The Planet Wave - Are You A Runner or A Jogger?
by Bob "Wish" Wischnia on August 24, 2012
My typical morning run is almost always a joy. I cruise for a mile through dark, neighborhood streets until I hit a trail that takes me through a greenbelt to the first tee of a golf course which I share with grazing deer, rabbits, fox and an occasional rattler and coyote.
I’ve been running here nearly every morning for years and I’m such a familiar site to the groundskeepers that they don’t even look up from their pre-dawn chores when I pass by. Golfers? It’s still way too early for them.
My golf course is truly an idyllic training environment. Running along the lush, forgiving fairways, over the rolling hills, through the sprinklers, past the misty ponds and finally on my final hole, drinking in the stunning sunrise is the highlight of my day.
But the other morning something occurred which triggered a flood of conflicting emotions. I was doing one of my favorite workouts where I run hole-to-hole at tempo run speed, recover to the next tee and repeat for about 10-12 holes.
To be clear, the sun hadn’t quite risen and the early-morning golfers were either still on the practice range or having a final cup of coffee. I only had one more hole left to finish the workout when a course marshal mysteriously appeared out of the ground fog, sitting in a cart on the tee.
As I approached the tee box, he shouted out: “Hey, no joggers allowed on the course.”
“I’m not a jogger. I’m a runner, ” I yelled back. (FYI: I long ago received permission to run on the course before it opens.)
Regardless, the marshal must have been too stunned to reply to my inane comment because he neither pursued me down the last fairway or had anything left to say.
I don’t know about you, but I have never referred to myself as a “jogger” or what I do as “jogging.” I’m a runner, plain and simple. I run every day, race often and train hard. Running is something I love and it’s something which is very important to me.
Because it’s so important to me and running is so wrapped up in who I am, I still cringe when the “J” word is attached to me. Even the mention of it by someone as unknowing as the course marshal set me off.
And it shouldn’t. It’s just a word, a description that doesn’t truly hold any relevance. Non-runners don’t draw a distinction between runners and joggers. But we do.
The late Dr. George Sheehan, the first true running philosopher, famously wrote that the difference between a runner and a jogger was a race application. The good doctor’s point was that the level of commitment was the line between a jogger and a runner.
I beg to disagree.
The difference between a runner and jogger is absolutely meaningless and to draw that line is yet another example of the polarizing world we live in. There’s way too much of that going around these days to add another trivial distinction that can only serve to divide us.
Here’s my take: We are whoever we want to be. Simply, I am a runner because I run. That’s my calling card.
If you think of yourself as a jogger, that’s great. That’s who you are. My dedication and love for the sport isn’t any greater or more important than someone else. I may not enjoy being called a “jogger”, but it’s the movement that matters, not the label.
That label doesn’t define us. Our activity does.