The Pro Tips Guide to Runner’s Lingo

Can’t tell your supination from your overpronation? Runners have a language all their own. And this guide to runner’s lingo can help you master the sport’s lexicon.

Ever wondered what exactly is a “tempo run?”

If you’re new to running, you might be unfamiliar with the sport’s jargon—the phrases, slang and technical terms experienced runners speak so fluently.  Get to know the terminology with this complete runner’s glossary, featuring more than 50 common running words, acronyms and influential figures.

Print The PRO TIPS Runner’s Glossary

AEROBIC CONDITIONING: Training that improves endurance. Used to refer to running or other exercise at an intensity that’s sufficiently easy for your respiratory and cardiovascular systems to deliver all or most of the oxygen required by your muscles, and slow enough that lactic acid doesn’t appreciably build up in your muscles. Generally, you can sustain a slow aerobic pace for long periods of time, provided you have the endurance to go long distances.

AEROBIC CAPACITY: Also called VO2max, it is the maximum amount of oxygen that can be utilized by the body. It also describes a type of training that increases the amount of oxygen that can be utilized, such as Aerobic Capacity Intervals.

AID STATION: Typically, tables set up along a race course where water, sports drinks and sometimes snacks are given out.

AIMS: Association of International Marathons and Road Races. More information can be found at

AMENORRHEA: The absence of menstrual periods as a result of intense and/or extended training.

ANAEROBIC CAPACITY: The maximum amount of energy that can be produced without requiring oxygen. It also describes a type of training that increases the amount of energy that can be produced, such as Anaerobic Capacity Intervals.

ANAEROBIC THRESHOLD (AT): The transition phase between aerobic and anaerobic running. Good training will increase AT by teaching the muscles to use oxygen more efficiently, so that less lactic acid is produced. Also known as “lactate threshold.”

ASOIF: Association of Summer Olympic International Federations. More information can be found at

BANDIT: A bandit is one who runs an official road race without officially registering for the event or paying registration fees. Bandits are popular in large races that sell out fast, and are generally frowned upon by the running community. While banditing may appear innocent at first, a bandit may actually end up taking resources from registered runners, from water to race medals to even the attention of emergency medical staff.

BANNISTER, ROGER: The first person to run the mile in under 4 minutes (3:59.4 in 1954).

BASE MILEAGE: The average number of miles per week a runner typically runs before starting a specific training cycle.

BIB: The number assigned to you during a race, typically displayed on a square piece of paper. Pro tip: bibs are worn on the front of the shirt, not the back.

BIOELECTRICAL IMPEDANCE/INFRARED: The method of determining percent body fat where an electrical impulse or infrared light are put through the body. It is easy to use but an approximate 3-6 percent error is possible.

BIOMECHANICS: The study of the function of the body in relation to movement. This is especially important for repetitive-movement sports like running. Poor biomechanics can lead to injury.

BODY COMPOSITION: Usually relating to the percent of the body comprised of lean tissue (bone, muscle, water, etc.) or fat tissue. As a guide, 17% or less body fat is recommended for men while 24 percent or less body fat is recommended for women.

BODY GLIDE: Another proprietary eponym for any sort of lubricating substance that helps prevent chafing, blisters and bloody nipples. Body glide typically comes in a deodorant-type stick making it easy to apply.

BONK: Similar to “the wall,” but a “bonk” can happen at any time, during any race. When an athlete goes from seemingly strong and well-trained to utter exhaustion, they have “bonked.” A bonk is often related to poor nutrition and low blood sugar and can often be overcome mid race with the right snacks and a second wind.

BQ: “Boston qualifier.” Many non-runners don’t realize that in order to officially run the Boston Marathon, a runner must gain entry by either a charity slot or running a qualifying time at another race. Boston qualifying standards are moderately difficult for the average runner, and thus achieving a “BQ” is a great honor and source of pride for many (and frustration when you are mere minutes or seconds away). See for the full Boston qualifying standard times.

C25K: Acronym for couch to 5K, a beginner training plan to take non-runners from “the couch” to running their first 5K.

