The running community loves some good jargon, but it you’re new to the sport, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all of the fancy terms that your running friends are using.
Thankfully, we’re here to help. We scoured our brains and the internet to find pretty much every single running phrase and acronym in the English language and defined them here so you can be prepared to impress your running friends with your running-related techy jargon. What more could you want?
Below are the running terms and definitions in alphabetical order. Next, you’ll find the acronyms and distances. If we missed anything, let us know so we can add it!
A band of highly fibrous tissue that forms the connection between the muscles fo the calf and the hell bone (calcaneus). Also known as the calcaneal tendon, the Achilles tendon pulls on the heel when we flex our calf muscles. The action of the Achilles allows us to stand on and push off of our toes when walking and running.
Named after the Greek hero of the Trojan War, Achilles, who was killed by a single arrow to the lower ankle- the only place where he was not invincible.
Tendinitis of the Achilles (calcaneus) tendon – a runner’s fear. Inflammation of the tendon, often caused by overuse, especially when runners quickly increase the intensity and/or duration of their runs.
Meaning “with oxygen.” Denotes any exercise that is meant to tax the body’s cardiovascular system. Also refers to the cellular process of producing energy that involves the use of oxygen. In opposition to anaerobic.
A way to separate runners in a large race by age. Many races will split people up into the following age groups: <20, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, etc.
Meaning “without oxygen.” Denotes any exercise that is meant to tax the body’s muscles without using oxygen. In general, anaerobic exercise is very high intensity over a short period of time. Also refers to the cellular process of producing energy that does not involve oxygen. In opposition to aerobic.
The exertion level that separates aerobic and anaerobic training. The Anaerobic threshold denotes the point at which your body switches from aerobic to anaerobic respiration and lactic acid concentrations start to increase in the muscles and the blood. Same as lactic threshold.
A point along a race route where a runner can get water, soft drinks, gels, and other nutritional goodies that are handed out by race workers and volunteers.
The practice of using altitude-controlled rooms or masks to train in an attempt to increase red blood cell concentrations in the body. Popular amongst elite athletes, altitude training, in theory, helps improve the delivery of oxygen to the muscles, and, thus, better performance.
The female variant of clydesdale. A term used to describe a race category for a heavier female runner, generally over 150lbs (68kg). Generally, an optional category that runner can choose to sign up for at a race. Named after the Greek goddess of wisdom, courage, strength, and inspiration.
Running in a pool against the water’s resistance. Provides a whole host of benefits, similar to those found in running, but without the damage caused by high-impact activity.
A type of ultra race where there is no set distance, time, or end point. Generally involves runners doing continual loops until only one runner is left standing.
A famous ultra trail race that goes from Death Valley (the lowest point in the United States) to Whitney Portal (the trailhead below Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the contiguous USA).
Any runner that runs a race without signing up and paying the race fees. Illegal in the running world and can cause runners to get banned from other races.
A type of running that is either truly barefoot (i.e. doesn’t involve shoes) or that uses minimalist footwear. Intended to simulate the feeling of running barefoot, which some proponents say is healthier for the body.
A famous ultra marathon that consists of an unmarked, unmaintained 20 mile (32km) loop in the backcountry. The run both starts and ends at a yellow road gate near a parking area and runners must run the loop five times within 60 hours.
Considered to be one of the most challenging ultras in the US, the Barkley Marathon generally has at least 54,200 feet (16,500m) of vertical ascent. At least 55% of races in previous years have ended without a single finisher.
The average number of miles per week that a given runner usually completes. Often used when talking about a starting point for a specific training program or cycle.
Any running that provides a foundation of aerobic fitness and muscle strength before starting a specific training program or cycle. Usually takes a few weeks or months to build up to.
The ultimate recovery drink. Kind of.
A notorious informal challenge where runners consume one beer (12 oz with a minimum 5% AVB) for every 1/4 mile run. No vomiting allowed.
Historically a climbing term, but can be used to describe any information given to someone about a trail and its conditions before they head out on a trail run or race.
Number sheets pinned onto a runner’s shirt or jersey to identify them in a race.
The result of lots of downhill running in shoes that are too small. Generally heal within a few months.
The bain of every runner’s existence. Fluid-filled pocket in the upper layers of the skin, typically the result of friction, burning, freezing, or chemical exposure. In running, friction between the foot, shoe, or sock often causes painful blisters.
