Running Lingo Decoded

by Milton Lyons

Milton leads the Lakeland Runners Club Monday Night Track program at 6 PM at Lakeland High School Track and is the owner/head coach at Lyons Endurance Training.

Presented at the 2019 August Lakeland Runners Club Member Meeting.

a partial list of the secret language of runners...

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.

Static Stretching: Everyone ready to count? Static stretching, or holding major muscle groups in their most lengthened positions for at least 30 seconds, might bring it back to the middle school soccer days.

Dynamic Stretching: Add a little more boom, boom, pow to a warm-up with dynamic stretching, or controlled movements that increase flexibility, power, and range of motion.

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.

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. You can go online and use different pace calculators.

Warm-Up: To increase heart rate and blood flow to the muscles and reduce the risk of injury, runners know to start each workout with a good warm-up.

Cool-Down: Just as a warm-up preps the body, a cool-down transitions it back to a resting state. So before heading straight for the showers, slow down with a series of lighter activity and exercise post-workout.

Shake Out Runs:  shakeout run is a very easy jog of 10 to 15 minutes the early morning before your big race – think of it as a precursor to the actual warm-up. Ideally, you’ll want to schedule your shakeout run about 2.5 to 3 hours before the start of the race. Usually, this will correspond to your scheduled wake-up time.

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.

Trail Running: On a trail (duh!) as opposed to a road or track, trail running offers a more natural setting, breaks up monotony, and can even work a whole different set of running muscles.

Pronation (neutral and under/over pronation): This refers to the way the foot strikes the ground while running. If someone is an overpronator, their foot rolls inward while running (most runners).

Barefoot Running: That was a fad. Thank you Born to Run. (still a great book).

Max cushion: Where are my Hoka lovers? 

Neutral Shoe: A running shoe that doesn’t have any stability support in the arch/heel area of the shoe. 

Stability Shoe: A running shoe that have posting stability support in the arch/heel area of the shoe, this will help your foot to roll inward while adding your body weight.

Racing Flat: Light weight shoes that may drop your time, but could get you hurt.

Newbie: (everyone was one) A newbie, or beginner, often learns the basics of the sport by training for a short race, like a 5K. The “Couch-to-5K” training plan is a great place to start!

Streaker: Keeping their clothes on (usually!), a streaker is a runner who runs consecutively every day for an extended period of time. Streaking events (like this one) are fun ways to stay motivated while clocking those miles.

Ultramarathoner: These totally crazy runners, like Dean Karnazes, take on any distance longer than 26.2 miles. Ultramarathons are typically 50K, 100K, 50 miles, or 100 miles.

Elite: Yup, we’re talking about the pros. No matter the distance, elite runners are fast. Really, really fast.

Easy Run: These light runs are best done at a conversational pace. Meaning if you can’t run and recap last night’s episode of The Bachelor at the same time, you’re going too fast!

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.

Recovery Run: Also lovingly referred to as “junk miles,” a recovery run is a short, slow run that takes place within a day after a long, harder run. This teaches the body how to work through a fatigued state—a dress rehearsal many runners will be thankful for at mile 19 of a marathon!

Speedwork: Aimed at improving running speed, these types of workouts can include intervals, hill repeats, and tempo runs (all explained below).

Interval Training: By alternating specific time periods of specific high and low intensity during a run, intervals are just one way to get faster, build strength, and work on your kick.

Ladder Workout: A ladder workout involves various portions, increasing in distance with each new portion. You can choose to simply increase your distance throughout each portion of the workout, or increase to a peak and then decrease afterwards until the end. Going up the ladder -400-800-1200-1600. Going down the ladder -1600-1200-800-400.

Pyramid Run: Workout may go by faster when you’re running the pyramid interval workout since it requires you to pay so much attention to your interval distance/times. The concept is that you’re going up and down (you can do distance or time) a “pyramid”.  400-800-1200-1600-1200-800-400.

Alt Miles: Alternating tempos are a more advanced training technique, so make sure you have done a few tempo runs already and you’re ready to handle the change in stimulus. For marathon and half marathon training, I suggest alternating between 10 second faster than marathon pace and 5-10 seconds slower than 10k pace. For a 3:30 marathon runner, the workout would like this: 1-3 mile warm-up, 6 miles at (7:50, 7:25, 7:50, 7:25, 7:50, 7:25 – no rest), 1-2 mile cool down.

