What's the Difference Between Running and Jogging?

group of runners

When is someone jogging and when are they running? Is there really a difference between the two? If you asked most people, they would probably say that that jogging is a slow form of running. But there really isn't any strict definition or standard. It's not as if once you drop below a certain pace, you are suddenly defined as a jogger rather than a runner. Most people run at various different paces depending on their distance, and most people slow down once they reach a certain age, so a distinction based on pace would be very confusing.

Joggers vs Runners

Some people believe that joggers are more casual runners—those who run occasionally but don't follow a training schedule and don't compete in races. You'll hear a lot of people say "I'm a jogger—definitely NOT a runner." They're almost taken aback if they're put in the category of runners as if they are somehow not worthy of the title and feel much more comfortable being called a jogger.

By the same token, there are plenty of runners who get offended if someone says to them, "Oh, I saw you out jogging." Why does being called a "jogger" make runners cringe? The casual nature of the word might have something to do with it. Runners don't want to be thought of as someone who just goes out for a leisurely jog once in a while. To them, running is more of a lifestyle and a passion. They're not just out there trying to burn some calories—they're running with a purpose, working hard, and accomplishing goals. They may not be the fastest or most accomplished runners out there, but they love the sport and they take it seriously.

Dr. George Sheehan, a best-selling author from the 1970s running boom, is quoted as saying that "the difference between a runner and a jogger is a signature on a race application." Of course, that quote is little dated, since most people now enter races online with no signature required, but you get the idea. Basically, if you're enjoying running so much and taking it so seriously that you entered your first road race, you're a runner—regardless of how fast you are or how long you've been doing it.

Participating in a race shouldn't be a requirement to call yourself a runner. There are plenty of people who have been running for years that have never put on a race bib and run from a starting line to a finish line.

It's Your Call Whether You're a Runner or a Jogger

The bottom line is that when you decide to call yourself a runner is really a matter of personal preference. There's no pace test or threshold you need to pass to say that you're running. You don't need to run a race or wear special shoes to become a runner. If you've been jogging for years and you plan to keep jogging, then go right ahead and call it that. But if you love the sport (even if you dislike it sometimes), no matter your pace or level of experience, you can proudly call yourself a runner.

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