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Jogging vs Running: What is the Difference?

If you are new to running, you have probably come across multiple techniques, tips, tricks, and new lingo that may have made running sound like rocket science. While some runners want to simplify running and its terminology, others will often have ongoing debates on running-specific topics. Jogging vs running is one of these topics that often sparks a debate in running communities. When comparing the two, many runners will categorize jogging as a form of running, while others refer to running as the more ‘elite’ form of exercise in comparison to jogging.

If you—like many people—are confused by this terminology, we are here to break down the misconceptions on the term ‘jogging’ and explain the slight differences between running and jogging.

Difference Between Jogging and Running

While they may sound like two distinct activities, jogging and running are more or less the same, or rather jogging is a variation of running. The main difference between the two is in the effort you put into them. Jogging is typically associated with a slow and easy pace, whereas running requires a bit more effort, but which can also be sustained for a longer period of time, otherwise it would be considered sprinting. 


Jogging vs running speed

Slow, easy pace, and increased effort are the concepts that can differentiate the speed level of jogging and running, but these aren’t the most specific terms and can be up for interpretation depending on one’s fitness level. To help make a better distinction between the two, let’s further look into what is generally considered jogging and what running when it comes to speed.

What is considered jogging?

The slow and easy pace that is associated with jogging is defined by the individual. If there had to be a speed that most people and trainers consider as jogging speed, it is around 4 to 6 miles per hour. This pace can change to a speed that is just a little faster than walking, or it can be closer to what we consider as running. Speed is ultimately not the determining factor, but rather the level of effort and the difference in body mechanics that we will be touching upon  later.

History of jogging

In the United States, the concept of jogging was popularized in the late 1960s after the book “Jogging” by the American track coach Bill Bowerman and heart specialist W.E. Harris was published. They borrowed this idea of jogging, as well as the term itself, from New Zealand when the phenomenon had already been made popular by the Olympic track coach Dr. Lydiard, who suggested this lighter form of exercise for retired Olympic athletes.

This activity was getting recommended by doctors due to its benefits in improving cardiovascular and general health, as well as it was considered the lighter and more approachable alternative to running.

What is considered running?

Now, running we all know. It is only in regard to other more specific terminology like jogging, sprinting, or fartleks that running starts to sound complicated. In this context, when we compare it to jogging, running involves more swift movements, an increased effort, and a faster pace of approximately 6 miles per hour or more. What is important is to differentiate running from sprinting, which is a more explosive form of running that is performed at maximum effort for a shorter period of time. Regular runs, on the other hand, can be sustained for longer distances and periods of time.

Differences in Form Between Jogging and Running


Jogging and running are very similar activities, and their speed can often seem like the main difference between them, but when inspected closely, it is largely a matter of body mechanics. While they both activate more or less the same muscles, that is the upper body and core, glutes, hip flexors, quadriceps, and hamstrings, the manner in which they do so is slightly different.

The hip flexors are the group of muscles in the upper body that help to bring the knee forward when they contract, which creates the movement we know as running. When we jog, however, the feet are closer together and we don’t drive the knees up as much, therefore the hip flexor muscles are also less contracted.

Another difference between the two activities is in the arms. When we think of a good running form, the arms play an important role in creating momentum and driving your body forward as you move. During jogging you will be moving at a slower pace, therefore you won’t need to drive your arms forward as in running.

Beginner Tips for Jogging and Running

Whether you want to start with a slow jog or establish a regular running routine, there are always ways to optimize that time of the day or night when you lace up your shoes and work toward improving yourself. Here are some simple things that can truly change your running routine for the better:


Create a warm-up and cool-down routine

Incorporating dynamic warm-up and some static stretching cool-down exercises are a great addition to your jogging and running routine that can do wonders in preventing injuries and helping you to transition swiftly into and out of exercise. 

Start slow

If you are a complete beginner, the smartest thing you can do when starting a jogging or running routine is to take it one step at a time. Most people create unrealistic goals of running a long distance or at a very quick pace, which isn’t always attainable, so when you feel like you’re getting tired, rest. In order to gradually make progress, you can divide your time into one minute intervals (or more, depending on your fitness level) during which you run for a minute and you walk for the other. As you progress, you can gradually increase the running time and decrease the breaks in between.

Work on using proper form and technique

Your running form and technique can significantly affect your progress as a runner and jogger. Harsh foot placement and landing on the heels, for example, can be a big contributing factor to ankle or knee injuries. To avoid that, focus on striking the ground with the ball of your foot in order to reduce the impact on the knee joints.

When it comes to your posture, keep your gaze straight ahead and your spine slightly bent forward to give you momentum. Your shoulders should be relaxed and your hands at a 90 degree angle while you move them as much as you need to drive you forward depending on your pace.

Invest in the right gear

Last but not least, as you dedicate more time to improving your fitness, you will discover the difference that a good pair of running shoes and wearing comfortable and moisture-wicking layers of clothing can make. Especially if you intend on running more often throughout the week, proper gear and apparel will work wonders for feeling more comfortable as you increase your pace and/or distance.

There may be a slight difference between jogging and running, but they are ultimately both a form of movement that you can benefit from to improve your overall health. So keep on jogging and running, as labels don’t matter when it comes to exercise.


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