Glossary of Running Terms Every Runner Should Know About

running-terms-terminology

You’ve certainly heard someone talk like this:

“I’ve got a killer tempo run plan”

“I’m trying to hit 3-minute 30 per kilometer, although I’m going to try a negative split.”

I’m trying to hit 180 SPM and really work on my form and try to hit that midfoot and really improve my VO2Max…”

Well, fear not, these are the most important running terms you should know about.

Let’s dive right into it…

Glossary of Running Terms 

Types of Runs

Tempo & Threshold Runs

Threshold runs or tempo runs are usually the same thing.

These are often a staple of many runners’ training programs as they’re a great way for boosting your fitness.

It’s basically going to be running at the pace at which you could sustain if you went all out for 60 minutes.

That’s going to fall somewhere between your 10K race pace and your half marathon pace.

↓ More on tempo runs ↓

Apparently, this level of intensity can do a couple of things.

The first thing it can do is increase the level of glycogen that’s stored in your muscles.

Another interesting fact is that we have basically two types of muscles in our bodies.

We have type 1 called slow-twitch, which is what we use mostly for endurance type of activities.

Then the other type of muscles is called type 2, which are those fast-twitch muscles that we would use for sprinting or lifting heavy weights or more explosive power.

It turns out that type 2 muscles can actually be broken down into two subcategories.

  • Type 2a are the fast-twitch muscles.
  • Type 2b are the very fast-twitch muscles.

In distance running, we don’t really use the type 2b very much at all, but we use type 2a a little bit.

For example, in an 800-meter run, maybe 25% of your energy is coming from the type 2a and even at the 5k distance, maybe about 8% of your energy is coming from these type 2a muscles.

So, by training at this level of intensity, we can actually convert some of those type 2b fibers into type 2a, and this is really interesting.

We’re taking these fibers that we don’t really use much at all for endurance and converting them into the type 2a which we use just a little bit, which translates into a little bit of extra energy.

As far as I know from reading the literature, we still don’t believe that you can convert the type 2 muscles into type 1.

So, the best we can do is the type 2b to the 2 and this kind of tempo running will help with that.

Related: Best Running Shoes For Tempo Days

Lactate Threshold Runs

I define this as a pace that you can hold for about 40 to 60 minutes.

↓ More on lactate threshold runs ↓

Lactate is simply a byproduct of what happens when your body breaks down glycogen to produce energy for the muscles.

At slow speeds, our body can clear that lactate through our bloodstream as quickly or even quicker than it can accumulate.

But as you start running faster and faster, you’re burning more and more glycogen and the levels of lactate in your body start increasing faster that your body can’t get rid of it.

What happens is over time, once you start flooding your muscles with this lactate, you actually slow down.

So, the purpose of doing lactate threshold runs is training at a certain level of intensity to basically train your body to be able to remove that lactate from your bloodstream as quickly as it’s accumulating so you don’t slow down.

A lot of people hear the term lactic acid and they assume that that’s a kind of burning sensation that they’re feeling in their legs when they’re running too hard for too long.

It’s actually not the case.

The burning sensation is not from the lactic acid but nonetheless, that lactate does slow you down and so removing it from your bloodstream is quite beneficial.

High-Intensity Runs

This is a pace you could only sustain for maybe 20 to 40 minutes.

If you’re just starting out in running, perhaps this is equivalent to your 5k race pace effort, but if you’ve been running for many years, it’s probably closer to your 10k pace.

Among other things, this can help build up the heart even more and increase the stroke volume.

Basically, each time your heart pumps, more blood is flowing through your body.

Build Runs

It’s not too dissimilar from tempo runs, actually.

It still hits the same fitness zones, but as the name suggests, you build into it.

For instance, you’d start off at a nice steady pace and build up to something like 10K pace over the course of 20 minutes.

The nice thing with this is it is a nice introduction to those tempo and threshold workouts.

Have you heard of the Parkrun?

Parkrun

Honestly, these are amazing.

In short, a Parkrun is a free 5k run led by volunteers with a great community feel to it.

↓ More on Parkruns ↓

Parkruns take place all around the world in various towns and cities, normally starting at 9:00 AM every Saturday.

A Parkrun is not a race but it is a timed event.

