The Ultimate List of Running Terms


Running lingo can sound like a foreign language if you’re new to it. If you have a hard time following the conversation when your running buddies start talking about whether a fartlek in zero-drops is a good idea during C25K, this list is for you. ir

And even if you’re a seasoned runner, this is a great place to look up running terms if you’re not sure what they mean.

Training Terms

If you’re looking up new material about training online, you might come across some of the following terms.

10% rule

This is the common rule that states that runners should avoid increasing their mileage by more than 10% from one week to another. That means if you ran 15 miles last week, you should only add an additional 1.5 miles the next week.


Aerobic” means with oxygen, and it’s also known as cardio. You can do low to high intensity aerobic exercise.

Altitude training

Some endurance runners will practice training several weeks at high altitude (typically over 6,000 ft above sea level) to practice endurance.


This type of exercise occurs with short bursts of energy and is performed at max effort for a short period of time. This could include sprinting, jumping, or heavy weight lifting.

Base training/running base/base mileage

This is the beginning part of a workout plan or first phase of a training cycle. The idea is to give you a base to prepare for more challenging workouts later in the cycle.

Brick workout

This workout prepares triathletes and duathletes for multisport events. Typically, a brick workout is cycling followed immediately by running.


This is a training program that helps people work their way up to a 5k even if they have never run before. It’s a Couch to 5k plan (or C25k).


This means how many steps you take in a minute. Traditionally, runners shoot for about 180 steps per minute, but this varies by runner. Higher cadence running tends to improve running performance.

Cool Down

After a long or hard run, the period of light physical activity (either walking or jogging) is known as the cool down. The idea is to bring the heart rate down slowly and ensure that blood isn’t pooling in the legs.

Core/core training

This means working your core so that you’ll become a stronger runner. You can do planks, bridges, crunches, and other exercises work your core.

Cross Training

This means doing something other than running. Typically, runners will bike, swim, or row on their cross-training days.

Cutdown intervals

With a cutdown interval run, you will slowly cut down your mile pace in 10-second incremements. Typically, they are 5-8 miles, but they can be longer like 8-10 miles. An example for a five-mile cutdown would be pacing miles at 8:30, 8:20, 8:10, 8:00, 7:50 if you’re trying to break 1:45 for a half marathon.


If you’re training for a big race, especially an ultra, you might do two runs in a day. Typically, one of the runs is harder while the second is a lighter, recovery run.

Dynamic stretching

Unlike static stretching, dynamic stretching is movement-based. Some examples include high knees, butt kicks, and Frankensteins.

Easy run/recovery run

The hard part of easy runs is the discipline to run slowly enough. Easy runs are designed to get your blood flowing and to move your muscles at a comfortable pace. You should be able to talk the entire way.


This is a stationary machine that simulates running, stair climbing, or walking without the impact of pounding the pavement.


When you sustain running for a long period of time, your brain will produce chemicals called endorphins, leading to a “runner’s high.”


This is a Swedish word that means “speed play.” It’s when you mix up your running pace with slow running, moderate speed running, and fast bursts. Typically, it’s random when you decide to speed up or slow down, and for how long.

Foam roller/rolling

Many runners use a foam roller to roll out tight muscles in their body after runs. It’s a form of self-massage and a critical piece of recovery from workouts.


You’ll find GPS in most running watches now. The Global Positioning Satellite systemt allows you to track how far you’ve run fairly accurately. This can be helpful to get a good idea of how far you’ve run.

Heat Index

This measures temperature and humidity outside to estimate how hot it feels. Even if it’s only 80 degrees, the heat index might push it over 90 degrees.

Hill repeats/workouts

This is a good way to develop strength without putting your body through as much strain from a speed workout. You will run uphill and then jog back down and repeat for as many times as desired.

Ice bath

Many people take ice baths after long runs, hard workouts, and races. A runner will immerse his or her legs in cold water for 15 to 20 minutes. This helps to constrict the blood vessels and reduce swelling and tissue breakdown.


This word is used to refer to track workouts or fast sprints. In other words, you run hard for ¼ or ½ mile and then recover before doing it again for several more reps.

Junk miles

If you’re training for a longer race, you’ll get in the extra miles sometimes without really thinking of how you’d like to workout. Every workout should have a purpose, even when that purpose is “run easy.” If you don’t have a purpose, you might be running junk miles.