CARB LOADING: The dietary practice of eating a high carbohydrate diet (approximately 60-70 percent of total calories) for the three days leading up to a race to maximally fill the glycogen stores. The act of building up glycogen stores in muscle prior to a big race. Though technically carb loading is an intricate process that involves carb depletion, then a few days of loading, most runners simply use the excuse of “carb loading” to eat massive quantities of pasta the night before a race.

CARBOHYDRATE: An essential nutrient of the body found in pastas, breads, fruits and vegetables. It should comprise the majority of calories in a runner’s diet and is stored in the body as glycogen in the muscles and liver. Overconsumption is converted to fat.

CHIP TIME: Some races are large, and because of the crowds it may take a few minutes or more to cross the starting line after the official clock time starts. In many races runners are given a timing chip that attaches to their shoe or race bib. The chip starts the second the runner crosses the starting line and stops the second the runner crosses the finish line. Chip times are far more accurate to the runners’ actual race times than clock times.

This technology records the finishing times of all the runners in a race. It’s much more accurate and can easily deal with the old problem of many runners finishing nearly at once in a big, crowded race. The “chip” is a tiny electronic component that’s programmed with your specific runner identification. It sends a signal to an electronic reading device – often hidden under a strip of carpet or mat – when you cross the starting line and again when you cross the finish line. No human observation is necessary. Your exact time is recorded automatically.

CLOCK TIME: During a race, the clock starts from the time the official “gun” goes off. Your clock time is the amount of time it took you to finish the race from the moment the race started to the moment you cross the finish line.

CLYDESDALE: A large-bodied runner who commonly competes in heavyweight running classes.

COOL-DOWN: Slow running or jogging done after a workout or competition to loosen muscles and rid the body of lactic acid. Aids recovery more quickly. The purpose of a cool down is to allow the heart rate to safely return to its resting level, as well as loosen up the muscles before ceasing exercise.

COOLMAX®: A high-performance polyester fiber used in athletic apparel for its cotton-like feel, moisture-wicking properties and quick dry time; brand name of DuPont®.

CROSS-TRAINING: Activities such as swimming, cycling or weight training that are used to increase conditioning and injury prevention for running or as a means of adding variety to a workout schedule.

CRUISE INTERVALS: A type of workout used to improve the lactate threshold. It usually includes repetitions of 800 meters to two miles performed at the lactate threshold speed with short recoveries.

CUSHIONING: The ability of a shoe to minimize the shock of running. While all running shoes have cushioning, highly cushioned models are usually designed for under-pronators (or supinators) who need additional shock absorption and maximum flexibility.

CR: Course record.

DNF: “Did not finish.” This can be due to pulling yourself out of a race, or simply not finishing in a designated course time.

DNS: “Did not start.” If a runner registered for a race, but for whatever reason didn’t show up to the starting line, then he/she is a “DNS.”

DOMS: An acronym for “delayed onset muscle soreness,” DOMS is what happens when a runner runs 20+ miles one day then can’t walk up, or worse, down the stairs the next day. Though many theories exist, scientists are still baffled by what exactly causes DOMS. Most runners have a sadistic love/hate relationship with DOMS.

DANIELS, JACK PhD: Running coach and exercise physiologist.

DECKER-SLANEY, MARY: American former track athlete. During her career, she won gold medals in the 1500 meters and 3000 meters at the 1983 World Championships, and was the world record holder in the mile, 5000 meters and 10,000 meters. In total, she set 17 official and unofficial world records, including being the first woman in history to run inside 4:20 for the mile. She also set 36 US national records at distances ranging from 800 meters to 10,000 meters, and has held the US record in the mile, 2000 meters and 3000 meters since the early 1980s, while her 1500 meters record stood for 32 years.

DEHYDRATION: Not having enough fluids in the body.

DREADMILL: Derogatory term for a treadmill.

EASY RUN: A slow run done at a conversational pace.

ELECTROLYTES: Minerals such as sodium, chloride and potassium that are used for normal bodily functions. These minerals are lost when the body sweats and are replaced through food and fluids.

ELITE RUNNER: An athlete who has reached the highest level in his/her sport.

ENDURANCE: The ability to run for long periods of time.

