unning terminology may not be the most fascinating topic at first glance.

However, running like any other sport or profession has a language of its own and it is very important to understand the definitions and terms that will be referred to so you can be in the know.

This might be the most exhaustive list of running terms on the internet!

Running Terms and Lingo


100 meters= shortest sprint race held outdoors

200 meters= 1/2 lap around track

400 meters= 1/4 mile, one lap around a standard track

800 meters = 1/2 mile, two laps around a standard track

1200 meter = 3/4 mile, three laps around a standard track

1500 meter = .93 mile, metric mile, 3 3/4 laps around track

5k= 3.1 miles; 5,000 meters (AKA, a 5k marathon)

10k= 6.2 miles; 10,000 meters

15k= 9.3 miles; 15,000 meters

Half Marathon= 13.1 miles; 21.1k

Marathon= 26.2 miles; 42.2k

Ultra marathon= any distance greater than 26.2 miles but typically referring to a 50k race or beyond

50k= 31.1 miles

Tri/triathlon= a race which involves a swimming, cycling and running, the most common triathlon distances include the sprint (750m swim, 20km bike, 5k run), Olympic or standard (1.5k/40km/10k), ½ Ironman (1.2 miles/56 miles/13.1 miles), Ironman (2.4 miles/112 miles/26.2miles)

Agencies and Common Abbreviations

IAAF= International Amateur Athletic Foundation; the worldwide organization that governs running

BQ (Boston Qualify)= the Boston Marathon requires runners to meet certain time standards based on age and gender

USATF= USA track and field

RRCA= Road Runner’s Club of America

CR= course record

WR= world record

FKT= fastest known time

DNF= did not finish

DNS= did not start

Training Terms

Heart rate (HR)= the contraction of the heart, usually measured as beats per minute (bpm)

Resting Heart Rate (RHR)= your heart rate when you first wake up in the morning and before getting out of bed

Maximum Heart Rate (MHR)= the highest number of contractions your heart can make in one minute; a common way to estimate this is to take 220- your age= max HR (220-37=183)

Heart rate monitor (HRM)= a device that measures the electrical activity of the heart; this may be through a wrist based monitor, chest strap, or in ear monitor

Aerobic= using oxygen to generate energy

VO2 max= aerobic capacity, maximum amount of oxygen that can be utilized by your body during activity

Anaerobic= without oxygen, usually used to describe very high intensity exercise (going anaerobic)

Pace= a measurement of speed of running, usually measured as how many minutes it takes you to run a mile or kilometer

Endurance= the ability to run for long periods of time

Endorphins= brain chemicals which cause feelings of euphoria and the “runners high”

Runner’s High= a happy and relaxed feeling that can happen during or after a run from the release of endorphins

Second wind= feeling more energy and using less effort after running for at least 15-20 minutes

PR/PB= Personal Record or personal best; the fastest time you’ve done for a given distance

Cadence= the number of steps you take in a minute of running; ideal cadence is thought to be 180 steps/min

Gait= describes how we run or walk and consists of two phases: stance where part of the foot touches the ground and swing during which the same foot doesn’t touch the ground

Lactic Acid= a byproduct of the body’s use of carbohydrates-the anaerobic metabolism of glucose; usually associated with muscle stiffness and burn after a hard workout

Glycogen= the storage form of glucose (sugar) found primarily in the liver and muscles

DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness)= discomfort, stiffness, or soreness of a muscle related to microscopic tears of a muscle doing more work than it’s used to, typically noticed primarily 24-72 hours post-workout

Hitting the wall/Bonk= a state of exhaustion where your glycogen stores are depleted and blood sugar levels are low; this sometimes hits from mile 18 on in a marathon without proper fueling

Stretching= movements to increase muscle, ligament, and joint flexibility; best done after exercise when the muscles are warm

Dynamic stretching= stretching involving movement most beneficial for runners

Static stretching= a stretch held in a challenging but comfortable position typically for 10-60 seconds

Weight training/Strength training= these are sometimes used interchangeably and refer to exercises focused on developing the strength and size of muscles; weight training would involves weights while strength training could use just body weight exercises

Pylometrics= a type of exercise designed to produce fast, powerful movements; the muscle is loaded and contracted in rapid sequence

