I found myself muttering out loud, and in not such a nice manner, to the television last night as not one but three separate reporters, one of them a hatless Anderson Cooper, who were standing in the deepening snow giving us the scoop on the northeastern blizzard, each, individually, used that nails-down-the-chalkboard “jogging” word.
It started with the first guy shouting into the wind, “So, can you believe it? Even in this nasty weather there are still folks out jogging?!”…then a young woman, who wisely was wearing a hat in the storm, said “I can only imagine how bad the footing must be for these joggers.” Then the final one in this trio of cutting edge, on-the-ground CNN reporters nailed it with a “There goes another jogger in the snow!”
For the past four decades, since Frank Shorter’s stunning victory in the Munich Olympic marathon started a tidal wave of folks running in our country, us runners have endured this bizarre “jogger” label. How and where did it start and, even more perplexing, why does it have such stamina and staying power? For crying out loud, no matter if we’re as fast as the wind or slow as molasses on a cold day, we’re all still very much runners, not joggers!
Before you start criticizing me for being too sensitive or telling me how harmless the jogging phrase is, I ask you to simply name one other sport that has this done to itself. As far as I know, we’re the only sport that uses, as innocent as it may be, and even coming from the mouths of savvy media types like the uber-hip Anderson Copper, such a bizarre sounding term to describe its sport or its participants. Golf doesn’t do it; neither does baseball, basketball, tennis, skiing or soccer. I mean, come on, have you ever heard a tennis player, no matter their caliber, being called anything but just that? How about being called something like a lobber instead of a tennis player? No, no, no! But, yet us runners are constantly subjected to being called joggers!
What in the heck does that term have to do with the actual act of running anyway? Nothing! Either you’re a walker or you’re a runner but no one is a jogger because, simply put, jogging isn’t an actual sport or activity. Running, racing and ultra-marathoning are, in the same way that walking, hiking and orienteering are legit sporting activities, too!
Just the other day I overheard one of my new athletes tell a friend, when asked if they were enjoying their new-found sporting activity of running, sheepishly respond, “I’m not a real runner…I’m just a jogger.” Ugh! So, now a whole new generation of runners are somehow being cowed into thinking they’re "just a jogger”!
So, if I had a single shred of power, I’d have the term banned once and for all! But alas, I’m afraid this blog, which by my humble estimation, probably has a total of 11 regular readers, simply doesn’t have the platform to carry the clout it would take to change rid us of this strange label.
As I tap out these words of frustration, I’m reminded of the wisdom of my loving wife of the past 35 years, who, by the way, has run her way all around D.C. en route to winning the Marine Corps Marathon twice. She, who isn’t even one of those 11 regular readers, would finish reading this entry and simply say, “What’s all the fuss about? Why don’t you worry about something that really matters, Mark?”
As usual, she’s probably right. Oh well, at least it felt good to rant!