ENDORPHINS: Chemicals in the brain that create a feeling of euphoria; said to be the cause of the “runner’s high.”

FARTLEK: The Swedish word for speedplay, which is a workout that includes faster running mixed with slower running. It adds variety to training and can be performed in any setting. Fartlek training is a continuous interval workout that combines fast-paced, higher intensity running with recovery periods of medium- to lower-effort running. Typically, these bursts of speed are added during the middle of a regular training run. Unlike traditional interval training, which consists of specific distances or timed intervals, fartlek training is intuitive and unstructured. The runner will choose the distance and pace of the faster interval based upon perceived effort.

FAST TWITCH: A type of muscle fiber (cells which compose the muscles) that contracts rapidly and powerfully but fatigues quickly.

FAT: An essential nutrient of the body found in oils and meats that should comprise approximately 30 percent of calories in a runner’s diet. Overconsumption leads to increases in body fat. Consists of three types: saturated, poly-unsaturated and mono-unsaturated.

FAT BURNING: Used to describe an exercise intensity which burns the most fat. Science is still debating the appropriate intensity for maximal fat burning. (Note: burning fat at the highest rate does not necessarily correspond to burning calories at the highest rate.)

FLANAGAN , SHALANE Long-distance runner who made her marathon debut at the 2010 New York City Marathon, finishing second in 2:28.40, the best American finish at that race in 20 years. In 2012, Flanagan won the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon, setting a new event record within 2:25.38. She finished 10th at the Olympic Games, crossing the line first for American women. Flanagan placed seventh at the 2014 Boston Marathon, running 2:22.02 — the fastest American female time ever run in Boston, as well as the third-fastest marathon time ever run by an American woman. Flanagan captured bronze at the 2008 Olympics in the 10,000 meters, running a 30:22.22 to break her own American record and becoming only the second U.S. woman to medal at that distance. In September 2014, Flanagan ran a 2:21:14 PR at the Berlin Marathon, to capture the U.S. 25K.

GALLOWAY, JEFF: 1972 Olympic marathoner who is a running coach, lecturer and director of running camps.

GAIT: Simply put, a running gait is the manner in which a person runs. Many runners will have their gait analyzed by a professional to help them determine any biomechanical deficiencies that can be corrected by running shoes or even by physically changing their running form.

GARMIN®: A GPS watch designed to keep track of overall pace, distance, split time, etc. Though many brands of GPS watches exist, “Garmin” tends to be the most recognized and, therefore, used name (even if your watch isn’t technically made by Garmin).

GLUCOSE: A simple sugar (a monosaccharide). The body produces it from protein, fat and, in largest part, carbohydrates. Ingested glucose is absorbed directly into the blood from the intestine and results in a rapid increase in blood glucose. Glucose is also known as dextrose.

GLYCOGEN: The form in which carbohydrates are stored in the body; there are two main stores of glycogen: in the liver and the muscles when glycogen stores are depleted athletes fatigue, “hit the wall,” or “bonk.” Stores can be maximally filled by eating a high carbohydrate diet leading up to an event.

GOUCHER , KARA U.S. marathoner and two-time Olympian. Was a 10,000-meter bronze medalist at the 2007 World Championships. Made her marathon debut in 2008 at the New York City Marathon, placing third with 2:25:53, the fastest debut time by an American woman and the first American to podium since 1994. Goucher placed third at the Boston Marathon in 2009 and ran a PR of 2:24:52 at the 2011 Boston Marathon, placing fifth.

HALF-MARATHON: 13.1 miles or 21.1K.

HALF-MILE: 804.5 meters or approximately 2 laps around a track.

HAMSTRING STRAIN: Micro-tears of the large muscles of the back of the thigh. These can be treated by ice and stretching and by performing strengthening exercises.

HASH HOUSE HARRIERS: A social club of runners that has been described as “a drinking club with a running problem.” The members, called “hashers,” are given colorful nicknames and club runs are modeled after the old English game of Hares and Hounds. The runs begin when one or two runners, called “hares,” set a trail that the other runners, known as “hounds,” try to follow.

HEART RATE: The contraction of the heart, usually measured as beats per minute.

