The beginning runner may be left scratching his or her head at the sheer volume of running jargon one may hear when out for a group run. From words you may be embarrassed to repeat at the dinner table to acronyms with befuddling meanings, below is a guide to the most important running terms.
This unsavory term simply describes the occurrence of chafing from two body parts (such as thighs) rubbing against one another during a run. Petroleum jelly or other lubrication products (such as BodyGlide) can be used to alleviate this uncomfortable problem.
A word that often causes new runners to burst into a fit of giggles, fartlek (pronounced fart-lick) is the Swedish word for “speed play.” A fartlek is a workout where a runner incorporates periods of fast running with periods of slow running. For instance, a common fartlek may include 30:00 of alternating 2:00 of hard running with 3:00 of easy running.
Not to be confused with the psychedelic drug, LSD is short for “long slow distance.” Many runners, especially those who lived through the initial running boom, swear by long, slow runs on the weekends. A typical long run will be anywhere from 16 – 32k at a pace 2:00 – 3:00 slower than 5k race pace.
PR (sometimes PB)
A PR (or PB) stands for personal record or personal best, respectively. Runners can typically rattle off every personal best ever run, and not only for races. Many runners track PR’s in everyday life, such as their PR for how many slices of pizza eaten in one sitting, to how quickly they have driven a regularly travelled route. A quick way to make friends with a runner is to inquire into his or her favorite PR’s.
Pronation is the term for when a runner does not land evenly on his or her foot when running, but instead has a tendency to roll the foot towards the inside, which can lead to a number of injuries. Running shoes exist to correct this problem. To determine whether you are a pronator, look at the wear patterns on the bottom of your shoes.
After an easy run or before a race, you may see runners sprinting all-out for approximately 100 m. These wind-sprints are commonly called strides, and they have a variety of benefits. For new runners, strides can serve as a stepping stone into the world of speed work. For advanced runners, they are a useful exercise for improving running mechanics and efficiency, as well as for removing lactic acid build up from muscles. Before races, they serve to prime the body for the race ahead.
Supination is the opposite of pronation. Instead of rolling the foot inwards, a supinator has a tendency to roll outwards. As with pronation, supination can be corrected with proper shoes.
An ultra (sometimes termed ultramarathon) is any distance beyond a marathon. Typically raced in 50k, 50 mile, 100k, or 100 mile distances, ultramarathons are quickly gaining popularity worldwide. With fewer frills, less fanfare, and a welcoming atmosphere, ultras are often frequented by people who prefer the camaraderie of running over the spectacle of racing.