The result of excessive chaffing of the nipples and a shirt while running. Happens most to male runners in cold weather. Can be prevented with adhesive bandages or nipple guards.
Brand name for a very popular anti-chafe product. Made of a lubricant, Body glide comes in a deodorant-type stick for easy application.
Body Mass Index
A tool used to estimate body fat percentage to determine if an individual is underweight, overweight, or an appropriate weight for their height. Notoriously inaccurate in predicting body fat percentages for muscular people.
Running downhill in a fast and potentially uncontrolled manner.
When an athlete has depleted their muscle glycogen stores and needs more food to continue. Bonking presents differently from athlete to athlete, but is most common toward the end of longer road races and ultras. See the wall.
What you get when you win a race. The ability to sit at a bar and have other people buy you a drink because you ran faster than everyone else.
Someone who is sponsored by a brand to promote their image or a particular product. Often compensated with free equipment or a small stipend.
Any workout that alternates between periods of biking and running. Most common in the triathlete and duathlete communities. Makes your legs feel like a ton of bricks.
Sitting on the computer and compulsively searching for races on popular websites. See runcrastination.
Any race that you want to complete in the future.
A popular prize at the end of a 100 mile race. Collecting race belt buckles is a source of pride for many, however, some lower mileage races are now starting to offer buckles as prizes.
A smooth off-road trail that is highly runnable thanks to a minimal amount of obstacles. Generally covers rolling, hilly terrain instead of steep, rocky terrain.
Slang term for any anti-chafing product, like Body Glide.
A statistic measured in strides per minute. Higher cadences mean the runner has a shorter amount of time between each “footfall” on the ground.
Filling one’s body with carb-rich foods, like pasta, bread, and other quick energy in the days leading up to a race. Commonly done in the hopes that this will give your muscles the glycogen stores they need to avoid a bonk and improve performance.
Any running course for a marathon or half-marathon that is certified by USA Track and Field. This process ensures that the race distance is correct. All national records in the US must be run on courses certified by the USATF.
The process of blistering skin from the friction of continuous clothing-on-skin or skin-on-skin rubbing.
A location along a running course where your time is recorded. Often placed alongside aid stations. In longer races, may also include a medical check-up or alternative support.
When a male runner is passed by a female runner in a race.
A piece of plastic that gets attached to a runner’s shoes during a race to record their time. These chips are required for most modern races to receive an officially recorded time.
The time your chip recorded for your race. Can differ slightly from clock time because the chip only starts recording once you physically step over the electronic timing mat at the start and end of a race.
Chaffing from one’s thighs rubbing together.
A sustained uphill section of a run.
The time your ran during a race, as denoted by the official race clock. Can differ from one’s chip time because the clock does not account for when a given runner actually crosses the starting line during a mass start.
Running category for heavier male runners, generally those over 200lbs (90.7 kg). The male variant of Athena runners.
When nature calls in the middle of your run or a race.
Tight, form-fitting socks that are designed to stimulate blood flow to the lower legs during exercise. Also popular amongst frequent flyers for reducing the likelihood of developing deep vein thrombosis on long flights.
Slowing down one’s pace significantly toward the end of a run to ease out of training. Helps slowly lower the heart rate, which helps to prevent blood from pooling up in one’s extremities.
Exercises that help to strengthen the core muscles. Critical for overall stability and power in most athletic pursuits.
A designated area at the start line of a race for runners that hope to run at a particular pace or race time.
People who read and watch films about running when they should be outside running instead.
Any pice of ribbons, flags, chalk, or signs that designate the correct course during a run. More common among long-distance trail races but can’t be relied upon as the sole means of navigation in the mountains.
A sudden and involuntary contraction of the muscles. Often caused by an electrolyte imbalance in the body.
A group of friends, family, or supporters that come to a race to carry your gear, provide you with food and water, or pace you on the course.
Letting out a fart as you pass another runner or have someone behind you.
Using other types of exercise (e.g. biking and swimming) to train for a particular pursuit like running.
Cut off time (Cut offs)
The maximum time allotted for a runner to pass a checkpoint and be allowed to continue running a race. Longer races often have checkpoints to ensure that no runner falls too far behind the rest of the pack.