Core/core training= specific strengthening exercises targeting the core muscles which include the muscles in the abdominals, back and pelvis

Water/aqua jogging= a cross training exercise in which the running motion is done in a pool or body of water, usually using a buoyancy belt so that your feet don’t touch the bottom and the workout is low impact

Elliptical= an exercise machine that mimics the running motion in a low impact manner

Doubles= doing two runs in one day

Brick workout= doing two different workouts back to back—often used in preparation for a triathlon

Terms on a Training Plan

MPM= minutes per mile

MPW= miles per week

XC= cross country

XT/cross-train= a low-impact activity to perform on the days you don’t run that will increase your conditioning, help prevent injury, and add variety to your workout schedule. Examples: swimming, cycling, elliptical, walking, weight-training, yoga, exercise video)

Hills= important to build leg strength and endurance; run in a hilly area or set the treadmill at an incline

Hill repeats= run up hill then down, repeat for determined number of times

Easy run/recovery run= an easy, steady pace for recovery or enjoyment; improves aerobic conditioning; intensity should permit conversation and be no more than 60-75% maximum heart rate

Zone 2= this refers to keeping your heart rate within Zone 2 for easy and recovery runs—prescribed by the Maffetone Method of heart rate training. Take 180-age for upper zone 2 limit

Marathon pace= the pace you plan to hold during your goal marathon; many training plans will call for some marathon pace runs

10% rule= a general guideline which discourages increasing your weekly mileage by more than 10% each week

Warm up= walk for at least 2-5 minutes before starting a slow jog to warm up and loosen the muscles prior to workout

Cool down= slowing your pace significantly for a couple minutes at the end of your run, then walking to further cool down and slowly lower your heart rate to avoid letting blood pooling in your extremities

Speedwork= increasing the pace of your run according to a schedule to improve leg power, strength, and confidence; training yourself to go faster

Tempo run= maintaining a comfortably hard or challenging pace; builds speed and teaches the body to run at a certain pace; usually run at a maximum of 80-85% HR

Intervals= a speed workout where a set distance is run repeatedly with recovery jogs in between to build speed and aerobic capacity

Ladder intervals= a workout where increasing intervals are run with recovery jogs in between; 200m-400m-600m-800m

Cutdown intervals= decreasing intervals; 800m- 600m- 400m- 200m
Pyramid= combining intervals; 200-400-600-800-600-400-200

Strides= short, controlled bursts of running (50-150 meters) to work on form and efficiency; sometimes done at the end of a workout

Fartlek= Swedish word meaning “speed play”; an informal speed workout; example: run hard to next telephone pole, slow pace, run hard to next…

Yasso 800= a speed workout and marathon time predictor invented by Bart Yasso, it involves running 10 sets of 800 meters with 400 meters easy in between, by using the average of your 800 meter times you can get an estimate of what your marathon time could be

LSD= long slow distance

Rest day= no running or intense physical activity, an important day to rest your body and mind

Base training/running base= running that builds a solid foundation of aerobic fitness and muscle strength over a period of weeks or months before starting a focused training plan

Peak= scheduling your training so that your best performance is timed for a race

Taper= decreasing mileage and intensity for several days to three weeks before a race to ensure peak performance

Long run= the weekly mileage buildup, the most important run of the week consisting of 25-30% of your weekly mileage, depending on goal race it could be from 4-26 miles

Overtraining= doing too much, too soon can lead to fatigue, injury, or burn out

Terms that Pertain to Race Day

Certified course= Most marathons and half-marathons are certified by USA Track & Field which makes sure that the distance of the race is accurately measured. For any running performance to be accepted as a record or for national ranking, it has to be run on a USATF-certified course

Out and back= a course where you run out a certain distance and then turn around and run back the same way

Loop= starting your run or race at one point and then running in a big circle to end at the same location

Point to point= a course that begins and ends at widely separated locations

Chip/net time= your personal time recorded from when you cross the start line to finish line

Clock time= the time recorded from when the race first begins

Kick= a fast finishing sprint at the end of a run or race

Splits= a races or run’s total time divided into parts (usually km or miles)

Negative split= running the second half of a race faster than the first half; ideal way to pace most races

