The vocabulary the runners, both amateurs and beginners should know and learn these words are often used in talking about running. These words will stick like a shadow of the runner. We need to learn these words as a basis and reference.
If you we spent any time around runners are happy with for running.
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ANAEROBIC CAPACITYMaximum amount of energy that can be produced without requiring oxygen; also describes a type of training that increases the amount of energy that can be produced, i.e., Anaerobic Capacity Intervals
ANAEROBIC THRESHOLDsee “Lactate Threshold”
ANAEROBIC THRESHOLD (AT) The transition phase between aerobic and anaerobic running. Good training will increase AT by teaching the muscles to use oxygen more efficiently, so that less lactic acid is produced. Also known as “lactate threshold.”
ASOIFAssociation of Summer Olympic International Federations. More information can be found at
ATHLETES HELPING ATHLETES (AHA)The world-class marathon training and fundraising program that benefits challenged athletes.
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BANDITA runner who participates in a race without registering or paying the entry fee
BIOELECTRICAL IMPEDANCE/INFRAREDMethod of determining percent body fat where an electrical impulse or infrared light are put through the its cotton-like feel, moisture wicking properties and quick dry time; brand name of DuPont® body; easy to use but approximately 3-6% error possible
BIOMECHANICSStudy of the function of the body in relation to movement; especially important for repetitive movement sports like running; poor biomechanics can lead to injury
BODY COMPOSITIONUsually relating to the percent of the body comprised of lean tissue (bone, muscle, water, etc.) or fat tissue; 17% or less body fat is recommended for men; 24% or less body fat is recommended for women
BONKAnother term like “hitting the wall”; a state of exhaustion when glycogen stores are depleted, blood glucose (sugar) levels are low and the only exercise that can be performed is slow running; typically occurs at around the 20 mile point in the marathon
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CARBOHYDRATEEssential nutrient of body found in pastas, breads, fruits, vegetables; should comprise the majority of calories in a runner’s diet; stored in the body as glycogen in the muscles and liver; overconsumption is converted to fat
CARBO-LOADINGThe dietary practice of eating a high carbohydrate diet (approximately 60-70% of total calories) for the three days leading up to a race to maximally fill the glycogen stores
CHIP TIME A technology for sensing and recording the finishing times of all the runners in a race. It’s much more accurate and can easily deal with the old problem of many runners finishing nearly at once in a big, crowded race. The “chip” is a tiny electronic chip that’s programmed with your specific runner identification. You attach the chip to your shoe laces. It sends a signal to an electronic reading device–often hidden under a strip of carpet– when you cross the start line and again when you cross the finish line. No human observation is necessary. Your exact time is recorded automatically. Usually you are asked to turn the chip back in to the race organizers.
CHROMIUM PICOLINATESupplement to help aid in the burning of fat; little scientific evidence to support its claims
CLYDESDALE A weight-challenged runner. To find out more about Clydesdale running and racing, try this web site:
COOL-DOWNSlow running or jogging done after a workout or competition to loosen muscles and rid the body of lactic acid.
COOLMAX®A high-performance polyester fiber used in athletic apparel for its cotton-like feel, moisture wicking properties and quick dry time; brand name of DuPont®
CR Course record.  cushioning (or shock absorption) The ability of a shoe to absorb the impact of foot strike. cushioning (or shock absorption) The ability of a shoe to absorb the impact of footstrike.
CREATINE MONOHYDRATESupplement designed to maximally fill the creatine phosphate stores (fuel for explosive movements like sprinting); little scientific evidence of its beneficial effects for distance runners
CROSS-TRAININGActivities such as swimming and cycling that are used to increase conditioning and injury prevention for running or as a means of adding variety to workout schedule
CRUISE INTERVALSType of workout to improve the lactate threshold; usually repetitions of 800 meters to 2-miles performed at the lactate threshold speed with short recoveries
CUSHIONINGThe ability of a shoe to minimize the shock of running; while all running shoes have cushioning, highly cushioned shoes are usually designed for under-pronators (or supinator’s) who need additional shock absorption and maximum flexibility
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DANIELS, JACK PHDRunning coach and exercise physiologist
DECKER-SLANEY, MARYGreat American middle-distance runner; has held many world and American records
DEHYDRATIONNot having enough fluids in the body
DNFStands for “did not finish” and describes a runner who drops out of a race
DNSDid not start.
DOMS Delayed onset muscle soreness. This type of muscle soreness normally peaks about 48 hours after a particularly intense or long run.
