Running Lingo 101

Do you ever get tired of people incessantly blabbering lingo in what seems like their own special language? Everytime I take up a new hobby or take on a project in a new industry at work, I’m faced with understanding an entirely new dictionary just to keep up. It can be really frustrating, not to mention make me feel like an ignorant outsider.  

Now for the self-deprecating portion of this blog: I’m afraid I’ve been doing just this to all our new (or recently returned after many years) runners out there.  

I mean come on… what the $&@# is a fartlek anyway?!fartlek

Where is Rosetta Stone when you need it?! Don’t feel bad if you feel clueless. I won’t even tell you how disappointed my brother was to find out that my BQ quest had less to do with beers and burgers on the grill, and moreso grueling training to break 3:40 in the marathon and qualify for Boston.

Runners are just as guilty of hoarding our own weird collection of words.  There are words about training and racing, shoes and form, even about the good, the bad and the ugly experienced during this hobby of ours.  Anaerobic threshold, tempo runs, clydesdale, electrolyte, fast-twitch, bonk, pronation, PR… it’s all a little much sometimes!

But guess what Peachtree runners… it’s time to bring all you newbies into the fold! Here’s a crash course of references to bring you all up to speed (aren’t I punny?!):    

Valley Forge Striders Dictionary of Running Terms
KSpaceTV Running Glossary and Cheat Sheet

For those with a sense of humor I bring you this brilliant collection…
Tahoe Mountain Milers Running Terminology

My favorites include:
Achilles Tendinitis: the Greek God of running injuries.
Bunions: The mother and father of Paul.
Pace: preferred salsa of runners worldwide, hence the term “Pick up the Pace.” The heat is on.
Supinate: what you did after a race; you had soup and ate.

Now that you’re educated in the ways of running lingo you can go out there and feel more confident and less confused when striking up conversations in the running community. Just be wary of interjecting fartlek too often when it’s not necessary. You might end up in one of those awkward situations like the guys in Super Troopers (meow!).     

At the very least, you’ll know what the heck the salesperson at the running store is talking about when fitting you with shoes (which, by the way, you better have by now so they’re nice and broken in for race day 6 weeks from now). 

And remember – if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s a duck. You’ve got your training and now your lingo, so smile friend – you’re officially a runner!

2 comments Add your comment


May 23rd, 2010
5:45 pm

And where in your list of references of running terms is my all time favorite – “Yasso 800’s”? Never train for a marathon without doing them.


May 24th, 2010
8:10 am

You got me there… I completely forgot to include that one! Best workout ever. Thanks to you and Naomi (and Bart Yasso of course) those 800s brought me down from a 4:06 to a 3:43!!