Sock absorption built into a shoe. Designed to minimize the impacts of foot strikes on the ankles, knees, and hips.
Training that involves decreasing running intervals. For example, 800m -> 600m -> 400m -> 200m
When the body doesn’t have enough fluids to carry out all of its normal and essential functions. Usually the result of losing more fluid that one takes in. Can be life-threatening when prolonged or in hot environments.
A run that takes on straight out of their door and onto the trail.
Any runner that’s a member of both the Half Fanatics and the Marathon Maniacs clubs.
When one runs a marathon on two consecutive days.
Any trail wide enough for two people to run side by side.
The act of completing two runs in one day.
Any running that goes downhill. An incredibly fun activity that can result in black toenails if one’s shoes aren’t properly sized.
Following someone else to help keep your pace. Beware of crop dusting when drafting.
Most people’s preferred slang term for a treadmill, especially in the trail running community.
Drop (millimeter drop)
A measure (usually in millimeters) of the height difference between the heel of a shoe and the toe of a shoe.
A bag filled with items that you might need during an ultra race. Often transported by race officials or your crew to a specific location along the course.
Active movements that take joints and muscles through a full range of motion to increase blood flow and flexibility. Generally done before a run or other physical activity to reduce the risk of injury.
Any mineral that carries an electric charge. Found all over the body in blood, urine, and sweat, and are critical for the proper functioning of muscles and nerve impulses, among other processes.
The total net amount of elevation gain and loss over a running course or hike.
The total amount of elevation ascended during a run or hike. Differs from elevation change because it does not account for elevation loss.
A mask designed to limit oxygen flow to the mouth and nose during exercise to simulate activity at higher elevations.
A chart depicting the elevation gain and loss during a climb or hike.
A vague term used to describe a high-performance runner. Usually reserved for Olympic, professional, Division 1 collegiate runners, and sponsored trail and road runners.
A stationary exercise machine that is designed to mimic the movements of running, walking, and stair climbing without adding any excessive joint pressure and impact.
Hormones secreted by the brain and nervous system that activate the body’s opiate receptors. This generally causes feelings of euphoria and can have an analgesic effect.
Appropriate ways to behave while on a run or race, particularly a trail run or race. Includes informal and unspoken rules about allowing people to pass and other behavior that is and is not appropriate during a run.
A technique used to decrease quad burn when on long uphill climbs. Generally involves walking with one’s hands on their knees.
Running both halves of a race at a consistent pace.
Ultra races that add in unique, and potentially dangerous challenges. Often includes races in hot deserts, freezing temperatures, and ones with exceptional amounts of uphill climbing.
Someone who belongs to the Half Fanatic Club. Anyone who has run 2 half marathons in 14 days or 3 in 90 days.
A Swedish term meaning “speed play.” A type of training where one varies the pace in between their run, with alternating fast paces and slow jogs.
Originally from the UK (particularly the Lake District), fell running is a type of trail running that takes place in mountainous terrain, through bogs, heather, and scree, almost all of which is off-trail.
An accidental leak of urine while running. A fairly common condition, especially among women.
Any type of watch that tracks common fitness markers, like steps, mileage, heart rate, and calories burned.
A foot arch that is very low or non-existent.
The runner leading a race pack.
A simple, yet magical device used for myofascial release of the muscles. Can help reduce the effects of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
The part of the foot that hits the ground first during a stride. People can be heel strikers, toe strikers, or midfoot strikers.
Any food or calories consumed during a run to help keep one’s energy levels high. Often includes gels, blocks, and other exercise-specific products.
A small belt that carries water or snacks on a run.
A running training system that alternates running and walking during a run or a race. The intervals can be time or distance based.
When one uploads a photo of a GPS watch face with the details of their last run. A way of bragging to your friends about your training habits.
A description of how one walks or runs.
Pieces of fabric that are designed to keep debris out of your shoe. Most popular among hikers and trail runners.
A bag that contains items a runner wants to have at the end of a race. Often given to race officials that bring it to the finish area. Similar to a drop bag but is placed at the end of a race, instead of along the course.
When a younger runner gets passed by an older runner.
One’s finishing position in a race within their gender category. Not found at all races.
The feeling that there is someone running behind you when you’re racing or training.
A store of carbohydrates deposited within bodily tissues. The main form of glucose when it’s stored within the body. Provides long-term energy hours after eating.