If you have a strong finish at the finish line, this is called the kick.

Lactic Acid

Due to the incomplete breakdown of glucose, a substance called lactic acid starts to form in the muscles and is associated with muscle fatigue and soreness. The buildup of lactic acid tells you you are running faster than your threshold pace, an important barrier for being able to sustain your run.

Ladder intervals

This workout includes a series of increasing and or decreasing intervals. For example, it could be ¼ mile, ½ mile, ¾ mile, and 1 mile. You could also do it descreasing distances, although this is less common. Each hard interval is followed by a recovery interval.

Long run

This is exactly what it sounds like—you’re running for a long distance. Typically, this is 10+ miles.


No, this isn’t the drug. It stands for long slow distance runs that are longer than a weekday run. You’ll help build endurance and up your mental game when you complete these.

Negative split

Although it sounds bad, this is actually a good thing. It means that you ran the second half of the race faster than the first half, and is a hallmark of smart race pacing. Nearly every distance world record has been set running negative splits.

Out and Back

This is a course where you run to a turnaround spot and then run back to where you started. If you’re in an unfamiliar area or if you’re trying to push yourself to run farther, out and back runs are a great option.


This simply means how long it takes you to cover a mile in number of minutes. Thus, if you can run a mile in 10 minutes, your pace is a 10-minute-mile.


This is when you specifically schedule your training so that your best performance will occur at a race you’re participating in.

Point to Point

A course or run that doesn’t start and end in the same place. Interestingly, point-to-point courses are generally not eligible for world records.


These are exercises in which your muscles exert their max force in short periods of time. They are also known as jump training or plyos.


An interval workout that works from short times/distances, up to a longer distance, and then back down. A pyramid is like a ladder, but also includes decreasing distances. Like the shape of a pyramid implies, you’ll work up to the top and then work back to the bottom. As an example, you’d start with 1 minute hard and 1 minute easy and go up all the way to 4 minutes hard and 4 minutes easy. Then, you work back down.

Quad Buster

A quad buster is a mile plus a climb.

Rest day

This means that you get to take a day off from training in order to give you body time to recover.

Run/walk/run or Galloway Method

The run/walk method was popularized by Olympian Jeff Galloway and allows runners to take walk breaks in order to finish strong and recover quickly. But for the method to work, a runner must start the walk break when he or she starts to feel any fatigue.

Second wind

We use this in colloquial speech, and it means the same thing in running—you suddenly get a second burst of energy.

Speed Work

Speed work is also known as intervals or repeats for any workout run quicker than usual. The track is a popular venue for speedwork. The idea is to increase cardiovascular fitness by running much faster than is sustainable.

Static stretching

You complete these stretches without tons of moving. They can be bending at the waist to touch your toes or standing on one leg and pulling the other leg toward your bottom to stretch your quads.


These are also called pickups and tend to be 100 meter surges that are incorporated into a warmup or regular workout. You run them at 80% max effort with easy jogging in between.


Runners taper before big races like a half marathon or a full marathon to give their muscles time to rest. This means that they significantly cut back their running distance and effort. A taper can last anywhere from several days to several weeks depending on the length of the race.

Tempo run

A tempo run tends to have three components: a slow warm-up, a sustained fast section, and then a slower cool down. The idea of a tempo run is to improve a runner’s strength and speed.

Threshold run

This is testing your lactate threshold, going shorter and faster than tempo running. You’ll be training yourself for crazy fast paces.

Training Log

A document that tracks your progress running. You’ll start to see patterns, monitor your progress, and get good benchmarks from hard workouts. While you can use pen and paper, most runners use apps like Strava, Garmin Connect, MapMyRun, Nike+, and others.

VO2 max

This is a technical measure of how much oxygen your body can consume, measured in milligrams of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute. It combines how much oxygen your lungs can take in and convert into the bloodstream as well as how efficient your muscles are in consuming and converting that oxygen for the body’s use. You can improve your VO2 max with training, and the higher the number, the better. An average woman might score about 35; an average male about 45; an elite athlete might be in the 70s or even low 80s.

Warm up

Before starting a run, a warm up is a 10-20 minute period of walking or light jogging that gradually increases heart rate and prepares the body for the hard workout ahead.

