RunRunLive

What’s the difference between Running and Jogging?

When I first got this question I thought to myself “Don’t touch it! There’s no way you can answer this without making someone mad…”  Then I asked some friends and fellow runners this question.  I was surprised by the quick answers I got.  It turns out most runners have, at least in their own minds, a solid opinion of what delineates ‘jogging’ from ‘running’.

We all know what running is, right?  I mean the physical act of running, regardless of pace, form or effort is easy to differentiate from walking, sitting, swimming, crawling or laying on your back in a Hawaiian shirt in a hammock.  The term itself isn’t controversial.

However when you ask a runner if they are going ‘jogging’ be prepared to get a scandalized dirty look.  “We’re not jogging!” They protest.  “We’re Runners!” It’s as if you’ve accused them of not being worthy.

I looked up the etymology of ‘Jogging’.  As a word it is a gift of the British from the mid-seventeenth century that had none of the emotional overtones.  It simply meant to perambulate in some form or other.  Saying “I went for my morning jog” was just a tad more whimsical way of saying ‘walk’ or ‘brisk walk’.   Those whacky Brits.

Jogging presumably acquired some of its less-favorable overtones when Bill Bowerman went ‘jogging’ in New Zealand with Arthur Lydiard and subsequently wrote the book titled, yes you guessed it, “Jogging” in 1966 proposing this recreational form of running as the solution to many social ills and  health problems.

It would seem that during the first running boom of the 1970’s ‘jogging’ was just a way to describe running for your health with no particular competitive inclination.  I think this is where jogging starts to get painted with a negative patina.  It came to be seen as a slower, lower effort, non-competitive version of running.

It seems “Jogging” was originally intended to be a subset of running; a less strenuous, less serious form of running. It was running for the non-competitive masses.

Dr. George Sheehan is famously quoted as saying that the difference between runners and joggers is a race number. The thought being that as soon as it becomes a competition – you are running.  This is one of the most common responses I got when I polled my virtual running friends with this very same question.

Curious man that I am I spent the weekend asking every runner I met if they could describe the difference in the terms.

I asked my friend Rich on our long run this morning and he immediately replied “8-minute miles”.  I was expecting a more thoughtful, if not philosophical response.  I asked him why 8-minute miles?  He said, “Because that’s what the Garmin defaults are!”  It turns out when you get your new Garmin GPS device it will have the transition from run to jog at an 8-minute mile.

Of course, that’s just an arbitrary number set by some Product Tech.  Not all responses to my question were that definitive but many framed the difference as one of pace, effort or distance.  People seem to sense that running is ‘more’ and jogging is ‘less’ in some way but they are hard pressed to come up with a quantification.  The border between running and jogging is apparently amorphous and mostly self defined.

One interesting wrinkle I got on the ‘effort’ argument was ‘conversational’ pace.  Meaning that if you can still hold a conversation while you’re running, then you’re jogging!  I guess that would put an end to my long runs because they would now be long jogs.

When pressed, most people will cite ‘intent’ or ‘purpose’ as the difference.  I tend to fall into that group.   This cadre believes that the difference between running and jogging is not speed or distance.  For this group running requires a more focused purpose, perhaps the existence of goals, maybe the following of a plan.  This faction believes that the runner is not just aimlessly moving about, but is working, to the best of their ability and resources to achieve something.

I think my favorite response was ‘Sweat Pants’.  Meaning if you’re out in your Chuck Taylor’s and sweats, chances are you’re a jogger.  Another great observation made was that whenever the news talks about it, as in “Miley Cyrus was seen jogging” or “Jogger attacked in the Park”, they never say ‘running’, they always say ‘jogging’.  Therefore, if you’re not on the six o’clock news, then you’re a runner.

Why are we so offended when someone asks us if we have been ‘jogging’?  Why the personal affront?  Because, when you call me a jogger you lessen the value of what I’m out there doing.  You take away from the personal sacrifice, the miles and the pain I’ve invested in my sport.  I’m not winning any races, but I’ve worked hard my whole life, as a runner, to walk the talk.

We see what we do as clearly different than the casual and occasional jaunt around the neighborhood in sweat pants.  Is there a point where a jogger becomes a runner? Is it the point where recreation gives way to focus?  Is it the point where we start to care?  Is the very fact that we are offended by being called a ‘jogger’ proof in itself that we have made the transition?