A map indicating where an individual ran or walked during a run, race, or hike. Can be useful information for people heading out on a new trail run.
A term said by nearly everyone passing you as you run to encourage you. Generally means you’re not actually doing that well.
Grand slam of ultrarunning
A collection of the oldest 100 mile races. Includes the Leadville 100, the Old Dominion 100, the Western States 100, the Wasatch Front 100, and the Vermont 100. Runners need to complete four of the five to have run a grand slam.
A quality of perseverance, even in adversity. A requirement to get through any long run or ultra.
Brand name of a very popular energy gel company. Now used to describe nearly all energy gels, similar to how “xerox” is used to describe nearly all copy machines.
A race that covers 13.1 miles (21.1km). A popular goal amongst amateur long-distance runners.
Hammer/Drop the hammer
To run super fast in a race.
Refers to any one of the three muscles located in the posterior (rear) of the thigh between the hip and the knee.
Fuel and water bottles held in the hands instead of in a belt or a vest during a run.
The trophy, medal, belt buckle, or other prize that one gets after winning or completing a race.
The measure of the number of times that someone’s heart beats in a given minute.
Heart rate monitor
A device that measures an individual’s heart beat. Generally takes the form of a fitness watch or a strap around the chest.
A heat-related injury that occurs when the body loses an exceptional amount of water and electrolytes through sweat. If left untreated can develop into heatstroke, which is an immediately life-threatening condition.
A way to express how hot it actually feels outside, when the ambient air temperature is combined with the relative humidity. The “real feel” of the temperature outside.
A life threatening heat injury that results when the body loses so much fluid that it can no longer regulate its own temperature. Can deteriorate rapidly from heat exhaustion into heat stroke and can cause death if left untreated. Anyone with heat stroke needs to immediately be evacuated to a hospital.
When runners strike their foot on the ground with their heels first in a stride. One of the most common foot strikes amongst runners.
A foot arch that is higher than normal. The opposite of a flat foot or arch.
A training exercise that helps build leg strength and endurance by running up hills.
Training that involves repeatedly running up and down hills.
A type of running that involves ascending and descending hills.
A training program that incorporates hill runs and repeats to help runners build up their muscular endurance and leg strength. Commonly used in cross training for other sports.
Hitting the Wall
When your body no longer has enough glycogen stores to burn for energy. See bonk.
A popular brand of maximalist shoes that include an exceptional amount of cushioning underfoot.
A pack, belt, or vest, that carries water, fuel, and other necessities for a run.
Excessive amounts of sweating that sometimes occurs without heat or exercise.
An abnormally high concentration of sodium within the blood stream. Often results in weakness and abnormally high levels of thirst.
An abnormally low concentration of sodium within the blood stream. Can be life threatening if left to persist untreated.
A condition where an individual has an above-normal body temperature (over 104 degrees Fahrenheit). People with hyperthermia often either have an uncontrolled fever or heat stroke.
A condition where an individual has a below-normal body temperature (below 95 degrees Fahrenheit). Life-threatening if not treated.
When the body is deprived of an adequate supply of oxygen to the tissues.
A recovery method popular amongst athletes where people submerge themselves in cold water for 10+ minutes to reduce inflammation.
The tendon that runs down the length of the outer thing from the pelvis to the top of the tibia.
IT Band Syndrome (ITBS)
An overuse injury that affects the IT band. Usually causes a lot of pain and tenderness around the upper part of the knee. Common amongst runners.
Removable liners that can be placed in a shoe to provide padding or arch support.
Training plan that alternates running and jogging a set distance or time to build up speed and aerobic capacity.
By IAAF rules, an athlete that is younger than 20 years old as of December 31 of that year.
Any miles run during a training program that are solely meant to reach a mileage total, rather than for a specific training purpose.
A final push at the end of a race or training run where a runner runs as fast as they can.
Kinesiology tape/KT Tape
Commercially available product that purports to support and stabilize an injured extremity or joint and increase blood flow.
A substance produced in the muscles during intense, anaerobic exercise. Leads to pain and soreness in the body.
The maximum amount of exercise intensity that an individual’s body can maintain without increasing blood lactate levels.
Any interval workout where the intervals increase. For example, 200m -> 400m -> 600m -> 800m.