Weight training/Strength training

In strength training, the idea is to work on resistance and thus improve your muscular fitness. You can use free weights, weight machines, or even your own body weight.

Wind Chill

This is how cold it feels outside, combining air temperature as well as wind. It might be close to 40 degrees, but the wind chill might put it below 32.

Yasso 800

This speed workout was created by running celebrity Bart Yasso. It’s a great way to estimate how long it will take you to run a marathon.

It’s done by running 800 meters (two laps of the track) 10 times with equal recovery time. The time that you get in minutes and seconds for your 10th rep will be the same as the hours and minutes of your marathon time.

For example, if you can run your 10th 800 in three minutes and 40 seconds, then the prediction is that you can run a marathon in three hours and 40 minutes.

Race Terms

Be prepared for race day with this section!

Aid Station

Aid stations, or water stops, appear at different points along the race course, offering water and sports drinks. Typically at larger and longer races, volunteers also hand out energy gels and other items.


This is someone who is participating in a race without having registered or paid for an entry. This is frowned upon for many reasons (strain on race resources, unfair to registered runners, etc.) – so don’t do it!


This is not something you put around your neck like you would for a baby, but a rectangular sheet that you pin onto your clothing with numbers (known as bib numbers) to identify every runner in a particular race.


If you’re in a longer race (or if you win any type of race), the medal you receive—typically a finisher’s medal unless you won—is known as race bling. 

Bucket List

This is a list of races that you would love to run some day (for the morbid among us, before you “kick the bucket”). The Boston Marathon and other big-city races often top the list for most runners!


This is the ultimate race hardware, traditionally given after completing a 100 mile race. Want to start a fight with a 100-mile finisher? Suggest buckles should be awarded for any ultra distance.

Certified course

A certified course is one that the USA Track & Field has ensured is measured accurately. A course must be a USATF-certified course in order for any running performance to be accepted or for national ranking.


“Getting chicked” means that a woman beats a man to the finish.

Chip Time

At the start of a big race, it might take many minutes after the gun before you cross the start line. Unlike gun time, which is the same for everyone, chip time is your time for a race based on when you crossed the starting line and when you cross the finish line.


Sometimes races have special divisions designated for male (Clydesdale) and female (Athena) runners who are over a particular weight, although the minimum weight to qualify varies from race to race.


At larger races, participants are divided into groups based on expected finish times. As an example, people expected to finish between 1:45 and 1:59:59 would be in a particular corral for a half marathon. Sometimes you are assigned a race corral before the race, and other times you pick the corral yourself on the day of the race.


If you’re running an ultra, typically you have a crew with you to provide support and/or aid during that race.


If you run directly behind another runner and have him or her block the wind for you, you’re drafting and benefiting from someone else’s work.


These are the cream of the crop runners that are wicked fast.

Even split

If you ran the same pace throughout an entire race, you had an even split.

Gear Check

You’ll see this at larger races. It’s a place to put your gear while you’re running.


This means that you’ve been beaten by someone who is a masters runner.

Ghost runner

If you feel like someone is right behind you, that’s a ghost runner.

Gun/Clock time

This is the time that it takes you to complete a race from when the starting gun goes off/the clock beings to when you cross the finish line. Gun time is often used to determine podium winners, but everyone else uses chip time.

Leap frogging

If you keep seeing the same person multiple times during a race, then you’re leap frogging one another.


This means that your course starts and begins in the same place.


A race course that starts and finishes on a stretch of road or trail with runners going in both directions. A course would start on road/trail, do a loop, then finish on the same stretch of road or trail it started on. 

Marathon pace

This is the pace that you can maintain for marathon distance.


An age division for runners 40 and older.


Larger races often feature pacers who run at a preset pace, to help ensure that you make that goal time.


Parkrun is a collection of free 5k runs that take place all over the world on Saturday mornings.

Positive split

If you had a positive split, it’s not a good thing. It means that you ran your second half slower than the first half. This is typically a sign that you started too fast and faded at the end.

Post-race blues

In the days after crossing the finish line at a big goal race, many runners deal with post-race blues, meaning that they get depressed, sad, and even lonely.


Someone who starts a race super fast and then drops out.


This is a series of long-distance relay races.


