Glossary of Terms

General Running Terminology


  • Aerobic

    Literally, “with oxygen.” Consists mainly of steady exercise where your muscles are receiving enough oxygen to generate energy.

  • Aerobic capacity or VO2Max

    The maximal amount of oxygen that a person can extract from the atmosphere, send to the body's tissues, and consume to produce energy. You can use your current VO2Max to estimate your times for intervals, for example.

  • Anaerobic Capacity

    A runner’s maximum ability to run very fast … beyond VO2max where all additional energy to run faster than vVO2max is generated anaerobically. Runners can sustain such fast paces for only a few minutes.

  • Anaerobic

    Literally, “without oxygen.” Exercise, such as hard intervals or weight-lifting, where your muscles are generating energy without oxygen. Lactic acid in working muscles is a byproduct of anaerobic energy generation.

  • AR

    American Record.

  • B

  • Bandit

    Someone who runs in a race who hasn't registered. This is frowned upon.

  • Bonk

    Means to run out of energy, to "hit the wall"

  • BQ

    Boston Qualify; the Boston Marathon requires runners to meet a certain time standard based on gender and age.

  • C

  • Chafing

    When clothing “rubs you the wrong way” and causes redness and/or blisters; usually caused by wearing the wrong clothing.

  • Chip

    Refers to a device you tie on your shoe (or is on your bib) that measures starting and finishing times when you cross the mat in a race.

  • Clydesdale

    A runner above 180 lb.

  • Cooldown

    Walking/jogging at a slower intensity that will help your heart rate gradually recover at the end of a workout.

    The last few minutes of any run should be devoted to a cooldown.

  • CR

    Course Record.

  • Cross Training

    Another aerobic exercise such as swimming, cycling, cross country skiing, yoga used to complement running or when you are injured and can't run.

  • Cushioned

    Refers to a shoe designed for a neutral foot that does not overpronate or that may supinate.

  • D

  • DNF

    Did not Finish.

  • DNS

    Did not Start.

  • DOMS

    The pain you feel in your muscles after a workout.

    Delayed onset muscle soreness, usually happens 24-48 hours after your workout, and can happen after any workout, and especially if you're new to the activity or did a particularly intense workout.

    DOMS comes from microscopic tears in the muscles you challenged during your workout.

  • Doubles

    Refers to doing two runs in the same day. Singles would be doing just one run. So if someone says "I did 50 miles this week, all singles" they are saying "I ran 50 miles this week, all as once-a-day runs."

  • E

  • Elite

    Refers to those really super fast folks who usually don't have to pay for running gear because they get them sponsored.

  • F

  • Fast-twitch

    Type of muscle fiber which contracts rapidly and powerfully but fatigues quickly.

  • Foot Strike

    How your foot lands on the ground when you run.

    There are heel strikers, midfoot strikers, and forefoot strikers.

  • G

  • Gait

    The manner in which one walks/runs.

  • Gels

    A semi-liquid sugary snack used for a quick energy burst.

  • Ghost Runner

    Someone (imagined or not, as the case may be) who is on your heels and about to pass you, used for motivation to keep up the pace.

  • GMP

    Goal Marathon Pace

  • H

  • HRM

    Heart Rate Monitor

  • I

  • Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS)

    Inflammation of the iliotibial band, which runs on the outside of the leg from the hip to just below the knee. The injury most often occurs where the band crosses over the outside of the knee, but can also occur at the hip.

  • ITBS

    Refers to the iliotibial band syndrome, a common overuse running knee injury.

  • J

  • Junk Miles

    Runs at an easy pace done in order to reach a weekly or monthly mileage total rather than for any specific benefit.

  • K

  • Kick

    Usually used as in "finishing kick" -- simply means running harder at the finish line, the last final sprint.

  • L

  • Lactate threshold (LT)

    The level of intensity at which anaerobic energy generation begins to rise and the resulting generation of lactic acid in working muscles causes blood lactate to rise and muscle efficiency to fall off significantly with fatigue.

  • Loop

    Simply that you start in one spot and run in a big circle.

  • LSD

    Long slow distance or long steady distance.

  • M

  • Master

    An athlete 40 years of age or older.

  • Maximal Heart Rate (HRmax or MHR)

    The maximum heart rate that can be reached while running. Training intensities are often determined by percent of HRmax.

  • MHR

    Maximum Heart Rate.

  • Midsole

    The part of a running shoe between the upper and outsole that provides cushioning and support.

  • MP

    Marathon Pace.

