined with good usage of sidewalls, cutouts, and geometry. The shoe has a very large midline groove that runs throughout the shoe and helps you feel centered that is also combined with the carbon fiber plate. The sidewalls of FuelCell in the rearfoot and midfoot (both medially and laterally) seem to a good job of keeping you feel centered as well. The upper locks down very well and gives you a good sense of security. Having outsole rubber on nearly all contact surfaces seems to help with giving not only traction but another point of balancing the softness of FuelCell well. I have even been able to take this on runnable off roading conditions without feeling like I am going to die. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't quite go into technical terrain or anything with it, but if you have to run on some bluff trails or mild technical or uneven footing surfaces you won't need to second guess it too much. 

The stability elements of the SC Trainer contribute to its smooth ride. Shoes with such a high stack height require stability elements to balance out the high volume of foam. The SC Trainer utilizes a carbon plate, rockered geometry, sole flare, and sidewalls to provide structure to the large slab of FuelCell. The central guidance line in the sole further assists the foot in transitioning through stance phase. The security of the upper helps to further stabilize the shoe on the foot by preventing foot translation in the shoe due to the added weight of the midsole. The SC Trainer is a stable neutral shoe, but may not be the best choice for runners with greater stability needs.


What Does the Super-Super Shoe Mean for Runners?
By Chief Editor Matt Klein

The majority of research in "super shoes" has focused on the impact of racing shoes on economy, biomechanics and more. The category of super training shoes is extremely new, with the New Balance TC being one of the few originals alongside the Adidas Prime X. Although both were still considered somewhat faster/workout shoes. Our discussions with New Balance on the purpose of the SC Trainer was to bring the same elements that athletes enjoyed in super shoes like the FuelCell RC Elite v2 to a shoe meant for mileage or training. While many people do great in traditional training shoes like the New Balance 880, 1080, 860, etc, the transition between those shoes and super racing shoes can be a bit abrupt.

Shoes are the body's interface with the ground. Being an adaptable, living structure, runners will change and adapt to the surfaces they train on (Agresta et al,. 2022). While we do not know the long-term effects of training in these new foams and plates, we can make some guesses. Training in soft shoes leads to a shift in the body's focus from shock absorption to stability. This can often be observed by decreased joint excursion and stiffer mechanics. Training in stiffer but soft rockered shoes, like those with plates, also redistributes joint work from the ankle up to the knee and hip (Oretega et al., 2021). This is in contrast to stiff but firm shoes, which generally tend to increase joint excursion (the body must shock absorb) but increase joint work in areas like the ankle (Oretega et al., 2021).

So while we don't know for sure, we can make some guesses that training in a super maximal, carbon-plated training shoe may cause some changes/adaptations. The benefit of this is that it will likely be more comfortable than training in a super racing shoe, which are really designed and meant for faster running/racing (not training). Those changes may not be bad, especially if this new training shoe type is supporting the runner recovering from using these super racing shoes. Having the same technology for training and racing shoes will make for less drastic changes switching between shoes. We emphasize here at Doctors of Running that people should take time to adapt to any shoe, regardless of any proposed benefits. Using a super training shoe may help the runner better adapt to some of the stresses of using a super racing shoe, which is one of the many goals of the FuelCell SC Trainer. The drawback though is that with the similarities between these two shoe types, the runners will be exposing themselves to less variety in their training shoes. We know that some variety in footwear may reduce injuries, however, balancing this with performance can sometimes be challenging (Malisoux & Theisen, 2020). Therefore, like always, we suggest that you choose your shoes to optimize your unique goals and individual training needs. 


Agresta, C., Giacomazzi, C., Harrast, M., & Zendler, J. (2022). Running Injury Paradigms and Their Influence on Footwear Design Features and Runner Assessment Methods: A Focused Review to Advance Evidence-Based Practice for Running Medicine Clinicians. 
Frontiers in Sports and Active Living4, 815675.

Malisoux, L., Gette, P., Backes, A., Delattre, N., & Theisen, D. (2022). Lower impact forces but greater burden for the musculoskeletal system in running shoes with greater cushioning stiffness. 
European Journal of Sport Science, 1-11.

Malisoux, L., & Theisen, D. (2020). Can the “appropriate” footwear prevent injury in leisure-time running? Evidence versus beliefs. 
Journal of Athletic Training55(12), 1215-1223.

Ortega, J. A., Healey, L. A., Swinnen, W., & Hoogkamer, W. (2021). Energetics and biomechanics of running footwear with increased longitudinal bending stiffness: a narrative review. 
Sports Medicine51(5), 873-894.


Matt: Despite actually being afraid to run in this shoe at first, the New Balance Fuelcell SC Trainer has become a favorite that I keep reaching for. The upper does a great job of securing the foot while being comfortable and light. The sole provides a bouncy ride while not being unstable, making it an excellent choice for long runs and recovery runs. The only challenge I have to New Balance is to see if they can slightly decrease the weight. My size 10 comes in at 11 ounces, which is noticeable especially when I am warming up. It doesn't need to be a crazy amount, but even getting this to the mid-10 oz range would be great. Outside of that, this is an incredible training shoe that also is actually reasonably priced at $180. I thought it was going to be priced at a way higher price point, but that price for the factors that you get and the amount of shoe is great.

David: I know the purpose of this shoe isn't to be a speed demon, but I do think I would like to see some weight reduction. I do like using this shoe on my easy days, but if I'm coming off some really big workouts or long runs, the weight can get a little heavy in the latter miles of these easy days. I think the lacing system could be padded a tiny bit more as well, as I do feel a little bit of biting from locking the laces down. Overall nothing majorly problematic. 