So, many will use it as a consistent way to time themselves and see how they’re progressing with their 5k running.

If you want official results and place, then you just need to register on the Parkrun website and print off a barcode.

Otherwise, just turn up and have fun.

Jog, Easy & Steady Runs

These runs are often interchangeable and can sound a little confusing. But basically, they are pretty much the same thing.

Easy runs make up the bulk of most programs and it is just a low-effort training run which we use to build cardio.

You should be able to have a conversation with your running buddies during an easy run and don’t care about the pace.

Well, what are intervals, then?

Intervals

This is normally some form of quality within a run.

These are intense efforts at the set distance or time usually interspersed with some recovery time which you might jog or walk.

It’s broken into intervals, also known as reps or efforts, where it’s going to be short stints of working at a high-end pace.

The emphasis on these intervals is very much really focusing on quality and form.

It could be, for example, 4 lots of 1K running at your 10K pace and then going very easy in the recovery in between.

Or, 5 lots of 2 minutes running fast with 1 minute of jogging in between each interval.

It’s kind of like a fartlek session, although less structured.

Wait! Did you just say “Fartlek”?

Fartlek

Kudos to you if you’ve ever used this term in a sentence without laughing.

Fartlek is not a made-up word. It’s actually a Swedish term meaning speed play.

It involves varying your pace or speed between hard efforts and easy efforts.

In other words, you are alternating faster, slower, and medium speeds and just kind of messing around with your speed.

Rather than doing it by a set distance or time as you would with interval training, you just go by feel, which makes it a perfect session for beginners.

Also, these workouts are actually really good for getting faster.

Related: 

Check out these great running shoes for speed days.

Track Sessions

A track session is a session performed on an athletics track.

Often, we’ll see athletes doing what we call a speed session on the track, which is a session that really focuses on that top-end speed over short intervals.

Let’s not forget the LSD…

LSD

A “long slow distance” run, or a long run is another staple part of many runners’ training weeks and it’s about building that aerobic endurance.

This is a form of continuous training performed at a constant pace at low to moderate intensity over an extended distance or duration.

↓ More on LSD runs↓

You’ll find it will be the longest training session of the week for runners.

In some cases, it can actually exceed an hour in length.

When I say slow pace, that’s really relative to every runner.

A slow pace for a professional runner is quite different than what my slow pace would be.

It’s really dependent on your fitness, if you’re a beginner, or if you’re a more experienced runner or athlete.

Progression Runs

With a progression run, you’ll start at one speed which may be a little bit slower but you’ll just continuously get faster and faster until the end of that run.

You might aim to increase the pace in blocks of time, for example, every 10 minutes, or maybe over distance with each mile or kilometer.

Endurance Runs

This is a pace that you could sustain for about 2 or 3 hours.

It’s probably just a little bit slower than your marathon pace and it’s a pace at which you can talk to people you’re running with very conversationally in complete sentences and you’re not huffing and puffing.

↓ More on endurance runs ↓

The endurance pace has a couple of different benefits. The first of which is capillarization.

Your muscles have capillaries in them and they feed the muscle oxygen and nutrients.

So, the more capillary density you have, the more nutrients you’re capable of feeding muscles.

It turns out that very well-trained athletes have about twice as much capillary density as those that are untrained.

So, if you continue to train at this pace for long enough, you’ll start developing this network which really helps fuel your muscles.

And by training at this level of intensity, what we’re doing is we’re teaching our body to be able to burn more fat relative to glycogen at ever-increasing levels of intensity.

This is important because your body only has about 600 grams of glycogen or around maybe 2,000 to 2,500 calories of glycogen in the muscles and the liver combined whereas the average person has somewhere between 30,000 to 100,000 calories of fat stored.

So, we have a lot more fat, and if we keep training long enough at kind of these lower levels, little by little we can start using that fat store as opposed to just using glycogen in our muscles.

Recovery Runs

Recovery runs are usually defined as a shorter easier run that’s done within 24 hours of a harder session like intervals, track sessions, a really taxing tempo run, or perhaps a really long run.

Following on from recovery runs, a great way to stay on top of your personal maintenance is to build in what’s called active recovery…

Related:

We’ve reviewed some great running shoes for recovery days. Make sure you check them out.