HEART-RATE MONITOR: A device that measures the electrical activity of the heart (heart rate), it usually consists of a chest strap and watch-like wrist receiver.

HILLS: Workouts where a runner runs up a hill fast and jogs down then runs up fast again, helping to develop leg power and aerobic capacity.

HARDWARE (BLING): Most large races give out finishers’ medals to all participants who finish the course in the designated time. Those finishers medals are often referred to as “hardware” or “bling.” Medals can vary from a standard medallion size to large and intricately shaped designs.

“HITTING THE WALL”: The dreaded point (and awful feeling similar to what the body would feel like if it ran into a wall) during a race when muscle glycogen stores become depleted and a feeling of fatigue engulfs a runner.

IAAF: The International Amateur Athletic Federation, a world-wide organization that governs running. More information can be found at

INSOLE: The removable inner part of a running shoe that sits on top of the midsole and provides cushioning and arch support.

INTENSITY: Degree of effort or exertion.

INTERVALS: Training in which short, fast “repeats” or “repetitions” – often 200 to 800 meters – are alternated with slow “intervals” of jogging for recovery. These are usually based on a rigid format such as “six times 400 meters fast (these are the repeats) with 400-meter recovery jogs (the intervals).” This interval training builds speed and endurance.

IOC: The International Olympic Committee. More information can be found at

ITBS: Acronym for “iliotibial band syndrome,” ITBS is typically the cause behind knee pain in runners, or “runner’s knee.”

JUNIOR: According to the IAAF, a junior is any athlete who is under the age of 20 on December 31 of that year. For example, an athlete whose birthday is November 12, 1997 will be a junior in 2016 but not in 2017.

JUNK MILES: Runs at an easy pace inserted into a program in order to reach a weekly or monthly mileage total rather than for any specific benefit. Despite the name, “junk miles” often serve as recovery from harder workouts. The value of “junk miles” is still hotly debated among training theorists.

KASTOR (DROSSIN), DEENA 2004 Olympic Bronze Medalist.

Is the current American record holder in the marathon (2:19:36), breaking Samuelson’s longstanding record at the 2006 London Marathon. Own of 10 sub-2:30 marathon efforts and three of the five fastest times in American history. She won the bronze medal at the 2004 Olympics — the first Olympic medal by an American in the marathon since Samuelson’s win 20 years earlier. After winning the 2006 London Marathon, Track & Field News ranked her as the top female marathoner in the world. Two years later, she won the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon. Holds the American record for the half marathon, 15K, 8K and 5K distances on the road.

KENNEDY, BOB: An American distance runner. A two-time Olympian, he once held the American record in the 3000 meters (7:30.84), 2 miles (8:11.59) and the 5000 meters (12:58.21).

KICK: A finishing sprint at the end of a race.

100m: Shortest sprint race outdoors.

10K: 10,000 meters, 10 kilometers or 6.2 miles.

1500m: 3 3/4 laps of track; also called the “metric mile.” 1 mile = 1609 meters.

15K: 15,000 meters, 15 kilometers or 9.3 miles.

2 miles: Approximately 8 laps of track or 3218 meters.

200m: Half a lap of track.

3000m: 1.864 miles.

400m: Equivalent to a quarter-mile or 1 lap around a standard track.

5K: 5,000 meters, 5 kilometers or 3.1 miles.

800m: Equivalent to a half-mile or 2 laps around a standard track.

8K: 4.97 miles.

LACTATE THRESHOLD: The running intensity where lactic acid begins to rapidly accumulate in the blood. Also called anaerobic threshold, the lactate threshold speed is a runner’s 10K race pace plus 5-20 seconds or a heart-rate zone between 85-89% of maximum.

LACTIC ACID: A substance which forms in the muscles as a result of the incomplete breakdown of glucose. Lactic acid is associated with muscle fatigue and sore muscles.

