Running Glossary: Jargon and Terminology

On this page we’re diving into the language of runners by exploring the most essential running jargon every enthusiast should know and putting it in this glassary.

From “negative splits” to “fartleks,” we’re demystifying the terms that might have left you scratching your head. So, lace up your shoes, and let’s hit the ground running (pun intended) as we navigate the fascinating lexicon of the running community.

Achilles tendinitis

An overuse injury characterised by inflammation of the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscles to the heel bone.

Aerobic capacity

The ability of the body to utilise oxygen efficiently during exercise, which is crucial for endurance running.

Anaerobic threshold

The point at which the body starts to produce lactic acid faster than it can be removed, leading to fatigue and a decline in performance.

Barefoot running

Running without shoes or with minimalist footwear, based on the belief that it promotes a more natural running form and reduces the risk of injury.


Also known as “hitting the wall,” it’s the sudden onset of fatigue and decline in performance due to depleted glycogen stores, often experienced in long-distance races.

BQ (Boston Qualifier)

A marathon time that meets the qualifying standards for the Boston Marathon.


The number of steps a runner takes per minute.


The practice of consuming high-carbohydrate foods leading up to an endurance event, to maximise glycogen stores in the muscles.


Skin irritation caused by friction during running, often occurring in areas such as the thighs, underarms, and nipples.

Chip time

A runner’s official race time, measured by a timing chip attached to the shoe or bib, accounting for the exact time a runner crosses the start and finish lines.

Compression gear

Clothing designed to provide support and improve blood flow, often worn by runners to aid recovery and reduce muscle soreness.


A gradual reduction of exercise intensity following a workout, allowing the body to recover and prevent injury.


A designated area for runners to line up at the start of a race, typically organised by estimated finish times or pace.

Couch to 5K

A popular beginner’s training program designed to help non-runners gradually build up to running a 5K (3.1 miles) race.


Engaging in other forms of exercise, such as swimming or cycling, to supplement running and improve overall fitness.

Cushioned shoes

Running shoes with ample cushioning to provide shock absorption and comfort during runs, especially for those with high arches or supination.

DNF (Did Not Finish)

When a runner does not complete a race, often due to injury, illness, or extreme fatigue.

DNS (Did Not Start)

When a runner does not begin a race, usually due to injury, illness, or a change in plans.

DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness)

Muscle soreness that occurs 24-72 hours after a new or intense workout.

Dynamic stretching

Stretching exercises that involve movement, performed as part of a warm-up to improve flexibility and prevent injury.

Elite runner

A highly skilled and competitive runner, often competing at a professional or international level.


A Swedish term for “speed play,” it is a type of unstructured interval training where runners vary their pace throughout a run.

FKT (Fastest Known Time)

The fastest time recorded for completing a specific route, often associated with trail running or ultra-marathons.

Foam rolling

A form of self-myofascial release that involves using a foam roller to apply pressure and massage tight muscles, often used to aid recovery and prevent injury.


Consuming calories, usually in the form of sports drinks, gels, or energy bars, to maintain energy levels and performance during long runs or races.


The pattern of movement during running, which includes stride length, foot strike, and body alignment.


Energy gels are carbohydrate gels that provide energy for fueling during long runs and endurance races.


The main source of energy that your body stores and uses at race pace. You have enough glycogen to run for 2 hours but will need to consume carbohydates such as energy gels to avoid hitting the wall.

GPS watch

A wearable device that uses GPS technology to track distance, pace, and other running metrics.

Gun time

The time elapsed from the sound of the starting gun to when a runner crosses the finish line, not accounting for any delays in reaching the starting line.

Half marathon

A race covering half the distance of a marathon, which is 13.1 miles (21.0975 kilometers).

Heel strike

This is where your heel is the part of the foot that makes first contact with the ground when running.

Hill repeats

A workout consisting of multiple uphill sprints followed by a recovery period, usually by jogging back down the hill.

Hitting the wall

Also known as “bonking,” it’s the sudden onset of fatigue and decline in performance due to depleted glycogen stores, often experienced in long-distance races.


The intake of fluids, particularly water and sports drinks, to maintain optimal performance and prevent dehydration during running.


A workout that alternates between high-intensity running and recovery periods.

IT Band (Iliotibial Band)

A thick band of connective tissue running from the hip to the knee, which can cause pain and inflammation if irritated by overuse or poor form.


A strategy where runners alternate between running and walking intervals, often used by beginners or during long-distance races. Also known as Run/Walk


A final surge of speed towards the end of a race, used to finish strong and potentially pass competitors.