Active Recovery Runs

Likewise, active recovery is when you opt for a lower intensity workout after doing a really tough intense workout.

For example, if you are on the track and you’re doing a bunch of repeats, in between each of those sets, you need to rest.

And instead of just stopping and standing still, you could actually jog a little bit at this pace to keep the blood flowing and to keep from getting stiff.  

Jeffing

Jeffing or using a walk-run technique  is a technique introduced by Jeff Galloway, hence the name “Jeffing”.

Jeffing is when right from the get-go of your race or training session, you walk/run the whole thing.

By taking regular walk breaks, this means that many runners can undertake a longer distance than they otherwise would be able to.

5k Race

A 5k race is 3.1 miles

Here’s an infographic to help you run your best 5k.

10k Race

A 10k race is 6.2 miles

Half Marathon Race

A half marathon is 13.1 miles

Marathon Race

A marathon is 26.2 miles

Yasso 800

Bart Yasso is a running coach who reckoned if you could do 10 sets of 800-meter reps in a set time, it would be a good marathon predictor.

For example, someone doing 10 sets of 800 meters in 2 minutes and 40 seconds could run 2 hours and 40 minutes for a marathon.

It’s a nice idea in theory but doesn’t really work in practice.

Running 800-meter repeats and racing a marathon are completely different running workouts.

So, never use this as an accurate benchmark. Your half marathon time in a race is likely to be far more useful.

Race-cation

Race-cation is when you are combining a race and a vacation or you are planning a vacation around a race specifically.

↓ More on race-cation ↓

So, whether you are packing an overnight bag or a full suitcase, you’re loading the car up, or you’re getting on a plane, if you are going somewhere that looks like travel in order to get your race on, that is a race-cation.

These are a ton of fun because you are getting out of your groove a little bit.

It’s more of an adventure and they tend to be family-oriented as well.

So, you are making a lot more family memories than you would if you were just doing a local race.

Training Plans

Training plans help to organize your short and long-term running schedules.

It’s a great way to plan how you’re going to work towards your fitness goals or a race that you have in mind.

C25K

This means “couch to 5k”.

It is a running program which helps a runner to gradually progress themselves towards running a 5-kilometer run.

It’s a 9-week training program plan and can be found by downloading the app onto your phone.

Training Terms

Warm-Up

Exercising before the intended running session you’ve got coming up is really important as a way to get your muscles and joints all ready to run.

Cool-Down

A cool-down helps you to start recovering from the strenuous exercise that you’ve undertaken.

Like a warm-up, a cool down should include lots of gentle stretching and exercises just to help your body start that all-important recovery.

Base Building

Base building is also known as endurance training or your introductory training.

Basically, base training is the foundation of all effective training plans as this will allow your body to create these slow adaptations to training, which will help hopefully get you across the finish line without being injured.

↓ More on base building ↓

With build-building workouts, you will improve your cardiovascular and your muscular endurance during your base building period.

When you’re training for a distance over 10 kilometers, the base building period is the longest of your whole training plan.

This is due to the slower development of the cardiothoracic system development.

In the base building time, you want to keep your heart rate around 70 to 75 of your maximum heart rate.

How Long Should The Base Building Period Be?

It depends on your fitness and your level of experience.

For example, beginner runners probably need around 4 to 6 months to really develop a strong aerobic base fitness so they can kind of build on from that.

More experienced runners probably only need around 6 to 8 weeks.

Strength Training

Strength training is a really good idea to do in your base building period.

It’s really important to do especially in the base building period of your training.

So, the base time is the perfect time to kind of build a foundation that you can kind of keep going and building on but maybe not to the extreme later in your training.

I usually do around 2 to 3 times a week depending on my schedule, but I really want to make sure it’s a priority especially during the base building period because it helps me become a more resilient runner.

Repeats

These are repeated faster efforts usually at the same distance and they’ll only have rest periods in between.

You can do like 200-meter repeats with a minute rest in between or a 400-meter repeat with 1.30 rest in between.

Hill Workouts

Hills are a great workout to strengthen your legs and they build your explosive power.

Because of the tough nature of hill workouts, they’re often described as interval training in disguise.

