In the hand-me-down spirit of Ambrose Bierce’s “Devil’s Dictionary,” Josh Sutcliffe, aka Barefoot Josh, has created a list of barefoot and footwear terms and their definitions. Josh says that he “likes to run, write, and draw.” He works at a Dog Daycare facility, which means he plays with dogs all day.  Visit his running blog here: where this list originated; or hang out with the dogs here: — NRC

asphalt: best stuff on earth. throughout most of history, mankind would have killed to have regular access to such a surface.


athlete’s foot: not sure what it is; all I know is I’ll never get it if I don’t put shoes on.


barefoot: the key word is bare. If you are wearing socks, you’re not barefoot. Also a term erroneously used to describe certain types of shoes (minimalist).


Barefoot Ken Bob Saxton: the man who convinced me to ditch the shoes. See


barefoot shoes: the running world’s homage to Orwell.


barefootery: running, walking, lounging, and any other verb performed without shoes.


blister: a result of inefficient form (twisting the foot on the ground, pushing off), common among beginners. The more hard-headed the beginner, the more blisters.


blood blister: See above, add more hard-headedness and cold, wet weather conditions.


callus: a toughened skin condition mistakenly thought necessary to run barefoot comfortably. If calluses are present, they are an indicator of inefficient form. See blister.


concrete: another great surface on which to run barefoot. Attention is required on uneven sidewalks.


dirty feet: a fact of life, treated with intense uranium-based anti-fungal creams, radiation, and sandblasting  for shoe wearers. Barefooters only need a bar of soap.


education: what I call “stepping on a rock.


glass, etc: all the stuff shoe-wearers are scared to step on, only to realize such objects are easily avoided should they give barefootery a try.


gravel: great to learn on, but (because) it’s tough. Master running on gravel, you’ve mastered running barefoot.


ground: a major source of fear for hominids. Given history’s lack of indoor plumbing ( see following entry), the fear is understandable.


indoor plumbing: the greatest invention of mankind. It has made the present day the best time ever to be a barefoot runner.


hurt: a vague term requiring further explanation, as it means pain from exhaustion, pain from a non-injurious misstep, and pain from injury.


jogging: self-destruction as a means of forward movement. Could have just as easily been called “jarring.” To jog, one must treat the ground as if it had stolen one’s wallet and mocked one’s mother, pounding it mercilessly with one’s feet. Not to be confused with running.


lawn: a deceptively dangerous running surface, as it hides things you don’t want to step on. It feels nice, though.


listen: literally. The quieter your feet, the better you run.


minimalist: refers to running in shoes with no cushioning. Usage requires learning how to run barefoot first, in order to avoid injury.


orthotics: a shining example of the folly of mankind.


pebble: stepping on one is painful for beginners, useful for the more experienced.


plantar pain: going barefoot either causes it or fixes it. Who knows. Do I look like a doctor?


posture: has a surprisingly large influence on how feet feel on the ground. Good posture, feet feel good. Bad posture, feet feel bad.


pronation: a topic of conversation for shoe wearers. Supination is the other one.


relax: the barefoot mantra.


rock: to be avoided whenever possible. When not, it’s a lesson in humility and a good time to try out new swear words.


running: self-improvement as a means of forward movement. Could have just as easily been called “being human.” To run, one must treat the ground as if it were a thin sheet of ice, each step being gentle and quick with no skidding or slipping. Not to be confused with jogging.


socks: they work as excellent winter shoes.


sore calves: a result of not letting the heel touch the ground. Relax.


sore instep: a result of tense feet, also associated with not letting the heel touch the ground. Relax.


supination: a topic of conversation for shoe wearers. Pronation is the other one.


track: a quarter mile loop, usually a little squishy, used to get faster via monotony.


trail: a fun surface that requires extra attention and awareness of your surroundings. Biggest risk is going totally primal, shedding all worldly possessions and living out the rest of your days eating wild berries in a yurt.


tweaky: hard to identify little pains and aches. Usually appears after hard runs or trying something new. Relieved by rest.


zero drop: the term used for flat shoe soles because “wedgelessness” is too hard to say, and “flat” too obvious.