Running, is not about speed, time or miles.  Running is not in our legs.  Running is in our hearts and our heads.  Running is what we bring to the sport, what we sacrifice and what we burn on our alters of shoes and shorts and race bibs.

The truth? The truth is that a runner is that person that defines themselves as a runner because as soon as they do that, they have made the transition from jogging to running.

Either way, you’ll see me out there…

Chris Russell lives and trains in suburban Massachusetts with his family and Border collie Buddy.  Chris is the author of “The Mid-Packer’s Lament”, and “The Mid-Packer’s Guide to the Galaxy”, short stories on running, racing, and the human comedy of the mid-pack.  Chris writes the Runnerati Blog at www.runnerati.com.  Chris’ Podcast, RunRunLive is available on iTunes and at www.runrunlive.com. Chris also writes for CoolRunning.com (Active.com) and is a member of the Squannacook River Runners and the Goon Squad.

Email me at cyktrussell at Gmail dot com

Running  Podcast, podcasts for running, podcast for runners, free podcast for runners, Running Blog, marathon, triathlon, mileage, sprinting, run, track, training, running clubs, running groups, running shoes, exercise, health, 5k, running, swimming, sports, injuries, stretching, eating, jogging, biking, trail race, 5K, 10K, Ultramarathon, jogging a good exercise, road runner, jogging tips, benefits of jogging, free running, running shoes, marathon training, running, jogging, health and fitness, runners, runner, Boston qualification, Marathon BQ, Boston marathon

42 Comments for this entry

  • I used to be called a couch potato. Now, I am proud to be known as The Trail Jogger!

  • RussinDutchess says:

    How about the concept of ‘pain’ as you refer to it? One perspective is that runners experience (pursue?) pain as they try to improve themselves, whereas joggers maintain more stable performance levels, and therefore don’t experience quite so much.

    That said; I don’t care much. I’m a slower runner, but am happy that anyone is out doing something to improve their health. Call me a runner, jogger, wogger (that’s walk-jogger), slowpoke, or back-of-the-packer; I’m better off now than I was before I started.

  • The definitive difference: Joggers run in place at stoplight. Runners either stand there, or run down the block until they can cross.

  • Gelliott says:

    That’s easy. Runners are snobs who think they’re better than joggers. Joggers are unpretentious runners.

  • Johanna says:

    The difference shouldn’t be bases on intention, planning or on how you view yourself – it should be based on basic physiology. According to my biomechanics lecturer when you are running you only have one foot on the ground at one time. If you have time feet on the ground at any time you are jogging. It’s that simple.

  • Johanna says:

    Sorry, I made a typo error there. *When you are running you only have one foot on the ground at one time. If you have two feet on the ground at any time you are jogging.

  • rachael says:

    ive always thought that to be hopping?

  • Shauna says:

    I use an app that tracks my exercises for points, like a game. I choose running when I am by myself and jogging when I’m with the dogs. I do that because I know there will be sniff and wander, sniff then chase and sniff then poop times so it ALL be running. :)

  • Jodie says:

    Hmmm still can’t decide whether i’m a runner or jogger. I think I’m more of a slow runner but I naturally fartlek train, going from sprints to slower running pace to brisk walks, switching between a steady pace for a long time to a fast as I can manage until it hurts too much. I never wear sweats or CTs. I hate competing though, did one 10K race and I lost focus running with lots of people.

  • vike says:

    Focus/intent is def key, tho’ this/it can be flipped around
    methinks. e.g., jogging is not competitive related as running
    is, & often has health related motivations behind its
    origins of pursuit. Yet joggers can “quickly” become runners
    by measuring their “progress” by numbers/data OR…
    by chasing down that scantily clad, good looking babe/hunk
    who’s only 100 (or so) meters ahead of them. ; )
    (&… >: ) = vt!)

  • Sruggsy says:

    Easy.

    Pick the toughest run or jog you’ve had in the last seven days.

    If you can match it without injuring yourself for the next seven days you’re probably a jogger. If not, welcome to the runner’s fold.

  • Sulthana says:

    Thanks for this thoughtful article! Was wondering on the differences myself, also feel ‘running’ connotes more work, effort and self sacrifice than jogging. But I thought there might be an actual physical difference, doesn’t seem like it.

  • Jeff H. says:

    I’m just a “night jogger” My pace is too slow to be considered anything else. Sucks but I can’t go faster than a 7:28 pace for a 5K. Cassidy, I’m not! :\

  • Don says:

    Good, well-written, intelligent, and informative article. Thank you!