  • MPW

    Miles per Week.

  • MPM

    Minutes per Mile.

  • N

  • Negative Splits

    Refers to running the second half of the race faster than the first.

    The opposite of negative splits is positive splits where you run the first half faster than the second. Even splits would be running essentially the same time (within 2-3%) for both halves of the race.

  • O

  • Orthotics

    Inserts placed inside shoes to correct biomechanical problems.

  • Out and Back

    Means a course you run out a certain distance, then turn around and run back.

  • Overpronation

    Where your foot rolls over to the inside too far during the running stride, which can lead to an injury, such as ITBS.

    Usually you can tell your overpronating if you have excessive wear on the inside part of the forefoot of the shoe.

  • Overtraining

    Condition when one does too much, too soon; can lead to injury and/or burn-out.

  • P

  • Pace

    Measure of running speed; usually as “minutes per mile.”

  • Peak

    The point at which one is in the best physical shape.

  • PF

    Plantar Fasciitis.

  • Piriformis Syndrome

    Means a pain in the buttocks.

  • Plantar Fasciitis

    Inflammation of tissue under the skin of the bottom of the foot. Often a chronic problem of the foot that can be very painful. Hurts worst in morning but pain eases up as you start walking around.

  • Point to Point

    Means a course that begins and ends at widely separated locations.

  • PR and PB

    Refers to the same basic thing, running your Personal Best or Personal Record.

    Means you ran your fastest time ever at that distance.

  • Pronation

    The way your foot rolls as it hits the ground when you're walking or running.

  • R

  • Resting Heart Rate (RHS)

    Your heart rate when you first wake up and before getting out of bed.

  • RHR

    Resting Heart Rate

  • RICE

    Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate.

    standard treatment for inflammation-type injuries.

  • Road Kill

    A runner who has been passed by a faster runner during a race.

  • RR

    Race Report

  • Running Economy

    A measure of the amount of oxygen used to run a given pace. More economical runners use less oxygen to run a specific pace than do less economical runners. Running economy is improved through training.

  • Running Form

    How your whole body looks and acts as you run; proper running form helps prevent injury and makes you a better runner.

  • Runner's High

    A feeling of euphoria after a hard training session or race.

  • Runner's Knee

    A condition called Chondromalacia patella or easier, Runners Knee. PFS (Patello-Femoral Syndrome), which is the kneecap (patella) rubbing on the front of the thigh bone (femur), is another form of Runner’s Knee. It’s most often caused by overuse, doing too much too soon, osteoarthritis, insufficient muscle development and/or improper alignment, including wrong or worn-out shoes or running on slanted pavement.

  • Runner's Trots

    Refer to gastrointestinal problems on the run.

  • S

  • SF

    Stress Fracture

  • Shin Splints

    Pain anywhere between your knee and your ankle.

    Multiple causes, multiple solutions, even possibly multiple possible injuries might be causing shin splints. Very common, especially in new runners.

    Shin splints are typically manifested as anterior (front of lower leg) or medial (inside, facing the other leg) pain.

    A pain in the back of your lower leg is not shin splints; it's probably a calf strain.

  • Supination

    Where your foot rolls to the outside during the running stride, which can also lead to an injury.

    Excessive supination will cause excessive wear on the outside part of the shoe. It is the least common foot type.

  • Slow Twitch

    Type of muscle fiber which contracts slowly but can perform for a long time.

  • Splits

    The time it takes for you to run a predetermined distance (like a mile) within a race or workout. Knowing your split time helps you strategize when running a race or trying to increase your running pace.

    Negative splits, for example, means you run the latter half of a race or workout faster than the first half, which helps your overall time.

  • Stability

    Refers to a shoe designed for an average arched foot; it offers some degree of control for overpronation. Motion Control are shoes that offer the most overpronation control.

  • Stitch

    A side cramp, usually on the left side and common in beginning runners.

  • Stress Fracture

    A hairline crack in a bone.

  • T

  • Tapering

    Reducing training volume and/or intensity to allow for recovery; usually done before an important race.

  • Tendonitis

    Inflammation of a tendon.

    Tendons connect muscles to bones. Tendonitis due to running can occur in a runner’s groin area, buttocks, legs, feet and lower joints.

    ITBS is a common form of tendonitis.

  • U


    USA Track and Field.

  • W

  • Wicking Fabric

    Refers to technical fabrics that draw sweat away from the skin. Also might be referred to as say a "tech shirt."

  • WR

    Word Record