Roger Kerry, 21, is a physiotherapist from Nottingham, UK. He has recently taken upjogging running. Follow him on Twitter via @rogerkerry1.
I have a work-colleague and friend who is a runner. I know she’s a runner because she wears running clothes and tells me daily that she has been/is going running. I recently asked how her jog was. We are now just work-colleagues. Since this rather upsetting shift in our relationship, I have worried about the question of what is the difference between runners and joggers. I was going to take a deep dive into sports science literature, maybe attend a running conference or two, read Runners’ Bugle etc., but instead I did a much more progressive thing: I asked Twitter:
I was expecting lots of running geeks to respond with detailed explanations relating to technique, biomechanics, physiology, technical footwear pedantries, which leggings you should buy at Sports Direct, etc. Instead, this is the sort of thing I got:
So it’s all about balls. Two people running down the road looking quite similar. But one has balls and the other doesn’t. What does this mean? There has been an awful lot of energy and science gone into understanding the deep and complex biomechanics of running and running injury. I would support, as a scientist, that this is of course an absolute necessity into understanding the sport. It is also insufficient. There is more to performance than just the mechanics. I’m not just talking about psychology. There are dimensions to our “ballsy-ness” which require exploration. What are you doing when you go running, as opposed to jogging? What does that say about you as an individual, and as a social agent? What does this mean to those observing you? Why are you a runner and not a jogger?
Running is a representation of what you want to be. Running requires attitude and passion (@fimo18, 2014). Each stride of a run is an active signal to yourself that you are worthwhile, and that you are progressing well in life. That you want to succeed – not just in a race, but in your personal life, in your professional life, in your family life. This isn’t just about getting a PB or getting fitter so you live longer. It’s about making the life you have now richer and more satisfying. Running with balls is a sign of ownership and confidence and aspiration. It maintains a positive and rewarding attitude. An attitude that can keep strong and stable despite your daily motivational drifts. Jogging on the other hand is a passive pursuit, conforming to your own and society’s luke-warm, benign health and happiness agendas. You don’t push forward, you don’t stride out, you don’t progress, you just jog. You let external motivators push you. The drive isn’t internal. If joggers do have balls, they’re someone else’s.
What are your balls saying to the rest of society? (Pseudo-feminists: before you throw down your nut cutlets and broccoli juice and start raging in the comments about some gender-biased representation of social superiority, please note that i) it’s a metaphor, and ii) this is a feminist argument. Real feminists: hey, hi y’all doin’?). Runners are demonstrating to the world that there is a way of life which can be better than the one joggers lead. This doesn’t work of course if you run with your balls out. That becomes arrogance. Runners don’t know everything, nor do they claim to. Wannabe runners run with their balls out. These are the ones who have made their mind up on their life-stance, and everyone else is wrong. These are the fundamentalists, the evangelists, and the people who laugh at others for not doing or believing what they do. Twitter is full of them, for example. That’s not what running is about. In the words of me: you can have balls, but you don’t have to be a nob.
Now I respect and understand my work colleague’s decision to de-friend me, and I will ask her to be my friend once again. I see what she means, I see what she’s saying, I see what she’s doing. She’s running, not jogging. She has balls.
So next time you put your trainers on, or go to work, or treat a patient, or have an injury, or see a physio, or write an essay/blog/tweet, or engage with your family, or live your life, just ask yourself whether you’re going running, or whether you have chosen to be one of life’s joggers.