My gut tells me this post will be exceptionally controversial. After all, no one who runs wants to consider themselves a jogger, or at the very least, not a runner. But the truth is, all who run aren’t necessarily runners. Before you bite my fingers off, let me try to explain…
Pearl Izumi, a running apparel company, created marketing material specifically targeting runners, not joggers. Their ads literally state “we are not joggers.” I don’t know about you, but when I envision a jogger, I see someone from the ’80s in short shorts, white, calf-high socks, and sweat/wrist bands. Pearl Izumi is trying express that tthere are runners (those who run) and there are Runners (those who live and breathe running). They are not one in the same.
Why am I using the term Runners with a capital R? To me, many people run but they will never be advanced or elite runners. They will complete half marathons and marathons, but maybe not without breaking for walks. At my best, I would consider myself a novice-intermediate runner. I’ve finished a half marathon in 2:08, but my slowest has been just shy of 3:00. I still don’t really consider myself a runner at all though. I usually just say that I run, because I do, but I don’t follow strict diet or training regimens. I follow the Galloway method when running marathons as to not overexert myself. And when I run, I generally don’t push my body to the point of aching muscles and vomiting. I don’t see the fun in that. In fact, I hate running when I’m doing it, but I love it once I’m done. I’ll never be able to Boston Qualify, and it’ll be a miracle if I break the 2:00 mark for a half marathon. I’m OK with that. If I wasn’t, I’d burn myself out trying to be an overachiever. I’m not a Runner; it is not my life. But I do run.
A Runner is someone who lives and breathes running. They eat to fuel their bodies and strictly maintain their diets. They follow running training plans and probably even visit with trainers and nutritionists. They join running clubs. They race to qualify for Boston and New York. Their paces are incredible to the average Joe or newbie, like lightening. Runners put their heart and soul into the sport, and I don’t blame them for wanting to be disassociated with a “runner” like me.
One of my leaders at work runs. I consider her a Runner. She sees both a trainer and nutritionist. She doesn’t walk during half marathons and attempts to run entire marathons. She’s always following a training plan and forces herself to complete the necessary daily mileage, even if it means squeezing in a run at 4 a.m. She’s not fast enough to qualify for Boston, but her usual half marathon pace is about 1:55. She uses proper form and treats her body the way it deserves to be. Even with all that, she doesn’t consider herself a Runner. She thinks there are people much more qualified for that title than her, but I’m going to disagree. She definitely lives for running.
If you run, you’re probably reading this and thinking I’m crazy. We are all runners. True. If we run, we are runners, not joggers, runners. But Pearl Izumi targets the Runner and as runners, we should respect that. There needs to be a company who targets the advanced athlete. There are plenty who market to the rest of us.
Why am I so adamant about this separation between Runner and runner? I’ve been a part of the best of the best. As a gymnast, I trained at a facility that bred champions. We trained harder than most other teams, our coaches demanded the most of us, and we demanded the most from ourselves. I would never put down the gymnasts who weren’t up to par with our standards, but those teams generally saw gymnastics as a fun extracurricular. We saw gymnastics as a way of life. People often tell me they were gymnasts once, which usually means they barely trained at the competitive level if at all. They were gymnasts. I was a Gymnast. I didn’t win state, regional, and national titles by working out easy and not pushing myself to physical extremes. I won because perfect practice makes perfect.
Not everyone is going to agree with my theory of Runners vs. runners, but you have to admit that what a Runner does is quite impressive. My running will never fall into that category. I can admit that. Yes, I run and I am a runner, not a jogger. And while I recoil at the use of the word “jogger” to describe those of us less advanced runners, I accept Pearl Izumi’s decision to target the advanced and elite Runners. If you don’t support it, don’t buy their products, but understand that we all run at different levels and with different motives. There is a huge difference between someone who runs at a pace to Boston Qualify and someone who does run/walk intervals to complete a race. We are not equal in the sport. Though it may seem like Pearl Izumi belittles us runners in their ads, I choose to look at it from the perspective of the Runner. It’s nothing but a marketing ploy.
For those who don’t want to be associated with my easy pace, love-to-hate relationship with running, Pearl Izumi wants you. (Thank God they don’t want me. My so-called “runner’s high” comes when I’m lying face down on the pavement after a run!)
To all those who run, keep running! Don’t let anyone, whether company or person, make you feel inferior for your running skills. Even the slowest mile run is still a mile run.