There’s a huge variety of hill workouts out there…

Kenyan Hills

This Kenyan hill workout is inspired by Kenya’s world-class runners, such as Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich, the Olympic bronze medalist from the Marathon in 2012.

The definition of Kenyan Hills is still a little fluid.

But basically, Kenyan hills means when you take on the challenge of accelerating yourself right up to the top of a hill and you’ll then run back down that hill at a bit of a sort of gentler recovery pace.

↓ More on Kenyan hills ↓

For this session, all you need is a loop, anything from 300 meters up to around a kilometer or further, if that suits your training.

And alternatively, just find a long route out and back that’s got undulating hills.

Ideally, you want to find a loop that’s got the same amount of uphill and downhill, and then has enough of a gradient to make you work.

You don’t want it so steep that you can’t run up or down it. So, with that in mind, it’s a good idea to go by time.

For example, you could do 5 lots of 5 minutes with a two-minute recovery, and try and repeat the same distance you did on that first 5 minutes.

You can, of course, do variations of this. You can make your intervals longer and do less of them, or swap it round and vice versa.

Or, if you want to make it really tough, then why not just continually run the loop, and then your rest is the active recovery down the hill.

Kenyan hill training is great in the winter as it helps you to get stronger on the hills while mixing in some variety to your week.

It’s basically a Fartlek session which has a natural increase in intensity from the hills.

Again, Kenyan hill workouts are great for getting you stronger and for conditioning and a brilliant way to mix up your winter training as well.

Tapering

Tapering is when a runner cuts back their mileage on the lead up to a race which they’ve been training for.

This is a really good way to make sure your body is rested and ready to take on that all-important run.

If you’re training for a 5k, you may decide to maybe taper down your running for one to three days before the big event.

Equally, if you’re doing something like an ultra, it might be for two to three weeks before that big ultra run you decide to scale back your miles and your intensity.

Splits

Being your race-pace strategy, a split is the predetermined distance by what you are measuring your pace.

Your splits are the time it takes to run individual sections of your overall run, which could be either in miles or in kilometers.

↓ More on splits ↓

For example, most distance runners use the mile as that split distance and then compare one mile to the next in terms of how consistent they are in their pace.

If you are doing speedwork, however, you might shorten that split to a quarter of a mile or maybe even shorter.

It’s also a button that I accidentally push on my watch to make one split pace look completely different from the other.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever done that.

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Negative Splits

A negative split is when you run the second half of an interval or run faster than the first.

This is obviously quite hard given that you’re fatigued in that second half, but it’s a great training tool.

Negative splits are the holy grail of race-pace strategy. They are a great achievement and give you such a positive feeling.

Positive & Even Splits

Positive is when the first half of your run is quicker than the last while an even split means you hold a consistent pace throughout.

Drills & Strides

Drills tend to be slower and more controlled, concentrating on reiterating that really good running form.

Strides are short bursts perhaps around 20 seconds of fast running that you might either do before a hard session or a race to get your body properly warmed up or throw into the middle or end of a slower run.

↓ More on drills & strides ↓

Drills and strides are usually used ahead of a hard run session or a race. They’re a great way to making sure your body is tuned up and ready to go.

So basically, you’re running short stretches at a much faster pace than your race pace in a way to get your legs woken up and feeling really good ahead of the hard efforts to come.

I often see athletes doing these drills and strides before a track session.

Turnover

The turnover is your running stride speed.

10% Rule

According to this rule, you shouldn’t increase your total weekly mileage by more than 10% per week.

This is a really important rule for runners looking to increase their mileage.

It’s really good to stop runners doing too much too soon and also helps reduce the risk of injury.

Doubles

To put it simply, doubles is just a day in which you run twice. It’s a really great way to improve your fitness.

Doubles are great, but beware of overtraining…

Overtraining

Overtraining is when you’re putting too much stress on your body without enough recovery.

As a result, we normally see our performance plateau and then eventually start to decline.

Putting too much pressure on yourself to achieve your running goals or increasing your mileage too quickly beyond what your body can handle will inevitably result in injury.

So, make sure you don’t overtrain and take a day or a week off…

Rest Days

This is where your body can have time to recover, absorb any of the training you’ve been doing over the past weeks, and also helps avoid injury.