Positive split= running the second half of the race slower than the first half

Even split= running the first and second half of a race at a consistent pace

Corral= a designated area for runners of a certain pace or who hope to run a certain race time, this can be strictly or informally controlled

Wave start= each corral starts the race staggered anywhere from a few seconds to minutes apart to help with course congestion

Timing mat= an electronic device placed across the course that records your personal time when you cross it, usually found at the start line, halfway point and finish line (but there may be more)

Pacer= this is someone who runs with you to help keep you on pace, this can range from a running partner to a sanctioned pacer during a race, using unofficial pacers (an unregistered runner) during a race is not allowed

Master= an athlete 40 years of age or older

Clydesdale/Athena= a category to describe a heavier runner—typically over 150lb for a woman and 200lb for a man

Aid Station= an official section containing things like water, sports drink, fuels during a race; often spaced evenly throughout a race course

Volunteer= a person donating their time to help out during a race

Unofficial aid station= a private individual(s) who have a spot to hand out food or liquids during a race—be careful because accepting unofficial aid from anywhere except official aid stations can result in disqualification for awards

Single track= a trail running term referring to a course that is only wide enough to allow for one runner at a time

Double track= trail running term referring to a trail wide enough to allow for two people abreast

Technical= a trail running term referring to how challenging or difficult the trail is- a highly technical trail would include things like natural obstacles (water crossings, rock climbs, steep up and down hills, ungroomed trails, etc)

Road runner= a runner who does most of their training and races on the roads

Elevation gain= the amount of feet or meters that the course goes up during a run or race

Climb= often refers to a hill or stretch of elevation gain during trail running

Quad buster= long downhill stretches of running

Altitude training= specific training at over 1,500 meters/5,000 ft for several weeks to trigger increased red blood cell production which can boost endurance

Heat Index= the combined effects of the temperature and humidity in the air

Wind Chill= refers to the lower temperature caused by a combination of the ambient temp and the wind

Run/walk/run or Galloway Method= a system of planned running and walking intervals during a run or race, can be anywhere from a certain distance to time ratio, distance/distance ratio, or time/time ratio

Timing chip= a device you tie to your shoe or that is attached to the back of your race bib that measures your finishing time when you cross a timing mat in a race

Bling/hardware/medal= the finisher’s prize given out which usually takes the form of a medal, belt buckle, mug, hunk of wood, etc. Some runners are known to look this up in advance before signing up for a race

Swag= the goodies or items given either before or after a race- this can include coupons, samples, food items, apparel, cups/mugs, etc

Crew= a group of friends who have been recruited to provide you with aid or support during a race (most typically during a 50+ mile event)

Drop bag= a collection of items that you think you’ll need during an ultra race that is transported by the race to a specific location for you. This can be handy if you don’t have a crew

Fuel= term that refers to any food or calories taken in before or during running to keep your energy up, can be anything from traditional exercise fuels to “real” food options

Gu/gel/chomps/blocks= various types of fuels for running; a gu/gel usually has a thicker gel-like consistency; chomps/blocks/gummies are usually more solid and need to be chewed

UCAN= a slow release carbohydrate fuel from Generation UCAN

Carb loading= a dietary habit of eating high carbohydrate diet (60-70% total calories) for 3-7 days before a race to maximally fill glycogen stores

Hand-held= refers to a bottle that you can carry in your hand as you run

Fuel belt= a belt that allows you to carry one or more bottles for liquid around your waist area

Gear and Shoes

Foot strike= how and where your foot hits the ground as you run: heel strikers- heel hits the ground first, midfoot striker- mid to ball of foot hit the ground first, forefoot striker- ball of foot to toes hit the ground first

Pronation= refers to the inward roll of your foot during part of your running stride

Overpronation= foot rolls over to the inside too far during the running stride which can lead to injury and muscle imbalances

Supination= foot does not have a sufficient inward roll or even may roll to the outside during the running stride

Normal/medium arch= refers to an arch that ideally supports your body weight and pronates normally under load- half of arch region filled in with paper bag test; most common foot type

Flat/low arch= foot often overpronates inward for shock absorption which can lead to ankle and knee problems- entire arch region filled in with paper bag test

