Running Glossary


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Meaning "with Oxygen", used to refer to exercise at low enough intensity that cardiovascular systems can deliver Oxygen required by muscles and lactic acid doesn't build up in muscles. Aerobic pace should be sustainable for very long periods of time.

Aerobic Capacity
The maximum amount of oxygen that can be utilized by the body, also called VO2max.

Meaning "without Oxygen", used to refer to higher intensity exercise that cannot be maintained for very long because muscles are not getting needed Oxygen and will build up lactic acid.

Anaerobic Capacity
The maximum amount of energy that can be produced without requiring oxygen.

Anaerobic Threshold (AT)
The line between aerobic and anaerobic running. Good training will increase this threshold by teaching the muscles to use oxygen more efficiently, so that less lactic acid is produced.

A runner who participates in a race without having an official registration.

Also referred to as "hitting the wall". A state of exhaustion late in a long race when glycogen stores are depleted so blood glucose (sugar) levels are low.

Carb-loading (Carbo-loading)
The dietary practice of eating a higher than normal carbohydrate diet (ie: wheat pasta, whole grain bread, brown rice) for a period of one to three days leading up to a race in order to maximize the glycogen stores in the body.

Chip time
The actual time for an individual to complete the race course (as measured by a timing device, or chip). This differs from the "gun time" which is the amount of time between the starters gun and the completion of the race. In a large race, it may take several minutes in order to cross the starting line after the official start of the race.

A term used to describe larger runners. (Women's divisions are sometime referred to as Athena.)

Course record.

Participating in other forms of exercise (biking, swimming, etc) in addition to running.

Using more fluid than you take in, and your body doesn't have enough fluids to carry out its normal functions.

Did Not Finish / Did Not Start

Delayed onset muscle soreness. Soreness that peaks about 48 hours after an unusually intense or long run.

Easy Run
A slower run in which a runner can carry on a conversation.

Sodium, Chloride, and Potassium typically found in sports drinks. Used to replace minerals lost through body sweat.

The Swedish word for "speedplay", a workout consisting of varied pacing.

The form of glucose that serves as a form of energy storage. When glycogen stores are depleted athletes fatigue, or "hit the wall" ; eating a high carbohydrate diet leading up to an event will increase the glycogen stores in the body.

Gun time
The amount of time between the starter's gun and a runner's completion of the race. This does not factor in that for a large race, it may take several minutes in order to cross the starting line after the official start of the race. (See "Chip Time")

An event of 13.1 miles (21.1 kilometers). Men's winning times are usually somewhere around 1 hour. The average amateur participant is around to 2 hours. Some events are walker friendly and allow finishers of 4 hours or more.

Hill workouts
A workout consisting of repeated runs up hills. Though pace will be similar to other training runs, the effort required is higher.

Hitting the wall
Reaching a point of exhaustion due to depletion of energy.

The International Amateur Athletic Federation, a world-wide organization that governs running competition.

Training that uses short distances, repeated at faster speeds. Often conducted on a track over distances of 200-800 meters with jogging or walking breaks between sets.

International Olympic Committee; the organization responsible for governing the Olympic Games held every four years.

According to the IAAF, a junior is an individual who is under 20 years of age on December 31 of that year.

Junk Miles
Runs at an easy pace used to increase weekly distances without other specific goals for the run.

A sprint at the end of a race.

Lactic acid
A substance that naturally forms in the muscles during a hard workout and is associated with stiffness and fatigue.

Long Run
Slow paced runs designed to push your limits for overall distance covered. Most experts advise increasing mileage in small amounts over a period of weeks.

Long, slow distance; slow running designed to improve endurance.

An event of 26.22 miles (42.195) kilometers. Winning times are over 2 hours. The average amateur participant is around to 4 hours. Some events are walker friendly and allow finishers of 8 hours or more.

A runner 40 years of age or older.

Maximum Heart Rate (HRmax)
The highest heart-rate reached during a specified period of time.

Metric Mile
1500m, the international racing distance closest to the imperial mile.

Newer, tightly woven fabrics that are lightweight and typically have the ability to wick moisture away from the body.

Negative Splits
Running the last half of a race faster than the first half. Or, running multiple segments with increasing speed.

Any jumping exercise in which landing followed by a jump occurs.

Personal record/personal best. The fastest time a runner has run for a given distance.

An American high school athlete. Slightly different from the IAAF definition of "Junior."

Recovery Jog
Slow runs performed in between faster running intervals.

See "intervals."

Resting Heart Rate
The number of times your heart beats per minute when you are relaxed and still for long periods of time.

An acronym for "Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation"; a procedure for treating certain injuries.

Road Races
Running events over streets where all runners can participate. (Typically, distances of 5k, 10k, 15k, half-marathon, or marathon.)

Runner's High
Feeling of euphoria some runners feel after a long, hard run or race.

Running Economy
A reference to how much oxygen is used when running. By improving your running economy, you run at a smaller percentage of max VO2 (your maximum rate of oxygen utilization).

A light weight shirt without sleeves (tanktop) worn by runners.

Slow Twitch Muscle
Type of muscle fiber (cells which compose the muscles) which contract slowly but can perform for a long time.

Speed Work
Short, fast intervals with recovery jogs/walks between meant to increase your speed.

Split Times
Refers to your times at checkpoints along the way to the finish. Negative splits means that later sections are run faster than the first.

The 3000-meter event includes 28 hurdle jumps and seven water jumps. The jumps begin after the runners pass the finish line for the first lap. There are five jumps in each of the final seven laps, with the water jump as the fourth. The jumps are evenly distributed throughout the track. Each runner must go over or through the water pit and must jump each hurdle.

Short, fast, controlled runs of 50 to 150 meters which are used both in training and to warm up before a race.

Most runners run significantly longer distances than necessary by following as the road turns right and left. A tangent is a straight line that just touches the inside curb, so to "run the tangents" is to run the shortest distance possible by running the shortest possible distance while staying on the race course.

Reducing training mileage in the days or weeks before a race to allow the body to be ready for race day.

Target heart rate
A range of heart rate reached during aerobic training, in which an athlete to gain maximum benefit without straining or under exercising.

Tempo runs
Runs completed at a pace about midway between short-interval training speed and your easy running pace.

Races longer than a marathon (26.2 miles or 42.2 kilometers).

The US national governing body for running in the United States.

United States Olympic Committee, the US organization that governs American Olympic Athletes.

Veteran / Super-Veteran
International term similar to "master" in the U.S. According to the IAAF designating runners of a certain age.

The maximum amount of oxygen that can be utilized by the body. Higher V02max generally equals better performance because oxygen is being used more efficiently.

The ability of a fabric to pull moisture away from your skin so that it can evaporate.

World Best (WB)
The best known time for an event where formal world records aren't kept.

World record.

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