Rest is key to successful long-term training, and learning what your body needs will help you find that consistency in your training over time.

Rest Week

Beyond individual rest days, it’s also a really good idea to build in a rest week every 4 to 5 weeks.

This is where you reduce your total weekly mileage by around 20%.

Heart Rate Zone Terms

The higher your heart rate is, the harder you’re working or the more strain on your body.

This can be used nicely in conjunction with your pace, so you know what zone you’re working in.

You can determine an estimated target heart rate based upon your age.

This will give you an indication for what sort of intensity to run each of your different training zones.

This means the level of intensity or percentage of your maximum heart rate that you are using while exercising.

Zone 1 is your lightest level of intensity where you’re using 50 to 60% of your maximum heart rate.

In contrast, zone 5 is where you’re at your maximum level of intensity and you’re using 90 to 100% of your maximum heart rate.

Although these zones are entirely personal and differ from person to person and do change as your fitness changes, if you’re really looking to improve your performance, then keeping a track of your zones can be very useful.

Aerobic

The word aerobic means simply with air. This means exercise that can be sustained for longer periods of time.

Anaerobic

In contrast to aerobic, anaerobic means without air.

These are your higher intensity exercises such as weight lifting or sprinting which you can only sustain for a short period of time. It’s very intense but very short.

VO2Max

Short for “volume of oxygen maximum”, this is a pretty scientific metric and not one that’s used by recreational runners very often.

VO2Max is the maximum amount of oxygen that a runner can consume when you’re using your muscles. It’s a great way to measure your fitness. It’s expressed in liters per minute and it should increase as you get more fit.

For most average people, it’s around the 30 to 60 range. The higher, the better.

Male elite athletes might be in the 80s or even 90s while women tend to be in the 70s.

Essentially, this is a pace that you could hold only for 7 to 10 minutes.

Some watches might throw a VO2Max number at you, but unless you are performing a VO2Max test in a lab, that number may not be all that accurate.

This test should be done under supervision. It’s the kind of test where someone’s running on a treadmill that are wearing a mask that is connected to a computer.

Again, VO2Max is basically a measure of how much oxygen your body uses to create energy.

↓ More on VO2MAX ↓

So, using your muscles turns out to be a lot like starting a fire. You need three things to start a fire…

  • A fuel source.
  • A heat source like a match.
  • Oxygen.

So, if there’s no oxygen, the fire will go out and that’s the end of it. It turns out our muscles are kind of similar that way.

The fuel can come from the glycogen or from fat deposits and you need the oxygen in order to fuel the muscles as well.

So, the higher your VO2Max level is, the more oxygen you can bring into your body and the faster you can run essentially.

By running at this level of intensity, you can actually increase your VO2Max.

I think we probably all have a theoretical ceiling that we’re just born with a certain level that we can’t surpass. But by training at this level, we can get closer and closer to that ceiling and become better runners.

Body Terms

Gait

Your gait is simply your running style. It’s basically how your foot strikes the ground as you run.

Each person will have their own unique gait, which is why good running shops will analyze your gait and recommend a pair of shoes based on what they see.

Pronation

This refers to the type of motion that we make with our foot when we roll through either walking or running.

Pronation is the natural inward roll of your foot and ankle. This is how your body absorbs shock when your foot hits the ground.

Neutral Pronation

neutral-pronation

Neutral describes an efficient gait which has a good balanced pronation.

Simply put, neutral pronation is when we walk or run naturally with no side-to-side movement of our foot.

Overpronation

pronation-overpronation-underpronation-supination

Overpronation is when this natural roll is exaggerated meaning your ankle falls or drops inwards, which can increase the potential risk of injury.

Underpronation/Supination

underpronation-supination

Underpronation or supination is when this natural roll doesn’t happen enough. You know you’re an underponator when you roll through on the outside edge of our foot.

Just like overpronation, underpronation might actually lead to more impact-related injuries.

Last but not least, it’s really important you know this, particularly so when you’re buying a set of running shoes.

Related:

Pronation, Overpronation, Underpronation Explained in Detail.

Footstrike

Footstrike is how you land on your foot when running. Some people are heel strikers, others land on their midfoot, and some on their forefoot.

