The Ultimate Guide to Running Lingo
If you have ever spent time talking with a seasoned runner, you might have left the conversation scratching your head. Acronyms, strange-sounding words, and abbreviations fill the lexicon of the average runner. The ultimate guide to running lingo is presented here.
Aerobic training refers to any run or workout that targets the cardiovascular system and slow twitch muscle fibers. Long runs, easy days, and strength-building workouts such as tempo runs and mile repeats are all considered aerobic. Oxygen is the main source of fuel.
Anaerobic, on the other hand, refers to workouts that utilize fast-twitch muscle fibers where the body does not rely on oxygen consumption for fuel. Anaerobic workouts are any high-intensity repeats that are shorter than 2 minutes in duration.
An Athena runner is a female who weighs more than 150 lbs and competes in a race. Like age group awards, there is a separate category in most races for Athena runners.
A Beer Mile is a race where beer is consumed intermittently during the competition. There are strict rules that must be followed in order for a true beer mile to have occurred. Before each lap of the mile (4 laps on a track = one mile), a 12 oz beer with a minimum of 5% alcohol by volume must be consumed. Any athlete who vomits must run a penalty lap at the end.
A Bib number is the identifying race number that must be worn during competition. These are typically held in place on the front of the chest with safety pins, however, occasionally bibs must be displayed below the waist or on the back.
Body Glide is a petroleum jelly-like body lubricant that prevents chafing (see chafing below).
BQ stands for “Boston Qualifier.” The Boston Marathon is one of the most prestigious marathons in the country with strict entry standards. Runners chase Boston qualifying times throughout the year in order to compete in this Patriot’s Day event held in late April.
Cadence, also known as turnover or stride frequency, refers to the number of times a runner’s feet touch the ground during the span of 60 seconds. Optimum cadence is considered to be 180 – 190 strikes per minute. Overall, cadence is largely considered to be a measure of efficiency.
Chafing occurs when two body parts rub against one another during a run, causing a large, painful sore. Body parts that commonly chafe include thighs and armpits. Chafing may also be caused by a body part rubbing against a piece of clothing, such as nipples against a singlet (called bloody nipples) or skin against the waistband of a pair of shorts.
An electronic Chip is used for timing a race. A chip-timed event is one in which runners wear a chip (typically attached to their bib) so that results can automatically be compiled as runners cross the finish line. Races that use chips also allow for runner tracking, where friends and family members can receive updates throughout the race.
A Clydesdale is a man who weighs above 200 lbs and competes in a race. Like the Athena division, Clydesdales typically have a separate awards category.
A Cool Down refers to slower miles completed after a race or workout. A cool down is run in order to flush lactic acid from the muscles while bulking up mileage. A typical cool down is 1 – 2 miles.
Core refers to the area of the body that spans hips to shoulders. Runners have notoriously weak core muscles, which can negatively affect performance while increasing risk of injury.
Dew Point is a term runners use to describe the weather conditions in the summertime. The dew point defines the temperature below which water can condense. A high dew point represents oppressive conditions for running.
Fartlek, pronounced fart-lick, is a Swedish word meaning “speed play.” This workout involves varying the pace from fast to slow for specified amounts of time. For instance, a typical fartlek is 30 minutes of alternating 3:00 hard and 2:00 easy.
Gel refers to a quick carbohydrate source in gel form. Gels are consumed during long runs and races to provide approximately 100 calories of quick energy in the form of easily digestible sugars. In some gels, caffeine is also an ingredient. For runners who do not like gels, solid energy chews, caffeinated gum, and energy bars are also available.
Hill Repeats are a common workout that runners complete in order to build strength, speed, and power. After a 1 – 2 mile warm up, runners sprint to the top of a 200 m – 400 m hill, and then walk or jog to the bottom. The hill is typically repeated 8 – 12 times.
The term Intervals denotes a workout where a runner repeats a short distance with little recovery in between. For instance, a common interval workout is 3 x mile faster than race pace with 2:00 rest in between repetitions.
IT Band, short for iliotibial band, is the tendon which runs from knee to hip, along the outside of the leg. Runners often fall victim to “IT Band Syndrome,” characterized by tightness and pain anywhere along the outside of the thigh.
“K” refers to a kilometer, which is 1000 m, or .621 mile. Race distances are often denoted in kilometers, such as 5k (3.1 miles) or 10k (6.2 miles). A marathon is approximately 42k.
LSD is an acronym for “long slow distance.” LSD runs are common on the weekends, and are an important component of most marathon training plans.
Maximalist is counter to the minimalist running shoe movement (see below). A maximalist running shoe has a lot of cushioning.
A Minimalist running shoe is one that is lightweight and promotes a forefoot strike, as opposed to landing on the runner’s heel.
Negative Split refers to a method of running or racing where the second half of a run or race is completed at a faster pace than the first half. This style of racing is popular among elite and professional runners.
Overstriding occurs when a runner lands with his or her foot extended past the knee. This style of running is inefficient and can predispose a runner to injury.
PR or PB stands for personal record or personal best, respectively. A PR or PB refers to the fastest time the runner has ever completed for a specified distance, such as a 5k or a marathon.
Pronation refers to the way a runner’s foot lands on the ground. If a runner pronates, he or she distributes weight towards the inside of each foot.
Splits are the amount of time it takes to run a designated distance. For instance, runners often calculate mile splits during a 5k or marathon, and 400 m splits during a mile race.
Shin Splints are one of the most common running injuries. Shin splints are characterized by pain along the inner shin bone. This injury is caused by running too much mileage too soon, running on hard surfaces, wearing improper running shoes, and weakness in the lower legs.
Stride describes the step a runner takes from push off to landing. A lot of information can be gleaned from a single stride, particularly individual strengths and weaknesses.
Strides are short sprints that help a runner fully warm up before a race. They can also be performed after a run in order to flush the legs of lactic acid and further develop turnover. Strides typically consist of running at maximum effort for 100 m, 6 – 8 times.
Supination is the opposite of pronation. Here, a runner lands on the outside of his or her foot.
A Tempo is a type of workout where a runner completes a specified distance at a faster-than-normal pace. When preparing for a marathon, a runner might complete 6 – 10 miles at marathon pace, which is approximately 60 – 90 seconds faster per mile than a long run.
Ultramarathon is any distance greater than 26.2 miles.
USATF stands for United States of America Track and Field. This committee oversees all aspects of competitive running.
The Wall refers to the point in a race where a runner feels as though he or she is completely depleted of energy. With proper hydration, training, and fueling, the wall can largely be avoided.
Wind chill is a term that runners use when discussing cold temperatures. The wind chill is the amount the ambient air temperature is lowered due to wind.