The ability to run is not one reserved for the extraordinary athletes of the world; any able-bodied individual can run!
Running serves different purposes for different people. For some, going for a run is their primary form of aerobic exercise. For others, it’s just a healthy habit to stay in shape.
That said, is running considered a sport?
Yes, running is a sport because there are governing bodies that create organized events with specific rules and regulations all over the world. Organized running events include one-off races such as marathons and 5K’s and numerous track and field events at the high school, college, and professional levels.
Read on to find out why running is considered a sport and how running meets the defining factors of a sport.
Is running considered a sport or a hobby?
All around the globe, running groups meet frequently to run together. They run not for the thrill of competing in a sport but to get in shape and to enjoy the company of others.
There are also people who run competitively to bring home a gold medal and a fat stack of cash. Is running merely a hobby, or can it be considered a sport as well?
Running is both a sport and a hobby, depending on the context. While often enjoyed as a hobby, running meets and exceeds the criteria needed to be considered a sport. Runners must train to improve their skills as runners, and they exert lots of energy in the process. This is a defining characteristic of any sport.
According to Lifehack, hobbies are activities you do for fun in your downtime. Some great examples of hobbies are playing the guitar, sewing, collecting coins, etc.
If you run for fun, you’re in luck; running is your hobby! For many, running provides a sense of community and a productive outlet.
However, running is also considered a sport. It meets many of the different criteria that define sports.
For example, running requires a tremendous amount of physical exertion. Good luck trying to have a conversation with anyone who’s just finished a run: they’re probably out of breath!
Running also requires a specific skill set. This is different from a traditional sport in that it’s not shooting a basketball into a hoop or hitting a baseball with a bat, but running requires endurance and flexibility for optimal performance. That’s a unique skill set in itself.
Aside from these two criteria, running is also performed competitively with a set of rules. Think of events such as the 200m dash or even a marathon. In a competitive setting, there are rules runners must abide by.
Lastly, running requires specific gear. A high-quality pair of running shoes and a heart rate tracker are essential to run efficiently and safely.
Why is running considered a sport or hobby?
In the eyes of many, running is considered nothing more than a hobby. It’s a recreational activity that helps you slim down your waistline, plain and simple.
This isn’t the full story. Think about the Olympics or NCAA track and field. A high percentage of the activities are running!
By now, it’s safe to say running is considered a sport. But why?
- Requires physical exertion
- Must have a high level of endurance
- Performed in competitive environments
- Guidelines and regulations for runners to follow
- Takes special gear to run
Requires Physical Exertion
It’s no secret that running isn’t for the faint of heart. Putting on a pair of Brooks and hitting the track isn’t easy; for many, it’s strenuous. If running were a cakewalk, what would be the point?
Running requires an extraordinary level of physical exertion on the part of the runner.
To run a mile, four miles, or even twenty-six miles, a tremendous amount of physical energy is required.
One way to measure energy expenditure is through calories burned. Calories are simply a form of energy measurement; when we talk about eating calories, it refers to how much energy we consume.
On average, a runner burns about 100 calories per mile. This is a confirming statistic that running requires large quantities of energy.
High Endurance Levels
Running for long periods of time requires a very specific skill set. A bulky football player will not be as efficient a runner as a skin-and-bones marathon runner. Sports require vastly different skill sets.
To be a runner, a high level of aerobic endurance is required. This is a specific skill set that is developed through methodical, purposeful training in the same way that any other athlete develops a certain skill.
Running is an aerobic exercise; your body utilizes oxygen while running.
If you want to run for any length of time, a high level of endurance is required. It takes time and grit to achieve a high level of endurance.
By running, we strengthen our heart and circulatory system. Runner’s bodies become more efficient at utilizing oxygen and breathing. It’s not an innate talent that we all have. It must be developed.
Performed in Competitive Environments
Runners can run around the neighborhood block, on trails, or in a massive stadium. It all depends on the context, but often running is competitive.
Running is performed in many different competitive environments. The Olympics and the Boston Marathon are prime examples of competitive running environments.
Just like any other professional sport, running is performed in competitive environments.
Runners compete on top stages with promises of fame and riches. The fastest runners have the chance to run at the Olympics. Marathoners shoot for sub-three-hour marathons to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
So, running is certainly a competitive sport. Think of it as you would any other professional sport. Oftentimes, there are copious amounts of money at stake too.
Follows Set Guidelines and Regulations
When we think of most sports, a referee or umpire comes to mind. Their sole purpose is to enforce the official rules and abide by the regulations set for any given sport.
Running has specified guidelines and regulations that must be followed in competitive settings.
Take a 100m sprint, for example. In that event alone, many different rules are specified. Runners must stay in their lanes, they must start with their feet in the starting blocks, they cannot run before the gun, etc.