The majority of runners tend to fall into the brackets of either being a midfoot or a heel striker.

Generally, it’s thought that midfoot striking is the best, but there are plenty of examples of elite athletes heel striking particularly later on in a long race.

Forefoot Striking

Forefoot runners land on the very front of their feet. This is basically what we call running on the toes.

Midfoot Striking

Midfoot runners land on the ball of their feet.

Heel Striking

Heel striking is when the heel hits the ground first with each footstrike.

While each runner has their own default setting, they can each be very useful in different elevation or terrain environments.

For example, heel striking can be really helpful to assist in slowing down while running downhill.

Forefoot striking can help you to accelerate running faster and feeling lighter on your toes.

Cadence/SPM

Cadence or steps per minute (SPM) is the number of times your foot strikes the floor during any given minute of running.

While elite athletes will have a cadence of say 180SPM (steps per minute), most runners are hovering maybe around 160-165.

To be honest, you’ll have to work pretty hard to get up to that step count.

But don’t have a panic if you’ve seen a number on your watch that is less than half of that because some devices actually just record how many times one of your legs moves in each minute.

IT Band

The IT Band is a thick band connecting your hips to your knees, which really helps to offer good stability.

 It can cause pain through overuse or if you regularly run on the same side of a cambered road.

Quads

Your quads are the four large muscles in the front of your legs which help to stabilize your knee while running.

Powerful quads will help with speed and heel workouts.

Endorphins

Endorphins are chemicals or a natural painkiller that’s produced in your brain as a direct result of any physical discomfort.

These mix with the receptors in the brain to reduce our perception of effort and pain.

Endorphins also closely associated with the feeling that many of you hopefully have experienced called the runner’s high

Runner’s High

A runner’s high is achieved on a longer run of a relatively hard effort.

Injury & Issue Terms

Runner’s Knee

Runner’s knee refers to a pain experienced under and around the kneecap.

This could be a sharp pain experienced on a run or a more dull pain that might ease off over the course of the run.

RICE, strengthening exercises, and stretching can all help reduce the effects.

If you have some knee discomfort, these are some great running shoes for your bad knees.

Plantar Fasciitis

Your Plantar Fascia is what connects your heel bone to your toes.

If that gets sore, it’s what’s known as Plantar Fasciitis, which is a very common injury among runners and a real pain in your foot.

Luckily, some running shoes have great support and can be great for Plantar Fasciitis Runners.

RICE

This means Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

This is a routine that a lot of people will follow when recovering from injury.

Chafing

This is a painful experience that most runners have had at some point while out on a run.

Chafing happens when there is friction between the skin and itself or an item of clothing resulting in bloody nipples for example.

Bloody Nipples

Bloody nipples occur when your shirt repeatedly rubs over your nipples over the course of a run or a race.

They are quite painful and something to avoid at all costs.

Side Stitch

A side stitch is a sharp pain just below your ribs.

Most runners have experienced it and there’s no exact reasoning or explanation for it.

Generally, the fitter you are, the less you will experience it, which is great motivation to get out for your next run.

DOMS

This stands for “delayed onset muscle soreness”. This pain is caused by micro-tears in your muscles and can come on 24 to 48 hours after a hard workout.

Lactic Acid

Lactic acid is the waste product produced during anaerobic respiration.

Fast running can lead to a buildup of lactic acid, which can cause cramping.

Bonking

It’s actually a commonly used term in the endurance world.

Bonking, or hitting the wall, is when your body shuts down from extreme fatigue because your body feels like it really has nothing left to give.

You basically need some more fuel, you need to slow down, rest, maybe take on a gel, and let your body recover.

So, bonking and struggling to go much further is a thing we certainly want to avoid.

↓ More on Bonking ↓

How Does Bonking Happen?

Again, bonking is what happens when your body is working so hard and it’s burning so much glycogen that your blood sugar level just drops dramatically.

Sometimes, it happens so quickly that it takes you by surprise.

All of a sudden, you feel sluggish and fatigued and it is like you’ve just run into a wall.

This is why for a lot of those longer distances, you should be considering nutrition as a part of your race plan.

Nutrition Terms

Fuel

Fuel is the food or drink that you take on board to give you energy for your running.

