In terms of physical mechanics, there is not much difference between running and jogging—putting one foot in front of another at a pace faster than walking but slower than sprinting. However, in psychological terms, the differences can be quite stark in the mind of a runner compared to that of a jogger, although imperceptible to a person who is neither.

A Jogger Runs…A Runner Jogs

For some, running is often associated with hard-labour. While these people gamely push aside such feelings and look to the physical benefits of running, the exercise gradually becomes a chore for them. These martyrs will still declare themselves publicly as “runners” but, deep inside, they would really rather “jog” it out intermittently than to “slog” it out monotonously.

A runner, on the other hand, associates running with freedom and fun—so much so that he looks forward to hitting the pavement, not only before each outing, but as soon as he gets his breath back after it. It is this psychiatric mis-wiring which warps the mind of a runner into treating the exercise, not as an arduous, lung-busting run that it really is, but as a leisurely, mind-clearing jog that it certainly isn’t.

A Jogger Focuses on Speed…A Runner Focuses on Need

A jogger typically classifies himself as such, based primarily on speed. His minutes/km lags behind those of his friends, and often lands him among those in comic-book character costumes in the starting-line pecking order in any fun run. For such a person, the motivation to run invariably stems from his desire to improve the pace up to a level where he feels comfortable about shedding the “jogger” tag. Unfortunately, the single-minded determination to make this transition often takes the fun out of any run, especially as he hits the inevitable wall when his times no longer improve unless he begins doing speed-work—a form of torture designed to sap any traces of affinity the jogger may have had left towards the exercise.

For a runner, speed is an outcome of a hobby that he undertakes out of need—be it need for “me” time, for thinking time or just “zen” time. The only time he is relatively ambivalent about is the minutes/km time. This is the reason why some who waddle more than run can, nevertheless, legitimately label themselves as “runners”. Of course, most runners also get motivated by the improving pace that they register on their watches after each run. However, putting aside the serious athletes who compete at a high level, the focus by runners on speed improvement rarely becomes so obsessive as to turn running into suffering.

A Jogger Grimaces…A Runner Relishes

You are in the middle of a long run on a beautifully sunny day, with cool gentle breeze regularly wicking away your sweat. You come across a fellow runner who is grimacing too hard to notice you and makes you wonder why he bothers to put himself through such a torture. The chances are, he is probably laboring away, chanting “no pain, no gain” in a perpetual bid to become a faster runner, and shed his self-imposed image as a jogger.

On the other hand, say you are running on a dreadfully cold day with rain pouring down from the sky and mud flicking up your legs. You see another runner coming the other way through the mist. As you pass each other with squishing steps, you nod to the other runner. If he acknowledges you with a somewhat embarrassed expression that suggests he knows he is crazy but could not possibly think of a better thing to do at that moment, then that is a true runner, irrespective of his speed. How can he not be when the alternative is to recline in the dry comfort of his sofa, watching football with a warm cup of coffee?

Jog or Run…Just have Fun

The difference between a jogger and runner is very subtle. And the essence of the distinction lies, not in the speed at which one is able to undertake the exercise, but in the enjoyment with which one chooses to undertake it. “No pain, no gain”? So be it! We runners would rather chant, “no fun, no run”!

(Photo credit: Feet on Road via Shutterstock)

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