A form modeled into the shape of a human foot that is used by shoemakers to create a shoe.
Any part of the body that is further from the mid-line of the body. The opposite of medial. For example, the outside of the thigh is the “lateral” part of the leg while the inner thigh is the medial.
When you alternate passing and getting passed by the same person or group during a longer run.
A type of out and back racecourse with a big loop at its furthest end. The track makes a “lollipop” shape when you look at it on a map.
The part of a training plan where you maximize your miles for the week. Usually consists of 25-30% of the weekly miles.
A run that an individual knew was going to suck, even from the beginning.
A course that starts and ends in the same place but covers new terrain the whole time. The opposite of an out-and-back.
A method of selecting runners that can participate in a race based purely on luck.
The grooves and indentations in the rubber on the outsole of a shoe that provide traction and slip-resistance.
The list of gear that a runner must bring with them during a race. Usually includes food, water, clothing, and other emergency items.
Anyone in the Marathon Maniac club. Someone who ran 2 marathons in 14 days or 3 in 90 days.
When someone takes the day off of work after a marathon to recover.
A long-distance race of 42.195km (26.2mi). A popular running goal around the world. Began in commemoration of the long fabled run of Pheidippides, an ancient Greek soldier that ran from Marathon to Athens to report a battle victory.
A goal pace that one hopes to run during a marathon.
Any runner older than 40.
Any shoe that has a larger than average amount of cushioning underfoot.
Maximum heart rate
The highest heart rate your body should hit while exercising. An important figure to know if you do zone training programs.
Any part of the body that is closer the mid-line of the body. The opposite of lateral. For example, the outside of the thigh is the “lateral” part of the leg while the inner thigh is the medial.
A “normal” foot arch that is neither flat nor high.
A 1,500m distance. Equivalent to 0.93 imperial miles.
A foot strike where the mid-foot hits the ground first.ids
The closed cell foam sandwiched between the upper (top) of a shoe and the outsole (rubber) part of a shoe. The midsole is used to provide cushioning and stability to the foot.
An imperial unit equal to 5,280 feet or 1,760 yards. Equivalent to 0.868 nautical miles and 1609.34 meters.
Any shoe that has a very small or zero drop between the heel and forefoot.
Shoes designed to offer some protection against over-pronation.
Running or walking in a crouched position. Often involves the use of the hands on a climb.
A regulated form of trail running in the mountains with significant elevation gain and clearly marked course. Governed by the World Mountain Running Association.
Crew members that help transport a runner’s gear during a long race.
Any ultra that takes place over multiple days.
Going on a run without an assortment of gadgets and other gear.
When one runs the second half of a race faster than they ran the first half. A noble goal to strive for.
Any runner that is dressed in all neon-colored clothing.
A new runner.
Shoe inserts or insoles that are prescribed by a doctor and custom made for an individual. Can’t be bought over the counter in a store.
A type of race that starts and ends in the same place. The course goes out to a point and then returns via the same route.
Any support that a runner gets outside of a sanctioned aid station. Depending on the race, this might not be allowed and can result in disqualification.
The underside of a shoe where the rubber is. This part provides traction while walking and running.
When a foot rolls inward after hitting the ground.
When an athlete does not allow the body to rest. Can result in wide-spread inflammation in the body and decreased performance. Also associated with an assortment of overuse injuries.
Injuries that occur when an individual puts too much stress on the body before it is ready for that level of impact. Commonly associated with a quick increase in mileage early in a training program.
The speed of a runner over time, generally expressed as minutes per mile or kilometer.
Someone who runs in a race to help a runner maintain a specific pace. Unofficial pacers are generally not allowed during races.
Park runs are fun, community-organized running events where there is no set time limit for completion. Generally a 5K, people are allowed to complete the course at their own pace, whether that’s a run, walk, or jog. Often organized in concert with Parkrun USA
An acceleration added into a run. Generally shorter than the intervals in fartleks and can be used to spice up a run.
Spasms of the piriformis, a large muscle in the buttock region. Can irritate the sciatic nerve and cause pain along the leg and in the foot.
A sheet of connective tissue that connects the heel to the forefoot.
A painful inflammation of the plantar fascia, often caused by repetitive strain to the sole of the foot. Generally, this is due to excessive amounts of running or walking or from shoes that do not adequately support the underside of the foot on hard surfaces.
