We’ve all seen our fair share of war movies. Somewhere in one of these classics is a great moment involving new recruits and all the chaos surrounding them. In the background, this little gem goes over the PA system: “If asked for a description of your lost duffel bag, please don’t tell us they all look the same.”
And it’s true. All duffel bags do look the same and jogging and running look the same too. And while it may seem like a hard sell to some, yes, jogging and running are two different things. How much those differences mean to laymen will not be as much as they mean to devoted athletes. In short, there is a difference between the two, but it is a negligible one, and it varies from person to person.
If you’re interested in cardiovascular health and looking for a place to start or an established athlete looking for a little bit of clarity, then you’ve come to the right place.
We are going to discuss the difference in detail over the length of this article. Jogging and running come with their own positives and negatives, and once this is over, you’ll not only understand the difference between jogging and running, but you’ll know which workout will work best for your body and desired results.
Sorry about your duffel bag, though.
Define it for Yourself
The first thing we need to mention is how tangled all of this can get; running and jogging are applied interchangeably; this even begs the question if there is a difference between the two. Of course, we believe there is.
The simplest argument is this: think of the myriad of lower body warm-up exercises. Some of these exercises involve jogging/light running/whatever you’d like to call it. You can do so in-place or along your regular path. A jog helps warm the muscles up and get the blood flowing. Once your muscles are loose enough and ready for greater exertion, you can increase your speed—and there you go: a run!
So, yes, there is a difference, but it gets muddled up in everyday language.
A Difference of Form and Pace
The most tangible difference between jogging and running can be found in the physical acts themselves. Watch some videos on YouTube of joggers jogging and runners running. You’ll notice a difference in footwork. The jogger’s feet tend to bounce off the ground. Runners are a little more elaborate. Runners take longer strides; arms swing back and forth for stability; rather than bounce off the ground, the ball of the runner’s foot touches the ground before the heel, and with much more force.
The pacing difference makes for two distinctive experiences. Not to date myself, but I remember playing The Oregon Trail on the computer when I was a kid. You can set the pace for your oxen to go. The faster the set pace, the more likely the oxen are to be injured. The game gives you three pace choices: steady (essentially a power walk), a strenuous pace (a jog) and a grueling pace (a run). The game itself came out in 1985, after the major boom of jogging and running exercises of the 1960s and 70s. Everybody understood a variation on the difference between jogging and running. However, one of the most important figures in understanding jogging vs. running is Dr. George Sheehan. If you don’t know, Dr. George Sheehan is considered the father of the running movement. A cardiologist and athlete, he published a dozen books in his career on fitness and running starting in 1972. His success as a writer, along with accompanying speaking engagements, made running a popular exercise rather than simply something as part of an exercise, or a niche sport like track and field. Sheehan was the first 50-year-old to run a sub-five-minute mile, clocking in at 4:47. That’s undeniably impressive. Though, I’d also like to point out that Max Mercury from The Flash comics also did something similar in the 90s. Just sayin’.
A Jogger’s Hobby
Despite popular belief, Forrest Gump did not, in fact, invent jogging. While jogging and running stimulate the same muscle groups, jogging is slower and low-impact. This makes for a perfect exercise for people recovering from injuries, the aging, or those just beginning to get into shape.
That said, the results you can get from jogging are extremely limited. There’s a reason, after all, that it’s largely used as a warm-up for more aggressive exercises.
A jogger and a runner might take the exact same course on the exact same schedule and the exact same time, but due to the lighter exertion, calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, and related muscles are not being engaged to their maximum (and sometimes even minimum recommended) potential. A slower rate of speed also means fewer calories burned, and yes, it might look like you skipped leg day.
This also doesn’t help if you’re impatient. Result-driven people tend not to be joggers, as jogging will not produce major changes in their physical appearance or cardiovascular health as quickly or as dramatically as runners.
Even to laymen, this is all obvious material, but there is also the philosophical element to jogging vs. running. To runners—athletes who, like the Flash, dedicate themselves to get faster. They are willing to measure every calorie burned, count every inch of pavement pounded, and calculate their pulse to every step while knowing their best time down to the millisecond. They have apps to do this, playlists to motivate them, gear to support them. Runners see joggers as hobbyists; joggers see runners as lunatics. I’m sure there’s a Romeo & Juliet story in there somewhere that nobody wants to talk about.
Up to this point, it’s sounded like I’m disparaging jogging, but trust me, have you heard what runners say about joggers? Now, that stuff is disparaging.
Some people are unable or find it unnecessary to do more than a jog. There isn’t some litmus test to take—it’s about personal preference.
A Runner’s Life
Joggers may jog for social aspects, minor body maintenance, or to keep themselves a little busy. Runners aren’t playing around. There’s a competitive aspect to it as well once you get contests and marathons involved.
Running legend, Dr. George Sheehan, once said that “the difference between a runner and a jogger is a signature on a race application,” while a common axiom among runners says, “Run like someone just called you a jogger.”
Yeah, runners are intense.
Running is obviously much more strenuous and arguably more time-consuming than jogging. While a runner can burn as many calories in a half hour than a jogger does in a full hour, many runners spend a great deal of time figuring out diets, workout schedules, months-spanning speed plans, and discovering new exercises and applications to reach and surpass their goals.
Then, of course, there’s the undeniable fact that runners are more likely to suffer injury. As we mentioned before, runners strike the ground much more often and with greater force than joggers making injuries to ankles, feet, and knees more probable. It should also be noted that consistent running is not good for you, the stress of it can cause long-term damage to those areas (and the hips) as you get older.
By the Numbers
Sometimes math is the answer. I’ve never been particularly good at math, but there is a certain comfort to be found in the cold factuality of numbers. According to conditioning coach Mike Antoniades, a jogger’s pace usually caps at 6 MPH, and anything beyond that is considered a run.
The length of a workout is as important as the speed.
A 150-pound person running at 7 MPH for 30 minutes burns roughly 460 calories. If that same person decreases speed and jogs at 5.5 mph for an hour, they burn approximately 740 calories. That means you can burn more calories jogging, but you have to jog longer than you run.
For those looking for specific numbers based on their height, weight, and pace, there are calorie calculators and apps that can do all of that and more.
Please note that gender also plays a role in how many calories are burned. Men have more muscle mass and can burn more calories and lose more weight doing the exact same exercise for the exact same duration as a woman. To our female readership: don’t fret, you’re not doing anything wrong; it’s just a bit of biological luck.
A Question of Health
The argument has often been made that since running is the more strenuous exercise, it comes with greater health benefits than the comparatively relaxed jogging. However, a 2015 study by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in accordance with the Copenhagen City Heart Study found that jogging might be the healthier option; joggers might be living longer.
The 12-year long, 5000-person study found that joggers who kept a mildly intense pace were at a lower risk of death than runners and non-runners (sedentary people who neither jog nor run). This study suggests that there is an upper limit to the exercises; eventually, the gains become losses.
As with anything, moderation is key. Physically active people have a 30% lower risk of death, which is considerable. Both jogging and running—yes, there are differences, and yes you can call it whatever you like—have their positives and negatives. I would suggest giving both a try and see what fits. Getting out of your comfort zone is important but be mindful of going too far. Of course, the best course of action is usually somewhere right in the middle.
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- Pop Sugar, What’s Better for Weight Loss?
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