High arch= foot does not roll much with ground contact which doesn’t absorb as much shock; will just see ball of foot and heel on paper bag test

Orthotics= shoe inserts to correct biomechanical problems

Stability or motion control= a shoe designed to offers some degree of control for over-pronation

Cushioned= a shoe designed with extra softness sometimes preferred for those with a more rigid foot

Drop= also known as heel to toe drop or heel-toe offset, heel-toe differential, or heel-toe lift in a shoe; it is the difference between the heel height and the forefoot height in a shoe; expressed in millimeters

Zero drop= equal height between the heel and forefoot in a shoe, this does not necessarily mean it is a minimalist shoe. If you’re transitioning to a zero drop shoe for the first time you should be careful and do this very gradually

Minimalistic= a shoe with little or no cushioning and often a thinner amount of materials between the foot and ground

Maximalist= a shoe with a lot of cushioning and materials between the foot and ground; see Hoka

Hokas= a brand of maximalist shoes

Ride= the feel of a shoe during the foot strike, should be a smooth feeling but is subjective

Naked running= without gadgets/lots of gear

Wicking= the ability of a fiber to move moisture from the skin to surface of fabric so it can evaporate and keep you dry

Technical/tech shirt or gear= a running shirt made of wicking fabric

TM= treadmill; also known as the dreadmill

Foam roller/rolling= self myofascial release using a cylindrically shaped firm foam object

Ice bath= submersing in cool to cold water for 10+ minutes after a hard workout to reduce inflammation; also see torture

Buckle= hardware often given after completing a 100 mile race

Bib= the race number that you attach to your clothing before the race

Gaiters= gear that attaches to your shoes and goes up your ankle or leg to keep out dirt, rocks and other debris

GPS= global positioning system; to track location, velocity and time anywhere in the world

Garmin= a company that makes a number of GPS watches; also slang for whatever running watch you have (I forgot to stop my Garmin at the end of the race)

Training Log= a training record to increase your motivation, monitor progress, and spot trends in your running, this can be an online log, spreadsheet, or paper

Strava= an online training log and community

Hydration pack= a lightweight breathable backpack that contains a bladder and hose to carry water or other fluids that you can drink on the go, usually also contains other pockets for storing fuels and other necessities

Tights= form fitting running pants

Shell= lightweight jacket worn over other clothing useful for mildly cool temps; can be compressed to fit in a pack

Body Glide= a brand of roll on anti-chaffing lubricant to prevent chaffing; there are many brands of anti-chaffing products but are sometimes just called body glide

Compression socks/gear= a garment that provides graduated pressure to help improve blood circulation and provide support to body parts

Singlet= a technical tank top worn while running, often used for races

Injury and Mishaps

RICE= Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation; used to treat certain injuries

Stitch= side cramp

Runners trots= gastrointestinal (GI) problems on the run resulting in diarrhea

Code brown= desperately in need of a place to have a bowel movement; this may or may not end in an unfortunate accident

Fitness leak= urine leakage caused by high impact activities; most common in women affecting at least 25%

Chaffing= an irritation or rubbing of the skin caused by skin to skin or skin to fabric contact made worse by the presence of moisture and heat

Chub rub= thigh chaffing from skin rubbing together

Stress fracture (SFX)= a hairline crack in the bone

Tendinitis= inflammation of a tendon

Plantar fascitis (PF)= involves pain and inflammation of a thick band of tissue, called the plantar fascia, that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes

Piriformis Syndrome (PS)= Irritation of the sciatic nerve caused by compression of the nerve within the buttock by the piriformis muscle

Illiotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS)= inflammation of IT band which runs on the outside of the leg from the hip to just below the knee; most often occurs where the band crosses over the outside of the knee and also at hip

Runner’s Knee or (Patello-femoral Syndrome)= the kneecap (patella) rubbing on the front of the thigh bone (femur) causing pain under or around the kneecap; caused by overuse, doing too much too soon, osteoarthritis, insufficient muscle development, running on slanted pavement, improper alignment, and worn out shoes

Black toenails= bruising to the nail bed caused by excess pressure or pounding during running (often during downhills); the toenail will be sore post-race and you may end up eventually losing the nail