Jumping and bounding exercises that are designed to exert a muscle’s maximum force in short intervals to increase power.
Point to point
A course that starts and ends at two locations a significant distance away from each other.
Running slower in the second half of a race than in the first.
Post (or medial post)
A higher density foam added to the medial part of a shoe to reduce the risk of overpronation.
A sad feeling that follows a big race due to a decrease in endorphins.
Walking quickly up a hill during a trail run or mountain race instead of running. Is generally more efficient than running on slopes with more than a 10% grade.
A high school athlete. Generally used only in North America.
The natural inward roll of the foot while walking or running.
An awareness of the position and movements of the body
When a race director removes you from a race due to injury, dehydration, or unsportsmanlike conduct.
Interval training that increases, then decreases. For example, 200m -> 400m -> 600m -> 800m -> 600m -> 400m -> 200m
The collection of four large muscles on the front of the thigh. The extensor muscle of the knee.
Runs that involve lots of hard downhills.
Workouts that are longer or faster than one’s average daily run. Generally refers to a speed session, long run, or tempo run.
Consuming large amounts of tortilla chips and cheese to get over any post-run grumpiness.
Runners who start a race way too fast and then have to drop out.
The people who organize races and make the final decision about disqualifications and pulling runners. Often part-time or volunteer workers, so be nice to them.
Any training done to specifically match the conditions of a particular race. Can involve training at a high elevation or running the actual course.
A vest used to carry hydration bladders and fuel during a race or run.
A period of easy, low-impact exercise to help the body recuperate after a race or heavy training.
An easy, casual run done to recuperate after a race or heavy training.
Short bursts of high speed running that get alternated with slower pace movement. Same as intervals.
Repetitive strain injuries
Injuries that are common due to poor running form or too much training by volume.
The list of finishers in a race and their times.
A day of no running or physical activity. Critical to preventing overtraining.
Resting heart rate
An individual’s heart rate when relaxed and not exerting themselves.
How a shoe feels during the footstrike phase of a stride. A subjective measure of how well a shoe works for a given athlete.
Crossing the Grand Canyon twice in a row. Generally from the South Rim to the North Rim and back to the South Rim in the same day or multi-day push.
A runner that is sitting or lying on the side of the road during a race.
Someone who does most of their running and racing on roads.
A route in fell running that involves hitting a specific number of summits.
When someone runs every day for a number of days in a row.
Training method that involves alternating running and walking for a certain distance or time ratio. See Galloway Method.
To plan a personal vacation around going to run a specific race.
The insatiable hunger produced by running. Can easily turn into hangry-ness if no food is available.
Procrastinating by going on a run or doing things related to running.
A selfie taken while running.
An extreme runner’s high.
People who annoy everyone around them by talking endlessly about running.
The euphoric feeling that runners get after a long run due to the increase in endorphins in the body.
Pain that manifests around the patella (knee cap). Not exclusive to running, but unfortunately common among runners.
The bloated feeling that accompanies some runners to the racecourse. Proper nutrition and hydration can help avoid runner’s stomach.
Any GI problem that hits a runner during a run.
A description of the amount of oxygen an individual uses during a run.
The number of miles one runs in a week.
Pills designed to replace electrolytes in the body, especially on hot, humid days.
People who downplay their running prowess before a race or a run.
Any requirement to volunteer or help out at a local trail or park in conjunction with a trail race to offset the impact that popular races have on local resources.
A metal, plastic, or carbon fiber insert in the midsole of a shoe to provide torsional stiffness and support while running and waling.
Any lightweight jacket worn while running in cool temperatures or light rain.
A catch-all term for lower leg pain. A very common overuse injury that occurs frequently amongst runners and other high-impact athletes. Can develop into stress fractures over time.
All of the parts of a shoe. Good information to know for nerdy runners.
A cramp in one’s side. Very painful.
A technical piece of clothing in the form of a tank top that is worn during some races.
A trail that is only wide enough for one runner.
Mountain running at elevations about 2000 meters (6600 feet) on routes where the average incline is greater than 30% but the climbing does not exceed Class 2.
Blowing one’s nose without a tissue so that the mucus lands somewhere on the ground. Experienced runners can do this without missing a single stride.
Training that is done to maximize performance for a specific event or race. In contrast to cross-training.
