40+ running terms every runner needs to know
Do you know what bib, bonk, and bandit mean?
The more you run, the more you start to talk like a runner. This list of 40+ running terms will be useful along your running journey.
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Running terms glossary by topic
Basic training terms
During aerobic exercise (also called “cardio”) breathing (oxygen) is sufficient to meet the energy demands of the muscles. Think of low to moderate intensity activities like jogging.
Exercise becomes anaerobic when breathing doesn’t provide enough oxygen to meet energy needs. Think high intensity, maximum effort activities such as sprints.
The last part of a runner’s workout where the goal is to get the heart rate and breathing back to normal. It usually involves a short walk or jog, lower body stretching, etc.
Your core includes the muscles around the middle of your body (abs & back). It plays a role in stability and thereby influences your running form. Your core can be trained with specific exercises.
All other exercise types a runner might do to improve their condition, for active recovery and injury prevention, such as strength training, cycling, swimming. (Not to be confused with crossfit!)
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is a feeling of discomfort in your muscles 24-72 hours after a workout. This doesn’t necessarily mean the workout was good, just that you are not used to it.
Heart Rate (HR) refers to heart contractions measured as beats per minute (bpm). Target HR zones describe levels of workout intensity based on your maximum heart rate (MHR).
A by-product of energy metabolism during intense activities (see Anaerobic). A buildup of lactic acid is usually described as “muscle burn” or stiffness, but it is not dangerous.
A regular part of a runner’s training plans. During rest days you let your body adapt to the training stress through sleep, nutrition, and active recovery to avoid overtraining and make progress.
Dynamic stretching involves light, bouncy movements through the range of motion to warm up the body before running. Static stretching means holding a position at the end range of movement. It can be done after running to relax tight muscles.
Your maximum oxygen uptake (VO2 max) tells you how efficiently your body can use oxygen during exercise. When you stop exercising for a while it is the first thing to decrease.
The first part of runner’s workout where the goal is to get your heart rate up and increase blood flow to the muscles. It usually consists of jogging, dynamic stretches, and/or running drills.
Running training terms
The training program phase where the goal is to build endurance, the “base”. Example: A novice might do base training before starting a marathon program.
A feeling of extreme fatigue that suddenly comes over you during a long run, sometimes called “hitting the wall”. It can be avoided with proper nutrition and training plans.
How many steps you take per minute while running. Optimal cadence is individual, but a faster cadence might improve performance and reduce injury risk (180 +/- 10 steps per minute).
Running ABC is a combination of exercises focused on improving your running form. These exercises are called drills and are often performed as part of the warm-up.
Running at a pace where you could easily hold a conversation.
Swedish for “speed play”. A training run where effort and intervals are not set beforehand and can also include uphill and downhill running. The goal of fartlek training is to play with speed while improving running performance.
Which part of your foot first touches the ground when you run determines your foot strike – heel strike, midfoot strike, or forefoot strike. There is no evidence that one is best for everyone.
Intervals or interval training means fast bursts of running mixed with slower running or walking periods (but not completely stopping/standing still).
Long Slow Distance (LSD) or Long Run is an important type of run included in running programs. Usually it covers up to 30% of weekly mileage and is performed at a slow, comfortable pace to build up stamina.
Running the second half of your run faster than the first. (see Split time)
Your pace is how many minutes you need to run a kilometer or a mile. This shouldn’t be confused with speed, which tells you how many kilometers or miles you are running per hour
The time it takes you to cover a specific distance during training or a race.
A “streak” is achieved when you run several consecutive days in a row. A run needs to be at least 1.61 km (1 mile) to count as streak running. (Not to be confused with running naked!)
Strides are short, ~30 sec, gradually accelerating running bursts done at up to 90% of your maximum speed. A single step taken during a run can also be called a stride.
A type of running workout performed at a challenging pace for a set time or distance. It is done to practice maintaining speed over time and train mental focus.
Running on unpaved surfaces (dirt roads, forest trails, hiking routes…). Trail race routes should be marked and have less than 20% paved roads. Trail runs are all about experiencing nature.
K = kilometers. 5K refers to a 5 kilometer (3.1 mile) race or run, 10K to 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), etc.
A person running a race without officially registering or paying for it.
A sheet of paper that you attach to your chest when running a race. It contains your registration number and an electronic chip that will track your time. (see Chip time)
Carb loading/Carbo load
Switching your macronutrient ratio to more carbohydrates in the days leading up to a race to fill your energy stores (glycogen). Can be beneficial for longer (90 minutes+) races.
At big race events you are unlikely to cross the starting line immediately after the official start. A chip will record the time from the moment you pass the starting line. Chip timing can be done via different transponder systems, such as chips integrated in shoelaces or in the bib. (See Bib)
Did Not Finish (DNF) and Did Not Start (DNS) are used when a runner doesn’t complete or start a race.
Gun time/Clock time
The official race starting time marked by the point when the clock starts. Usually not the same time as when you actually cross the starting line (see chip time).
HM (Half Marathon)
A half marathon is a 21.0975 kilometer / 13 miles 192½ yards long race. Good to know: Everything up to 400 meters is considered short distance (sprint). 800 – 1609 meters is middle distance and 2000 – 42,195 meters is called long distance. A full marathon is a 42.2 kilometer / 26 miles 385 yards long race. Any race longer than a marathon is called an ultra marathon.
The final push at the end of the race when a runner increases their speed to the finish line.
Personal Best (PB) or Personal Record (PR) is your fastest time for any given distance. Example: A 5K PB is the fastest you ever ran a 5K race.
A period before the race, usually over the course of a few weeks, where the runner runs less to preserve energy before the big day.
The difference in thickness between the front and back of the running shoe (millimeters). A change in the midsole drop (heel drop) when buying new shoes can affect your running style and injury risk.
Neutral running shoes don’t provide extra corrective support. Unlike neutral shoes, stability shoes are designed with extra midfoot support (see Pronation).
As you run, your foot naturally rolls inward at one point. This is called pronation. Running shoes can be designed for overpronation, underpronation (supination), or neutral. (see Neutral shoe)
The feeling of bliss that happens during or after a run. From endorphins to endocannabinoids, science is unsure of which chemicals make it happen. But runners agree that it’s addictive!
A common running injury, experienced as a specific type of knee pain located on the outer side of the knee joint.
Another common injury for runners, experienced as pain running up the inside of your lower leg.
That’s it. If you got this far, you are now ready to grab your bib, skip the bonk, and beat the bandit!
Feel like we missed some important terms? Let us know in the comments below!