The A to Z of Running

Everything you need to know to sound smart about running

Running is a fairly simple sport, until you start talking about it that is. From Fartleks to VO2 max, the sport involves its fair share of strange sounding terminology. It’s nothing to be intimidated by, though.

The words may sound weird but for the most part their meanings are simple, and implementing some of them into your workouts can even make you a better runner.

Refer to the list of running terms below and soon you’ll start talking just like the rest of your hardcore running buddies.

A is for Adrenaline
That rush of excitement you feel at the start of the race. (Just don’t let it take over completely, otherwise you’ll go out too fast and crash before the finish line.)

B is for Bib
The numbered piece of paper you pin to your shirt during a race.

C is for Cadence
Cadence refers to your stride frequency or the number of steps you take per minute while running.

D is for DOMS
DOMS stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness and it refers to the muscle fatigue that sets in after a particularly hard or long run, typically about 48 hours after the workout.

E is for Elite
These are the athletes who get to start in the first corral on race day, and they’re probably sponsored by your favorite running apparel brand, too.

F is for Fartlek
A type of workout that involves short bursts of fast running. The word is Swedish for “speed play.”

G is for GU
An energy gel used as fuel during long distance training runs and races.

H is for Hill Repeats
A type of workout that involves sprinting up a hill and then recovering as you jog slowly back down. The process is typically repeated 6-10 times.

I is for Intervals
A type of workout that involves alternating between a sprint and recovery pace. (For example, 30 seconds at sprint pace followed by 1 minute at recovery pace repeated for a given distance or time.)

J is for Junk Miles
The miles accrued from an easy workout completed in order to reach a weekly or monthly mileage total.

K is for Kilometers
The metric system unit of length equal to 1,000 meters or 0.621371 miles, and the unit of length also most commonly used to measure race distances.

L is for Long Run
Typically part of a long-distance race training plan, the long run is a high-mileage workout (usually performed at the end of the week) that serves to increase a runner's endurance.

M is for Marathon
A 26.2-mile race inspired by the route that the Greek soldier Pheidippides ran from Marathon to Athens in 490 B.C.

N is for Negative Splits
Running the second half of a race faster than the first half, or running each consecutive mile at a faster pace than the previous one.

O is for Out and Back
A route or course that takes you half of the distance to a given point, then turns around and takes you back to the starting point.

P is for PR or PB
PR stands for personal record and PB stands for personal best. Either can be used to describe a race time that breaks your own personal fastest time.

Q is for Quads
A group of four muscles on the front of the thigh. Runners need strong quads and they will likely feel sore after a hard workout.

R is for RICE
An acronym that stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. It is typically referred to as a recovery protocol for injured runners.

S is for Strides
Fast bursts of running (usually covering 50 to 150 meters) used as a means for building speed during training and warming up before races.  

T is for Tempo Run
A type of workout that involves sustaining a pace 10 to 15 seconds slower than 10K race pace over a period of about 20 to 30 minutes.

U is for USA Track and Field
The United States’ National Governing Body for track and field, long-distance running and race walking.

V is for VO2 Max
The maximum amount of oxygen that you can draw from the atmosphere and then use to fuel your body’s tissues while exercising.

W is for Wicking Fabrics
Fabrics (usually made of polyester blends) designed to pull moisture (i.e. sweat) away from the skin in order to keep the body dry while running.

X is for X-Country
Or cross-country; a category of running that involves running outside over natural, trail-like terrains.

Y is for Yasso 800s
A widely popular marathon training schedule created by legendary runner and Runner’s World Chief Running Officer, Bart Yasso.

Z is for Zones
As in, heart rate zones, which can be determined by calculating your maximum and resting heart rates and used as a method of training


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