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Running Jargon

Runners, joggers, and walkers seem to speak a different language. Here are definitions for some of the words and phrases that are used.


Training during which your body gets the oxygen that it needs. This usually includes all running except sprinting and possibly 5K races.


Training during which your body does not get the oxygen it needs. This usually involves sprinting and possibly 5K races.

Back Roads

Using minor city or town streets or country roads instead of major traffic streets. Back roads have less smog from exhaust fumes and fewer traffic lights, and, perhaps, more interesting scenery.


Cadence is the number of times a given foot (either left or right) strikes the ground. Cadence is half the stride rate.

Carbo Loading

Eating extra carbohydrates before a race in an attempt to put more energy into your cells. Typically, runners eat a pasta dinner the night before a race. Some runners recommend milder carbo loading that is spread over several days.


 "Swedish, speed play  : fart, running, speed (from fara, to go, move, from Old Norse". I like that definition, speed play. Speed: training to run faster. Play: having fun doing it.

Fast Twitch/Slow Twitch

The two types of muscle fibers. For example, chickens have light meat (fast twitch) in their breasts, and they can flap their wings quite fast for short periods of time. They have dark meat (slow twitch) in their legs, and they can walk slowly around for long periods of time. Sprinters usually have fast twitch, and marathoners usually have slow twitch fibers. Of course, some runners have mixtures of the two fibers.


The way that your foot hits the ground. Some runners, joggers, and walkers hit the ground with their heel. Others hit the ground with the mid or flat portion of their foot, and others hit the ground with their toe.


One of the principles of running is to allow at least 48 hours, the time your body needs to recover, between runs that cause heavy stress. The 48 hours encompasses two days, and that time is known as "heavy/light" and those terms refer to the stress applied to your body not to your effort in doing the run. The day after the heavy run could include a run of a shorter distance, a run at a slower speed, combinations of the two, or a day with no running.


Running up and down hills to increase your ability to run hills and to increase your body-strength.


A burst of speed, usually a sprint, at the end of a race or run.

Listen to your Body

Observing how your body responds to your training. Are you feeling energetic, tired during and after a run? Are your muscles sore and/or stiff? Have you come down with a cold when you usually don't have a cold?

Long Slow Distance or LSD

Running at a comfortable pace at which you can carry on a conversation with a running buddy. You aren't huffing and puffing during and after the run. LSD is used to build endurance for long distances.


Running a continuous path that returns to your starting point without doubling back on itself. A school track is a common example of a loop. When I lived in Massachusetts, I would run loops around small lakes, and I ran to the next town and back via a different path giving a big loop.

It is possible to have Out/Back segments in loops, and loop segments in an out/back paths.

Negative Split

A run or a race in which the last half is run faster than the first half.


Running from your starting point to your destination and then returning to your starting point via the same path. "Out" to the destination and "Back" via the same path.


If a runner overstrides, he or she is taking abnormally large steps. Overstriding can lead to injury because it stresses muscles in unnatural ways.

Perceived Effort

The amount of effort needed to complete a run, from the viewpoint of the runner. A faster run in cool temperatures and a slower run in hot temperatures could seem like the same effort to the runner.

Personal Best or PB
Personal Record or PR

The shortest time that you have completed a particular distance, such as a 5K race.

Positive Split

A run or a race in which the first half is run faster than the last half.


Striving to run farther and/or faster. Increasing the intensity of your workouts.


An acronym describing the initial treatment of injuries. Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.

Runner's High

A psychological "feeling of wholeness and peace and contentment [that] came over me. I loved myself and the world and everyone in it. I had no longer to will what I was doing. The road seemed to be running me. I was in a place and time I never wanted to leave." (Dr. George Sheehan). Not all runners experience this, and those that do usually don't experience it often.

Second Wind

The time during a run after your body has warmed up and running has become less awkward and stressful and more enjoyable.


Training to increase your running speed.

Stride Rate

The number of times both feet strike the ground. An easy way to measure stride rate is to count the number of times your left foot strikes the ground in a minute (your cadence) and then double that number. Well trained runners typically have a stride rate of 180 or more.


The running of short bursts of speed to help you develop better form. Slower recovery jogs are done between the strides.


A period of reduced training before a race. Typical tapers are 3 weeks for a marathon and 1 or 2 weeks for a half-marathon.

Total Body Strength

Developing strength, through lifting weights, in the total body, i.e. the lower, mid, and upper sections of the body.

Wakeup Heart Rate

Your heart rate or pulse when you first wake up. Your waking up is the one time in a 24-hour day when you have the same conditions existing in your body (assuming you get proper sleep each night), and this allows you to compare your heart rate from day to day to get a general view whether your body is rested or not.

Walking Breaks

The mixing of walking and running. Typically, a walking break will be about 10% of the distance, but some people might walk more and others might walk less. Running and walking affect our muscles differently, and walking breaks give rest to your muscles and conserve energy that can be used later on during the run.


The point in a long distance run at which you've used up all of the energy that is stored in your cells, and your body starts burning fat. Usually, the runner doesn't suffer pain, just a lack of energy and starts walking/jogging. Typically, the wall occurs around 20 miles.

If you think of words or phrases that need defining, please email them to me. If you disagree with my definitions, please email me your definitions.

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