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EASY RUNA slow run done at a conversational pace
ELECTROLYTESMinerals such as sodium, chloride and potassium that are used for normal bodily functions. These minerals are lost when the body sweats and are replaced through food and fluids.
ELITE RUNNER An athlete who has reached the highest level in his/her sport.
ENDORPHINSChemicals in the brain which create a feeling of euphoria; said to be the cause of the “runner’s high”
ENDURANCEYour ability to run for long periods of time
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FARTLEKSwedish for “speed play;” variable pace running; a mixture of slow running, running at a moderate pace and short, fast bursts. Fartlek training is a “creative way” to increase speed and endurance. (Swedish word for speedplay; workout includes faster running mixed with slower running; adds variety to training and can be performed in any setting)
FAST TWITCHType of muscle fiber (cells which compose the muscles) which contract rapidly and powerfully but fatigue quickly Fat Essential nutrient of body found in oils and meats; should comprise approximately 30% of calories in a runner’s diet; overconsumption leads to increases in body fat; can be of three types: saturated, poly-unsaturated, and mono-unsaturated
FAT-BURNINGUsed to describe an exercise intensity which burns the most fat; science is still debating the appropriate intensity for maximal fat-burning; note: burning fat at the highest rate does not necessarily correspond to burning calories at the highest rate
FRED’S TEAMFundraising program to raise money for the Brain Cancer Research through marathon training and racing
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GALLOWAY, JEFF1972 Olympic Marathoner; running coach, lecturer and director of running camps
GLUCOSEBasic sugar; form of sugar into which all carbohydrates are first converted and appear in the blood
GLYCOGENThe form in which carbohydrates are stored in the body; there are two main stores of glycogen – the liver and the muscles; when glycogen stores are depleted athletes fatigue, “hit the wall”, “bonk”; stores can be maximally filled by eating a high carbohydrate diet leading up to an event
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HALF-MARATHON13.1 miles; 21.1K
HALF-MILE804.5 meters; approximately 2 laps around track
HAMSTRING STRAINMicro-tears of the large muscles of the back of the thigh; can be treated by ice and stretching and strengthening exercises
HASH HOUSE HARRIERSA social club of runners that has been described as “a drinking club with a running problem”; members, called “hashers”, are given colorful nicknames and club runs are modeled after the old English game of Hares and Hounds; the runs begin when one or two runners, called “hares”, set a trail that the other runners, known as “hounds”, try to follow
HEART RATEContraction of the heart usually measured as beats per minute
HEART RATE MONITORA device that measures the electrical activity of the heart (heart rate); usually consists of a chest strap and watch-like wrist receiver
HILLSWorkouts where a runner runs up a hill fast and jogs down then runs up again; helps develop leg power and aerobic capacity
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IAAF International Amateur Athletic Federation. More information can be found at
INSOLEThe removable inner part of a running shoe that sits on top of the midsole and provides cushioning and arch support
INTENSITYDegree of effort or exertion
INTERVALS Training in which short, fast “repeats” or “repetitions” often 200 to 800 meters, are alternated with slow “intervals” of jogging for recovery; usually based on a rigid format such as “six times 400 meters fast [these are the repeats] with 400-meter recovery jogs [the intervals],” interval training builds speed and endurance.
IOCInternational Olympic Committee. More information can be found at
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JOINTS IN MOTIONFundraising program to raise money for the Arthritis Foundation through marathon training and racing
JUNIOR According to the IAAF, a junior is any athlete who is under 20 on December 31 of that year. For example, an athlete whose birthday is November 12, 1979 will be a junior in 1998 but not in 1999.
JUNK MILES Runs at an easy pace inserted into a program in order to reach a weekly or monthly mileage total rather than for any specific benefit. Despite the name, “junk miles” often serve as recovery from harder workouts. The value of “junk miles” is still hotly debated among training theorists.
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KENNEDY, BOBCurrently one of the top US distance runners; American record holder at 3000m and 5K; 2-time Olympian
KICKA finishing sprint at the end of a race
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LACTATE THRESHOLDThe running intensity where lactic acid begins to rapidly accumulate in the blood. Also called anaerobic threshold; lactate threshold speed is your 10K race pace plus 5-20 seconds or a heart rate zone between 85-89% of maximum.
LACTIC ACID A substance which forms in the muscles as a result of the incomplete breakdown of glucose. Lactic acid is associated with muscle fatigue and sore muscles.