LAST: This refers to two different features of a shoe, with the first being the construction of the shoe or the way the shoe’s upper is attached to the midsole. There are three major types of construction: board lasting, where the upper is glued to a flexible, shoe-length “board”; slip lasting, where the upper is stitched directly to the midsole; and combination lasting, where the forefoot is attached directly to the midsole and the heel is attached to a board. Secondly, the last can also refer to the shape of the shoe: straight, semi-curved or curved. A curved last turns inward from the heel to toe; a straight last has little or no curve; and a semi-curved last is somewhere in between.

LATERAL: Referring to the outer side (or little toe side) of a shoe.

LINDEN, DESIREE American long-distance marathoner. She represented the United States in the 2012 London Olympics women’s marathon, qualifying alongside Flanagan and Goucher, with her second-place finish at the trials. Fifth-place finisher at the 2013 Berlin Marathon. Most recently, she finished 4th at the 2015 Boston Marathon, in 2:25:39, the fastest American woman.

LOG: A record of a runners training that helps them stay motivated, monitor their progress and spot trends in their running.

LONG RUNS: The longest run of the week, usually on the weekend. (See LSD).

LSD: An acronym for “long slow distance,” LSD is a long-distance training run that is performed at a pace significantly slower than expected race pace. Typically, an LSD is programmed once a week into a race training plan to both train the muscles to cover the distance and to train the body to effectively utilize varying fuel sources (stored fats, muscle glycogen, etc.).

MARATHON: 26.2 miles. According to legend, in 490 B.C., a Greek soldier name Philippides ran the distance from the site of the battle of Marathon to Athens, where he died after the Greek victory against the Persians.

MASTER: An athlete 40 years of age or older is designated a “master”in the U.S. Many other countries use the term “veteran.”

MAXIMUM HEART RATE (HRMAX): The highest number of contractions the heart can make in one minute.

MEDIAL: The inner side (or arch side) of a shoe.

MEDIAL POST: Denser midsole material (often gray) added to the medial (or arch side) of the midsole to provide stability and control excessive pronation.

MIDSOLE: The part of the running shoe between the upper and outsole that provides cushioning and support. Most midsoles are made of either ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) or polyurethane foam. EVA is lighter and more flexible than polyurethane, but it is not as durable. It can come in various densities with gray-colored EVA being denser than white. The denser, gray EVA is usually placed along the medial side of the shoe to provide stability and motion control and is often referred to as a “medial post.” Some midsoles have additional cushioning technology such as air, gel, grids, etc.

MOTION CONTROL: The ability of a shoe to limit overpronation and provide stability.

MUSCLE SORENESS: Pain, stiffness and soreness in a muscle due to microscopic tears of the muscle usually a result of more work than the muscle is used to (also called DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness).

“METRIC MILE”: 1500m, the international racing distance closest to the imperial mile.

MILE: 1609 meters, 5280 feet or 1760 yards. Note: 1600 meters is not a mile.

NR: National record.

NEGATIVE SPLITS: Running the second half of a race or training run faster than you ran the first half, is referred to as running “negative splits.”

OLYMPICS: A competition held once every four years that is the highest goal for most runners.

ORTHOTICS: Inserts placed inside shoes to correct biomechanical problems.

OUTSOLE: A material, usually made of hard carbon rubber, that is on the bottom of most running shoes. This layer contacts the ground and provides traction.

OVERPRONATION: The excessive inward roll of the foot before toe-off. Overpronation can be controlled through the use of motion control shoes and/or orthotics. Overpronation is believed to be the cause of many running injuries.

OVERTRAINING: A condition when a runner trains too much too soon and leads to fatigue, injury and/or burnout.

OXYGEN DEBT: A state where the energy demand is greater than what can be provided by oxygen thus inducing heavy breathing to consume more oxygen.

OCR: An acronym for obstacle course racing. More than simply a mud run, OCR has taken running and mud and added a number of obstacles to test a runner’s mental and physical strength in varying situations.

PACE: A measure of the speed of running usually quantified as minutes taken to run a mile. Often, a workout will refer to a specific race pace. For example, a runner may run a 7:00-minute-per-mile pace for a 10K, half marathon or marathon in an expected finish time.

PEAK: Scheduled training so that a runner’s best performance is timed for a goal race or event.

PICK-UPS: Accelerations during a run, normally done in shorter durations than fartleks. Pick-ups are simply another way to spice up what would otherwise be an easy run day.

