“No, I’m not a real runner…..”

“Oh no, I’m not a runner I just jog ……… no honestly. I’m very slow, I don’t run”.  So many people are hesitant to call themselves “runners”. Why? Trying to call someone a runner is often construed as an accusation, answered aggressively with “I AM NOT A RUNNER, I ONLY JOG!!! Runners run because they love to, joggers run because they like biscuits, pastry and maybe even beer but want to fit into tight jeans. But don’t running and jogging mean the same thing? Is running just about speed, training and running races? Joggers wear loose comfortable gear, runners wear figure hugging fancy running clothes and expensive GPS watches … is that the difference?   No, in fact they must be different. Traditionally, the noticeable difference between the two is speed. Jogging has been defined as going at a pace of less than 6 mph (10 minute mile), while running is defined as anything faster. Other differences include the amount of calories burnt and how the muscles react to the two exercises. Running pace affects the activation of the muscles in the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, shins and calves. The faster the pace the more muscles stimulated and the more calories burnt (Kyrolainen et al., 2005).


Some have suggested that we are in the grips of a second running boom – everybody is running. The first running boom was in the 1970s. The idea of jogging as an organised activity was first seen in the sports pages of the New Zealand Herald in February 1962, former athletes and fitness enthusiasts met  once a week to run for “fitness and sociability” and the “Auckland Joggers’ Club” was born. This is thought to be the first use of the noun “jogger”. University of Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman (cofounder of Nike) after jogging in New Zealand in 1962, published the book “Jogging” in 1966. This popularized jogging in the United States and around the world. We would appear to be in the midst of a second running boom, probably fuelled by the recent recession because of all potential exercise choices, running/jogging/walking certainly has the lowest barrier to entry – it’s cheap!  The result has been the explosion of a plethora of fund-raising 5k fun runs, small-town races and a marathon somewhere in the country on every weekend of the year. Running has moved from the fringe to the main stage.

Dr. George Sheehan, cardiologist, running columnist and arguably the “first” running boom’s foremost philosopher, wrote that the distinction between a runner and a jogger was a signature on a race application. If you are motivated enough to train for and take part in an organized running event, then you were a runner. Anyone willing to risk public failure in order to be a part of the running community, no matter what his or her pace per mile might be, is a runner. This same man began jogging in his back yard (26 loops to a mile) and five years later, he ran a 4:47 mile, which was the world’s first sub-five-minute time by a 50-year-old.


The good news for joggers is they live longer. During a 35-year long study into the effects of jogging, a Danish study registered 122 deaths among joggers and 10,158 deaths among nonjoggers. The increase in survival age in joggers was 6.2 years in men and 5.6 years in women when compared to the nonjoggers (Schnohr et al., 2013). So, Jogging for 90 minutes per week would be ridiculously inadequate for the international runner with aspirations to win a gold medal in the marathon at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016, it may be just enough for a person aiming to be alive and well as part of the crowd at the 2048 Olympics (O’Keefe et al., 2012a; O’Keefe et al., 2012b) But like Dr Sheehan said  “Don”t be concerned if running or exercise will add years to your life,  be concerned with adding life to your years.”

There is an expectation in running, as in life, that we should consistently progress and develop ourselves. You are a runner if you run. You don’t have to run a marathon or a sub 5:00 minute mile to be part of the running community. A runner isn’t someone who has fancy running gear and an expensive GPS watch. You don’t even have to participate in races to be a runner. It’s simply the motivation and drive to get outside and put one foot in front of the other, no matter how slowly you go. You just have to lace up your shoes and……………. RUN.

Kyrolainen H, Avela J & Komi PV. (2005). Changes in muscle activity with increasing running speed. J Sports Sci 23, 1101-1109.


O’Keefe JH, Patil HR & Lavie CJ. (2012a). Exercise and life expectancy. Lancet 379, 799; author reply 800-791.


O’Keefe JH, Patil HR, Magalski A, Lavie CJ, Vogel RA & McCullough PA. (2012b). In reply. Mayo Clinic Proceedings 87, 1133-1134.


Schnohr P, Marott JL, Lange P & Jensen GB. (2013). Longevity in male and female joggers: the Copenhagen City Heart Study. Am J Epidemiol 177, 683-689.


Posted by

I qualified with an Honours degree in Physiotherapy from Trinity College Dublin in 2004. Since graduating I have worked in St. James Hospital Dublin and have worked in all the areas of speciality within the hospital including cardiorespiratory, orthopaedics, rheumatology, care of the elderly, neurology, burns and plastic surgery among others . I have also completed a post graduate certificate in acupuncture in UCD 2009. The Physiotherapy Department in SJH has strong links with Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and I have supervised undergraduate and postgraduate physiotherapy students on practice placements and also delivered lectures on the undergraduate academic programme in TCD. I have a keen interest in all sports and currently plays with Cill Dara RFC 1st team squad, and Milltown GAA. I have previously worked as Physiotherapist to Co. Carlow Senior GAA Team, Milltown GAA, Leinster Junior Rugby Team and Cill Dara RFC. I am an experienced runner and competed in the Dublin City Marathon in 2002. I continue to participate in running events and multisport disciplines such as Gaelforce West, Gaelforce North and the Motivate Challenge. I have a particular interest in strength and conditioning. I utilise this knowledge of resistance training in the treatment of his clients. I am committed to continuous learning and development in order to ensure the optimal level of care is offered to my clients, and with this in mind I am currently undertaking a certification in Strength and Conditioning (CSCS) with the NSCA.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.