If you want to start a rousing discussion amongst runners, ask them what the difference is between a runner and a jogger. The responses will fly fast and furious and will likely include the following:
- The difference between a runner and a jogger is a race entry
- I’m a runner no matter how fast I’m going
- The difference between a runner and a jogger is an attitude/mindset (this one is almost always followed by the statement, “I’m a runner!”)
- I run when I’m training for something, I jog when there’s nothing on my race calendar
- I never say that I’m jogging!
In the discussion, no one will claim to be a jogger. Everyone is a runner. Some bristle defensively at being called a jogger.
Turn the topic towards running on treadmills and the reaction is similar. The responses will often include the following:
- I never run on the “dreadmill”
- I don’t care what the weather is like, I suck it up and go run outside
- I can’t stand the “dreadmill” – I feel too much like a hamster on a wheel in a cage
- It’s so boring.
- I hate it. I’d rather use the elliptical machine.
That last response is a bit ironic, don’t you think? What’s the difference between a treadmill and an elliptical machine?
I participated in a Twitter chat recently where both of these topics came up. I’ve never paid too much attention to the jogger versus runner debate because it seems trivial. Would I get upset if someone called me a jogger? No, of course not. I happily acknowledge that I’m a slow runner and if it makes someone feel better to call me a jogger, that’s fine. It’s merely a label, after all.
However, I do resent the runners who smugly denounce the treadmill. The ones who imply by their denouncements that real runners run outside. The ones who use the word “boring” and “dreadmill” with a self-satisfied smirk. I’m a treadmill runner. I’ve been a treadmill runner for years now. Do I run outside? Of course I do. I enjoy the fresh air and the scenery as much as the next runner.
But for my daily 5 a.m. runs, the treadmill is my friend. And when I’m in a different city on business, the treadmill is my friend. On the treadmill, I don’t have to worry about tripping on something or wrenching my ankle because of a misstep in the darkness. On the treadmill, I don’t have to worry about the weather or my personal safety from running in the dark. On the treadmill, I am in control – of my speed, of my resistance, of the distance, of my workout.
Treadmill runners are often silenced by the smugness of outdoor runners, much like conservative students on a college campus keep silent about their views in order not to be ridiculed by liberal classmates or given a bad grade by liberal faculty. Treadmill runners often are reluctant to admit that they prefer to run on a treadmill to running outside because they’re afraid that the smug outdoor runners will put them down and think less of them.
I run on a treadmill but that doesn’t make me any less of a runner than someone who runs outside. My time running on the treadmill has taught me mental toughness, patience, and makes me appreciate my outdoor runs all the more.
So don’t be ashamed to admit that you, too, are a treadmill runner. Whether you run on a treadmill or outside, you are a runner. And isn’t that the most important thing?