Jogging vs Running: The Benefits and Differences

Has anyone ever asked you to go jogging with them?

How about joining them for a run?

If asked these questions, would you consider there to be a difference in their request?

On the surface, these two terms appear to be the same or at least very similar. So what’s the difference between jogging vs. running? Is there a difference? 

In this article, we will examine jogging vs running. Some of the topics will include:

  • What is the difference between jogging vs. running,
  • The pros and cons of jogging vs running,
  • When it is more appropriate to jog,
  • When is a run more appropriate,
  • What does running do that jogging doesn’t.


Let’s jump in!

jogging vs running

What is the difference between jogging vs. running?

The concept of Jogging originated from the great runner and coach Dr. Arthur Lydiard.

Lydiard coached many Olympians for New Zealand. He is lauded for his training methods and philosophies, many of these are still used in training programs to this day.

Lydiard encouraged his former Olympic athletes to stay in shape by going for easy runs. He called this “jogging”.

Jogging gained a worldwide audience in 1967.  Bill Bowerman, the famed coach of the Oregon Ducks running program, wrote the book Jogging.

Bowerman relayed what he saw when he spent time in New Zealand and brought the practice back to the states. This contributed to the running boom across the US in the 70s.

Jogging refers to doing runs at a relaxed pace.

It might be considered as running at a very low rate of perceived exertion.

Jogging is also done as a leisure activity, with no goals or plan in mind. Someone going for a jog isn’t training for a marathon or following a plan. They are out to cover a few miles at an easy pace for fun.

Running, on the other hand, is more defined and is for a purpose. The pace should typically be faster than a jog and there can be a defined purpose behind the run.

If someone is going for a run, the pace is calculated. It should either be at a strenuous pace to elicit a stimulus for the body or easy to recover from a hard workout.

Running is following a plan and tailoring your training for a specific race or distance.

jogging vs running

The pros and cons of jogging vs. running

There are pros to jogging. These include:

  • Help build strong bones and muscles,
  • Good for cardiovascular health,
  • Can help with weight loss,
  • Can improve mood.

There are also cons to jogging, such as:

  • Can be hard on joints and bones, especially if overweight,
  • Won’t prepare you for a specific race or distance,
  • Won’t train your anaerobic system at all,

The pros will also apply to running.

Running also has the added benefit of preparing you for a specific race or distance. 

You will also stimulate your anaerobic system with some runs.

Running will be tougher on your body than jogging will. This is the goal of running, to introduce stress to your systems so they adapt. It can also be a con depending on if your body is ready to handle the stress.

jogging vs running

When it is more appropriate to jog

There are many instances when it may be more appropriate to go jogging vs running.

  • When starting to run again after an extended period of inactivity,
  • When taking a break from serious training but still wanting to stay in shape,
  • When recovering from an injury and seeing how your body handles running again.

When starting an exercise regimen after an extended period of inactivity

If you are inactive for a lengthy amount of time, one of the biggest mistakes is to jump back into workouts. Not only will it be difficult to maintain, but it could also lead to injuring yourself.

Running is no different. If you decide to get back into shape by running, jogging is a great place to start.

Jogging will introduce your body to the stress it will be experiencing on a run in more manageable loads.

You can go for a jog at your leisure and allow your body to get used to the impact forces associated with it.

This is particularly useful if you are overweight.

Jogging will allow your joints to adapt to the stress put on them. Also, it could help you lose some weight which would make the impact easier on your joints and bones.

jogging vs running

When taking a break from serious training but still wanting to stay in shape

You’ve spent 4 months following a marathon training plan and ran the marathon.

What now?

Rest is as important, if not more important than training. Your body will need adequate rest and recovery after several months of training.

This might mean a few weeks of complete rest.

After a couple of weeks of inactivity, you will begin to lose the fitness you have built up.

The solution: jogging.

Jogging will be easy enough that you are still able to recover from your training block. It will also be enough of a stimulus that you will prevent or lessen the loss of fitness.

