A runner by any other name…
… would still be running, right? Not according to some people.
What does the word jog mean to you? I’ve just been browsing on runnersworld.com and came across a comment posted about joggers. According to one (presumable) runner, “Only joggers get injured.”
What is that supposed to mean? Jogging is still the act of running, or so I am led to believe by dictionary definitions. The process of one step in front of the other, with never having both or all of the feet touching the ground at the same time still applies, does it not?
Further research tells me there is a speed element to the equation. According to some pros and the gadgets they use, if I run at a pace of 8 minute 15 seconds per mile, I am actually jogging. I need to shave 15 seconds off my minute-per-mile pace to qualify to be a runner. Oh dear. Put me in another category, then.
In my arrogant youth I used to think the same as the comment-maker on Runners’ World. “I am a runner, NOT a jogger!” I thought jogging was for older people who shuffled around parks in matching tracksuits. Don’t get me wrong, I always admired them. I applaud physical activity of any kind, in anyone. But, it isn’t exactly the same as dancing all night in the clubs of Buenos Aires and running a 49-minute 10km the next day on no sleep, is it?
Now, it turns out – I wasn’t even running! I was jogging all along!
Measuring a jog from a run is of course as arbitrary as what colour vest you wear is to your race time. (Damn Nextel for choosing yellow this year! I’m slower in yellow!) I looked up the history of the word jogging and it appears it was first used here in the UK. It features in Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, though at that moment it meant ‘to leave’. By the 17th century it had worked its way to meaning a form of exercise. And that, essentially, includes running.
This historical point about jogging is important because once its meaning of sustained exercise was established, it hasn’t changed again over time. Its only problem is that it has been looked down upon by speed demons who fear 9-minute miles. Of course, I am not denying the difference in the actions of a sprinter and a jogger: the impact and power on the body of the sprinter compared to the endurance required when jogging is obvious. Yet we all run.
I believe that inside every runner is a jogger. You might not meet your jogger until you have bought your matching tracksuit and are jogging around your local park in your eighties. You might already have met your jogger on an uphill struggle (in that case, I meet mine regularly) You might not admit to having met your jogger in that last race, when there just wasn’t enough in the tank. But it’s a good job your inner jogger is there. Jogging is your warm-up and cool-down. Jogging is your health care plan for life. Jogging is your back-up plan for when, you know, running becomes too much.
So, to coin a phrase from Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale; I say “JOG ON!” to those doubters and mockers of joggers. Leave! Run away! For when you might need your inner jogger, I hope they haven’t sprinted on ahead.