Hill Repeats: Hill repeats is another cruel form of speedwork. Heading up at a 5K pace and recovering down at an easy jog or walk, the number of hill repeats per workout depends on experience and fitness levels.

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.

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/Acceleration: 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.

400 Meters: One lap around the track.

Strength Training: Runners need muscles too! Among its many other benefits, strength training, or exercises performed with or without weights (think push-ups, squats, and planks), helps runners become stronger and prevent injuries.

Cross-Training: Runners should also squeeze in time for cross-training, or sports and exercises other than running that improve overall fitness and strength. Great examples of cross-training for runners include cycling, swimming, yoga, water running, and weight training.

Garmin: Many runners rely on this brand or other GPS-enabled sports watches (often way too much) to track distance, pace, heart rate, and more.

BPM: The heart rate or beats per minute (BPM) is the number of heartbeats during a minute. Runners often have a target BPM to get the most out of each workout.

Aerobic vs. Anaerobic Exercise: While both aerobic and anaerobic exercises burn glucose, there are some differences. Aerobic exercise is long in duration but low in intensity (like walking or jogging), while anaerobic exercise is short in duration but high in intensity (like sprinting or heavy lifting).

Glycogen: A runner’s body stores glucose in the form of glycogen to be used for energy. As long as it’s in good supply, they can keep on truckin’. But when the glycogen is gone, runners often “hit the wall” (more on that down below).

Gels: Gels are designed to top off your glycogen stores that get depleted during long-distance running. Energy gels are made up of mostly simple sugar, which is your body’s preferred source of fuel during exercise. … Many gels also offer electrolytes, which become crucial on long runs, especially in warm weather

Lactic Acid: Formed when the body cannot generate energy using oxygen, lactic acid is produced anaerobically (especially during hard workouts).

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!

VO2 Max: Also known as aerobic capacity, VO2 Max is the body’s maximum oxygen intake. Runners can increase their VO2 Max with training.

Chafing: Yikes. How do we put this gently? Sweat and fabric rub against the skin while distance running and can cause painful irritation and rashes. To prevent chafing (or worse, bloody nipples), coat up everywhere (and we mean everywhere) with Bodyglide or Vaseline before hitting the road.

DOMS: Oww. The discomfort of DOMS, or delayed-onset muscle soreness, can occur between 24 and 48 hours after running and can make walking up and down the stairs especially troublesome.

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.”

Shin Splints: Another common running injury, shin splints refer to pain on or around the shinbones. Most cases can be treated with rest and ice, but could signal it’s time to whip out the credit card for some new running sneakers.

PF: 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!

Hitting the Wall: Also known as “bonking” during a race, runners will feel as if they can’t go one more step once they “hit the wall.” For many marathoners, the wall shows up around mile 20, and not surprisingly, they usually don’t see it coming.

Taper: A few weeks before a big race, a runner will decrease their total running mileage to store energy. The tapering process involves less running and more rest, runners tend to get antsy during their taper!

Peaking: You taper to peak! Running your best times at the end of your training cycle or season.  

Bib: Runners pick up this piece of paper with a designated number before the race and attach it to their shirts to wear during the run. Tip: Bring extra safety pins to smaller races. They sometimes run out!

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.

Rabbit: No, not the cute and cuddly kind! Rabbits are runners who serve as pacemakers or pace-setters during a race, with the rest of the field chasing them down.

Bandit: These cheaters make their way into a race without registering or paying an entrance fee. FYI, Bandits, runners are onto you!

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.

Chip Time: Often measured by an electronic chip in the sneaker or bib, this is the actual time it takes a runner to get from the start line to the finish line.

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.

DNS/DNF: DNS (did not start) or DNF (did not finish) is what will appear in the race results if a runner does not start or finish a race. What happened?! Did you fall into the Porta-Potty? Or get lost along the course?

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!

BQ: If someone is trying to get a “BQ” or a Boston qualifier, they want to achieve a finish time that gets them entry into the Boston Marathon, the world’s oldest annual marathon and the only one to require a strict qualifying time.

Hardware: Wear these race medals with pride, then hang them in a place of honor.

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. Trusted Source It might just be the reason runners run—and maybe why they’re so crazy, too.


Running Lingo