• Sasha Wolff

Get the Hang of Running Lingo: A Glossary of Terms

Running is such a simple sport to get started in. All you need is a good pair of shoes, shorts, a t-shirt and you’re out the door. When it comes to talking the talk though, that’s when a newbie runner can begin to feel out of place. Well, today we’re going to give you the power to join in on the conversation with your fellow runners without feeling like you can’t contribute! This is the official Still I Run list of running terms:

Runner's Lingo: "Race Bib" — This is the piece of paper with your race number printed on it that is used to identify you during your race.  Sometimes it contains your timing chip that registers your time when you cross the Start and Finish line. You typically pin this the front of your shirt or shorts.

Aid Station: Some call it a water stop. These are the stations along a race course that offer water and sports drinks to runners. You’ll also see bananas, oranges, energy gels, pickle juice, and other items handed out during the bigger races.


Bandit: This is someone that is running a race, but didn’t register for it or pay the entry fee.


Bib: This is the piece of paper with your race number printed on it that is used to identify you during your race.  Sometimes it contains your timing chip that registers your time when you cross the Start and Finish line. You typically pin this the front of your shirt or shorts.


Body Mass Index (BMI): This is a calculation of whether or not your weight is healthy for your height, age, and sex. You can calculate your BMI here.


BQ: The Boston Marathon is typically at the top of many runners’ bucket list. The only way to gain entry is to run a qualifying time. The qualifying time is your Boston Qualifier or BQ.


Carb-loading: While most of the world is trying to cut carbs, runners rely on them heavily for sustained energy. In the week leading up to a longer race (half marathon, marathon or longer), runners will eat more carbs than normal to increase glycogen stores in your muscles. This helps sustain energy late into your runs.


Chafing: When your skin rubs constantly against clothing or shoes and begins to blister and break open. It typically occurs on your feet/toes, inner thighs, under arms, or on your nipples. Body Glide or Vaseline is your best option in preventing these issues.


Cool Down: After a hard run or race, you’ll want to take a short time jogging at a very slow pace. This helps shake out your legs and arms. It also helps move blood to keep it from sitting in your legs and causing muscle soreness later on.


Corral: Larger races tend to group runners together based on their expected finish times. For example, faster runners are grouped in the first few corrals, slower runners toward the back corrals. These groups help the race move along smoothly and allows faster runners to avoid crowds.

Runner's Lingo: "Fartlek" — A Swedish term that means “Speed Play”. It is a common training tool to help increase speed by seasoned runners. Essentially you run your normal pace, but in the middle of the run, you run faster for a set period of time. After that, you then go back to your normal pace. After another set amount of time you pick up your speed and slow back down.

Fartlek: A Swedish term that means “Speed Play”. It is a common training tool to help increase speed by seasoned runners. Essentially you run your normal pace, but in the middle of the run, you run faster for a set period of time. After that, you then go back to your normal pace. After another set amount of time you pick up your speed and slow back down.


Foam Roller: This looks like a giant log made out of firm foam. It’s used to break down knots in your muscles and can help improve circulation. A foam roller can help speed up recovery after a run.


5K: A popular race that is 3.115 miles long (5 Kilometers). This is a great first race and is typically what many new runners begin training for.


GU/Gel: Small packets of sugar and carbs in a gel form. These are used to keep your calorie and carb intake up during a longer race. They come in a variety of flavors and forms, so be sure to try multiple ones out.


GPS: Most new running watches have GPS (Global Positioning System) built-in. These devices help to measure your distance, pace, and time during a run.


Half Marathon: A 13.1 mile race that is quickly becoming one of the favorite distances of racers in America. This is a challenging distance without needing the training to finish a marathon.


Hill Training: A workout that includes quickly running up a hill and then jogging back down. You can also incorporate a large number of hills into a workout and exert more effort while going uphill. You then return to normal pace once you’re over the top.

