10 Running Performance Acronyms Explained
We runners have a language of our own when it comes to our favourite sport. If you are new to the world of running, some of the terminology may be confusing or downright odd. Here’s a quick reference guide to the most common running acronyms:
VO2Max (Aerobic Capacity)
VO2Max stands for the body’s maximum oxygen intake. The maximal amount of oxygen that a human can extract from the atmosphere, send to the body’s tissues, and consume to produce energy. Runners can increase their VO2Max with harder training.
Anaerobic vs. Aerobic Exercise: While both anaerobic and aerobic exercises use glucose as their main fuel, there are quite a few differences. Aerobic exercise is long in duration but really low in intensity (like jogging or walking), while anaerobic exercise is short in duration but high in intensity (like weight lifting or sprinting).
AT (Anaerobic Threshold)
The point at which your muscles start to fatigue at a rapid rate due to effort, and at which lactic acid starts to accumulate in the bloodstream.
Running close to your AT should be hard but not uncomfortable. Most runners observe a change in their breathing rhythm at the anaerobic threshold, from one breath for every four steps to one breath for every two steps. At this level of exercise you can continue to speak, but not in complete sentences.
Ouch. The discomfort of DOMS, or delayed-onset muscle soreness, normally peaks about 48 hours after a particularly intense or long run. Walking or climbing up and down the stairs become troublesome.
These letters stand for the coveted personal record. They refer to a runner’s best time in a race or a specific distance. So, if a runner runs a 10K race in 43:02, that’s his or her PR for the 10K distance. Runners usually have PRs for different race distances, from a one km/mile run to ultramarathons.
PB (Personal Best) is pretty much the same thing. PR is used more commonly in the US and Europe, while Canadian runners seem to prefer PB.
What?! Um, not that LSD. When it comes to running, this acronym stands for “Long, Slow Distance”, which refers to the practice of running long distances at an “easy” pace rather than shorter ones to exhaustion. LSD is often used when training for marathons as a way to boost stamina and endurance.
ITBS (Iliotibial Band Syndrome)
Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS) is one of the most common overuse injuries among runners. ITBS occurs when the iliotibial band, the ligament that runs down the outside of the thigh from the hip to the shin, is tight or inflamed. This painful injury to the IT band can leave many athletes (myself included) sidelined. Well, before cursing this syndrome, know that stretching, doing yoga and strength training help a lot.
HRV (Heart Rate Variability)
The acronym stands for variability in heart rhythms. It is measured by the variation in the beat-to-beat interval, also known as R-R intervals (on the ECG).
HRV refers to the variations of HR (heart rate) around one’s average heart rate. If the average HR is 60 bpm, this doesn’t mean that the interval between successive heartbeats would be exactly 1.0 sec, instead they might fluctuate between 0.5 sec – 2.0 sec. Factors that affect Heart Rate Variability include genetics, age, health status, body position, and even the time of day.
Cross-training or x-training. Cross-training is any activity other than running that’s part of your training, such as swimming, biking, yoga, or strength-training.
Cross-training, sometimes also referred to as circuit training, is when a runner trains by doing another kind of fitness workout to build strength and flexibility in muscles that running doesn’t utilize. The way XT prevents injury is by correcting muscular imbalances. Also, the variety prevents burnout and boredom.
DNF stands for “Did Not Finish”, while DNS refers to “Did Not Start”. These acronyms will be listed in the race results if a runner doesn’t finish or start the race. If you have been running long enough, you have probably had at least one DNF/DNS in a race! There are many reasons behind a DNF/DNS; injuries during/before the race, getting lost along the course, burnout, etc.
BQ (Boston Qualifier)
If a runner is attempting to get a “BQ”, known as a Boston qualifier, he/she wants to achieve a finish time that allows them to register for the Boston Marathon, which has very tough qualifying standards. Boston Marathon is the oldest annual marathon in the world and the only one to have strict qualifying times. In 2015, this means that men aged 18-34 must have completed a marathon in under 3:05:00. Women aged 18-34 must have a marathon finish time under 3:35:00. For many experienced runners, Boston Marathon is the ultimate goal.
Are there any other running acronyms you think should be included here? Tell us in the comments!