Training to improve the pace of one’s running
Parts of a race, usually divided by kilometers or miles.
Runners and athletes that are wholly or partially supported by a brand.
Same as motion control – a shoe that helps control and reduce over-pronation.
Someone who covers their vehicle in running-related stickers, especially those from races.
A popular GPS tracking app, especially among cyclists.
People who act like jerks in order to make their fastest known time or a new personal record when using the Strava app.
The act of running at least one mile a day over an extended period of time.
The deliberate flexing of specific muscles to improve the muscle’s elasticity and reduce the risk of injury.
Small cracks in a bone caused by repetitive impact, such as from running.
Each step taken during a run.
The total number of times that a runner’s feet hit the ground in a minute while running.
Quick bursts of higher-speed intervals during a run. Very similar to farlek.
When you can’t breathe during or after running.
The rolling of the foot toward the outside edge. Opposite of pronation.
Free stuff that you get from a race.
How much one sweats per hour. This is usually between 1.0 and 2.5 liters of water every hour.
The ability to talk while running. A good measure of if someone is running at a comfortable pace or if they’re exerting themselves.
The act of decreasing one’s daily mileage and intensity over the course of the days and weeks before a race in the hopes of minimizing exhaustion and maximizing physical readiness.
Target heart rate
A specific heart rate that an athlete hopes to be at during exercise. Generally used in zone training programs.
A commonly used term in trail running to denote a trail that is challenging.
Synthetic clothing that is designed to wick away sweat during exercise. Often, they help prevent chafing, too.
Any trail that is steep, uneven, and perhaps involves a bit of scrambling. Generally reserved for experienced trail runners.
A fast, quick training run.
High-intensity runs that are designed to help a runner increase their speed in a race.
Inflammation or irritation in a tendon, often from overuse.
The degeneration of collagen in a tendon due to chronic overuse.
A run between 5-20 minutes long that is at a pace just below one’s 10k running pace. This pace usually brings an athlete close to their lactate threshold.
Running pants that are form-fitting.
The electronic device found at the start and end of a course (and sometimes the halfway mark) to calculate a runner’s official chip time.
The front part of a pair of shoes where the toes sit.
Any socks that separate the individual toes like a pair of gloves. Loved by some, hated by others.
A running stride where the forefoot hits the ground first.
The overall amount of vertical elevation gained during a run or race.
An oval-shaped piece of ground that is used for the running of certain races. Races run on a track generally include shorter sprints and anything up to 10,000m in the Olympics.
A person who does most of their running on a track.
The act of running on a trail, as opposed to on a road.
What one does to get the endurance and strength needed to run a race or improve their personal running time.
A written journal of all of the training that one does to prepare for a race. A good way to keep track of one’s progress.
A pre-set chart of daily and weekly exercises and runs to prepare an individual to run a specific distance or race.
Any run done as part of a fitness regime to get ready for a race.
An indoor running machine. Dispised by many in the running community.
Sticks used to make a stride more efficient and improve balance when running, walking, or hiking. Not allowed in some trail races.
A three-stage race with a swim, run, and bike component.
Technically, any race longer than a marathon (26.2 mi/42.195 km), but a term that is generally used only for races longer than 50km (31.1 mi)
When the ankle rolls less than 15% inward when walking or running.
Unofficial aid station
Any non-officially sanctioned aid station during a race. Often run by good samaritans but accepting aid from non-official sources can result in disqualification.
The top part of a shoe. The part of the shoe that wraps around the foot and keeps it attached to the midsole. Often made of fabrics or leather.
Any point to point mountain running route that covers less than 5km and climbs more than 1000m.
A measure of the body’s ability to effectively consume oxygen. The higher the number, the more efficient the uptake of oxygen in the body.
The lovely, un-paid people that run the aid stations during your race and give you snacks and water. Be kind to them.
A series of exercises any dynamic stretches to prepare the body for physical activity and reduce the risk of injury.
Forward propulsion of the upright human body in which one foot is on the ground at all times. A commonly used tactic in longer trail races that is actually more efficient in some instances than running.
The metaphorical thing you hit when you bonk.
The use of weights or bodyweight to increase one’s overall muscle strength. An often over-looked aspect of training for running.
Something that’s not allowed in running.