PIRIFORMIS SYNDROME: Pain in the buttocks resulting from a tight piriformis muscle pressing against the sciatic nerve. This can be treated by incorporating stretching exercises for the buttocks.

PLANTAR FASCIITIS: A foot injury where there are micro-tears of the arch. Especially painful in the morning, it can be treated by stretching the arch and calves by a massage with hands or by rubbing the foot on a golf ball or shaving cream can. If untreated, it can lead to heel spurs (spur of bone from the heel bone).

PLYOMETRICS: Also known as bounding exercises, this involves any jumping exercise in which landing is followed by another jump.

POST (or medial post): Firmer density of midsole material added to the inner side of the shoe. A post is designed to reduce overpronation.

PR/PB: Short for Personal Record or Personal Best, it’s the fastest time a runner has run for a given distance.

PREFONTAINE, STEVE: One the best American distance runners in history, known for his ferocious competitiveness. He was killed in a car crash at the age of 24 in 1975. Two movies have been made of his short career.

PREP: In the U.S., a high school athlete. From the term “preparatory school,” a school for preparing for college. Slightly different from the IAAF definition of “Junior.”

PRONATE: Pronation refers to the inward roll of the foot during normal motion and occurs as the outer edge of the heel strikes the ground and the foot rolls inward and flattens out. A moderate amount of pronation is required for the foot to function properly, however, damage and injury can occur during excessive pronation.

PROTEIN: An essential nutrient of body found in meats, eggs, dairy products, beans and nuts. It should comprise approximately 15-25 percent of calories in a runner’s diet and is converted into the body’s structures – bones, muscles, organs, etc. Overconsumption is converted to fat.

QUARTERS: Jargon for a quarter-mile or 400 meters; often used when describing workouts where runners run 400-meter (or “quarter”) repeats.

RAGNAR: Though relay races have existed for some time now, the Ragnar relay series seems to be one of the most popular events. Teams of 11 runners (or 5, if you really like running) pile into two vans and tag team running 200(ish) miles, day and night, relay-style. Check it out:

RECOVERY RUN: Slow to moderate running to recover from hard workouts or races and/or maintain aerobic conditioning. A recovery run is an easy run, typically 60 to 75 percent of your maximum heart rate, for the purpose of recovering from a hard workout, or simply for enjoyment. Recovery run pace is often referred to as a “conversational pace,” a pace where the effort is relaxed enough that you are still able to carry on a conversation while running.

REPEATS: See “Intervals.”

RESTING HEART RATE: The number of times a heart beats per minute when a person is relaxed and still; usually measured first thing in the morning before getting out of bed.

RICE: An acronym for “rest, ice, compression and elevation,” it’s a procedure for treating certain injuries.

RIDE: A term used to describe the ability of a shoe to provide a smooth transfer of a runner’s weight from heel-strike to toe-off. Ride is a largely subjective quality, but shoe wearers know it when a model has – or lacks – a good ride.

ROAD RACES: Running contests on streets. All runners can participate.

RODGERS, BILL: Known as “Boston Billy,” he has won the prestigious Boston and New York City Marathons 4 times each.

RRCA: The Road Runners Clubs of America. It is an organization to which most running clubs in the U.S. belong and provide information and resources for running clubs. More information can be found at

RUNNER’S HIGH: The coveted euphoria that stems from a particularly good, or even sometimes bad, run. Scientifically speaking, a runner’s high stems from the secretion of norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin and, arguably, endorphins, all of which can have a positive effect on mood. Realistically speaking, a good runner’s high is worth a thousand bad runs, and might be one of the main culprits for the addiction to this sport in the first place.

RUNNER’S KNEE: Knee pain usually caused by the knee cap not sliding properly during movement; may be related to muscular imbalances within the thigh muscles; can be treated with strengthening exercises for weak muscles (usually the inner thigh muscle).

RUNNING ECONOMY: Refers to how much oxygen a runner uses when running. When a runner improves his/her economy, they are able to run at a smaller percentage of max VO2 (the maximum rate of oxygen utilization). A runner who consumes less oxygen at this running speed as compared to another runner is said to be more “economical.”