Lactate threshold

The exercise intensity at which lactate begins to accumulate in the blood at a faster rate than it can be removed, often used as a marker of endurance performance.

Lactic acid

A byproduct of anaerobic metabolism that can cause muscle fatigue and discomfort when it accumulates in the muscles.


A run that follows a circular or looping path, starting and ending at the same location.

LSR (Long Slow Run)

A long, easy-paced run to build endurance.


The irrational fear of not having prepared enough for your impending marathon or that something bad will happen before the big day such as injuring yourself or getting sick.


A long-distance race covering 26.2 miles (42.195 kilometers).

Negative splits

Running the second half of a race or workout faster than the first half.


A running acronym for obstacle course racing which is exactly what it sounds like, so think walls, ropes, and tyres.

Out-and-back run

A run that follows a single route to a halfway point, then retraces the same path back to the starting point.


Excessive inward rolling of the foot during a running stride, which can lead to injuries and discomfort.


Excessive outward rolling of the foot during a running stride, which can also lead to injuries and discomfort.


Excessive training without adequate rest, leading to a decline in performance and increased risk of injury.


The speed at which a runner completes a given distance, usually measured in minutes per mile or kilometer.


Short bursts of increased speed during a run, used to improve speed and running economy.

Plantar fasciitis

A common running injury involving inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that connects the heel to the toes.

PB (Personal Best)

A runner’s fastest time for a specific distance.

PR (Personal Record)

The same as a PB, a runner’s fastest time for a specific distance.

Progressive run

A run that starts at an easy pace and gradually increases in speed, finishing at a faster pace than it began.


The natural inward roll of the foot during a running stride.

Race pace

The target speed at which a runner plans to complete a specific race.

Recovery run

A slow, easy-paced run designed to aid in muscle recovery and help prevent injury.

Rest day

A day without any running or strenuous exercise, allowing the body to recover and repair.

RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)

A common treatment protocol for minor running injuries, aimed at reducing inflammation and promoting healing.

Run/walk method

A strategy where runners alternate between running and walking intervals, often used by beginners or during long-distance races. Also known as Jeffing.

Runner’s high

A feeling of euphoria experienced during or after running, often attributed to the release of endorphins.

Second wind

A phenomenon experienced by runners where they suddenly feel a surge of energy and renewed strength after a period of fatigue.

Shin splints

Pain and inflammation in the lower leg, usually along the shin bone, caused by overuse, improper footwear, or poor running form.

Split times

The time it takes to complete specific segments or intervals during a race or workout.

Stability shoes

Running shoes designed for runners with moderate overpronation, providing additional support and cushioning to reduce the risk of injury.

Static stretching

Stretching exercises that involve holding a position for an extended period, typically performed after a run to improve flexibility and aid recovery.


A popular fitness tracking app and social network that allows runners to log and share their workouts, routes, and achievements.


The distance covered from one foot landing to the same foot landing again during a run.


The outward roll of the foot during a running stride, the opposite of pronation.

Taper madness:

A term describing the restlessness and anxiety some runners experience during the tapering period before a race, as they reduce their training volume and intensity.


The gradual reduction of training volume and intensity in the days or weeks leading up to a race.

Tempo run

A workout at a comfortably hard pace, typically around the anaerobic threshold, to improve running economy and speed.


A fibrous connective tissue that attaches muscles to bones, playing a crucial role in movement and flexibility during running.

Time trial

A solo race or workout against the clock, often used to gauge fitness and progress without the pressure of an official race.

Trail running

Running on natural terrain, such as dirt paths, forests, and mountain trails, as opposed to roads or tracks.


A race longer than the traditional marathon distance, typically ranging from 50 kilometers to 100 miles or more.

VO2 max

The maximum amount of oxygen the body can utilise during intense exercise, often used as an indicator of aerobic fitness.


A period of light exercise, such as jogging or dynamic stretching, to prepare the body for more intense activity.

Yasso 800s

A popular marathon training workout developed by running coach Bart Yasso, involving 10 repetitions of 800-meter intervals, with the goal of running each interval at a consistent pace.

Zone training

Structuring workouts based on specific heart rate sones, aimed at optimising training intensity and recovery for various fitness goals.

Anything else?

Are we missing any? Let us know in the comments below.

Adem Djemil
I only started running at the age of 37, completing the Couch to 5k course, and since then I've been hooked, running 4 times a week and even completing several marathons and an ultra!