A “real feel” measure of the perceived coldness of a location by combining the ambient air temperature with the effects of the wind. Even mild winter days can feel much colder with a strong wind.
A funny term for trekking poles.
World Marathon Majors
The six most prestigious marathons in the world: Tokyo, London, Boston, Berlin, Chicago, and NYC.
A specific speed workout to predict one’s marathon time by running 10 sets of 800 meters, alternating with 400 meters of easy running in between.
When one gives way to another runner on a trail, whether during a race or a training run.
Any shoe that has no height difference between the heel and forefoot.
Training programs designed to keep an individual’s heart rate in specific “zones” to maximize aerobic capacity and fat burn.
The concept that runners should never increase their running volume by more than 10% each week to avoid overuse injuries.
AIMS: Association of International Marathons and Road Races
ASOIF: Association of Summer Olympic International Federations
BMI: Body Mass Index
BQ: Boston Qualifier
CR: Course Record
C25K: Couch to 5K
DFL: Dead fluffin’ last. Exactly what it sounds like.
DNF: Did not finish
DNS: Did not start
DOMS: Delayed onset muscle soreness. Pain and stiffness in muscles that sets in 24-72 hours after exercise.
FKT: Fastest known time
FOMO: Fear of missing out.
GPS: Global positioning system. Used in fitness watches and other technology to pinpoint a person’s location. Some devices can provide directions based on GPS coordinates.
IOC: International Olympic Committee
ITB: The iliotibial band or IT band.
LSD: Long, slow, distance. Refers to “long runs” in a training band
MPM: Minutes per mile
MPW: Miles per week
MUT: Mountain/ultra/trail. People who run all three types of terrain and races.
NR: National record
OCR: Obstacle course racing
PR: Personal record
PB: Personal best
RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. A method for treating soft-tissue injuries, like sprains and strains. Commonly used in the running community.
RRCA: Road Runners Club of America
USATF: US Track and Field
USOC: United States Olympic Committee
WR: World record
WB: World best
Running Distances and Races
100 meters: Generally the shortest sprint race in outdoor track and field
200 meters: Sprint race that covers 1/2 a standard track lap
400 meters: Sprint race that covers one full standard track lap
800 meters: Sprint race that covers two full standard track laps
1200 meters: Sprint race that covers three full standard track laps
1500 meters: Track race that covers 3 3/4 laps around a standard track. Also known as the metric mile (0.93 imperial miles)
5k: 3.1 miles. A common race for new amateur runners.
10k: 6.2 miles
15k: 9.3 miles
30K: 18.6 miles
Half Marathon: 13.1 miles; 21.1km
Marathon: 26.2 miles (42.2km)
Ultramarathon: Any race distance greater than that of a standard marathon. Generally refers to races greater than 50k.
50k: 31.1 miles. Generally accepted to be the shortest “ultramarathon” distance.
50M: 50 miles; 80.5km. An ultra-marathon distance popular in the United States.
100K: 62.2 miles. Popular ultra-marathon distance around the world.
100M: 100 miles; 160.9km. A true test piece of the ultramarathon world.
200M: 200 miles; 321.9km. Yes, these races exist. Only the craziest among us even try.
Triathalon (tri): A multi-sport race that involves a swim, bike, and run. Distances vary between specific events.
Sprint: A short triathlon with a 750m (0.46 mi) swim, 20km bike, and 5k (3.1 mi) run (12.4 mi).
Olympic/standard: Distances for Olympic running races. 1.5k (0.93mi), 40k (24.9mi), and 10k (6.2mi).
1/2 Ironman (Tinman): A triathlon that covers half of the distance of a standard Ironman. Includes a 1.2 mi (1.9 km) swim, 56 mi (90.1 km) bike, and a 13.1 mile (21.1 km) run.
Ironman: A testpiece of the triathlon world. Includes a 2.4 mile (3.8 km) swim, 112 mile (180 km) bike, and 26.2 mile (42.2 km) run.
Up Next In Trail Running:
David is an accomplished mountain endurance athlete who has completed over 25 ultra marathon races (follow on Strava). He is most proud of his finish at The Drift 100 – a high elevation, 100 mile winter foot race that zigzags along the Continental Divide in Wyoming. In the future he hopes to compete in the ITI 350 and ultimately the full 1,000 mile Iditarod Trail Invitational that follows the same path as the historic dog sled race.