Sometimes, as the editor of iRun, I review shoes. And sometimes, like the start of spring, there tends to be lots of them. Reviewing a slew of new running shoes recently, I dropped a word that was considered offensive: sneakers.
“If I want reviews on “sneakers,” I go to Sneaker’s World or Canadian Sneaker Magazine or maybe iSneaker,” wrote another.
Confused, I took the question to Facebook, where our audience considered the word. Responses varied. “I have sneakers and running shoes, and they are for separate purposes,” a reader opined.
Another one said: “I wouldn’t read an article about sneakers because I don’t wear sneakers.”
“I don’t run in my sneakers, but I have sneakers. I run in my running shoes,” went a very good reply.
Coolsaet also said: “I’m fine with the word “jogging.” I often go for a jog, and enjoy it. But when I’m running fast, please don’t call it “jogging.”
Usually what Reid says is a good barometer of morality in our sport. Dayna Pidhoresky, currently training for the Tokyo Olympics, also weighed in.
“I use the words trainers, training shoes (when referring to a daily mileage shoe), as well as runners and running shoes (for any and all running shoes). Sneakers is funny,” she said. “Makes me think of a cartoon character sneaking around in loud-sounding shoes—definitely not as atrocious as saying 5K marathon!“
Often I’m a guest on Mark Sutcliffe’s iRun podcast and every time I drop the s-word, he corrects me. I’m American, he’s Canadian and perhaps that’s the difference. Oftentimes Americans use different terminology than Canadians. John Stanton, the running great and iconic founder of the Running Room, agrees.
So is it OK to call running shoes sneakers? Plenty of iRun readers said yes.
“If you are a good runner, you can call them any damn thing you want!” one reader wrote.
Another one said: “Only running snobs who run in “tribes” give a sh!t what you call your shoes. Call them whatever you want and have fun.”
“Don’t get hung on the “sneakers” word, you could call them “kicks” for all that matter,” said someone else.
I was feeling pretty good about my word choice and ready to call it a day until I reached out to one more running hero, Krista DuChene, Olympian, Marathon Mom, legend.
When asked if I could call running shoes sneakers, she offered a one word reply: “Nope,” and when Krista talks, runners listen—19 runners liked her response.