Failure to act in accordance with the rules results in docked time or even disqualification. It’s similar to a flag in football or a technical foul in basketball.
Requires Special Gear
A common argument against considering running as a sport is that running has a low barrier to entry. To anyone who argues that, I must disagree.
Running requires special gear to optimize performance and train with safety.
Yes, running has a low barrier to entry. Buying running gear will only cost a couple of hundred bucks, and you’re good to go for months to come. However, a low barrier to entry is not synonymous with generic equipment.
The obvious gear for runners is running shoes, but the list continues. Dry-fit shirts, shorts, and even socks are conducive to keeping your body temperature in check.
A heart rate monitor or watch is also great for running and tracking your intensity. Running shoes and a heart rate monitor are to running what a glove and a bat are to baseball. You need to have it.
Defining a Sport
So, what is a sport? The line between sport and hobby has become increasingly blurred over the years. Chess is now considered a sport! Would you believe that?
When we think of sports, the first things to come to mind are football, basketball, baseball, etc. These games involve physical activity with a defined point system to determine which team prevails as the victor.
However, sports don’t have to have points and balls. Oxford Dictionary defines a sport as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or a team competes against another or others for entertainment.”
So, what really makes an activity a sport?
- Physical exertion
- Unique skill set
- Competitive environment
- Guidelines and rules are present and enforced
- Participants wear special gear
Have you ever played a sport and found yourself tired after the fact? It turns out that’s a primary characteristic of a good sport.
An activity must involve a high level of physical exertion to be considered a sport.
While the line is often blurred regarding eSports and Chess, the formal definition of a sport involves physical exertion.
Tackling competitors during a football game, scoring a goal in soccer, or running a PR in your latest marathon are all activities that require extensive physical exertion.
Simply put, a sport takes hard work and turns it into results.
Unique Skill Set
Every sport differs in its activities and end goals. To succeed in any given sport, you must train specifically for it.
Sports must require a unique skill set from their participants. Depending on the sport, this could range from extraordinary hand-eye coordination to being extremely flexible to having the ability to ice skate.
Every sport requires something unique from its competitors. To excel at any sport, you must train and grow the necessary skills for success.
Take hockey and golf, for example.
Hockey requires hand-eye coordination, balance on the ice, and muscular strength to shoot the puck at high speeds. Golf requires patience and an incredibly precise swing to place the golf ball in its exact position.
While it’s apparent that skill sets differ, every sport has a unique skill set that its players must develop.
Who doesn’t love going to a sporting event to root for your favorite team? Maybe talk some trash to the opponent or heckle a bit?
Sports are played in competitive environments that facilitate high levels of performance.
A key aspect of sports is that they are played in competitive environments.
Sports are often played “with the goal of accomplishing a break of record of the person or the rival.” Even if it’s an individual sport, you’re competing against yourself.
Whether you’re chasing a PR in the gym, on the run, or trying to hit more threes than the other basketball team, every sport thrives on competition.
Guidelines and Rules
Sports aren’t free-reign activities. They often require governance to function.
To qualify as a sport, an activity must have guidelines and rules followed during the activity or game.
Building on the competitive aspect of sports, sports always have rules and regulations to ensure fair competition. Without rules, a sporting event would fall apart, and the participants would be allowed to do whatever they want.
Rules are also in place to define winners and losers. Can you even imagine sports without a winner and loser? I sure can’t.
While it may hurt your checkbook, sports often require gear to be able to play in the first place.
Activities must require some sort of special gear to be considered a sport. Every sport differs in gear, but it’s an important distinction that all sports have the necessary gear.
Every sport requires different items to play properly.
Gear often serves two purposes: functionality and safety. Playing sports can sometimes be dangerous and leave participants open to injury. By purchasing and using gear, players can play the game in a safe manner.
Without special gear, a sport is simply a recreational activity.
Is jogging a sport?
It depends on what you mean by jogging. Jogging really becomes a sport when you set guidelines around it and compete against yourself or others to improve your time. If you consider an event like the marathon to be “jogging,” then yes, jogging is a sport.
Is track a sport?
Yes, track and field is considered a sport by the official Olympic committee. However, track and field is a generic term that encompasses a number of different events.
Is Marathon a sport?
Of course! Marathon is one of the most grueling events in sports. I dare you to try to convince a runner that golf is more of a sport than marathon. See how that turns out for you!
- About the Author
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Joshua Bartlett is a professional amateur when it comes to running – basically, he takes his mediocre running ability very seriously.
As the Editor-in-Chief at Saltmarsh Running, it is his job to make sure that readers get only highly-researched and comprehensive questions to all of their running questions.