Since you love to run, this means pairing a race and a vacation in one trip. It’s an excuse to travel to somewhere cool for a race.


Someone who makes tons of excuses why he or she isn’t ready for a run or a race and then totally kills it.


Splits are your times at specific places along your route or race course. Typically, a longer race like a half marathon or full marathon will record splits every couple of miles.


All the free stuff you get at race expos. The more, the better!

It also can refer to the free stuff you get for a race (t-shirt, medal, finisher award).

Technical/tech shirt or gear

Often, you’ll get a tech shirt in your goodie bag of running stuff after you check in for a race. Tech shirts are great because they have anti-wicking material that draws sweat away from your body.

Timing chip

Chips are typically included on the back of running bibs and are activated once a runner steps over the start line. Chips allow much more accurate timing of individual runners.

Older timing systems attach the chip to your shoe or around your ankle. These often have to be returned after you finish the race.

Timing mat

These appear throughout a race course and record a runner’s chip time at a particular distance. Most races have start and finish line timing mats, while longer ones (like a half marathon or full marathon) will have several additional mats for checkpoints in the middle of the race.


These are some of the amazing people that you’ll see along the race course, ready to give you some much needed fuel and hydration!

Wave start

A wave start is used to make sure that there aren’t as many people crossing the finish line at one time. One group of runners will start, followed by several others. Each group, or corral, starts at a different time.

World Marathon Majors

This is a series of the world’s largest and most widely recognized marathons: Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, New York City, and Tokyo.

Gear and Product Terms

If you’ve ever wondered about all those product terms, here’s your guide!


If you’ve been dealing with chafing, glide will help protect your skin against irritating rubbing.

Brand Ambassador

This is someone who reps a particular brand both on course and off course. These have become a popular way for brands to promote their products via social media. An ambassador promotes it on social media and in-turn gets product discounts.

Compression socks/gear

This is an elastic sock that compress the veins, arteries, and muscles of your leg so that blood continues to circulate through your legs.

Fuel belt

If you’re running a longer race and don’t have lots of pockets in your running gear, you might purchase a fuel belt to carry the energy that you need like gels, gu, or pretzels.


Gaiters are sleeves that cover your shoes and lower leg, keeping rocks, sand, mud, and so forth from getting in your shoes.


Many runners use GPS watches, particularly the Garmin brand because they are considered the king (or queen) of fitness watches.


If you’re running longer distances, you may need to carry your hydration with you. Some runners use hand-held water bottles to have easily accessible water at their fingertips.

Heart rate monitor (HRM)

As the name implies, heart rate monitors will monitor your heart rate in real time, meaning that you can get plenty of insight on your performance as well as knowledge about how to perform at the right intensity.

Hoka One One (or Hokas)

This is a particular brand of running shoe that some runners swear by. Hokas are an iconic maximal running shoe, built on a huge amount of cushioning. Bonus trivia: hoka one one roughly translates from Maori as “fly over the earth,” and is pronounced “oh-nay oh-nay.”

Hydration pack

A backpack equipped with a bladder for carrying water on longer runs. You’re able to sip through a drink tube as well as stash other items like energy gels, your phone, or extra clothing.


If you’re trying to treat or prevent an injury, you might wear an orthotic device inside your running shoes.


It’s important to make sure that you’re wearing the right amount of gear, and runners use shells as jackets to protect against the wind. They aren’t as heavy duty as a coat, but they will be good in running in many conditions.


This is a special type of sleeveless shirt. The shoulder straps must be narrow in order for it to be a singlet.


Strava is a running app that is used to track fitness exercises. It’s also a social fitness network, connecting millions of runners and cyclists.


Tights are a more form-fitting bottom option for runners. They can be knee-length, mid-calf, or ankle-length and are great for cooler weather.


This is a special type of sports and energy drink based on SuperStarch, which is advertised to help improve performance and fueling.


Clothing that is technical or synthetic wicks moisture away from the skin, helping to prevent uncomfortable chafing as the fabrics do not absorb moisture.

Running Shoe and Foot Terms

When you need to purchase new running shoes, check out this section!


This is the amount of padding that your running shoes have. The more cushioned the shoe, the higher the stack height will be.

Drop/Shoe Drop/Millimeter Drop

This is the difference between the heel height and the forefoot height, measured in millimeters. The lower the number, the more of a flat shoe it is. Standard running shoes have a drop of about 10mm.