The unstructured nature of jogging will also be an added bonus. After following a strict running plan for 16 weeks, it will be nice to go for an easy jog whenever you feel like it.

When recovering from an injury and seeing how your body handles running again

Injuries happen in the running world. Some can be mitigated with stretching and some rehab exercises. Some require time off from running to heal.

If you have to take time off from running because of an injury, jogging is a great way to see how your body is doing.

Easy runs a few times a week will allow you to check and see how your injury responds to the stimulus. This will allow you to determine if you are ready to resume training again.

Returning to running too soon after an injury is a great way to aggravate the injury or make it worse. 

Always consult a medical professional when an injury is suspected. They will be able to provide you with a diagnosis and a timeline of when you can expect to return to running.

When is a run more appropriate?

If you are reading this site, then it’s highly likely that running will be more appropriate for you than jogging.

While jogging can help improve fitness, if you are hoping to run your first marathon or improve your 5k time, you will need to follow a training plan and be running.

Other than the instances that we listed early in the article, running will be more appropriate than jogging.

jogging vs running

What does running do that jogging doesn’t?

There’s a whole host of benefits that you get from running that you don’t get from jogging.

Benefits like:

Following a training plan with specific goals

As I mentioned earlier, jogging is running easy for fun or to stay in shape. While this could help you lose some unwanted weight or improve fitness, it will not prepare you for a race.

Any race you run will have certain challenges associated with it.

  • A 5k is going to test your anaerobic ability,
  • A marathon is going to test your aerobic threshold and try to avoid the wall,
  • A 100-mile race will test your endurance, mental toughness, and your ability to be on your feet for days at a time.

None of these challenges will be accomplished by going for a jog a few times a week.

To achieve these goals we need to follow training plans developed to prepare us for these races.

In short, you need to be running.

jogging vs running

Training aerobically and anaerobically

By definition, jogging is an easy pace with an unplanned structure. While this may begin to improve your aerobic system, you will need to run at specific paces to maximize your results.

Also, running is the only way to stimulate your anaerobic system. These runs are important to build speed, increase efficiency, and improve our running form.

Jogging will never push your body into the anaerobic phase.

It will make you faster and stronger

A training plan should have the following to make you stronger and faster: 

These workouts will work your muscles in different ways than jogging along at an easy pace.

jogging vs running

Jogging and Running: Both Serve Their Purpose

A good training plan has two main features: stress and rest.

We need both to improve as a runner or in anything else in life.

Jogging may provide limited stress for those who have been away from running for a long period. Yet, it will not be enough to provide lasting improvements.

Your body will become used to it and will need to be challenged.

A running plan will feature workouts that break down your muscles. With proper rest, you will come back a stronger, faster runner.

Do this for several weeks, or months, and you will make improvements beyond what you are capable of with jogging.

Jogging vs. Running might seem very similar at first glance. However, after diving deeper into these two terms, you can see why running should be the option for most individuals.

Jogging might be the best choice for you if you haven’t run in a long time or if you are coming back from an injury.

Otherwise, running is going to be the activity that allows you to chase your goals and train for races.

jogging vs running
Photo of author
Adam Rabo has been running since junior high. He has coached high school and college distance runners. Adam recently completed the UTMB Canyons 100k, making the cutoff for the Western States 100 and UTMB. You can generally find him on the rodes or trails in Colorado Springs, training for upcoming marathons and ultramarathons.

3 thoughts on “Jogging vs Running: The Benefits and Differences”

  1. while this might be historically accurate as to where the term jogging comes from I don’t think it serves a useful purpose, or at least not as much purpose as these possible definitions (that I use)
    jogging = your heel strikes the ground first
    running = your toes strike the ground first
    sprinting = your heel never even touches the ground.
    speed is a consequence of form, the above describe form, and its relevant to what muscles get used, what stresses on bones and ligaments are imposed, and in the end what type of shoes you should be wearing


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