If you want to tick off someone who runs, no need to say that he’s slow or insult his mama. Just call him a jogger. Them’s fightin’ words.
There’s a joke in the running community that you don’t want to be a jogger because they find all the bodies. It seems that every time someone out for a trail run discovers a dead body, the headlines will read: “Jogger Finds Body”.
The online response is always the same – “Sorry about the loss of the deceased, but, uh, the person who found him was a RUNNER!”. It’s now my first reaction, too, and I promise, generally I am not an insensitive jerk.
Most runners view the term jogger as an anachronism. It hearkens back to these times:
Really, Farrah? Hair down? Really, Lee? Zipper down? The whole ensemble, the “jogging craze”, everything implies that they aren’t taking it seriously.
I think that’s why runners balk at being called joggers.
It implies that we don’t take it seriously, when in reality we work very hard at it. We don’t sashay out there with our feathered hair blowing in the gentle breeze.
It’s not a trend that we’re giving a go. It becomes a part of our identity. We invest in state of the art shoes and moisture wicking fabrics. There is more technology in my wrist watch now then there was in my classroom in 1977. Running is something at which we want to get better.
My mid-life running idol, John Bingham, wrote an article entitled I Am Not a Jogger. I agree with everything he says. I always do. That’s why he’s my idol. He nails what it feels like to try your hardest and to have your successes be measured in everything but speed.
In his article Bingham makes a great case for being taken seriously as a runner. Even those of us in the back of the pack still train with purpose. We dress for the sport, not for our appearance, Lee Majors. We’re willing to suffer, sweat, and eat coconut oil in order to improve.
Last summer I trained for a marathon using a heart rate method. It requires you to keep your heart rate pretty low in order to build up your cardiovascular capacity. For me, that meant running quite slowly.
One day it hit me mid-run… there were no two ways around this:
I was jogging.
I actually started to laugh. My options were limited. I could double down on the “I am a runner” or I could embrace reality.
Up until then I had been feeling like a fraud when I would tell my husband, “I’m going out for a run” when I knew that I didn’t look like this:
In the same way that strong women embraced the insult b***h and made it their own, I decided to embrace jogger and make it mine. By claiming it myself, no one can insult me with it. I am a jogger. I own it. I am awesome at it! (Well…)
Even when jogging, I am working hard. Nothing about running comes easily to me, except singing along to ’70s hits. See? I bet runners don’t sing along to “Sweet Caroline” (bom, bom, bom), but joggers can!
I’m not going to call anyone else a jogger because I know that emotions run high and I want to convey respect to everyone who has both feet come off of the ground, no matter how rapidly or frequently.
If being a runner is an important part of your identity, then I wholeheartedly support that. I’m not advocating that the world at large belittle what we do. I’m suggesting that they join us.
Running can sound intimidating to many of our friends. Inviting them to come along for a jog may sound more accessible.
I once made the mistake of asking one of my teens if he wanted to go for a hike in the woods. Oh my word, that sounded grueling to him! No, thank you. When my next teen came by I asked her if she wanted to go for a walk in the woods. Sure, that sounded fun!
I suggest that the running community get over the idea that jogging is less than. According to the English Oxford Dictionary, to jog simply means:
Run at a steady gentle pace, especially on a regular basis as a form of physical exercise.‘he began to jog along the road’‘right now she is jogging two miles a day’
“RUN at a steady gentle pace”! Exactly. It’s not derogatory. It’s merely descriptive.
Before I can even press the “Publish” button on this post I have discovered that two weeks ago Runner’s World published a guest editorial by Maia Deccan Dickinson entitled, “Stop Calling Women Runners -Joggers-“.
Ms. Dickinson combs through the treatment of the media toward runners and whether the terms used vary depending upon the sex of the subjects. Overall, she asserts that “… the title “jogger” has no place in discussions of runners.”
It’s an interesting, important topic but I have to admit that I rolled my eyes. Who gets to decide such a thing? “I henceforth declare that the longstanding term “Jogger” be banned from all media (print, visual, and audio) because I do not like it.”
After researching articles about runners who have been victims of crimes or other serious situations, Ms. Dickinson admits that if a news organization refers to a woman as a jogger, they will call her a runner later in the same article and that if a news organization refers to a man as a runner, they will call him a jogger later in that article.
There appears to be no evidence of bias against women runners by calling them joggers.
But Ms. Dickinson feels that there actually is an intent to downplay their athleticism by calling them joggers… even though they call men joggers, too.
The response on Facebook to her article was, shall we say, mixed. Most men weren’t having it. The consensus was that our concern should be the safety of women runners, not what they are called in the press.
Even plenty of women said things like this… “Hold on a minute. You’re starting with the premise that ‘jogger’ is derogatory and I don’t feel that way at all.”
There is one point of Ms. Dickinson’s that I can support. She says, “Do not ever call me a jogger.” Like I said previously, I won’t. I respect a runner’s preference in this (ridiculous to me) debate.
I never want to convey anything but respect for all runners. I just want to reflect my reality, keep things light, and make this sport as accessible to all as possible.
So on race days I’ll be running, but most days I’ll be jogging. I hope to see you out there! And if your preferred sport is Prancercizing®, then I really hope to see you out there!