Gait is how you move on your feet and how your feet strike the ground. It’s important to have proper gait to avoid injuries.


Maximalist shoes (as the name suggests) have lots of cushioning and are great for long runs. Hoka One One created this trend.


Minimalistic running shoes have very little cushion (if any at all) based on the idea that it’s easier and more natural to run barefoot. Vibram Five-Fingers are the epitome of minimal shoes.

Normal/medium arch

Someone with a normal arch has about a half-filled middle arch, meaning that your ankles roll inward with each step.


When people talk about the “ride” of a running shoe, they mean what it feels like to run in a particular shoe.

Stability or motion control

Motion control shoes ensure that your foot doesn’t roll more inward than it should as typically happens with overpronators.


This occurs when your foot doesn’t completely roll inward and typically affects runners with high arches and tight Achilles tendons.

Zero drop

Zero drop shoes are minimalist shoes because the heel is the same height as the toe. They are similar to barefoot running, and most have minimal cushioning.

Trail Running

If you’re someone who loves to hit the trail, then this section is for you.


This is what trail runners call someone who prefers to run on roads. Often said with a sneer.

Bombing downhill

If you’re running downhill super fast and/or in an uncontrolled manner, you’re bombing downhill.

Double track

This is a term used by trail runners to refer to a trail that is wide enough for two people to run at one time.

Drop bag

If you’re running an ultra, a drop bag contains all the items you think you’ll need during that race, and it can be taken to a specific location, which is great if you don’t have a crew.

Elevation gain

This means the amount of feet in altitude that a course gains during a race. It’s going to be lower if you live by the beach and higher if you live in the mountains.

Face Plant

If you fall and your face catches you, then you’ve face planted.

Going Barkley

When you run through an unmarked part of the trail, bushwhacking through it, you’re going barkley. This comes from the Barkley Marathons, which is an ultra (yes, just one) in Tennessee that requires off-trail running and orienteering.

Grand Slam

If you complete all of the most prestigious 100 mile races in one calendar year, you’ve done the Grand Slam: Western States in California, Vermont 100 miler, Wasatch Front 100 miler in Utah, and Leadville Trail 100 in Colorado.

Single track

A trail or course that is only wide enough for one runner at a time.


This indicates how challenging a trail is, and the more technical it is, the more challenging it is with lots of steep hills, water crossings, rocks, roots, and so forth.


If you want to know everything about food and running, it’s here!


Similar in consistency to gummy bears and chewable vitamins, these are a quick and easy fuel source for races and long runs. They are less messy than gels.

Bonk/Hitting the Wall

This seems means that you suddenly lose energy and begin to fatigue quickly, caused by the depletion of glycogen stores in your body. Not surprisingly, this tends to occur at the last few miles of a run, particularly a long run like a marathon.

Carb loading

Runners who are participating in longer races like a half marathon or marathon will increase the percentage of carbs in their diet several days before the race.


Just like a car needs gas, a runner needs fuel to keep him or her going. Ideally, you’re eating around 100 calories after an hour of running, and you can fuel up on pretzels, energy gels, chews, or bars.


Glycogen is a type of glucose that provides energy to the body and is deposited in tissue as a store of carbohydrates. It is important for runners and other athletes to have a substantial store.


GU is a particular brand of energy gel that people who are running long distances will use for fuel.

Injuries and Injury Recovery

If you find yourself dealing with a lot of injuries, then it might be helpful to look at this section!

Black toenails

If you are running downhill a lot and/or have shoes that are too small, you might suffer from black toenails, as your toes are slamming into the front of your shoe. They typically heal in a few months on their own.

Bloody nipples

Caused by chafing, bloody nipples happen when your shirt rubs against the nipples when running. They are more common during cold weather and happen to men more than women.


This is painful rubbing that is caused by friction, sweat, or moisture with clothing-on-skin or skin-on-skin rubbing.

Chub Rub

This simply means when your thighs chafe due to skin rubbing together.

Flat/low arch

If you have a flat arch, the middle part of your foot is close to touching (or touches) the floor when you are standing.

Foot strike

This refers to how your feet strike the ground.

High arch

When the middle of your foot is really high, then you have a high arch and there is more weight placed on the ball and heel of your foot.