LASTCan refer to two different features of a shoe; the first is the construction of the shoe or the way the shoe’s upper is attached to the midsole. There are three major types of construction: board lasting, where the upper is glued to a flexible, shoe-length “board”; slip lasting, where the upper is stitched directly to the midsole; and combination lasting, where the forefoot is attached directly to the midsole and the heel is attached to a board. Last can also refer to the shape of the shoe: straight, semi-curved or curved. A curved last turns inward from the heel to toe, a straight last has little or no curve and a semi-curved last is somewhere in between.
LATERALReferring to the outer side (or little toe side) of a shoe
L-CARNITINESupplement to help add in the burning of fat; little scientific evidence to support its claims
LEUKEMIA & LYMPHOMA SOCIETY TEAM IN TRAININGRunners who raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and in return receive training and travel to a marathon
LOGA record of your training and running that helps you stay motivated, monitor your progress and spot trends in your running
LONG RUNSLongest run of the week; usually on the weekend
LSD NOT the hallucinogen. LSD is an abbreviation for “Long, Slow Distance,” which refers to the practice of running longer distances at an “easy” pace rather than shorter ones to exhaustion. The slower pace allows the runner to go longer and, therefore (supposedly), gain more fitness.
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MARATHON 26.2 miles; According to legend, in 490 B.C., a Greek soldier name Philippines ran the distance from the site of the battle of Marathon to Athens, where he died after the Greek victory over the Persians. (MARATHON 26.2 miles; 42.2K)
MARTIN, DAVID PHDRunning coach and exercise physiologist
MASTER An athlete 40 year of age or older is designated a “master” in the U.S. Many other countries use the term “veteran.”
MAXIMUM HEART RATE The highest heart-rate reached during a specified period of time.
MAXIMUM HEART RATE (HRMAX)The highest number of contractions your heart can make in one minute
MEDIAL Referring to the inner side (or arch side) of a shoe.
MEDIAL POSTDenser midsole material (often gray) added to the medial (or arch side) of the midsole to provide stability and control excessive pronation
METRIC MILE1500m, the international racing distance closest to the imperial mile; see “1500m”
MICROFIBERA tightly woven fabric that’s extremely lightweight and soft; notable for its wind and water resistance, ability to wick moisture and quick dry time
MIDSOLEThe part of the running shoe between the upper and outsole that provides cushioning and support. Most midsoles are made of either EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) or polyurethane foam. EVA is lighter and more flexible than polyurethane, but it is not as durable. It can come in various densities with gray-colored EVA being denser than white. The denser, gray EVA is usually placed along the medial side of the shoe to provide stability and motion control and is often referred to as a “medial post.” Some midsoles have additional cushioning technology such as air, gel, grids, etc.
MILE 1609 meters, 5280 feet, or 1760 yards. Note: 1600m is not a mile.
MINERALSEssential nutrient of body; must be ingested in the correct amounts in the body; aid in the processes which use the other nutrients and compose some of the structures of the body; may be obtained through diet or supplementation; overconsumption can be toxic
MOTION CONTROLThe ability of a shoe to limit overpronation and provide stability
MUSCLE SORENESSPain, stiffness, and soreness in a muscle due to microscopic tears of the muscle usually due to doing more work than the muscle is used to (also called DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness)
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NEGATIVE SPLITS Running the second half of a race faster than the first half.
NR National record.
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OLYMPICSCompetition held once every 4 years; highest goal for most runners
ORTHOTICSInserts placed inside shoes to correct biomechanical problems
OUTSOLE The material, usually made of hard carbon rubber, on the bottom of most running shoes; the layer of the shoe that contacts the ground.
OVERPRONATIONThe excessive inward roll of the foot; overpronation can be controlled through the use of motion control shoes and/or orthotics
OVERTRAININGCondition when runner trains too much too soon and leads to fatigue, injury and/or burn-out
OXYGEN DEBTA state where the energy demand is greater than what can be provided by oxygen thus inducing heavy breathing to consume more oxygen
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PACEMeasure of the speed of running; usually quantified as minutes taken to run a mile; for example a runner may run a 7:00 per mile pace for a marathon
PEAKScheduling your training so that your best performance is timed for a goal race or event
PICK-UPS Accelerations done during a run, normally done in shorter durations than fartleks. Pick-ups are simply another way to spice up what would otherwise be an easy-run day.
