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  • Writer's pictureTIKIMA THOMPSON


Learning a new sport, hobby, or fitness routine is difficult enough, but when you add the challenge of understanding the specialized language that comes with it, things can get overwhelming. Running is no exception to this, as it has its own unique set of terms and acronyms that can leave beginners scratching their heads. In this blog post, I'll provide you with a cheat sheet to help you navigate the world of running terminology.

BIB: The Paper Number That Takes Many Forms

The humble bib, a seemingly simple accessory, actually has multiple meanings in the running world. From the paper number pinned to your clothing during a race to protect it from spills, to the cycling shorts triathletes wear, and even the garment used for tracking runners' progress throughout a race. It's essential to pin your bib to the front of your shirt on race day.

CADENCE: The Rhythm of Your Feet

Cadence refers to the number of times your feet make contact with the ground while running. It's a crucial aspect of running technique and can affect your efficiency and performance.

CHAFING: The Runner's Arch-Nemesis

Ah, chafing—the bane of every runner's existence. This term describes the unpleasant rubbing that occurs when your clothes and skin make contact during a run. Nipple chafing is a real thing, so don't forget to Google it (you've been warned).

CHIP: Timing Made Easy

Gone are the days of manual timing. Most races now use chip timing, where a small chip is attached to your race bib. This nifty device automatically tracks and records your time throughout the course, providing accurate splits and results.

ENDORPHINS: Bliss in Every Step

Ever wonder why running can make you feel so good? Endorphins are the answer! These chemicals are released during and after exercise, giving you that euphoric sensation known as the "runner's high."

FORM: The Blueprint of Efficient Running

Form refers to your running technique, encompassing elements such as your stance, stride, cadence, arm swing, and posture. Running with proper form is crucial to prevent injuries and optimize your performance.

FOOT STRIKE: How You Land Matters

Foot strike describes the way your foot lands on the ground with each step. It can be a forefoot strike (balls of the feet), midfoot strike (middle of the foot), or heel strike (heels). Discovering your ideal foot strike is essential for injury prevention and efficient running.

HEART RATE: The Rhythm of Your Heart

Your heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute. It's a valuable metric for gauging effort levels and determining training intensity. You can measure it manually or use a fitness tracker for convenience.

OVERPRONATION: When Your Feet Roll Inward

Overpronation is a foot strike pattern where the runner's foot lands on the outside and rolls excessively inward. It can lead to various injuries, emphasizing the importance of finding the right running shoes for your foot type.

OVERTRAINING: When More Isn't Always

Better In the pursuit of progress, it's easy to push yourself too hard. Overtraining occurs when runners do too much, leading to an increased risk of injury and burnout. Remember to strike a balance between training and rest.

RECOVERY: Time Off for Rest and Repair

Recovery is a crucial aspect of any training program. It refers to the period of time between workouts or immediately after a run when your body can rest, repair, and adapt to the physical stress placed upon it. Adequate recovery helps prevent injuries and ensures optimal performance in the long run.

RUN/WALK: Finding a Balanced Approach

The run/walk method is a popular strategy among runners, particularly beginners or those returning from injury. It involves alternating intervals of running and walking during a run. This approach can help prevent fatigue, reduce the risk of injury, and gradually build endurance and stamina.

RUNNER'S KNEE: A Painful Dilemma

Runner's knee is a common term used to describe knee pain experienced by runners. It refers to generalized pain that occurs during running and may persist after exercise. It can encompass various conditions and injuries affecting the knee. If you experience knee pain, it's important to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

SPEEDWORK: Unleashing Your Need for Speed

Speedwork is an integral part of improving running performance. It encompasses various workouts and training techniques aimed at running faster paces. Interval training, hill repeats, fartleks, track workouts, and tempo runs are all examples of speedwork. Incorporating speedwork into your training schedule can enhance your speed, increase fitness levels, and expand your range of motion.

STREAK: A Remarkable Display of Consistency

Streaking in the running world refers to the act of running every single day for a certain duration without a break or rest day. Runners who maintain a streak display incredible consistency and dedication to their craft. It's important to note that streaking should be approached with caution to avoid overtraining or injury. Several inspiring stories of streakers can be found on platforms like HellaGood and Runner's World.

SPLITS: Analyzing Your Performance Mile by Mile

Splits are an essential aspect of race analysis. They refer to the time taken to cover a specific distance, often measured in miles or kilometers. Recording and analyzing your splits can provide valuable insights into your pacing strategy, highlight areas for improvement, and track your progress over time.

SUPINATION: When Your Feet Roll Outward

Supination is the opposite of overpronation and describes a foot strike pattern where the foot rolls outward toward the side. Excessive supination can lead to various injuries if not addressed properly, emphasizing the need for appropriate footwear and biomechanical adjustments.

TAPER: Preparing for Peak Performance

Tapering is a strategic reduction in training volume and intensity during the weeks leading up to a goal race. It allows your body to recover, repair, and store energy for optimal performance on race day. Tapering periods typically range from 1 to 3 weeks, depending on the race distance and individual needs.

TEMPO: Finding Your Threshold

Tempo runs are workouts performed at a sustained, moderately challenging pace. They require more effort than regular easy runs but are not as intense as speedwork. Tempo runs help improve the lactic threshold, which is the point at which your body begins to accumulate lactic acid. By training at this threshold, you can run faster for longer periods.

In addition to the running terms mentioned above, here are some common running abbreviations:

PR: Personal record

PB: Personal best

DNS: Did not start

DNF: Did not finish

DFL: Dead freaking last

CR: Course record

NR: National record

WR: World record

BQ: Boston qualifier

USATF: United States Track and Field

BPM: Beats per minute

ITB: Iliotibial band

MUT: Mountain/ultra/trail runner

DOMS: Delayed onset muscle soreness

LSD: Long slow distance

RICE: Rest, ice, compress, elevate

Hopefully, this list of running terms and abbreviations will assist you in understanding the running community's unique language. If there are any terms I missed or if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment and let me know. Stay tuned for future posts where I'll break down the lingo of other fitness disciplines. Thank you for visiting, and don't forget to share this post with your friends and family!

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