There aren't just four-letter curse words.

In running, at least, there's a three-letter one, too - Jog.

It's a dated term, a leftover from the first U.S. running boom that coincided with bell-bottoms and disco, when fewer than 2,000 people ran the New York City Marathon and when women were told not to run because it would ruin their femininity and reproductive health.

Women were banned from running certain distances because it was believed they couldn't physically handle it.

Using the term jogging now is either like calling your pants slacks (pants that, if they look good, are "sharp," and probably bought at Strawbridge & Clothier), or it's an insult.

Pre-running-boom, running was called "road work," and done primarily by athletes from other sports who wanted to stay in shape.

When running became something to do for the sake of itself, New Zealand running coach Arthur Lydiard called it jogging, and the word ended up here via Bill Bowerman, legendary University of Oregon track coach and Nike founder who wrote the book Jogging in 1966 after a visit with Lydiard.

As running evolved and the New York City Marathon numbers topped 10,000, then 20,000, then 40,000, the terminology changed.

Jogger still is used in newspapers as a synonym for runners ("Jogger chased by mountain lion," Denver Post, Dec. 22; "Escaped emu follows jogger through streets of Virginia Beach," The Daily Press, Dec. 14). But within the running community, jog became an unfortunate dividing line.

Instead of using jog to describe periods of easy running between sprints, some people (those unkind to the sport) started calling slower runners "joggers," taking running for themselves.

James R. Fixx tried to address this in The Complete Book of Running, his 1977 book that sold more than a million copies and introduced the sport of running to the masses. "We may as well dispose of a question of definition now," he wrote. ". . . there is no speed at which jogging turns into running. If you feel that you're running, no matter how slow you're going, no one can say you're not."

But he put that in a footnote, and his plea didn't work. When news that the Broad Street Run would go to a lottery format in 2013 to select participants, some runners took to Twitter to sneer that "joggers" should be cut to make room for "real" runners.

Whatever that means.

This needs to stop.

If you're running to the best of your ability, you're running.

Case in point: My 58-year-old mother started running this year. She hadn't run, except after her children, since high school. She started by walking the length of two light posts in Haddon Lake Park in Haddon Heights, then running two, alternating until she reached the end of the road, then turned around and did the same thing back. Her first time out, she ran a mile this way. Now she's up to two. In the spring she'll run her first 5K.

She's not breaking any records, but she's putting in her top effort.

That's not a jogger. That's a runner.

Racing Schedule

SATURDAY: Athlete's Closet Winter Series, 5k, West Chester. Register on site. More information at

SATURDAY: James V. Snyder Memorial Resolution Run, 5k and 1 mile walk/run, Allegheny, Pa. Register on site. More information at

SATURDAY: Race with the Hawks, 5k, Middletown, Del. Register by Thursday online, or on site day of race. More information at

If you have a race to include in the calendar, e-mail