PIRIFORMIS SYNDROMEPain in the buttocks resulting from a tight piriformis muscle pressing against the sciatic nerve; can be treated by stretching exercises for the buttocks
PLANTAR FASCIITISFoot injury where there are micro-tears of the arch; especially painful in the morning; can be treated by stretching the arch and calves; massage with hands or rubbing foot on golf ball or shaving cream can; if untreated can lead to heel spurs (spur of bone from the heel bone)
PLYOMETRICS Bounding exercises; any jumping exercise in which landing followed by a jump occurs.
POST (OR MEDIAL POST) Firmer density of midsole material added to the inner side of the shoe. A post is designed to reduce overpronation.
PRPersonal Record or Personal Best; fastest time a runner has run for a given distance
PREFONTAINE, STEVEOne the best American distance runners in history; known for his ferocious competitiveness; killed in car crash at the age of 24 in 1975; two movies have been made of his short career
PREP In the U.S., a high school athlete. From the term “preparatory school,” a school for preparing for college. Slightly different from the IAAF definition of “Junior.”
PRONATION Pronation begins immediately after the heel contacts the ground. It is a normal and necessary motion for walking or running. Pronation is the distinctive, inward roll of the foot as the arch collapses.
PRONATIONThe natural, inward roll of the foot; pronation begins when heel contacts the ground, the foot then rolls inward to absorb shock and transfer weight to the ball of the foot as it prepares to push off. It is a natural and necessary motion for running and walking.
PROTEINEssential nutrient of body found in meats, eggs, dairy products, beans and nuts; should comprise approximately 15-25% of calories in a runner’s diet; converted into the body’s structures-bones, muscles, organs, etc.; overconsumption is converted to fat
PYRUVATESupplement to help add in the burning of fat; little scientific evidence to support its claims
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QUARTERSJargon for a quarter mile or 400 meters; often used when describing workouts where runners run 400-meter (or quarter) repeats
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RECOVERY RUNSSlow to moderate running to recover from hard workouts or races and/or maintain aerobic conditioning
REPEATS See “intervals.”
RESTING HEART RATEThe number of times your heart beats per minute when you are relaxed and still; usually measured first thing in the morning before getting out of bed
RICEAn acronym for rest, ice, compression and elevation; a procedure for treating certain injuries
RIDE The ability of a shoe to provide a smooth transfer of a runner’s weight from heel-strike to toe-off. Ride is a largely subjective quality, but shoe wearers know it when a shoe has or lacks a good ride.
ROAD RACESRunning contests over streets; all runners can participate
RODGERS, BILL“Boston Billy”; has won the prestigious Boston and New York City marathons each 4 times
ROGER BANNISTERThe first person to break 4 minutes for the mile
ROY BENSON, MPERunning coach and director of running camps
RRCARoad Runners Clubs of America; organization to which most running clubs in the US belong; provide information and resources for running clubs
RUNNER’S HIGH A feeling, usually unexpected, of exhilaration and well-being directly associated with vigorous running; apparently related to the secretion of endorphins.
RUNNER’S KNEEKnee pain usually caused by the knee cap not sliding properly during movement; may be related to muscular imbalances within the thigh muscles; can be treated with strengthening exercises for weak muscles (usually the inner thigh muscle)
RUNNING ECONOMYThe amount of oxygen consumed at a given running speed; a runner who consumes less oxygen at this running speed as compared to another running is said to be more “economical”
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SAMUELSON, JOAN1984 Olympic Gold Medalist in the marathon; American marathon record holder
SCIATICAPain running from the low back to the toes related to pressure on the large nerve innervating this areathe sciatic nerve; should be evaluated by physician
SECOND WINDFeeling of more energy and less effort some runners feel after 15-20 minutes of running
SHIN SPLINTSLower leg injury where there is pain along the shin bone; usually caused by excessive pronation or weak shin muscles; treat with ice and stretching and strengthening exercises; can lead to stress fractures
SHORTER, FRANK1972 Olympic Gold Medalist in the marathon; his victory spurred the running boom of the 1970’s
SINGLETA light weight tank top worn by runners
SKINFOLD CALIPERSProcess of determining body composition where several folds of skin are measured for thickness and then used to calculate percent body composition
SLOW TWITCHType of muscle fiber (cells which compose the muscles) which contract slowly but can perform for a long time
SPEED WORKShort, fast intervals with recovery jogs between; increases your leg turnover and maximizes your stamina and race confidence
SPLIT TIMESDenotes the time it takes to run a portion of a total run (often measured at mile markers or other distinctive points along the way); for example, a runner may run a 7:00 mile split between miles 4 and 5 of a 10K (6.2-mile run)
SPLITS Refers to your times at mile markers or other pre-planned checkpoints along the way to the finish line.
