The Difference Between Running and Jogging

Teenage girl jogging in city park

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What's the difference between jogging and running? Is there really a difference between the two? And does it even matter?

For some people, it does. In some running communities, being referred to as a "jogger" is not complimentary. But the definition can vary and there really isn't a strict rule that clearly delineates when you are running and when you are jogging.

Jogging vs. Running

If you asked most people, they would probably say that that jogging is a slow form of running. Although there isn't a strict rule for running pace vs. jogging pace, many sources say that the cutoff is 6 mph or about a 10-minute mile.

If you run a 10-minute per mile pace, it will take you just over 30 minutes to complete a 5K race. A 10K will take just over an hour and a marathon will take 4:22 to complete.

According to some reports, the average running pace for a woman is 10:21 per mile and the average running pace for a man is 9:03 per mile.

But there really isn't any strict standard. It's not as if once you drop below a certain pace, you are suddenly defined as a jogger rather than a runner. In fact, 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.

There is no strict standard for when runners become joggers, although some sources say that if you jogging begins at a 10-minute per mile pace or 6 mph.

Does the Name Matter?

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.

What Some Runners and Joggers Say

You'll hear some people say "I'm a jogger, definitely NOT a runner." These people may be taken aback if they're put in the "runner" category—as if they are not worthy of the title.

By the same token, there are plenty of runners who get offended if someone calls them a jogger. The casual nature of the word may bother some athletes who are serious about their sport.

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 an athletic pursuit, a lifestyle, and a passion.

Runners often see themselves as fully invested in training. 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, but they love the sport and they take it seriously.

What Some Experts Say

Dr. George Sheehan, a best-selling author from the 1970s, 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 the idea remains relevant. Basically, if you enjoy running enough that you have entered a road race, you're a runner—regardless of how fast you are or how long you've been doing it.

However, 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.

Running vs. Jogging for Health

While there is research that links faster running with greater health benefits (including a decreased risk for hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes) the study authors are quick to point out that their results do not prove causality. That means faster running doesn't necessarily cause better health.

In fact, most health experts will tell you that the best exercise for optimal health is the exercise that you are willing to do on a regular basis. And in fact, many running coaches combine speed training (training at a faster pace) with days when your runs involve running for a long slow distance (LSDs).

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 prove that you're a runner. And 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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Article Sources

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  • Williams P. T. (2008). Relationship of running intensity to hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and diabetes. Medicine and science in sports and exercise40(10), 1740–1748. doi:10.1249/MSS.0b013e31817b8ed1