  • Rick Roy says:

    If you have absolutely no idea what your pace is and you couldn’t care less, you are a jogger.

  • Very good post! I like your writing! So now I know that I went on a run today since I couldn’t have held a conversation. It wasn’t competitive but it had a purpose to reach a goal!

  • Fernando Castilho says:

    Thanks for the great article, now it is clear as crystal for me what running and jogging is…..
    I am proud to be a runner.

    Fernando.
    Brisbane – Australia.

    • Anonymous says:

      Everyone that uses their legs at a brisk pace is a runner. Jogger is just another word for runner… but hey, you don’t have to agree with me..

  • Hannah says:

    Thank you so much for this article, very well put! I was curious about this topic because I saw a picture on Pinterest that said “I don’t jog.” And thought to myself “what’s wrong with jogging?” All I know is I go as fast as I can without burning out to quickly, I would definitely never say it was “recreational.” But I’ve always referred to it as jogging.

  • Anonymous says:

    This article was kind of funny. As a high schooler, I know that people relate runners to someone who runs 5k or more everyday on team. I dont know why, that’s just what people think. So if I run everyday but I’m not part of a team, I wouldn’t be considered a runner. In my opinion, you don’t have to play a school/team sport to be athletic!

  • patsy bly says:

    I take this very lite. I was told if you are jogging waiting for the crosswalk light to change thean you are a jogger. The runner takes the break to catch their breath and then bolts when the light changes. Then you are a RoadRunner. Fun question.

  • rich says:

    Funny, long before gps I heard the difference between jogging and running is the 8 minute mile time. I’ve always had that in my head. Yet the Ragnar ‘running’ competition lets anyone participate who can do an average run time of 11 min/mile.

    My brother and his girls are runners no question about it and also holds to the 8 minute mile idea.

  • Joggerforlife says:

    Runners are snobs who think they’re better than joggers. Joggers are unpretentious runners who run because they like it and its fun for them. We jogger’s don’t care about racing, what we are wearing or or personal best. I have been running since 12 years old and I am now 48…back in the day we did it because it was good for us and fun. Today all the yuppies have taken over the sport with their spandex and snobby ways.

  • Sofia says:

    Enjoyed this article. Made me laugh because I get offended as well and it’s good to know that I’m not alone. I am not a yuppie and I do RUN in sweats from time to time. :D I also have a pet peeve about people saying they’re going to run a 5k Marathon. come again? Hehe

  • Janina says:

    Good article. I used to get offended when my dad would ask me “did you go for your morning jog?” Now I could care less. I think for me it depends on how hard I’m pushing myself on any particular run. Sometimes I’m working real hard and going fast. I consider that running. Sometimes it’s leisurely and that to me is jogging, relatively speaking of course.

  • Teach and Run says:

    The 8 minute mile thing is a bit, if you will, “off-pace” with many I know. I’ve done 1/2 marathons at that pace when not well trained or a bit overweight (for my running shape) and been in the top 10% of the field. I know the size of the field matters, but I would say that those around me were jogging at all. At that point it becomes about distance.

    As an English teacher, I’d say it’s like all language and really comes down to semantics and the intent… As many mention above. I have “jogged” this last week recovering from the Cincinnati Marathon, but will start “running” more and different distances next week as I adjust my training for a 5k. The “pain” thing is interesting, and undoubtedly true to a point, but no one wants to be stupid and injure themselves… Runners are bad (badass?) about that, whereas jiggers may nt have so much of that issue.

    Fun to think about, though.

    Cheers!

  • Pat E says:

    A jogger stops randomly to check out a robin.

    A runner stops regularly to check out their Garmin.

  • cs says:

    I’d be considered a jogger by any runner if that.

    In my opinion, whether you are joining our running really depends on the individual’s capability.

    I consider my jogs to be a pace I can hold for a long period of time without getting winded much. I consider it to be running if I am basically going faster for myself and having to breathe harder/ become wines quicker.

    I think titles are a little silly either way. I’m me. And I do both running and jogging. I know I’m the “running world” I’d be a joke but I don’t care because I’m not out there to impress anyone I’m out there for me. To exercise and because it is a major destressor and literally tge ONLY tine I gave to be alone since I am a stay at home mom. So I love it!

  • Sreenath says:

    I like the Robin and Garmin post above. But as the one following puts it, its the same runner (or jogger). Some days you run at a relaxed pace, not exerting too much and not worried about your time … so you are jogging … some other day you want to push yourself a bit more, you run with a definitive goal, try to knock a few seconds of your best time … so you are running.

