Let’s Get to the Bottom of the Jogging vs Running Debate

What makes someone a runner vs. a jogger? Is there a certain pace that once crossed makes you an official runner? I saw a few tweets yesterday from someone who said (read from bottom to top):

Tweet asking what pace makes a runner legit

I am of the opinion that asking what makes someone a “legit runner” is similar to asking what makes someone skinny. It’s totally subjective and usually based on your own experience.

I have one female friend who is barely 5 feet 2 inches. In college when she reached a weight of 135lbs her doctor recommend she start eating healthier and exercising more to lose a bit of weight.

I have another female friend who is 6 feet 4 inches (yes, she played basketball in college) and at 150lbs she could definitely be described as skinny. In fact, at this weight she has even been paid as a fashion model (and NOT a plus sized fashion model).

There is no set weight you have to reach in order to be “skinny” and in my opinion there is no set pace you have to meet to be a “legit runner.”  It’s completely subjective and based on your own body.

The Dictionary Definition of Runner & Jogger

running vs. jogging definitions

That being said, I decided to turn to the dictionary to see what the official definitions of runner vs. jogger are.

A runner is: a person, animal or thing that runs, especially as a racer.

A jogger is: a person who runs at a leisurely, slow pace, especially as an outdoor exercise.

If we want to make runner synonymous with racer than I can definitely see the need to say a runner is someone who runs faster than 11 min/mile. However, though a racer is a runner, a runner isn’t necessarily a racer. It’s like the old elementary school lesson that a square is a rectangle but a rectangle isn’t a square.

A jogger is someone who runs at a “leisurely, slow pace” but leisurely and slow are subjective words. If you normally run at an 10 min/mile pace and decide to take an easy day and run at an 15 min/mile pace I guess one could argue that you are jogging that day.

However, if a 15 min/mile pace requires a lot of physical effort on your part then you are running, not jogging because jogging is defined as being leisurely.

Additionally, there are many people who follow Galloway’s run/walk method who may start out at a 15 min/mile pace. If they are run/walking this pace that means they are actually running at a pace faster than 15 min/mile but simply adding walking breaks in between.

This further demonstrates that using pacing to determine the validity of a runner is totally subjective, in my opinion.

Though there are some people who believe those of us who add walking breaks into our runs are not runners at all – but that’s a discussion for a different day.

Adding Adjectives Like Fast & Slow to Runner

And finally, I would add that you can add adjectives in front of the word “runner” if you really want to separate those who run a 15 minute mile from those who run a sub 10-minute mile. You could call them ‘slow runners’ while identifying yourself as a ‘fast runner.’ This, of course, is all subjective too.

If you run a 9 min/mile you might think of someone who runs a 7 min/mile as a fast runner, while the person who runs a 7 min/mile things of the person who runs a 5 min/mile as fast.

Anyway, to the person who tweeted that a 15 and 16 minute mile is “barely a jog” I would say “maybe.”To you that’s barely a jog, but to the person who is putting full effort into that 15 minute/mile that’s a run making him or her a runner.

If we’re talking racing, that’s a different story – but remember not all runners are racers. Just like with the skinny discussion, it’s all subjective.

One last note: the original tweeter says she agrees, that it is definitely based on energy output!


What do you think? Can someone be a runner if they log a 15 min/mile pace? Do you agree with my argument that it’s all subjective and based on personal experience?


  1. amomontherun
    July 12, 2013 / 6:36 pm

    I think if you get out there and run, you’re a runner. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far you’re going. You’re running, therefore you’re a runner.

    • Kristina
      July 14, 2013 / 5:29 pm

      So so true!

  2. Ali @ Hit the Ground Running
    July 12, 2013 / 9:19 pm

    To me, the difference is a race bib. If you put money into a race, strap that bib on, and complete the race (no matter your time), you’re a runner. Even if it’s just one race. I’m trying to stop saying “fast” and “slow” because people get so sensitive about it; avoiding those words helps my own self-esteem, too!

    • Kristina
      July 13, 2013 / 2:55 am

      I avoid using “fast” and “slow” when talking about other people. I often feel the need to call myself slow, which I really should stop. You’re right, it’s not great for my self esteem and it’s faster than I was before!

  3. born torun
    July 13, 2013 / 5:02 pm

    amomontherun said it.
    If you run,you ARE a runner!!!
    cherish it,be proud of it.
    anyone tells you differently, GO ON A RUN!!

    • Kristina
      July 14, 2013 / 5:30 pm

      Exactly, always be proud of what you can do individually! We can all look back and see how far we’ve come since Day 1 of running and be proud!

  4. Nicki Morrison
    July 14, 2013 / 1:23 am

    I push myself for a 12 min/mile 5k pace. I’m a runner. When I do my long runs and only have a 13:30 min/mile pace I’m still a runner. If I slowed down to a 15 minute mile in order to add more volume, I’m still a runner. I run therefore I am a runner. I’m a new, not very fast runner but I’m still a runner :-).

    • Kristina
      July 14, 2013 / 5:29 pm

      Hi Nicki, I completely agree! It’s all about the effort involved for the individual!

  5. Karla Bruning
    July 16, 2013 / 1:11 pm

    Kristina, I totally agree with you. Running v. jogging is really a personal distinction. No matter what speed you’re going, if you’re pushing yourself hard, you’re running. If you’re taking it easy, you’re jogging. My running pace is a jog for my husband. And his running pace is a jog for an elite runner. It’s all relative. But I also think that putting on a race bib takes someone from being a “jogger” to being a “runner.” If you’ve raced and really pushed yourself to the brink of your ability, you’re a runner, regardless of what speed you run. Period.

  6. October 7, 2016 / 5:13 am

    That was really well explored – thank you for posting. In my opinion it doesn’t matter what you call it – just that you do it. If someone disagrees with the wording you use – they should probably go for a run (or jog, if they prefer). 😉