When does a Jogger become a Runner?

Now don’t get me wrong, as hard hitting discussions go this is no biggi! The answer will not solve world wars, poverty or the current economic crisis but it is a question I have asked myself and others several times on my late and short running career and I’m not sure if I have really found a true answer?!

Being a BAR (Born Again Runner), finding love for running close to my 40th birthday, I am regularly called a jogger by friends and work mates.  It creates a feeling inside me of anger and frustration.  So when do you pass through that golden portal and lose the label of being a jogger.  There are several theories but I’m not quite sure if they get it? Some say it comes down to times, speed, frequency or even competition but I’m not really sure if any of these are correct.

I came to running late.  I was 37 and took it up after offering help to a friend.  My mate is a blind footballer and was hoping to up his training prior to London 2012 and the rest is history.  He is 10 years younger and far fitter now and even more so then.  Even though I’m a PE teacher apart from a bit of mountain biking and swimming my fitness had fallen by the wayside due to the arrival of children and work pressures but I was keen to embark on this new challenge to help a friend out.

In the early days I was definitely a jogger leading or should I say being dragged along by a Paralympic Athlete and mainly guilt kept me going to help out.  At first it felt like a chore and I look forward to the end, I can now see that in these times I was a true jogger!  I slowly saw the pain and discomfort reduce and my enjoyment increasing.  As the times can down and the distances went up I got the bug and the rest as they say is history.

I have now lost weight, regain my fitness, and if anything possibly the fittest I have been since I was 20 and I’ve found a new passion and competitive streak I had lost for years!  So that brings me to my original question when does a jogger become a runner?  The question came to me after a friend of mine (A very serious, fast, competitive runner) was running laps around a busy campus in training to hear someone remark “watch out jogger coming through!” It made his blood boil and to start with I couldn’t see why but I think I now get it!

Jogger is a term we don’t like to associate with, a rude word, a put down because it belittles the commitment and effort we put to our sport. We can see it the same as remarking on football as ‘having a kick about’ or swimmers going for ‘a paddle’.  Our passion for our sport is not always shared by others but that doesn’t stop us being protective.

I personally see jogging as an uncommitted jaunt with no urgency or plan where as I feel a runner has an overall plan, regardless of their speed (one theory on the difference) they are committed to get faster, run further and improve.  Joggers, in my opinion go out through guilt and don’t share the enjoyment.  Runners are willing to go out in all weathers, odd times of day and plan their runs.  Runners fit training around busy lives rather than not bothering and choose to miss out on things to run.

We have all seen the social site posts regarding ‘what makes you a runner’ and most of us can agree with most of the statements.  I do know I spend more on running kit than going out clothes and look envious of people running when I’m in the car! But this is not the be all and end all.

So at what point do I think I became a runner? I think I will possibly remember this in the same way I do where I was when major events happened.  I think my metamorphis from jogger to runner happened not when I committed to running twice a week with my friend but when I signed up to my first race.  I suddenly felt internal motivation to run.  It wasn’t the signing up that caused it, that was a by-product.  I had found the enjoyment and had caught the bug!  I began to run alone for my own reasons rather than to help someone else.  I think my wife and friend’s would disagree and say it happened earlier but for me this was the defining moment.

So 2 years on, I’m running 5 times a week, logging my hours, getting up at silly o’clock to run and even supporting others by running a staff running club in 2 schools.  My race calendar is busy and I spend more time in running shops than the pub!  So back to the original question ‘what is the difference in a runner and a jogger?’

I think the answer lies in feelings; a passion to improve, a personal commitment to run, a desire to become faster and a love for that feeling when you are out running, regardless of the weather and wanting to carryon, well within reason!

So rather than defining what makes a jogger a runner, ask yourself this question……….

‘When did I become a runner not a jogger?’

I think you would be able to pinpoint when this happened rather quickly.

Happy running.


2 thoughts on “When does a Jogger become a Runner?

  1. Very interesting. You raise some great points here. I recently took part in a race that defined runners by speed (10k in under 60 mins =runner, anyone slower =jogger ) but I don’t think I will ever achieve that. I do however have, and follow, a training plan. I focus on goals and run an average of 3 to 4 times a week. I consider myself a runner.

    Paula Radcliffe says “if you run, you are a runner” That’s good enough for me.


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