the ultimate guide to running lingo: 25 words you need to know
posted: July 8, 2014
Want to walk the walk—or in this case, run the run? Then it’s time to learn how to talk the talk. Everyone knows runners are all a little bit crazy, so it’s no surprise they have a language of their own. Think of this guide from our friends over at Greatist to runner’s slang as the helpful subtitles to “Sh!t Runners Say.” Come on, it was only a matter of time before runners got in on the fun too.
- Fartleks: A fartlek not only makes us giggle, it’s an easier form of speedwork for beginners. Meaning “speed play” in Swedish, fartleks are easy runs broken up by quick sprinting bursts. When changing speed though, the runner calls the shots (unlike more rigid intervals). So newbies can make it as fast and as hard as they can handle. That’s what she said.
- Foot Strike: There’s a right way and a wrong way to make every step count. A runner should strike the ground with their mid-foot, not the tippy-toes or heels. Try using light steps that land right under the hip for lower impact—aka fewer injuries.
- Pace: When runners talk about running “an 8-minute pace,” they are referring to the amount of time it takes to clock one mile. They also tend to express pace based on the type of run: “long run pace,” “marathon pace,” “5K pace,” etc. Calculate these adjustments with this nifty training tool.
- Strides: These are simply the forward steps taken while running. Some “real runners” also use strides (or striders) to refer to a series of short sprints, usually between 50 and 200 meters.
- Cadence: Also known as stride turnover, a runner’s cadence is the number of steps taken per minute while running. The fastest and most efficient runners have a cadence of around 180 steps per minute, so find a fast-paced jam on the iPod (like this 1999 one hit wonder) and keep to the beat.
- Dreadmill: Treadmills get this pet name since they’re an often-loathed piece of gym equipment for runners forced indoors due to weather or time constraints. There’s at least one perk though: Studies show it’s actually easier to go faster on a treadmill than out on the road.
- LSD: Excuse me?! No, not that LSD. In this case, the acronym stands for long slow distance, or the week’s longest run. The only kind of trippin’ runners might be doing out on the road is over their own shoelaces.
- Speedwork: Aimed at improving running speed, these types of workouts can include intervals, hill repeats, and tempo runs (all explained below). In addition to getting faster and increasing endurance, speedwork, well, usually hurts a lot, too!
- Tempo Run: Usually done just once a week, tempo runs are a tougher form of speed training. Runners challenge themselves to hold a “threshold” (or comfortably hard) pace for a 20-minute period during a run—along with a good warm-up and cool down, of course.
- Pick-Ups: Short, gentle increases in speed, or pick-ups, at the end of a run help aid recovery. Sorry, they unfortunately have nothing to do with these cheesy lines.
- Pronation: This refers to the way the foot strikes the ground while running. If someone is an overpronator, their foot rolls inward while running (guilty!). If someone has excessive wear on the outside of their sneakers, they’re likely an underpronator. Getting fitted for a proper running shoe can help with correcting both.
- PR/PB: These coveted letters stand for personal record and personal best. Good news: Run in just one race and it’s an automatic PR.
- Anaerobic Threshold: This is the point of exercise where the going gets tough, and lactic acid begins to accumulate in the bloodstream. Despite popular belief that lactic acid is what’s causing muscle fatigue, the body actually produces it as fuel to keep going. Still, it doesn’t mean workouts, like tempo runs (see above), done at this threshold are a piece of cake.
- Black Toenails: A runner’s badge of honor, or just plain gross? You decide. Discolored toenails on runners are a result of impact and pressure on the toe. Sometimes if you’re lucky, they fall completely off, too.
- Runner’s Knee: One of the most common overuse injuries among runners, runner’s knee is also known as Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS). The pain is usually isolated on or around the kneecap and can feel like the knee is “giving out.”
- Plantar Fasciitis: Feel pain and stiffness in the heel? It might be plantar fasciitis or inflammation of the bottom of the foot due to overuse or overstretching. Sufferers can usually self-treat it with rest, ice, and stretching.
- ITBS: This painful injury to the IT band in the leg (which runs from the hip, down the thigh, across the knee, and through the shin) can leave many runners (myself included) sidelined. Before totally cursing IT Band Syndrome, massage, stretching, and strength training tend to help. Hey, ITBS, meet the foam roller.
- Ice Baths: Fill ‘er up with ice! An ice bath is shocking to the senses, but can also reduce inflammation and aid in the post-long run recovery process. Just be sure to put on a hat and scarf and make a cup of tea first.
- Taper: A few weeks before a big race, a runner will decrease their total running mileage to store energy. Because the tapering process involves less running and more rest, runners tend to get very antsy (and hungry) during their taper.
- Carbo-Loading: During a taper, runners can eat all the pasta, bread, and bagels they want. Well, not really. There’s a right way and a wrong way to get your carb on.
- Corral: Because of so many participants, big races often divide runners into groups (not unlike a corral of livestock), with start times based on their expected finishing times. The speedsters at the front; the slowpokes in the back.
- Pace Bunny: No, not the cute and cuddly kind. Pace bunnies are runners who serve as pacemakers or pace-setters during a race, with the rest of the field chasing them down. And just like the Energizer Bunny, they keep going, and going, and going—all on pace.
- Kick: This is the final push runners give at the end of a race to increase their speed to the finish line. See also: Giving it all you got. Leaving it all on the road. Separating the winners from the losers; the men from the boys. Get the point?
- Splits: A race’s total time divided into smaller parts (usually miles), is known as the splits. If a runner has an even split, it means they ran the same pace through the entire race. If it’s a negative split, they ran the second half faster than the first. And that’s a good thing.
- Runner’s High: Most runners experience a state of euphoria and pure bliss known as “the runner’s high” either during or after a run. It might just be the reason runners run—and maybe why they’re so crazy, too.
This post came from our friends at Greatist, who have plenty of fab tips when it comes to sweating, no matter how you choose to do it. Don’t forget to check out their healthy recipes either, perfect for keeping up your energy, especially during those LSDs.