STABILITYThe ability of a shoe to resist excessive motion; usually used to describe shoes designed for neutral runners or mild over-pronators
STAMINAYour ability to combine speed and endurance
STRETCHINGMovements designed to increase a muscle’s flexibility; best method is still being debated but it appears that consistently stretching is the key to increasing flexibility
STRIDESShort, fast but controlled runs lasting 15-45 seconds followed by full recovery; benefits include faster leg turnover and improvements in running form
SUPINATION The opposite of pronation. It’s an outward rolling of the forefoot that naturally occurs during the stride cycle at toe-off. Oversupination occurs when the foot remains on its outside edge after heel strike instead of pronating. A true oversupinating foot underpronates or does not pronate at all, so it doesn’t absorb shock well. It is a rare condition occurring in less than 1 percent of the running population.
SUPPLEX®A high-performance nylon fabric common in performance athletic wear and notable for its sturdy, cotton-like feel, moisture wicking abilities and quick dry time; brand name of DuPont®
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TAPER Runners usually cut back mileage (or taper) one day to three weeks (depending on race distance) before a big race. Tapering helps muscles rest so that they are ready for peak performance on race day.
TARGET HEART RATE A range of heart rate reached during aerobic training, which enables an athlete to gain maximum benefit.
TEMPO RUNS Sustained effort training runs, usually 20 to 30 minutes in length, at 10 to 15 seconds per mile slower than 10-K race pace. Another way to gauge the pace of tempo runs: a pace about midway between short-interval training speed and your easy running pace.
THE WALL OR HITTING THE WALLA state of exhaustion when your body runs out of glycogen or energy; usually around the 20 mile point in a marathon (also “Bonk”)
THRESHOLD RUNSRuns of 5 to 20 minutes at a pace just a little slower than your 10-K racing pace; Threshold pace is roughly equivalent to what exercise physiologists call “lactate threshold,” or the point at which your muscles start fatiguing at a rapid rate. Running at or near lactate threshold is believed to raise your lactate threshold, which should allow you to run faster in the future.
TOEBOXThe front portion of a shoe’s upper. A wide toebox allows plenty of room for the toes to spread.
TRACKMeasured oval where races of varying distances are contested; usually measure 400 meters around; 4 laps equals approximately 1 mile
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U.S.O.C.United States Olympic Committee; US organization that governs the Olympic Games
ULTRA-MARATHONRaces longer than a marathon (26.2 miles)
UNDERPRONATION OR SUPINATION The lack of sufficient inward motion of the foot; highly cushioned, flexible shoes are recommended to absorb shock and allow the foot to pronate naturally
UNDERWATER WEIGHINGProcess of determining body composition where a person’s weight, while submerged in water, is used to calculate percent body composition; considered the best method for calculating percent body fat
UPPERThe top portion of the shoe, usually made of leather, synthetic leather or mesh material
USA TRACK & FIELDNational governing body for running in the US
USATFUSA Track and Field. More information can be found at
USOC United States Olympic Committee. More information can be found at
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VETERAN International term similar to “master” in the U.S. According to the IAAF, men become “veterans” on their 40th birthday; women, on their 35th birthday.
VITAMINSEssential nutrient of body; must be ingested in the correct amounts in the body; aid in the processes which use the other nutrients; may be obtained through diet or supplementation; overconsumption can be toxic
VO2MAXAlso called maximal aerobic capacity; maximum amount of oxygen that can be utilized by the body; higher V02max generally equals better performance; can be improved with training but has a genetic limit
VO2MAX (MAXIMAL OXYGEN CONSUMPTION) The maximal amount of oxygen that a person can extract from the atmosphere and then transport and use in the body’s tissues.
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WARM-UP Five to twenty minutes of easy jogging/walking before a race or a workout. The point of a warm-up is to raise one’s heart rate so the body (and its muscles) are looser before a tough workout begins.
WATEREssential nutrient of body; runners should drink enough throughout the day to maintain clear urine and enough after a run to return to their pre-run body weights
WICKINGThe ability of a fiber to move moisture from your skin to the surface of the fabric so that it can evaporate and keep you more comfortable
WILLIAMS, TODDCurrently one of the top US distance runners; American record holder at 15K; 2-time Olympian
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPSRunning and track and field championships held once every 2 years; almost as prestigious as the Olympics
WRWorld record.
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