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Running Glossary

Here you’ll learn all the words that will get you into running lingo.

Terms in alphabetical order:


  • Achilles tendon – The strong tendon at the back of your ankle.
  • Aerobic – Literally, “with oxygen.” Consists mainly of steady exercise where your muscles are receiving enough oxygen to function normally.
  • Anaerobic – Literally, “without oxygen.” Exercise, such as hard intervals or weight-lifting, where your muscles are working in the absense of oxygen.


  • Bandit – A runner who participates in a race without registering or paying the entry fee. (They are not eligible for awards, though.)
  • Body Fat – The amount of fat on your body; usually expressed as a percentage of total weight.
  • Body Type – A standard (but vague) way of categorizing body types. From small to large: ectomorphic, mesomorphic, or endomorphic.
  • Bonk – When one runs out of energy and cannot go on, due to glycogen depletion and/or low blood sugar. Also referred to as “hitting the wall.”
  • Breathing – The process of inhaling and exhaling, in order to supply fresh oxygen to your body.


  • Carbohydrate – here is the definition
  • Chafing – When clothing “rubs you the wrong way” and causes redness and/or blisters; usually caused by wearing the wrong clothing.
  • Clydesdale – A runner above 180 lb.
  • Cool-down – A transition period of easy exercise after a hard workout but before resting.
  • CoolMax – A type of fabric that wicks sweat away from your body and keeps you cool; great for running clothing.
  • Cross country – A type of running event that takes place off-road.
  • Cross training – Training by participating in exercises/sports other than running itself, although the aim is to improve your overall fitness and therefore your running.


  • Dehydration – A state where your body does not have enough water.
  • DNF – “Did Not Finish.” Used to describe a runner who did not complete a race.


  • Electrolytes – here is the definition
  • Endorphins – here is the definition
  • Endurance – Ability to perform an exercise for a long period of time.
  • Extremities – Your hands, feet, fingers, and toes.


  • Fartlek – Literally, “speed play” in Swedish. It refers to interval workouts of mixed intensity, i.e. a combination of fast and slow running.
  • Fast-twitch – Type of muscle fiber which contracts rapidly and powerfully but fatigues quickly.
  • Fatigue – A feeling of weakness or exhaustion; unable to accomplish a task normally.
  • Flat feet – A condition of the feet in which the arch is flat and the entire sole touches the ground.


  • Gait – The manner in which one walks/runs.
  • Glucose – Basic form of sugar. Appears in the blood.
  • Glycogen – The form in which carbohydrates are stored in the body, either in the liver or the muscles.


  • Half marathon – A 13.1 mile race.
  • Heart rate – The number of heart beats per unit time, usually per minute (which would be measured as BPM.)
  • Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) – A device that monitors one’s heart rate. Consists of a chest strap and wrist watch.
  • Hydration – Adding more fluid to the body


  • Insole – The removable inner part of a running shoe that sits on top of the midsole and provides cushioning and arch support.
  • Intensity – Degree of effort or exertion of an exercise.
  • Intervals – A type of workout where sections of hard running are intermixed with walking/jogging recovery periods.


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  • Lactace Threshold – The intensity where lactic acid begins to rapidly accumulate in the blood.
  • Lactic acid – A by-product of your body’s energy production processes; usually blamed for muscle soreness.
  • Log – A notebook or journal where you record information about your workouts.
  • LSD – Long, Slow Distance. A common term referring to basic endurance training.


  • Marathon – A 26.2 mile race.
  • Mile – A measure of distance equal to 5,280 feet.
  • Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) – The max number of times your heart can beat in one minute.
  • Midsole – The part of a running shoe between the upper and outsole that provides cushioning and support.
  • Motion Control (MC) – The ability of a shoe to limit overpronation and provide stability (especially for those with flat feet.)


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  • Orthotics – Inserts placed inside shoes to correct biomechanical problems.
  • Overpronation – When you run, your feet roll inwards. Common if you have flat feet.
  • Overtraining – Condition when one does too much, too soon; can lead to injury and/or burn-out.
  • Outsole – The bottom-most layer of most running shoes that contacts the ground and provides traction.


  • Pace – Measure of running speed; usually as “minutes per mile.”
  • Peak – The point at which one is in the best physical shape.
  • Pronation – The condition of having feet that turn in such a manner as to put the body’s weight on the inner edge of one’s foot. See also, “underpronation” and “overpronation.”
  • Plantar Fasciitis – Inflamation of tissue under the skin of the bottom of the foot.
  • Podiatrist – A physician that specializes in the evaluation and treatment of the foot.


  • Quarters – A common term to refer to a workout consisting of quarter-mile (or 400 meter) intervals.


  • Recovery – Easy workouts that promote healing and ease stiffness and soreness.
  • RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. The formula for treating an injury.
  • Runner’s high – A feeling of euphoria after a hard training session or race.
  • Resting Heart Rate – The number of times your heart beats per minute when you are relaxed and sitting still.


  • Shin splints – A lower leg injury where there is pain along the front of the shin which can lead to stress fractures.
  • Singlet – The sleeveless top commonly worn by runners.
  • Slow twitch – Type of muscle fiber which contracts slowly but can perform for a long time.
  • Split times – The time it takes to run a portion of the complete run/race.
  • Stability – Balance; ability to stay upright.
  • Stamina – Being able to run with good form for a long period of time.
  • Stretching – Movements designed to increase a muscle’s flexibility. For example, bending over and touching your toes.
  • Supination – See “Underpronation”
  • Second wind – Going from being tired to feeling strong again.
  • Strength training – Exercises performed with added resistance; i.e. lifting weights.


  • Tapering – Reducing training volume and/or intensity to allow for recovery; usually one tapers before an important race.
  • Tempo – A workout performed at lactate threshold pace.
  • Tendinitis – Inflammation of a tendon (the tissue by which muscle attaches to bone.)
  • Toebox – The front portion of a shoe.
  • Treadmill – A machine with a moving strip on which one walks without moving forward.


  • Ultra marathon – A very long race, possibly 100 miles.
  • Underpronation – When your feet roll outwards as you run.
  • Upper – The top part of a shoe; typically a combination of synthetic leather and mesh.


  • Vitamins – Essential nutrients your body needs to function at its best.
  • VO2 Max – The maximum amount of oxygen your body can use, with a higher V02max meaning better performance.


  • Warm up – An easy walk/jog that gets your muscles loose and ready for a workout.
  • Water – A liquid that you should consume to stay hydrated.
  • Wicking – The ability of an article of clothing to move moisture away from your skin to the surface of the fabric so that it can evaporate and keep you more comfortable.


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