Bloody nipples= chaffing to men’s nipples that causes bloody patches on their shirt—usually the man is wearing white

Biff= a fall that does not lead to a trip to the ER

Face Plant= using your face to catch a fall

Snot rocket/farmer’s blow= ejecting snot from your nose by closing one nostril with a finger and blowing forcefully out of the other

Sniffer= sniffing back snot in absence of a tissue; usually caused by exercise induced rhinitis or allergies


FOMO= fear of missing out

Bucket list= a race or event that you really want to do in the future; “that’s a bucket list for me”

Bandit= someone who runs a race who hasn’t registered, this is frowned upon

Rabbit= someone who goes out with the intention of setting a fast pace but then often drops out; a rabbit may be sanctioned by the race to pace elite runners

Elite= a professional runner who aspires or achieves race wins or Olympic qualification, a very nebulous term

Chicked= a man who gets passed by a woman in a race

Geezered= a young person passed by an older person during a run or race

Streaker= running at least 1 mile a day for a certain period of time; to register an official running streak you must complete at least 365 days

Post-race blues= a sad, letdown or directionless feeling that can happen after completing a big race

Sponsored= an athlete who is partially or totally supported by one or more companies

Ragnar= long distance, team, overnight running relays; they have both road and trail events

OCR= obstacle course racing like Tough Mudder and Spartan Races

C25K= a term referring to couch to 5k; going from not running to completing your first 5k distance

Beer Mile= a race that consists of one beer (12 oz, minimum of 5% alcohol by volume) consumed every ¼ mile. Penalty laps are given for vomiting.

Runchies/Rungry= the hungry sensation produced by running, this is followed by a short temper if food is not quickly obtained

Trackster= someone who runs mostly on the track or follows track events closely

Ghost runner= someone real or imagined who is on your heals during a race or run

Runcrastination= putting off unwanted tasks to go for a run or think about running

Browsing= searching for races online via Marathon Guide, Running in the USA, Active, Ultra-sign up, this is part of runcrastination

Runhole= a term assigned to a runner who talks incessantly about running and neglects friends and family for training and races

Runcation= planning a vacation around a race

Roadkill= a person sitting or laying alongside a road or trail during a race

Mountain goating= walking or running uphill in a crouched position using hands and feet to climb

Bombing downhill= running downhill fast or in a nearly uncontrolled manner

Leap frogging= continually passing and being passed by the same person(s) during a race

Wizard sticks= trekking poles

Hammer/drop the hammer= running hard at a challenging section or at the end of a run or race; Hammer can also refer to the company Hammer Nutrition

Sticky= covering your car with running related stickers

Going Barkley= bushwhacking it through an unmarked section of land

Crop dusting= the act of passing someone on the trail/walking around whilst simultaneously eeking out the results of last night’s 15 bean and pasta dinner extravaganza

Maniac= A term referring to someone who belongs to the Marathon Maniac club, to join you have to run 2 marathons in 14 days or 3 in 90 days. If someone calls you a maniac (or crazy) in running related terms it’s supposed to be taken as a compliment

Fanatic= A term referring to someone who belongs to the Half Fanatic Club, to join you have to run 2 half marathons within 14 days or 3 in 90 days

Double Agent= a person who belongs to both the Half Fanatics and Marathon Maniacs

Back to back marathon= running marathons on two consecutive weekends

Double marathon= running marathons on two consecutive days (there are also triples, quads, etc)

Grand Slam= completing all four of the most prestigious 100 mile races in one calendar year, the races are Western States in CA, Vermont 100 miler, Wasatch Front 100 miler in UT and Leadville Trail 100 in CO

World Marathon Majors= six prestigious marathons: Tokyo Marathon, London Marathon, Boston Marathon, Berlin Marathon, Chicago Marathon, NYC Marathon









Also Mentioned in this Episode

Mara.ai -a hands free, virtual running assistant that uses cutting edge voice recognition to help coach you to better runs.

Carbon38 -the best online shopping destination for fashionable, high performance women’s activewear.

InsideTracker -provides ultra personalized nutrition and lifestyle guidance, by testing nutrient and hormone levels in your blood. Learn the foods that will have the biggest impact on helping you improve your goals. Use the code MTA for 10% off any of their plans.

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