“That’s awesome.” I responded hoping my face didn’t display my internal dialogue. “Oh, he’s really fast.” he said proudly. While I should have killed the conversation with, “That’s great.” I threw a log on the fire with, “Yeah. Races can get pretty expensive. I sometimes just pick a route and go all out to see what I can do.” The dude laughed. He actually L-O-FRIGGIN’-L’d.
Through his chuckling he followed up with,”That’s not racing. Who’s your competition? Where’s your trophy? What’s the point?” “I’m not in it for the medals. I just like to stay in shape and see if I can best myself.” I told him. And then he looked me dead in the eye and said, “Sounds like you’re more into jogging than running.”
The inner me quickly ran through possible responses like a computer figuring out its next move in checkers. All roads led to a 50-car pile up. Instead, I said, “I guess so.” Thankfully, someone else in the group noticed the approaching storm and shifted the topic of conversation to politics.
For years I thought I had progressed through the ranks from walker to jogger to runner. Apparently I’m living a lie. At least, according to “Some Guy’s Brother” metrics for running: Speed, Races, and Medals.
Speed can vary depending on individual factors such as height, weight, effort, and fitness level, and environmental factors such as terrain, elevation, grade incline or decline, and temperature.
The average walker (not to be confused with the living dead or the very capable Walker Texas Ranger) moves about 3MPH (20 minute miles), but not greater than 4MPH (< 15 minute miles).
The speed of a jogger (a gray area between walking and running) isn’t any more exact than that of a walker, but most people (i.e. Google search results) agree upon a range between 4MPH and 6MPH (15 – 10 minute miles).
A runner, for all you non-math folks, is then anyone who moves faster than 6MPH (< 10 minute miles).
Don’t complicate things Philosoraptor. We’re not concerned with having both feet off the ground because “Some Guy’s Brother” metrics don’t care about that. We’re also not concerned with how one’s walking speed compares to their running speed. We’re only concerned with fixed ranges. Besides, there are still two, more important, determining factors.
Races vary in distance: 5K, 8K, 10K, 10 miler, 13.1 miles (half marathon), 26.2 miles (full marathon), and ultra (anything over 26.2, but most are 50K or 31.07 miles); most races have a cut-off time (this is to ensure the safety of participants, and is related to the costs of closing roads and hiring police and other personnel); and races have an associated registration cost (from $35 to a lot more than $35.) Play your cards right and you, too, can be a runner.
Take Jolly and Roger for example. Jolly participates in fifty-two 5K races at 3MPH, and Roger participates in five 10-mile races at 12MPH. By the SGB race metric, Jolly is a runner and Roger is not. Seriously Roger, you’ve got to up your registration game.
Most races have prizes, trophies, and/or medals for the top 3 overall finishers, top 3 master’s level finishers, and top 3 age group finishers. Even better, some races give out finisher medals. As long as you start and finish the race you get a medal!
Let’s say that Jolly runs fifty-two 5K races and takes home 20 finisher and 5 age group medals (you can’t control who shows up or the number of participants), while Roger squeaks out a single overall finisher medal with a 10-miler time of 48:10 (4:49 pace). Using the SGB medal metric, Jolly is a runner and Roger is not. Sorry, Roger, your bling doesn’t shine.
Am I a Runner?
So how do I stack up against the likes of Jolly and Roger? Or even some guy’s brother? Let’s take a look…
Some Guy’s Brother Metrics for Runner Classification
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Dangit! I’m not a runner. I don’t run many races, I don’t get medals, and I’m not always moving faster than 6MPH because sometimes I go for a 20-30 mile trail run, I mean jog, at a pace that is slower than the qualifying 6MPH pace. Son of a mother!
Forget average pace, miles logged, or just the fact that I’m pretty sure I’m a runner. Some guy’s brother said I’m not a runner so clearly I’m just a lowly jogger.