Over at Barefoot Running University, Jason Robillard has given up the fight regarding the abomination of calling minimalist shoes “barefoot shoes”. Meanwhile, Ken Bob Saxton, at Running Barefoot, insists that the distinction should be made.
You’ll never guess which side of the debate I fall onto.
(Hint: check out the emphasized word, above.)
Anyways, Jason recognizes that popular cultural keeps calling minimalist shoes “barefoot shoes”. And he’s tired of fighting the fight. Along the way he suggests a couple of reasons (besides his original “the masses have spoken”).
His main extra reason (in “edit #2”) suggests that it is pride that has us keeping the distinction. As he says:
I think we’ve rejected the idea because of pride. For those of us that have run barefoot, we take pride in our accomplishments. For most, going through the process of going from traditional shoes to running barefoot is a difficult process. Running a race barefoot is even more of an accomplishment. When someone runs a race in Vibrams, then brags about running the race barefoot, we’re pissed. It diminishes our accomplishments. I suspect the emotions behind this is the primary reason this is such a big issue. I get that.
Ken Bob stresses that it is the direct contact with the ground that make barefoot running (real barefoot running) work. You must have your soles touching the ground for them to teach you how to run more gently and safely. And buying into the big-money advertising campaigns about “barefoot” running really does confuse people, and in a bad way. As Ken Bob says:
Still there remain many millions who tried running “barefoot” in the shoes, and even more since the rise in popularity of minimalist shoes since “Born to Run” who are bypassing the whole literal “bare” foot thing and believing that they can run “barefoot” in “barefoot shoes” and then after injuring themselves, rejecting the whole idea and spreading the word that “barefoot” running doesn’t work … all the while they have never even tried barefoot running (except in the marketing perception of the term).
Finally, Jason says that our insistence on using “barefoot” to really mean “barefoot” builds a wall between us and those who need our expertise.
I think that has it backwards. We’re the supposed experts. We’re the ones that people come to with questions. We’re the ones with the responsibility to get it right.
If I go to a gun safety class, and the instructor doesn’t know the difference between a clip or a magazine, I would wonder (and so should you) whether he really knows what he is talking about when it comes to guns in general, and safety in particular.
If I go to my mechanic and he talks about the do-hickey instead of the catalytic converter, that tells me I need a new mechanic, not that he is being overly prideful.
Yes, I understand the difference between prescriptivist and descriptivist linguistics. but when it comes to EXPERTISE, I’m afraid that I insist that the experts really do know what they are talking about and that they be able to make the fine distinctions that are the very essence of their expertise.
And for us, that is knowing, and expressing, the difference between barefoot running and minimalist running, and barefoot shoes and minimalist shoes.
So call me anal retentive. I also know the difference between its and it’s, and know when to use there, their, and they’re.