Thursday, December 1, 2011

Runner Vs. Jogger


After five and a half years back running, one of the most intriguing conversations (arguments?) I read on message boards and running websites is the boundary between runner and jogger. Where does it start, and who gets to set it? Is jogger a negative term? Do you have to compete for top 3 finishes or age groups awards to be a runner? Can joggers and runners just get along? Let's explore.

Any news item where a runner comes across a dead body or breaks up a mugging you are sure to see them referred to as a jogger. Ever have a non-runner friend introduce you to another person like this, "This is <insert name here>. He/she is a jogger."

I don't think I have strong feelings either way. Does it bother me when someone says I am a jogger? YES! Why is that? Am I a running snob? Since I not competing for top awards (yet) am I really a jogger? Does the fact my fastest mile time in a workout is an easy pace for much better runners?

Let's see if we can identify common traits of "runners" and common traits of "joggers".

1) Obviously, runs for exercise
2) Seeks progress in training (get faster, run longer, etc.)
3) May run a few races per year but doesn't necessarily compete for top finishing spot - or may be an "age group ace"
4) Running (or fitness) is a lifestyle and not just an activity
5) Can commonly be seen wearing running clothes as casual clothing at such places as shopping malls, casual dining restaurants, sports bars, and in-laws living room (guilty)
6) Owns the latest running shoes - OR -
    Runs in the same pair of racing flats since 1994
7) Knows that barefoot runners don't necessarily run barefoot

1) Runs for exercise
2) Just "does cardio"
3) Exercise is a calorie burning activity, not a lifestyle
4) Runs in sweatshirt with wolves howling at the tops of mountains, long basketball/cargo shorts, and old shoes from high school basketball days


Not to demean anyone who runs in sweatshirts with wolves on them, but there is a difference between a recreational jogger and a runner. I'll even go so far as to say that a jogger is just a person who doesn't necessarily take their running seriously. And that is 100% fine! In fact, if you strip away the semantics and look at the simple act of locomotion under your own power with no mechanical advantage, anyone who laces up running (or other!) shoes of any sort and with any regularity is probably a runner, whether they believe so or not. You don't have to own the latest technical fabric and moisture wicking technology to be a runner. The fastest guy I knew back in the day ran in a ratty sweatshirt (no, no wolves) and gym shorts. I never saw him run in anything but his old Nike cross trainers. Never a new pair the four years we ran together. And he ran just to stay in shape and didn't consider himself a runner. And that dude was fast. His easy runs were my tempo workouts.

Is jogger a negative term? I don't think so. And it doesn't have to be viewed that way. But ask any "serious runner" and they will bristle at the insinuation that they are a "jogger". Be careful, call them a jogger too much and you might be stricken from the Christmas card list. I'll admit, I struggle to not be that way. There is nothing wrong with running just for exercise. I need the challenge and the goal of preparing for a race. But if jogging the same trail everyday gets your shoes on and your body out the door, that is awesome.

Runner, jogger, or jazzercizer, just keep getting out there and get sweaty. No matter what reason you workout, be proud of it. Be grateful you can do it. Enjoy it.

Personally, I'm a runner. I love it. I plan each month's training one month in advance. I do repeats on a 400 meter track. I do tempos, mile repeats, Yasso 800s, fartleks. I take ice baths, I own zero drop shoes and 12 oz trainers, and run in them both multiple times per week. I obsess over the latest gear and will do anything to save a few seconds on my 5K time. I once blew up at my wife because she threw off my eating schedule the day before a race (by about 30 minutes, I know, relax, Roosh...). I'll probably never change. I hope not.

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