Iliotibial Band Syndrome

This is a repetitive stress injury that occurs if you increase your mileage too quickly, causing the IT band, which connects your hips and knees, to become strained.


If you overpronate, that means that you roll your feet more inward than you should when running.


If you’re pushing your body too hard during training, you’ll experience a collapse in performance, fatigue, and loss of enthusiasm for running. If you’re having difficulties sleeping (or if your period suddenly stops if you’re a woman), you might be seriously overtraining.

Piriformis Syndrome

When the piriformis muscle in the buttocks irritates the sciatic nerve, you’re dealing with piriformis syndrome and probably will feel symptoms similar to sciatica: radiating pain in the back, and shooting pains up and down the legs.

Plantar fasciitis

When the thick band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes is inflamed, you are suffering from plantar fasciitis. If the bottom of your foot hurts when you walk, it’s likely plantar fasciitis.


Pronation means that your foot is rolling inward to distribute the impact of the force of the ground as you strike it.


We’re all familiar with this acronym—rest, ice, compression, and elevation—when trying to recover from an injury. 

Runner’s Knee

When you deal with damaged cartilage under the kneecap, you are suffering from runner’s knee.


This is a sharp pain that typically occurs just below the rib cage that tends to appear during hard workouts and races. It is unknown what exactly causes them—it could be food in the stomach or a cramp in the diaphragm.

Stress fracture

This is a hairline crack that occurs in the bone from repeated stresses, as opposed to impact or bending.


Achilles tendinitis tends to occur in new runners who increase their distance (or sometimes intensity) too rapidly. If you wear heeled shoes, making the Achilles tendon shorter and tighter, you might be more prone to tendinitis. It’s important to have flexibility in your ankles and calves to take some of the load off your Achilles tendon.

Water/aqua jogging

As the name suggests, water or aqua jogging is jogging in the deep end of a pool where you can’t touch the bottom. Typically, people use flotation belts for added stability.

Miscellaneous Lingo

This section is for all that lingo that runners use that you might not know as a newbie!

Back-to-back marathon/double marathon

If you run one marathon one week and then the next weekend run another, you’ve run back-to-back marathons. Double marathon means that you’ve run two marathons in two consecutive days.

Beer mile

This race includes one beer consumed every ¼ mile. The beer is 12 ounces with a minimum of 5% of alcohol by volume. If an individual vomits, he or she must complete penalty laps.

Crop Dusting

If you pass someone on the course while passing gas, you are crop dusting.


If you love to run outside and feel the fresh air, you probably dread the treadmill, hence the name “dreadmill.”

Farmer Blow/Snot rocket

If you close nostril with your finger and blow, you’ve done a snot rocket.


Instead of typing how far or how fast you ran on Facebook or Instagram, you post a picture of your Garmin (or other GPS watch face) instead.

Hammer/Drop the Hammer

To hammer is to run hard. To drop the hammer means to suddenly ramp up the pace on a group run, beyond what most group members will be able to handle.


If you’re a beginner runner, you’re a newbie!


If you’ve been blowing off other stuff to run, you’ve practiced runcrastination.

Runner’s High

The feeling of euphoria and happiness after sustained running, runner’s high comes from the secretion of endorphins and can occur in other forms of aerobic exercise as well.

Road runner

This is someone who prefers to run on roads and does most of his or her training on roads.


You have the runchies when you’re insanely hungry after a run. Also known as runger.

Runner’s trots

If you start to feel some GI distress when you’re running and have diarrhea, you’ve experienced runner’s trots.


If an organization or business sponsors a runner, that means that they pay for your gear and sometimes race entries if you advertise their product. Sponsored runners tend to be very active on social media.


If you’ve completed a race multiple years in a row, you’re a streaker. It can also mean running consecutive days.

Common Race Distances

When you’re trying to figure out what your next race is going to be, check out this list!

½ Ironman

As the name suggests, it’s half of an Ironman Triathlon—1.2 miles of swimming, 56 miles of cycling, and 13.1 miles of running.

100 meters

This is the shortest sprint race held outside and is ¼ lap around a standard track.


For Americans, that’s 6.2 miles. FOr the rest of the world, it’s 10,000 meters. Many people who want to do more than a 5k, but aren’t quite ready to graduate to a longer run do 10ks.