    I don’t understand some guys patting their own backs relating to some time that they can achieve. For the Kenyan runner, it might be jogging at 6 min/mile and running at 5 min/mile. For a person passionate about running these limits depend on their own endurance, fitness and so many other things. Everyone has a jogger and a runner in them. Depends on what you wear that particular day!

    • cyktrussell says:

      Does distance matter? I see a whole movement now with people power-walking marathons and the like. Is it automatically ‘running’ once you get beyond a certain distance? Because an 11 minute mile in a 100 mile ultra wins you a buckle.

  • RMB says:

    If you run, going at least 6 mph, consider the calories you’re burning. You could jog faster and maybe burn more calories, although jogging is a combo of striding and bouncing, not really about distance combined with speed, but rather more trotting in a comfortable motion. Jogger or not, at least you’re exercising!
    Running truly, only a few can do in about 2 to 6 miles all ages, even less are those that can run above 6 mph over 10 miles in one day. Running requires more than physical effort, it’s about what you consume & also how determine your psyche is for running. This is not to discredit casual runners though, because they are also a few. If I was to record the speed on the populace, it will most likely be 6 mph or less, joggers.

  • Joe Potyak says:

    The bigger picture here is, why does it matter at all what you call it? Someone’s “jog” may be at the same level (goal, distance, time, speed, whatever) as another’s “run”. Whether you find it to be “casual”, “serious”, “goal-oriented”, so what – get over it. And that whole calorie burning explanation is out the window because if you want to be all scientific about it, you have to factor in heights, weights, altitudes, ages, metabolic rates, inclines, declines, wind resistance…Did you “walk” or “stroll”. Do you “ride” or are you a “motorcycle enthusiast”. Do you “bird watch” or are you a “birder”. Sounds to me like this is middle school label antics. Like there aren’t enough things for people to get competitive over already? If we’re so hung up on titles, perhaps the reason for doing what we’re doing should be reconsidered. The fact that people are exercising in itself is a win-win regardless of how you label it.

  • Biomechanically they are two different movements. a sprint is the best example of running. jogging has more characteristics of walking in combination with single linb stance hopping. jogging has more ground contact time, shorter stride length, less float time, etc. joint angles and postures are also much different. people can consider themselves whatever they want. actions speak louder than words. movement has much less ambiguity than emotions

  • D says:

    Funny that you mention sprinting. Based on your logic (ie. Biomechanical aspects) then Sprinting is different from Running – but that is not the case. Running is a term that encompasses both sprinting and jogging. It is not a category but a gradient, with jogging being on one end and sprinting on the opposite end on the varied spectrum of running.

  • jes says:

    i agree with this- I’m surprised I got a philosophical, airy response to the difference between running and jogging. And this answer – which points of the difference in the mechanical process between running and jogging I think is what defines the two activities. Desire and intent are way too nebulous and arguable. There should be a simple physiological difference, and with accordance to this, it can follow- that a jogger and a runner can go at the same pace. Up to a certain point. Also there is no real stride in a jog. It like watching a horse trot, vs gallop. The range of movement in the upper legs change. Etc…etc. this simple answer you gave knocked the above article out of the park.

  • Sam says:

    I used to be confused about whether I was walking or jogging, but thanks to this handy-dandy article, if anyone asks I’ll just say “yes!” lol, seriously I was worried if I was going fast enough to be running, now I know, my heart rate was up, it was easier this time than last time, so I’m pursuing my goal of increasing endurance and losing weight, so I’d say I’m running

  • Jeff says:

    Runners are the ones with worn out joints, with knee replacements and are more prone to having heart attacks than those who “walk briskly”! Runners are cool :/

  • Steve says:

    Personally I believe I made the transition from jogger to runner when I did some structured running and not just ad-hoc 3 miles here 4 miles there. As soon as it was habit it became running

  • Dark_Water says:

    If you can run faster than me, then maybe it OK to say I jog but if you’re obese, slower and unable to run a mile forget it.

  • sww says:

    Really?….. we’re talking semantics here…whether or not you “runners, sprinters, lopers, trotters, gallopers and joggers” like it. :)

  • Jamie says:

    Interesting article. I don’t think it really matters what you call it – but two replies nailed it, I think.

    1) jogging involves both feet being on the floor at the same time, sometimes.

    2) running is a generic encompassing term for all styles, jogging, sprinting, anywhere in between.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *