When did you become a runner? That is a question that most people answer in different ways. How does one define a runner? I guess we must define a runner before we can answer the question of when we became one.
Just for fun I took a look at true definitions of the term “runner”, and the most amusing one, and perhaps most fitting was this….
Runner – Someone who runs at a decent pace, on all terrain, in all weather because they want to.
That was followed up by this…. “Not a fucking jogger, ok?”
As runners, we hate the word jogger. Jogger implies slow, I guess. Well, to me, it really doesn’t matter at what pace you run, but to be a runner we must actually be moving faster than a walk. I think the term “jogger” implies a casual mover, one who doesn’t care about pace, and is just out there for exercise.
Let’s now define “Jogger”. A jogger is someone who trots or runs at a slow or leisurely pace. The main intention is to increase physical fitness with less stress on the body than from faster running.
Here is a jogger. Casual, wearing a sweatband, and even sandals.
I do not trot. Let’s get this straight.
I was a true runner a few times much earlier in my life, and actually ran a few races back in the 90’s and early 00’s. I truly didn’t catch the running bug though until 2010. In 2010, the month was August when I laced up and hit the road in hopes of starting a new revolution in my life. I ran short distances, anything from a mile to two miles, probably four times a week. While slowly developing some cardio vascular health, I found it got easier each time I ran. So what did I do? I ran more. I gradually added distance, sometimes up to three miles, sometimes five to six times a week. I didn’t even start tracking my runs until October 15th, 2010.
A funny thing started happening over the course of those first few months. Competitiveness started kicking in. I was getting good at this thing called running. Nope, don’t call me a jogger, I am a runner! Each time I would lace up, I started timing myself. My goals started to change. I wanted to get faster, and to get faster I needed to know how fast or slow I was running. I picked a 5k loop in my neighborhood and ran it incessantly. I recorded my times on paper for every single run. I got faster. I got fitter, and I got more competitive. A jogger doesn’t care about pace, right?
Then I started to get bored with the same old route, the same distance, the same surroundings. I decided to step it up. To run further and faster. I gradually added more miles, different routes and kept the same routines. Running was my exercise, my joy. This didn’t fade, and still hasn’t up to today. It was early in 2011 that I decided I wanted to take on a real race. A 5k is where I would test out my new found love of running. That April I ran a 22:03 5k, won my age group and was like 11th overall. Success! It was not called a jogging race, it was a running race. I was a runner! What I was doing was working. That race lit my competitive fire, and looking back at my training log, I started running longer distances on my next training run. Two days after that 5k I ran 5 miles. That 5 turned into 10k, and then even longer.
My goals changed, and broadened. I wanted to get faster, but I also wanted to run longer. I started obsessing over races. I wanted to prove myself a runner. Racing was fun. I ran several more 5k’s within weeks of that first one, and with my increased miles in training, my first 10k road race was in July. It was at that race that I started dreaming of one day calling myself a half marathoner. That goal would put me on the road more often, and for longer durations.
I was loving it! It didn’t let up. Increasing my mileage was leading to better fitness, and by August I really was in great shape. I signed up for a Half. That September, I ran my first Half. The Newport Liberty Half Marathon, in Jersey City, NJ. It was amazing! It was a big race, and I finished in 1:41:38. I was truly hooked. About a month later I really started contemplating running (not jogging) a marathon. It was a daunting thought, but it was possible, right? I had to really convince myself that I could do it. After running that Half though, I knew down deep inside that I could run a Full marathon.
I looked at training plans, I looked at races. By December of that year I had run two more Halves, and was well on my way to running 26.2 for the first time. Myrtle Beach would become my first marathon in 2012. I smoked that course, too. A finish of 3:33:24 was leaps and bounds above my expectations. No, I am not the fastest runner out there, but this was a huge success for me. After completing that marathon I truly considered myself a runner. A real runner. A marathoner!
You see, to me, being a marathoner is a world away from the term jogger. I do not casually run or trot twenty six point two miles. I suppose I could, but I don’t. I don’t judge those that do walk or jog a race, even distances up to a marathon, just don’t call me a jogger.
How do you feel about labels? If you were referred to as a jogger would it bother you? How would you define a “runner”. A “jogger”?