SAMUELSON, JOAN-BENOIT: Winner of the Boston Marathon in 1979 and again in 1983, finishing in 2:22:43 in the latter to break the then-world record. In 1984, Samuelson won—the first-ever women’s U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon (2:31:04, just 17 days after having knee surgery) and the first-ever Olympic Marathon (2:24:52) later the same year. A year later, she won the Chicago Marathon with a PR of 2:21:21, which stood as the American record for 18 years and remains No. 3 on the all-time U.S. list. In 2008, she competed in her seventh U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon, finishing in sub-2:50 at the age of 50. In 2010, she celebrated the 25th anniversary of her American record (since broken by Deena Kastor) by finishing the Chicago Marathon in 2:47:50, the fastest-ever performance by a woman over 52. In the race, she only missed qualifying for her eighth U.S. Olympic team by 1 minute, 50 seconds.

SCIATICA: Pain running from the lower back to the toes related to pressure on the large nerve innervating this areathe sciatic nerve. It should be evaluated by physician.

SECOND WIND: The feeling of more energy and less effort some runners feel after 15-20 minutes of running.

SHIN SPLINTS: A lower leg injury where there is pain along the shin bone, usually caused by excessive pronation or weak shin muscles. It should be treated with ice and stretching and by strengthening exercises. Untreated, it can lead to stress fractures.

SHORTER, FRANK: The 1972 Olympic Gold Medalist in the marathon; his victory spurred the running boom of the 1970s.

SINGLET: A lightweight tank top worn by runners.

SKINFOLD CALIPERS: Process of determining body composition where several folds of skin are measured for thickness and then used to calculate percent body composition.

SLOW TWITCH: A type of muscle fiber (cells which compose the muscles) which contracts slowly but can perform for a long time.

SPEED INTERVALS/SPEED WORK: Short, fast intervals with recovery jogs between that increases leg turnover and maximizes stamina and race confidence. Also referred to as “repeats” or a “track workout,” speed intervals are short bursts of fast running, usually done on a 400-meter track. A speed interval workout will traditionally prescribe a certain number of various distance sprints or hard runs, such as 200 meters, 400 meters, 800 meters, and sometimes even 1600 meters, with walking or slow jogging recovery intervals.

SPLITS: The time it takes to run a specified distance. If running repeats or laps on an 800-meter track, a “split” could refer to the time it takes to complete one 800-meter lap at that distance. If running a marathon, splits are typically measured in miles.

STABILITY: The ability of a shoe to resist excessive foot motion; usually used to describe shoes designed for neutral runners or mild over-pronators.

STAMINA: The ability to combine speed and endurance.

STRENGTH TRAINING: Movements against resistance to develop muscular strength, usually through weight training or lifting weights.

STRETCHING: Movements designed to increase a muscle’s flexibility. The best method is still being debated but it appears that consistently stretching is the key to increasing flexibility.

STRIDES: Short and fast but controlled runs of 50 to 150 meters (15 to 45 seconds). Used both in training and to warm up before a race, to build speed and efficiency by bringing blood flow to the muscles, and reinforcing muscle fiber groups. Benefits include faster leg turnover and improvements in running form.

SUPINATION: The opposite of pronation. It’s an outward rolling of the forefoot that naturally occurs during the stride cycle at toe-off. Oversupination occurs when the foot remains on its outside edge after heel strike instead of pronating. A true oversupinating foot underpronates or does not pronate at all, so it doesn’t absorb shock well. It is a rare condition occurring in less than 1 percent of the running population.

SWITZER, KATHRINE In 1967, five years before women were even allowed to officially compete in the Boston Marathon, Kathrine Switzer broke the rules and ran it as a registered runner under the name K.V. Switzer. Race official Jock Semple attempted to pull Switzer off the course mid-race but failed, allowing Switzer to finish in 4:20. As a result, Switzer was banned from the AAU until 1972, when women were finally welcomed to run in the Boston Marathon officially. Since then, Switzer has run eight Boston Marathons, setting her 2:51:37 PR in 1975 while finished second. She also completed the NYC Marathon four times, including 1974, where she won by 27 minutes — the biggest margin in history. Is a founding organizer of the Avon International Running Circuit and a key advocate behind the inaugural women’s Olympic Marathon in 1984.

