Runner’s Word List -
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Runner’s Word List

Written by RUN:TRACK:RUN 10722
Running is a simple sport – all you need is a pair of shoes and a nice route to get started. But once you get involved in the sport, you’ll quickly learn that there is a lot more to it than just putting one foot in front of the other.

Different training methods, gear requirements, and other lingo can all be confusing for new runners, so we’ve put together this list of keywords and definitions. We hope you’ll find it useful!

Types of Runs

Tempo – Tempo runs sustain a steady difficult pace. Usually for 30 minutes or more. Difficult does not mean full speed! Tempo runs are meant to practice your ability to run hard for an extended period of time.
Pace – Pace runs work towards running a consistent pace for the duration of your run. If you are training to a pace, in order to run a race at a specific time, you need to run several training runs at or below that pace.
Interval – With interval runs, you cycle through fast bursts of high speed, followed by longer periods of recovery. A potential interval cycle could include 1 minute at the pace you could maintain for a 5k, followed by 1 minute at a slow jog. Repeat that cycle for 30 minutes to make an interval workout.
Fartlek – Fartlek is a Swedish word that means “play with speeds”. In these workouts, you can adjust your speed throughout the run with periods of intense speed and other times of slow or moderate speeds. The intention of fartlek runs is to break out of a habitual pace.
Progression – In a progression run, you work on getting faster with each mile or kilometer that passes by. The goal is to look at the data at the end of a run and confirm that your pace got progressively faster throughout the entire workout.
Threshold – Threshold refers to the pace where the body generates just as much lactic acid as it can flush out. It is usually about the pace you could hold for an hour in a race.


Road/Trail Shoes – When selecting shoes, it is important to choose a pair that is built for the surface you will be running on. If you will be on trails (dirt, gravel, etc) trail shoes will be beneficial because of their additional traction. If you primarily run on paved surfaces or treadmills, then you need road shoes.
Pronation – Pronation refers to the direction your ankles lean. If they roll inward, you overpronate. If they roll outward, you under pronate. This distinction is important when selecting shoes, because of the support different shoes offer (next item).
Support – Support systems in shoes refer to the arch and ankle support. People who overpronate need strong support, or high support, in their shoes. Shoes with support features will have additional arch support and a stronger frame. Neutral support is for people who under pronate or don’t pronate at all.
Cushion – Shoes have different levels of cushioning. Heavier runners benefit from a lot of cushioning. Marathon or long-distance runners also need significant cushioning due to the time they spend on their feet. Sprinters can have low cushioning or more natural shoes.
Minimalist/Barefoot – Some runners use a minimalist style, which involves shoes that are so lightweight that they are close to running barefoot. They believe that human’s natural footwork never intended us to run in huge heavy shoes. If you want to employ this style, be sure you work up to it because it can be painful when you first start out!
Drop - Drop refers to the difference of the sole thickness between the heel and the ball of the foot.


Cadence – Cadence is the number of steps you take per minute.
Foot Strike – Foot Strike describes how your foot hits the ground. The ideal way is to strike with the front of your foot. Many runners that have a heel strike, meaning they land on the back of their foot, often have problems with their knees and ankles due to the shock of such a strike.
Aerobic/Anaerobic – The aerobic system use oxygen to create the energy needed to run. At some point as intensity increase, the aerobic system is not enough. That's when the anaerobic system is activated. At this point the body will start to generate lactic acid.
VO2Max – VO2Max is a measurement of the maximum level of oxygen that you can consume during exercise. Measuring your VO2Max and training to improve it can help your overall performance. These measurements require special equipment and professionals to execute the tests.

Training philosophies

Canova - Renato Canova is a coach from Italy with great success coaching marathoners. In his marathon buildups the pace of the workouts gradually gets closer to the goal race pace.
Lydiard - Arthur Lydiard was a coach from New Zealand. He is famous for introducing hill circuits and periodization of training.
Daniels - Jack Daniels is an American coach. He introduced the VDOT-system which can be used to calculate paces for different types of workouts.


Strava – Strava is often referred to as “Facebook for runners”. It is the most popular app for runners, where you can record your runs by importing data from your watch or phone. You can then share your runs with your friends on the app, including the basic stats of distance, elevation gain, pace, etc. You can also post pictures if you happen to run somewhere pretty!


Corral – Big races will group all of the participants into separate corrals. You will need to know which corral you have been assigned to and make sure you are standing in that corral at the designated time. That time may be much earlier than the starting time of the race, because the race organizers will want everyone to be lined up in advance.
Elite – Elite runners are the professional runners that are in it to win it. The elites often have their own corral and start the race first. When the starting gun goes off, the elites are the ones who cross the start line first to kick off the race.
BQ – BQ stands for Boston Qualifier. The Boston Marathon has strict cutoff times, and runners all over the world work towards qualifying for the race. Getting into the Boston Marathon is the goal for many amateur runners. In order to meet the qualifying time, you have to run a marathon on a course that has been certified as a Boston Qualifier. If you do so within the required time, you can submit those results to get accepted to the next running of the Boston Marathon.
Bib – The bib is your race number that you attach to the front of your shirt.
PR/PB – Personal Record (PR) or Personal Best (PB) refers to the fastest time that you have run a particular distance. If you’ve run 10 marathons, and your fastest time was 4:05, then that is your PR.

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