This can be in the form of gels, food, or energy drinks.

Gels

Gels are conveniently small usually sweet little packets of carbohydrate that some runners choose to take on board during a run for a quick source of energy.

It’s a food source designed to give you the maximum amount of calories.

Electrolytes

Electrolytes are key to many bodily functions and you will lose a lot of these when you sweat.

If you’re not keeping on top of your electrolytes, this will lead you to feeling pretty exhausted.

The good news is your electrolyte stores can be replenished by eating real foods that are rich in nutrients.

However, if you do want a quick fix of electrolytes, then effervescent tablets that can be dissolved in water are a great solution.

Glycogen

Glycogen is your body’s pre-stored carbohydrates usually in the liver and in the muscles. It’s your secondary source of long-term energy while on a run.

Carb Loading

Carb loading is a planned period of time before a race when a runner will reduce their fat and their protein intake while increasing their carbohydrate intake.

This is done to increase the body’s glycogen reserves.

Related:

Expert Round Up on Race Day Breakfast Ideas.

Running Gear & Tech Terms

Neutral Shoes

Neutral running shoes offer no support at all and do not try to correct or interfere with your gait.

Cushioned Shoes

Cushioned shoes are designed for neutral runners but also those who underpronate as they provide a good level of shock absorption.

Support Shoes

Support running shoes are designed for those who overpronate.

These shoes provide a nice level of support within the shoe to help reduce the chances of the ankle rolling inwards.

These shoes rely on different technologies to offer support like traditional medial posting, medial support frames, or guide rails.

Medial Posting 

This is some kind of plastic or TPU material inserted in the medial side of a running shoe.

Guide Rails 

This is a new technology used by some companies to try to offer holistic support.

Guide rails offer support through the medial side and the lateral side making the shoe good for overpronators and underpronators as well.

Shoes with guide rails can sometimes be worn by neutral runners because they only activate when your foot needs them to and do not interfere with your gait if your foot needs no support at all.

Brooks uses guide rails in their Adrenaline and Glycerin GTS models.

Motion Control Shoes

Motion Control shoes are designed for those who roll their ankles too much.

Runners with extremely flat arches and or weak ankles need a sturdy medial posting to help realign their feet to their natural position.

Foam Roller

Using a foam roller is a staple part of any runner’s recovery routine.

Some of the benefits of foam rolling are:

  • Breaking down knots in your muscles.
  • Softening and releasing tension.
  • Improving circulation.

GPS

GPS stands for “global positioning system”.

All good running watches have GPS which tracks your position and so measures your pace, speed, and distance pretty accurately.

This is one of my most useful tools in aiding my training as you can input specific workouts such as interval sessions.

Pace – Min Per Mile/Kilometer

Min/Mile – Min/Km often gets people, but in simple terms, it is your pace.

It’s painful to calculate without a running watch.

Unlike speed which is measured in distance over time (pic 5.30), pace is time over distance.

It’s measured in minutes per kilometer or mile. Basically, it’s how many minutes does it take you to cover one mile. Less is faster.

MPH/KPH

That’s the metric you’ll usually see displayed if you’re running on treadmills.

So, 12kph basically means you’re running at 12 kilometers an hour, but do always check as to whether it’s kilometers per hour or miles per hour.

Strava

Strava is a sort of social network for athletes primarily used by cyclists and runners around the world.

You can use Strava to record your training. Then it’s uploaded to your news feed and your friends and followers can give you kudos, which is basically like a big thumbs up.

There’s a neat feature in Strava called segments…

Segments

Segments are a specific section of a road or trail that, when you pass through one of them, will measure your distance and time to compare against anyone else who has done so.

This feature records your time from start to finish, and you may find yourself with a CR, or course record.

Chip

A chip is a small piece of plastic attached to your race number which is used to track and record your chip time during a race.

Treadmill

For many runners, the monotony of the treadmill is just far too much of a turn-off.

But the consistent environment that a treadmill can offer is a great safe way to run during those cold and wintry months and also when returning from injury.

Other Running Terms

Drafting

Drafting is basically when you’re running behind another person to save some energy because they will be breaking the wind for you.

Kick

Kick is basically the sprint to the finish.

