Friday, July 13, 2007

Running or Jogging: The Final Word on a Tired Debate

If you've spent any time around any running blogs or message boards then you've probably heard some version of the debate about the difference between being a runner or a jogger. Today's post will be my opinion on the matter or as I prefer to call it; The Definitive Answer.

The catalyst for this debate within the running community recently has been the Pearl Izumi 'we are not joggers' ad campaign which counter's Reebok's 'run easy' campaign. Chances are that if you're an elite or seasoned runner you were inspired by the 'we are not joggers' ads and if you are a slower or newer runner you were probably offended by it.

The ad paints joggers in a negative light and runners as elitist snobs, neither of which is true. Sure there are some elite runners out there who think themselves better than you and I, and let's be honest they ARE better than you or I, but only when it comes to running. And just because they are better than me at running doesn't give them the right to look down their noses at me. I mean, you don't see me looking down my nose at them because I'm a better blogger than they are. Seriously, have you ever read an elite runner's blog? BO - RING!

So far as I can tell, this dichotomy only occurs in running. The golf pro's at my local course don't try to tell me that I'm not playing golf just because I hit the ball into the wrong fairway every other hole. Sure they have some colorful names reserved for me, and they think I'm a bad golfer but they still concede the fact that I'm playing golf. If I play golf while wearing my iPod or ride in a cart instead of walking, or smoke a cigar while I'm playing it doesn't mean I'm not playing golf. Likewise, just because you are a slow runner doesn't mean that you are not running, as Pearl Izumi would appear to claim. You are still participating in the same sport or activity of running.

I for one am not going to tell someone who is giving everything they've got to crank out a 36:45 minute 5K that they were not running. I don't care how slow you are or that you have to listen to your iPod to get motivated, or that you run on a treadmill, or that you need walk breaks, you're running. You might not be as good as some people or as fast, but it doesn't change the definition of what you're doing.

Of course if I ever get to the point where I'm running sub 6 minute miles in marathons then I will delete all evidence of this post and pompously pronounce my superiority over all of you lame 'joggers'.

Incidentally, the ad campaign was absolutely genius. Had you ever heard of Pearl Izumi before these ads came out? Do you think we'd all be discussing them this much if they had gone with a mellow ad campaign? Sure they upset some people who are swearing that they'll never own their shoes but that will all blow over, and in 6 months a brand new runner will stand in a sporting goods store and look at a pair of Pearl Izumi's and think to himself "hey, these were marketed to elite runners, they must be great shoes" and then he'll buy the shoes and torment them by never letting them be any faster than 10 minute miles.

For the record, I consider myself a runner. A runner who's not as fast as he'd like to be, and a runner who occasionally jogs but a runner nonetheless. Personally I think Dr. George Sheehan said it best when he said that "the difference between a jogger and a runner is an entry blank."

It seems like every idiot with a blog is weighing in on this debate and I'm no different, but here are three that I enjoyed: Beyond Madison Avenue, Adrants and DaneGer Zone.


  1. I agree completely. Mostly because I am really slow. Good post.

  2. it's funny how many people are upset over this ad campaign. I can't remember it now, but there was a blog where the VP of marketing from Izumi responded to the post saying how he and his company never intended to segregate runners and joggers. I kind of laughed because that seems to be exactly what they are doing. I don't consider myself a runner yet, but i don't consider myself a jogger either, maybe somewhere in between, it depends on the day I suppose.

  3. Seriously, have you ever read an elite runner's blog? BO - RING!

    This is why I am not buying Pearl Izumi shoes. I am not sacrificing entertainment for a top 3 finish.

  4. I think DaneGer Zone puts it well - the ad's quite motivating if you think about it in a certain way. I'm very slow, but I consider myself a runner simply because I think seriously about my training and I plan how to improve. A jogger would probably just jog recreationally.


    So what is this guy? At least he runs/jogs safely!!!

  6. I think that the ad has more to do with the mindset of runners than their actual speed. A couple years back, one of my friends, who is a runner, stated that whoever, "does it right, has my respect". I think that is the underlying message. If you train right and don't consider your workout walking on a treadmill and talking to a friend on a cellphone, you are a runner. It doesn't matter speed, pace, whatever, If you train with the goal of self-improvement, bettering your times and doing the best you personally can. Then, you are a runner.

  7. Andrew...I personally like to return my voicemail on my long runs. I find it very convenient, and it impresses friends and business contacts immensely. So yes, you can run and talk. I also run and eat sno-cones. I know--I am in a league of my own.

    Vanilla...I beth they're SO boring on their blogs. They're very jealous of you.

  8. Nice read Vanilla--I was expecting you to totally trash the PI ad. I am pretty much in agreement with most of the above comments: it's not about fast or slow, it's a mindset. I think of a jogger as someone who runs for fitness or to cross train for something else, runners run because we need to.
    I think it's summed up nicely by a high school x-country team who's shirts said "Our sport is your sport's punishment."

  9. I consider myself a jogger, although I'm not the slowest on the road (I run ~25-30 miles a week and my pace is rarely under 8 min/mile). The reason is simple: I don't compete. I don't care whether I faster or slower than anyone else, the only person I'm interested to compete with is my lazy self. I am a jogger and I'm perfectly fine with it.

    By the way, the Merriam-Webster dictionary gives the following definition for the "jog" (intransitive verb) as "to run or ride at a slow trot" ( Hence, jogging IS running, just a particular kind of running. It takes a good deal of ignorance to say that it's not, but when it's all about marketing such consideration certainly don't apply.

    I agree, it was (is?) a really clever ad campain: get some people pissed and some pleased, stir the controversy, and get attention. However, I disagree that Pearl Izumi is an unknown brand; among bicyclists, for example, it's probably the most popular.

    I actually bought a pair of Pearl Izumi running shoes out of loyalty to the brand (all my cycling apparel and shoes are Pearl Izumi, I was always satisfied with their products and wasn't aware of their ad campain at that time). The running shoes (I got Syncroguide) didn't impress me much though, and I promptly returned them. For a runner -- pardon me, a jogger -- what fits and feels best is the best, your legs will tell you. For me the best was New Balance 902. And if next time when I go to he running store and stumble upon a more comfortable pair of shoes I'll buy them whether they are Nike, Asics, Brooks, Mizuno, Adidas, or maybe Pearl Izumi, who knows.


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