Tag Archives: running terms

Running Terms

6 Oct

Sometimes I feel like I’m speaking a different language than people who don’t run as fanatically as I do. I thought I’d help spread some bilingualism to the masses by explaining some running terms that I use frequently to the bewilderment of my family and friends. I also thought the distances of some common races would be helpful so you can get the scope of what I’m talking about. So here goes:


Running Term Definitions:

PB/PR: Also known as personal best/record. Pretty self-explanatory here; a runner will keep track of their best times for common distances such as a 5k, 10k, or marathon. Typically training runs are not used for personal records, even though they may be an equal distance to a run. This is because the race distances are guaranteed; it’s much harder for the average runner to ensure that they’re running exactly 42.2 km on their own. The time provided by a chip that is worn on the shoe during a race is also much more certifiable.

Negative Splits: The triumph of running the second half of a race faster than the first. Can also be positive… which doesn’t feel as good.

Taper: A decrease in weekly mileage and intensity of runs in preparation for a race. This is done to ensure optimal rest for the body so a runner can go into a race in peak condition. I’m currently in a taper right now for the Okanagan Half and it’s kiiillllling me. Once you’re used to running 30+ kilometers a week, cutting it down to less than 15 is harsh.

Bonk/Hitting the Wall: Used to refer to a sudden onset of exhaustion during a run that is caused by a depletion of glycogen stores in the body. A runner will experience extreme fatigue and feel like they can’t possibly run another step. This can obviously result in poor race times. Many runners report hitting the wall during the last portion of a marathon. This can usually be avoided by ensuring good hydration and consumption of carbohydrates before and during the race.

DNF/DNS: Acronyms standing for Did Not Finish or Did Not Start. Seen in race time reports if a chip on a runner’s shoe did not cross the finish or start line.

Pace: A running will quote a number such as 5:45 as their goal pace/ estimated pace/ best pace. This number refers to the minutes and seconds used to run a kilometer or mile. A runner will often have a goal pace for an upcoming run, a pace they run at when they’re having an easy run, or use varied paces during speedwork training.

Clydesdale: A favourite of mine. Used to refer to a runner that is large in body; it seems like a horse is barreling towards you on the trail.

Carrot: An excellent image. A carrot is a fellow runner (often in a race setting) that is running in front of you, at your pace or slightly faster. Often an attractive member of the desired sex, they serve to inspire a runner to “catch the carrot”, or to keep up and finish strong.

Fartlek: It means “speed play” in Swedish. Don’t worry if you giggled when you read it. I still do. Runners use it when talking about their speedwork training. Intervals of mild- or moderate-intensity running is mixed with short bursts of high-intensity work. Used to increase speed.

LSD: Less fun than the drug kind. It’s an acronym standing for Long, Slow, Distance. I usually just call it a long run. Fairly self-explanatory here… you run long, you run slow. My favourite.

Tempo Runs: Running at a set pace, sometimes a goal race pace or a slower pace for a recovery run.


That’s all I can think of right now. Maybe in the future I’ll do another one. As for right now, here’s some info about common race distances:

5k/10k/nk: If you don’t live in Canada this might be confusing. The ‘k’ refers to kilometres; thus a 5k race would be 5 kilometres.

Half-Marathon: Half of the Olympic Marathon distance, thus 21.1 kilometres or 13.1 miles.

Marathon: The official distance is 42.2 kilometres, or 26.2 miles.

Ultramarathon: An ultramarathon can be any distance, the only requirement being that it’s longer than 42.2 km. There is usually another level of difficulty added to increase the intensity; often ultramarathons, in addition to covering many miles, will be run up mountains, through forests, in the blistering heat or bone-shattering cold. Some people are crazy, let’s leave it at that.

Fun Run: Can be any distance, but it’s usually short as the goal of this race is usually just fun; families with kids are often encouraged to run.


I hope this helps people understand what I’m talking about y’all allow me to ramble on about my running. Don’t think I don’t notice that glazed over look in your eyes, audience. It’s not that I don’t know, it’s that I don’t care. Have a lovely day friends!