Runner's Lingo: "Negative Splits" — Running your second half of a run faster than the first half. You also are considered to have run negative splits if each mile is faster than the previous.

Interval Training: Typically workouts on the track that include running shorter distances (mile or shorter) at much faster than normal speeds. You will usually do repeats of a certain distance with a fixed amount of recovery time between.


Marathon: A race that is 26.2 miles long. Often this is seen as the ultimate test of endurance for a runner. Marathons tend to have some of the largest number of racers and festivities to go along with them.


Negative Splits: Running your second half of a run faster than the first half. You also are considered to have run negative splits if each mile is faster than the previous.


Out and back: Running out to a certain point and then turning around and running the exact same route back to the start. Often a good way to work on negative splits.


Overpronation: This is when your foot rolls inward more than normal. It can lead to injuries in the feet or knees if not corrected. Many shoe types out there can address overpronation.


Pace: This is how fast you are running. Typically, you’ll hear runners say their pace per mile. If you run a 10-minute pace for 3 miles, you will have run 3 miles in 30 minutes. One mile for every 10 minutes or running. Personal Record (PR): How you describe your fastest time at a specified distance. This is usually achieved during a race. Some runners will also call it their Personal Best.


Recovery: Taking time off from running to allow your body to recover and rebuild. It can also be walking/jogging in between interval sets to help your body get ready for the next surge.

Runner's Lingo: "Personal Record (PR)" — How you describe your fastest time at a specified distance. This is usually achieved during a race. Some runners will also call it their Personal Best.

RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. These are the four steps to start with and injury or to reduce pain. You will want to get off the injured foot/leg, put ice on it, wrap it up, and get it above elevated higher than your heart if possible. This helps the muscle/ligament/tendon/bone recover quicker.

Run/Walk: One popular method to marathon and half marathon training is the Run/Walk method. This is running for a set number of minutes and then walking for a set number of minutes in a repeating pattern. For example, run 3 minutes and walk 2 minutes and then run 3 minutes and walk 2 minutes until you finish the race/workout.


Speedwork: This is another word for interval or fartlek. It’s running faster than normal to help your body become accustomed to the faster speeds.


Splits: The amount of time you need to finish a mile (or other specified distance). You will use your splits to find your pace. For example, if you run your first split (mile 1) in 9 minutes 30 seconds, your second split (mile 2) in 10 minutes and your final split (mile 3) in 10 minutes 30 seconds, your pace would be 10:00/mile.


Tempo: A run where you perform a short warm-up and then do a faster than normal pace for a set distance (typically 2-7 miles) and then do a cool down at the end. This helps increase speed over time.


10K: A race that is 6.2 miles long or 10 kilometers. It’s not as popular as the 5k or half marathon, but it is still a very popular race. 

Runner's Lingo: "The Wall" — A point in a race where your body runs out of energy and running becomes very difficult. The most common wall that runners hit is at or around mile 20 during a marathon.

Track: A typical track is 400 meters or ¼ of a mile around. This means that four times around the track equals 1 mile. Many track workouts will be 400m (1 time around), 800m (2 times around) or 1600m (4 times around) long.


Ultramarathon: Any run that is longer than 26.2 miles. Typically they are either 50k (31 miles long) 50 miles, 100k (62 miles) or 100 miles in length. Most of them are run on trails and/or over mountainous terrain.


Warm Up: The time you spend slowly jogging or stretching before you start your run. Typically you’ll warm up before any speedwork so that your muscles are ready for the quick changes in pace that will follow.


The Wall: A point in a race where your body runs out of energy and running becomes very difficult. The most common wall that runners hit is at or around mile 20 during a marathon. It’s essentially your body running out of energy and struggling to continue moving.


This is by no means our entire list of vocabulary in the world of running, but it is surely enough to get you through any conversation you may have before the start of your first race or over one of those delicious post race beers!  Good luck and keep those feet moving!

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