You’ll hear runners talking about a finishing kick, and it’s just that sprint that you get to the finish line.

Pickups

Pickups are just short bursts of speed or accelerations during a run.

There will be time when you just pick up the speed a little bit, you may slow it down, and you just pick it up again.

PR/PB

We use PR and PB interchangeably.

This is when someone beats their own record and it’s a benchmark for a lot of runners.

For example, if you’ve done your first 5k at 35 minutes and the next time you do it at 34 minutes, that’s your personal best or your PR.

DNS & DNF

You may have seen these in race results pages. They stand for “Did Not Start” and “Did Not Finish” respectively.

↓ More on DNF & DNS ↓

Earning a DNS basically means that for whatever reason, your timing chip did not cross the start line.

There are a lot of reasons why a runner might earn a DNS, but most commonly though it is due to illness or injury preventing them from participating.

It does happen, but it’s fairly uncommon, that someone might sleep through an alarm or get lost on the way to a race resulting in them missing the race completely.

Taking a DNF is very different, though. This means you’ve started the race but for whatever reason could not make it all the way to the finish line.

So, maybe you’ve made the decision to start, but due to injury or illness, these were just obstacles too big to overcome given conditions on race day.

If you’re like me and you trip over your own shadow, hitting the pavement super hard could actually prevent you from finishing a race.

Other issues that might come up that cause someone to DNF would be gastrointestinal issues, dehydration, or environmental considerations like overheating or hypothermia.

In any case, taking a DNS or a DNF is a tough decision to make, but sometimes, it is the best decision only you can decide.

If you’ve made the decision to DNF, you might call up my next term which is the Sag Wagon.

Sag Wagon

This is typically a van that will pick up athletes who have either made the decision to drop out of the race or who are not maintaining the required pace that the race organizers have sent.

↓ More on sag wagon ↓

It’s actually kind of nice because they’ve got air conditioning, they’ve got cold water, and I’ve heard the volunteers are extremely friendly. 

So, it can’t be all bad.

These guys do have to deal with grumpy athletes. 

Let’s face it, some athletes have just made the decision to drop out of a race for which they’ve been training for months.

So, these are some of the unsung hero volunteers and if you see them, please thank them.

Aid Station

Also known sometimes as water stations, aid stations are positioned at various points around the race.

They’ll often offer you water, electrolyte drinks, and some of the larger races may even hand out gels.

Pacers

Many large races will have pacers. These are people who will run at a given pace over a certain distance for maybe a 10k or half or full marathon run.

Following them will help you to control your speed and hopefully reach your intended goal.

While the sag wagon is very common in most longer distance events, the next term is exclusive to runDisney events and that is the balloon ladies…

Balloon Ladies

Most longer distance events like the half marathon or the full marathon have a pace group at the back of the pack.

This is a cheerful group of women who are the last to start any runDisney race and they maintain the required 16-minute mile throughout the entire race.

But for runDisney, they are a lot more fun because they’re carrying balloons.

Getting Swept

Getting swept or being pulled from the course means that you have not been able to maintain the minimum required pace to finish the race on time.

Dropped

This basically means being left behind in a group.

So, if you can’t stay up with that group that you’re running with, you’ve just been dropped.

Streaker

This refers to a runner who has run and completed the same race multiple times in a row.

It also refers to a runner who has run a consistent number of days in a row. This is a very popular challenge.

BRF

This stands for “best running friend”. These are the people with whom you feel safest when running.

The advantage of a good BRF is it’s like going to Vegas. What happens on the run, stays on the run.

BQ

This stands for Boston Marathon Qualifier.

This is probably the most popular marathon in the US and it’s one that you have to qualify for via time.

Snot Rocket

Sorry for this one.

As your body gets moving over long distances, it starts to work a few things loose.

This is the “technique” in which you are expelling phlegm from your nasal cavity at high velocity.

Bling

This is a motivating factor for a lot of runners.

In fact, I know runners who will not participate in a race unless there is bling at the finish line.

I’m talking about finishers’ medals.

Glossary of Running Terms 

Hopefully, we’ve helped explain some of those running terms that were a little confusing.

If we’ve missed off any of your favorite lingo, then please pop it in the comments below for us all to enjoy.

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