1200 meter

This is ¾ mile or three laps around a standard track.

1500 meter

This is just shy of a mile—0.93 mile—and 3.75 laps around a track. 


This is almost 10 miles, but not quite—9.3 miles, or 15,000 meters.

200 meters

This is ½ lap around a standard track.

400 meters

This is one lap around a standard track or ¼ mile.


This is 31.1 miles and a typical distance for a first,  ultra marathon.


This is a very popular race distance—3.1 miles or 5,000 meters.

800 meters

This is two laps around a track or ½ mile.

Half Marathon

This race is 13.1 miles long. It’s one of the most popular running distances as it’s a significant length without having to train for a full marathon.


This is a combination of 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of cycling, and 26.2 miles of running.


This race is 26.2 miles long. The name comes from the story of Greek messenger Phidippides, who ran from Marathon to Athens to deliver news of a victory in battle. Legend has it that he died after arriving, so of course now this is a popular recreational thing to do.

Olympic or standard triathlon

This is 1.5K of swimming, 40K of cycling, and a 10K run.

Sprint triathlon

A sprint triathlon is a 750 meter swim, 20K of cycling, and 5k run.


This is a race that includes swimming, cycling, and running.

Ultra/ultra marathon

As the name suggests, this is any race that is longer than a marathon. Typically, the distances are 50K (31 miles), 50 miles and 100K (62 miles). Many ultras are run in natural settings.


Just like the military, runners love their acronyms. Here’s a short list for a lot of them!


The abbreviation for Boston Qualifying time, as the Boston Marathon requires runners to meet certain time standards based on age and gender. BQ signifies a marathon time that would qualify an individual to participate in the Boston Marathon.


Course Record. This is the fastest time that is run on a particular course.


This means Did Not Finish, indicating that a competitor in a race started the race but was unable to finish for some reason.


Similarly, DNS means Did Not Start, which means that for some reason a competitor failed to even start the race.


If you’re a long distance runner, you might suffer from DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness.


This abbreviation means fastest known time. Whereas a course record comes during an organized event, an FKT, usually referring to trail running, is undertaken as an informal and individual effort.


If you’ve been having some serious bouts of jealousy as you look at your friends’ posts about running, you probably have been experiencing FOMO—fear of missing out.


Heart Rate.


International Association of Athletics Federations, the former (and still commonly used) name of World Athletics, the worldwide organization that governs running.


In order to figure out the highest number of contractions your heart can make in one minute or MHR (maximum heart rate), you can subtract your age from 220. But this method only gives you a rough estimation.


Minutes Per Mile; another term for pace. Although a treadmill is set up with miles per hour, runners find it more helpful to use MPM, or minutes per mile. If you run one mile in 8 minutes, then you have an 8:00 pace.


Miles Per Week. When you’re training hard for a race, you’re probably also figuring out miles per week (MPW) to see if you’re getting in enough mileage to prepare the your race distance. The commonly accepted minimum MPW is the same as your race distance, although a good training plan will have you running much more.


This is the national record, meaning that you ran the fastest time of any person from your country at any given distance.


If you like Tough Mudders and Spartan Races, then you probably like obstacle coursing racing (OCR).


PB stands for personal best, not one of the components of a PB&J sandwich, while PR means personal record. They both refer to the best time that you’ve had for a certain distance.


You can figure out your resting heart rate (RHR) when you first wake up in the morning and before you get up out of bed.


If you’re a member of the Road Runner’s Club of America, you know what RRCA stands for!


For those of us who live in places where snow is common in the winter, you’ll probably be stuck on the TM, or treadmill, also known as the dreadmill.


This is the abbreviation for the USA Track & Field, the governing body of track and field and long-distance running in the United States.


A WR (world record) makes even a NR look easy, as it is the fastest time in the world for any run at any given distance.


If you were a part of the cross country team in high school, you know what XC means!


On cross-training (XT) days, you’ll perform low-impact activities on the days that you don’t run. This will help increase your strength, help prevent injury, and add variety to your workouts. You can swim, cycle, use the elliptical, row, walk, do yoga or weight-training, or do Pilates or exercise videos.

If you’ve made it to the end, congratulations! That was a lot. But hopefully it’s a great reference guide for you for any running term you might want to look up.