50 Running Terms: Terminology All Runners Should Know

Whenever you start a new sport, activity, or hobby, there’s some unfamiliar lingo you have to learn, and running is no exception.

Running terminology spans the gamut from running terms that describe specific types of workouts to running lingo that runners use to describe feelings associated with being a runner, sometimes in sort of a tongue-in-cheek manner.

There is such a rich vocabulary of common running terminology that there could be a glossary of running terms several pages long.

This is essentially a mini running glossary of sorts, as we will highlight some of the running terms and jargon every runner should know. 

From important training terms to common acronyms and fun running slang, let us transport you back to the days of learning new vocabulary words in grammar school with our list of running terms all runners should know.

Running Terms And Terminology


  •  Aqua jogging

Also called pool running or deep water running, this is a popular type of cross-training for runners that involves running against the resistance of water in the deep end of the pool or natural body of water, where your feet can’t touch the bottom.

A flotation belt is typically used although not always. 


  •  Base Mileage

The average number of miles (or kilometres) you run per week before beginning a specific training plan or starting speed workouts.


  •  Body Glide

This is a case where the brand name of a product has come to serve as a substitute for the generic item, much like Kleenex for facial tissues.

Body glide, or lube, is a stick of anti-chafing skin protectant lubricant that you apply on areas of your skin prone to chafing or blisters, such as nipples, inner thighs, underarms, and toes.


  •  Cadence

Cadence refers to how many steps you are taking per minute as you run, measured in steps per minute.

An ideal running cadence is typically said to be around 170-180 steps per minute.

Running cadence is also referred to as turnover or step rate.


  •  Cool Down

A cool down refers to the easy recovery portion at the end of your workout. 

The cool-down helps gently guide your heart rate back to resting levels and helps flush out metabolic byproducts in your muscle from hard exercise.


  •  Cross Training

Any type of exercise other than running that you add to your training plan. 

Cross training is a good way to reduce the risk of injury while still improving fitness because it uses different muscles and motions than running, and is often lower impact.


  •  Form

Your running form is how your dynamic body posture looks and moves when you run.

Proper running form is an upright posture, head and spine neutral, very slight forward lean of the trunk, engaged core, arms swinging back and forth with a 90-degree angle in the elbows, midfoot strike, and an even stride length.


  •  Fartlek

You might have a giggle the first time you hear this running term, but Fartlek is a Swedish word for “speed play.” 

A Fartlek workout involves varying your pace as you run by adding in bursts of fast running interspersed into your run without stopping after each “on” interval.


  •  Foot Strike

Foot strike refers to the area of your foot that first contacts the ground when you are running. 

With heel striking, the rearfoot or heel is the location of the foot that makes initial contact with the ground.

With midfoot striking, you land on the centre of your foot, while forefoot striking involves landing on the ball of your foot.


  • Tempo & Threshold Runs

Threshold runs or tempo runs are usually the same thing.

These are often a staple of many runners’ training programs as they’re a great way for boosting your fitness.

It’s basically going to be running at the pace at which you could sustain if you went all out for 60 minutes.

That’s going to fall somewhere between your 10K race pace and your half marathon pace.


  • High-Intensity Runs

This is a pace you could only sustain for maybe 20 to 40 minutes.

If you’re just starting out in running, perhaps this is equivalent to your 5k race pace effort, but if you’ve been running for many years, it’s probably closer to your 10k pace.

Among other things, this can help build up the heart even more and increase the stroke volume.

Basically, each time your heart pumps, more blood is flowing through your body.


  • Build Runs

It’s not too dissimilar from tempo runs, actually.

It still hits the same fitness zones, but as the name suggests, you build into it.

For instance, you’d start off at a nice steady pace and build up to something like a 10K pace over 20 minutes.

The nice thing about this is a nice introduction to those tempo and threshold workouts.


  • LSD

A “long slow distance” run, or a long run is another staple part of many runners’ training weeks and it’s about building that aerobic endurance.

This is a form of continuous training performed at a constant pace at low to moderate intensity over an extended distance or duration.


  • Progression Runs

With a progression run, you’ll start at one speed which may be a little bit slower but you’ll just continuously get faster and faster until the end of that run.


  • Endurance Runs

This is a pace that you could sustain for about 2 or 3 hours.

It’s probably just a little bit slower than your marathon pace and it’s a pace at which you can talk to people you’re running with very conversationally in complete sentences and you’re not huffing and puffing.


  • Recovery Runs

Recovery runs are usually defined as a shorter, easier runs that’s done within 24 hours of a harder session like intervals, track sessions, a really taxing tempo run, or perhaps a really long run.

Following on from recovery runs, a great way to stay on top of your personal maintenance is to build in what’s called active recovery.


  • Active Recovery Runs

Likewise, active recovery is when you opt for a lower-intensity workout after doing a really tough intense workout.

For example, if you are on the track and you’re doing a bunch of repeats, in between each of those sets, you need to rest.

And instead of just stopping and standing still, you could actually jog a little bit at this pace to keep the blood flowing and to keep from getting stiff.  