TAPER: Reducing your mileage several days to three weeks, depending on race distance, before an important race to ensure peak performance on race day. Tapering helps muscles rest so that they are ready for peak performance on race day.

TARGET HEART RATE: A range of heart rate reached during aerobic training, which enables an athlete to gain maximum benefit.

TEMPO RUN: Sustained effort training runs. A tempo run is typically run at your 10K race pace, or about 80-80 percent of your maximum heart rate. Unlike speed intervals, a tempo run is usually sustained for a longer period of time or distance, usually around 15 to 30 minutes or a specified number of miles. Tempo runs should be performed at a challenging yet manageable pace. The goal of a tempo run is to help develop and increase your anaerobic, or lactate threshold, as well as increase speed.

THE WALL: A not-so-magical place that typically exists between miles 19 and 26 of a marathon. A runner will be running along, feeling on top of the world, when — bam! — a switch is thrown and everything hurts. The runner will feel physically and emotionally drained, and for a few minutes, wonder why on earth he/she decided running a marathon would be a good idea. There might even be tears. This is when a runner has hit “the wall.”

THRESHOLD RUNS: Runs of 5 to 20 minutes at a pace just a little slower than a 10K racing pace. Threshold pace is roughly equivalent to what exercise physiologists call “lactate threshold,” or the point at which muscles start fatiguing at a rapid rate. Running at or near lactate threshold is believed to raise lactate threshold, which should allow a runner to run faster in the future.

TOEBOX:  The front portion of a shoe’s upper. Also known as the forefoot. A wide toebox allows plenty of room for the toes to spread.

TRACK: The measured oval where races of varying distances are contested. Usually these tracks, so that measure 400 meters around 4 laps equals approximately 1 mile.

ULTRA-MARATHON: Any race distance that is longer than a marathon (26.2 miles). Typically, ultra races start at the 50K mark (31.07 miles), but other popular distances include the 50-miler, 100K (62.14 miles) and 100-mile races. Yes, people willingly run 100 miles for fun. Some run even farther.

UNDERPRONATOR: The lack of sufficient inward motion of the foot. Highly cushioned, flexible shoes are recommended to absorb shock and allow the foot to pronate naturally. Underpronation is less common than overpronation. The shoes of underpronators show outsole wear on the lateral (outer) side, not just at the heel, but all the way up to the forefoot. Typically, underpronators tend to break down the heel counters of their shoes on the lateral side.

UPPER: The top portion of the shoe, usually made of synthetic or mesh materials that enclose the foot.

USATF: USA Track & Field. More information can be found

USOC: The United States Olympic Committee. More information can be found at

VETERAN: An international term similar to “master” in the U.S. According to the IAAF, men become “veterans” on their 40th birthday; women, on their 35th birthday.

VO2 MAX VO2 max, or maximal oxygen uptake, is one factor that can determine an athlete’s capacity to perform sustained exercise and is linked to aerobic endurance.

WALL: See “The Wall” or “Hitting the Wall.”

WARM UP: The same concept as the warmup an athlete learned in gym class. A warm up consists of 5 to 20 minutes of easy running, jogging, walking or other exercise before a race or a prescribed workout. A warm up is a vital to an athlete, as it slowly and safely raises the heart rate and circulates blood to the muscles, helping to prevent injury.

“WORLD BEST”: A recorded best time for an event in which formal world records are not kept. For instance, the fastest time at 150m, a non-standard distance, is a “world best” rather than a “world record.” Similar distinctions are made for road races which do not meet certain standards, such as races with excessive amounts of downhill.

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS Running and track and field championships held once every two years. These events are almost as prestigious as the Olympics. See more at:

WR: World record.

YASSO 800’S: A running workout devised by, and named after Bart Yasso, one of the greatest athletes in the running community. The workout involves 10×800 mile repeats within a specified time, with an equal rest period in between that, in theory, can help predict a marathon finish time.