Running Terminology

May 11, 2012

I still consider myself new to running  Sometimes I will be reading different blogs or Runners World magazine and come across a term in a forum that I have no idea what means.  I feel like I should probably know what it means, you know, if I want to consider myself a real runner.  So I set out to educate myself ... and now, I am educating you!  Aren't you lucky?  Here we go, in no particular order:

Split Times:  This is the time it takes to complete a specific distance while running.  Typically, a mile, but can be any distance.  Let's say I ran 5 miles today and someone asked me what my splits were.  I would say 9:30, 9:15, 9:14, 9:09, 9: 00.  These numbers would represent how long it took me to run each mile. 

Negative Splits:  Basically running the second half of a race faster than the first.  Or running each progressive mile, faster than the past mile.  In the above example, I had negative splits.  Each progressive mile was faster than the last.  This is generally the recommended way to run.  Start out slow and save your energy for the end.  I am still working on this, mostly I have it backwards, my first mile is fastest and my last slowest.

Pace:  The rate at which you are running.  Typically given as minutes per mile.

Chip Time:  The amount of time it took you to finish a race, measured by a chip worn by the runner, sometimes in the shoe, other times on the back of the running number.

Fartlek: (no giggling, please, this is serious running business), This one, we are going to take straight from Wikipedia:

Fartlek, which means "speed play" in Swedish,[1] is a form of interval training which puts stress on the whole aerobic energy system due to the continuous nature of the exercise. The difference between this type of training and continuous training is that the intensity or speed of the exercise varies, meaning that both aerobic and anaerobic systems can be put under stress. It differs from traditional interval training in that it is unstructured; intensity and/or speed can be varied whenever the athlete wishes.[2][3] Most fartlek sessions last a minimum of 45 minutes and can vary from aerobic walking to anaerobic sprinting. Fartlek training is generally associated with running, but can include almost any kind of exercise.

So, basically unstructured interval training.  Basically, you go out and run hard until you hit the 5th drive way.  Then you recover.  Then you run hard to the next Dairy Queen.  Then recover (and no, that recovery does not include a Blizzard!).  You saw the word unstructured in there right?  Yea, doesn't really sound like me.  I typically do all my interval/speed work on the treadmill.  I love structure. 


Nike Miler Running Singlet

Don't laugh, I knew this was a piece of clothing, just wasn't exactly sure what it looked like.  When I hear singlet, I think wrestling, not running.  And I just couldn't see people running in those crazy one piece things.  So basically a running singlet is a shirt with no sleeves.  Why isn't it called a tank top?  Anyone?  Anyone?  Probably, you won't be seeing me in one of these. 

Tempo Run:  Runs that are run at a very steady pace.  Usually slightly slower than your 10k pace.  A way to build endurance.

Taper:  To reduce your mileage in the two weeks before a big race.  Trying to ensure maximum performance levels for the race.  Done typically for half marathon and longer distances. 

Carb Loading:  It is exactly as it sounds, consuming a heavy amount of carbs in the few days before a race.  For those that recommend this practice, 60 to 70% of calories are recommended to come from carbs.

Glycogen:  Going hand in hand with Carb Loading - this is how carbohydrates are stored in your body.  When glycogen stores are depleted, you fatigue.  See Hitting the Wall.  Carb Loading is supposed to help keep you from hitting the wall.  

Hitting the Wall:  The point at which you are completely drained of energy (glycogen is depleted) and you cannot go on.  Muscles may seize up.  Very painful.

DNF:  A dreaded term in racing, stands for Did Not Finish

DNS:  Did Not Start

PR:  Personal Record

RICE:  Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.  Used to treat many injuries.

Speedwork:  Short, fast interval training.  Helps increase stamina.

LSD: This has nothing to do with drugs or anything that happened on a Mad Men episode my husband was just watching.  Stands for Long Slow Distance. 

BQ:  to Boston Qualify.  This particular race has very specific targets you have to hit in order to enter.  You won't hear me throwing this term around!

TM:  Treadmill

C25K:  A beginners running plan.  A great great program, I highly recommend it!

Hill Repeats:  Um, these suck.  Is that definition enough?  It is exactly what it sounds like, running up hill, at a fast pace, over and over and over.  Recovery interval in between.  It is hard, but it does build endurance. 

Out and Back:  A course where you run out a certain distance and then turn around and come home.

Bonk:  Same as hitting the wall. 

In addition to these terms, you should also know your distances: 

  • 5K:  3.1 Miles
  • 10K:  6.2 Miles
  • Half Marathon:  13.1 Miles
  • Marathon:  26.2 Miles
Those are the most popular races.  Our area has a 7k, which is 4.3 miles.  I have also seen advertisements for a 50k or ultra marathon.  A 50k is 31 miles.  An ultra marathon is generally any distance over a marathon. 

I hope this helps any beginners out there navigate the world of running.  If you are new to running and looking for some motivation - you should check out  It is sort of like facebook for exercise.  You friend people who then comment on your workout and encourage you.  There is also a forum for questions and answers.  I really like it.  Send me a FR (friend request!).


1 comment:

  1. I was reading 50 shades last night and knew what a singlet was because of this post!


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