  • Race-cation

Race-cation is when you are combining a race and a vacation or you are planning a vacation around a race specifically.


  • Training Plans

Training plans help to organize your short and long-term running schedules.

It’s a great way to plan how you’re going to work towards your fitness goals or a race that you have in mind.


  •  Gels

Gels, also known as energy gels, are viscous, carbohydrate-rich sports nutrition products used by runners for fueling during long runs and endurance races to replenish glycogen stores to prevent “bonking.”


  •  Glycogen

The storage form of carbohydrates in the body. Muscle and liver glycogen are the primary fuel sources during vigorous running.


  •  Hitting the Wall

Another running term for “bonking”; both words are running lingo for suddenly running out of energy during a race or workout.

Bonking or hitting the wall typically occurs due to total glycogen depletion (as in the last few miles in a marathon if you didn’t fuel properly) or going out in a race way too fast. 


  •  Junk Miles

Some runners consider miles you run that doesn’t serve a specific purpose other than adding to your overall training volume to be “junk miles.” 

Many running coaches are proponents of being deliberate with your training rather than just accruing mileage for mileages sake.


  • Out-and-Back Route

An out-and-back route takes you from your starting point along a course to a turnaround point, which marks the halfway point of your run. 


  • Overtraining

Overtraining syndrome occurs when your training exceeds the capacity of your body to recover. 

Your training volume or intensity can cause too much stress on your body in the context of the rest of the stressors in your life.

Symptoms can include physical and mental manifestations, such as sluggishness, low energy, appetite changes, hormonal imbalances, difficulty sleeping, irritability or other mood changes, compromised immunity, and reduced athletic performance.


  • Runner’s High 

A running term is used to describe a state of euphoria brought about by running.


  • Splits

The time it takes you to run a specific sub-distance of the distance you are running. 

For example, if you are running a marathon, you might track your mile splits. If you are running 1,000 meters on the track, you might pay attention to your 200-meter splits.

Your splits help you keep track of your pacing. 


  •  Even Splits

Running the same pace for each split.


  •  Negative Splits

Running the second half of your race faster than the first, or ending faster than you started.


  • Warm-Up

Exercising before the intended running session you’ve got coming up is really important as a way to get your muscles and joints all ready to run.


  • Cool-Down

A cool-down helps you to start recovering from the strenuous exercise that you’ve undertaken.

Like a warm-up, a cool down should include lots of gentle stretching and exercises just to cool-down help your body start that all-important recovery.


  • Base Building

Base building is also known as endurance training or introductory training.

Basically, base training is the foundation of all effective training plans as this will allow your body to create these slow adaptations to training, which will help hopefully get you across the finish line without being injured.


  • Strength Training

Strength training is a really good idea to do in your base base-building.

It’s really important to do, especially in the base building period of your training.

So, the base time is the perfect time to kind of build a foundation that you can kind of keep going and building on but maybe not to the extreme later in your training.


  • Repeats

These are repeated faster efforts usually at the same distance and they’ll only have rest periods in between.


  • Hill Workouts

Hills are a great workout to strengthen your legs and they build your explosive power.

Because of the tough nature of hill workouts, they’re often described as interval training in disguise.

There’s a huge variety of hill workouts out there


  • Tapering

Tapering is when a runner cuts back their mileage on the lead up to a race which they’ve been training for.

This is a really good way to make sure your body is rested and ready to take on that all-important run.

If you’re training for a 5k, you may decide to maybe taper down your running for one to three days before the big event.

Equally, if you’re doing something like an ultra, it might be for two to three weeks before that big ultra run you decide to scale back your miles and your intensity.


  • Aerobic

The word aerobic means simply with air. This means exercise that can be sustained for longer periods.


  • Anaerobic

In contrast to aerobic, anaerobic means without air.

These are your higher ihigher-intensityes such as weight lifting or sprinting which you can only sustain for a short period. It’s very intense but very short.


  • VO2Max

Short for “volume of oxygen maximum”, this is a pretty scientific metric and not one that’s used by recreational runners very often.

VO2Max i VO2 maximum amount of oxygen that a runner can consume when you’re using their muscles. It’s a great way to measure your fitness. It’s expressed in liters per minute and it should increase as you get fitter.


  • Surge

This refers to when a runner increases their speed or picks up their pace during a run or race for a short period of time.


  • Aid Station

A table with water, sports drinks, and sometimes fuel options like fruit or other snacks is set up along a race course where participants can hydrate and refuel during the race.


  • Bandit

A runner who is participating in a race, but unofficially because they did not properly register nor pay for the race. Bandits will not appear in the results.


  • Hardware

Also called bling, running hardware refers to the race medal, trophy, or other goodies you get for finishing the race.


  • Clock Time

The clock time is how long it took you to cross the finish line of a race after the gun went off. 

It does not take into consideration when you crossed the official start line, which can sometimes be several seconds to several minutes or more, depending on the size of the race.


  • Chip Time

In contrast to clock time, chip time is the amount of time it took you to run a race from the moment you personally crossed the start line to the moment you crossed the finish line.

For this reason, chip time is faster than clock time for all runners aside from those who are lined up directly on the starting line.



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