Andrea: I enjoyed running in the SC Trainer on my easy days, but the weight of the shoe prevents it from being a more versatile shoe for me. I would recommend that New Balance try to reduce the weight of the shoe. I wonder how different the ride of the shoe would be if it lost 5mm of stack throughout the length of the shoe. Would it retain its cushioned and responsive properties, but feel more appropriate for faster paces? Otherwise, this is a great daily trainer super shoe and I will continue to use it for my easy days. I am also impressed by the sub-$200 price tag, which makes it one of the less expensive super shoes on the market. 


Matt: The New Balance SC Trainer is the first max stack height, super trainer for those who want to experience the benefits of newer age racing shoes for daily miles. Featuring an incredibly high stack height of 47mm/39mm, the ride is highly cushioned and protective. The upper fits normal to slightly wider with an accommodating fit thanks to the stretchy mesh and a tongue that wraps the foot. The combination of the unique plate and geometry makes the ride surprisingly stable for such a large amount of Fuelcell, but decent overall limb stability will be needed for optimal use of this shoe. The heavier ride does balance out the bounciness, making the New Balance Fuelcell SC Trainer an excellent choice for easy, long, and recovery miles. 

David: The New Balance SC Trainer is a max stack height training shoe for those looking to settle into rhythm and forget about pace. The shoe provides pretty good stability mechanisms for a shoe this high up and it has enough versatility to go into some runnable off road conditions. The shoe does bring some weight, but does provide a very smooth rockered ride with a little pop and bounce at the toe off. For me this shoe is a great easy day and recovery day shoe. 

Andrea: The New Balance SC Trainer is a high stack, highly cushioned yet responsive shoe that performs best at easy paces. The weight of the shoe limits its use at faster paces. Runners with neutral mechanics or mild stability needs will do best in this shoe thanks to its rockered geometry and fairly stable ride. The SC Trainer dampens the harshness of the pavement and provides welcome respite for tired legs and feet.


A little inside look into the behind the scenes conversations among our team would show you that we don't always agree on the feel of a shoe, which is exactly why we produce multiple tester reviews. One area where we seemed to disagree was whether the SC Trainer was "soft". Now, we know that "soft" is very subjective and varies person to person. However, after digging into the conversation more, we realized that a lot of what led to a different answer of whether a shoe was soft or not was our definition of soft. For some it meant "I feel my foot sinking into different parts of the shoe". For others, "I can feel the foam compress when I load it". And for others still, "it really can vary for different parts of the shoe, and really depends on how it feels when running, not standing". So before you write off someone for thinking a shoe is soft in your mind that they are calling firm, consider what they might mean by "soft" as well as your own definition.

For me, I found the SC Trainer to fall into the "soft" category. I didn't find my foot sinking into the shoe, and the plate certainly creates a more firm feeling on the surface, but when I started running I really feel the foam beneath the plate compress a lot, leading to a very protective and soft feel, particularly in the heel. I thought the ride was very consistent and shined for long runs and daily mileage. My big note is that the cutout and groove down the middle makes this shoe only suitable for road (or at least places without stones). I had instant rocks getting stuck the moment I stepped onto the Green Circle Trail (a crushed granite trail in my area), and it would lead to some scuffing of the plate underneath. This is ultimately a training shoe meant for people wanting to practice in a shoe environment similar to their future racing shoe. I don't see this shoe as a casual trainer or a daily trainer, but one meant for purposeful daily runs or longer efforts. Wear this shoe with a purpose, not just for logging miles. 

- Nathan Brown, Senior Contributor


Fit: A- (Excellent fit from a light upper that is still secure. Toe box provides a little pressure on toes but this disappears on the run)
Performance: B+/A-
 (Bouncy super trainer for easy, long and recovery runs. Runs on the heavier side, but getting into a rhythm makes this less noticeable)
Stability: B+/A- [Neutral ] (Surprisingly stable for a neutral shoe at the foot thanks to mild sidewalls and a broad platform. Will require a high level of hip stability due to the compressive and softer foam)
DPT/Footwear Science: A- (Excellent integration of plate and an incredibly tall midsole into a ride that is bouncy but not unstable)
Personal: A- (A fantastic training shoe for eating up long and easy miles. Great especially when my legs are beat up.)
Overall: A-

Fit: A- (Fit and security dialed in very well. The lacing system does bite a little bit dorsally though.)
B+/A- (Very smooth and does its job well, though still carries a little more weight than I'd like, could also be a tiny bit more responsive when pushed)
Stability: A- (Stability very well done for a shoe with a stack height and midsole composition like this. Inherently there is still some instability )
DPT/Footwear Science: A- (Good usage of new materials and concepts with max stack height rockers, I think with all the innovation some small things like the lacing system and weight may have lost some sight)
Personal: A- (I really like the SC Trainer. This is a recovery day shoe for me, the weight is a tiny bit deterring, so if I'm really fatigued I might not grab it)
Overall: A- 

Fit: (Exceptional sock-like fit of the upper, great breathability, overall very comfortable fit)
B+ (Weight limits shoe's use to easy paces, but as an easy day shoe provides a smooth and protective ride)
Stability: A- (Stability features balance out high stack nicely and create a centered, smooth ride)
DPT/Footwear Science: A- (Interesting application of super shoe technology to a daily trainer, but runners should be mindful of keeping variety in their shoe rotation)
Personal: A- (Great easy day shoe when I don't want to feel the pavement, weight limits frequency of use)
Overall: A-


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***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the people at New Balance for sending us a pair.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state run as well as a warm-up and cool down in each pair prior to review. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. Our views are based on our extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

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