Running Jargon: How to Sound Smart Around Runners

While it might be snowy and cold outside “race season” will be here soon. Whether you’re new to running or a seasoned veteran one thing will always be true – the world of running is full of fancy jargon, seemingly senseless acronyms and odd phrases. And let’s face it – everyone wants to sound smart when chatting up another runner! Which is exactly why I’m writing this post for you!

Training Jargon

Speed Work – This type of workout focuses on making you faster and includes a wide range of workouts. Some are outlined below, but don’t let that limit you! If you ask me, running with a dog that likes to take off after random squirrels totally counts as interval speed work! A great way to get in speed work is with a group – check out local running stores, it’s great to have the accountability!

IMAG1634
Doing weekly speedwork with a group is the only reason I ever got “fast”…

Fartleks – This is a form of speed work where you pick up the pace for short periods of time during a longer run. If you’re on a track or have a fancy GPS watch you can use set distance/time for your faster pace. If you’re out on the trail or road simply pick landmarks in the distance, ran hard until you reach them then reign it back in for a bit.

Yasso 800s – This is another speed workout where you calculate your 800 meter goal pace using the marathon finish time you’re gunning for. For example, if you are training for a 4:15 marathon finish you’ll want to convert that to 4 minutes, 15 seconds for this workout. Run 800 meters [about a half mile] in 4 minutes, 15 seconds then cool down for another 4 minutes, 15 seconds. Repeat this interval 3-10 times, depending upon your experience with speed work.

Race Day Acronyms

RD – Race Director – This is the person/organization responsible for every aspect of the race. They are involved with everything, from the creation of the course, the marketing of the race, the food at the aid stations and bib pinned to your short! Putting on a race is a TON of work – if you get the honor of chatting with an RD be sure to tell them thank you!

DNS – Did Not Start – If you’re a DNS, you did not start the race. [#funfact: if you’re going to DNS because of an injury consider volunteering – it’s an awesome way to give back and RDs are always happy to have more helping hands!]

I've DNF'ed two races...it's never an easy decision but some days it is the right decision!
I’ve DNF’ed two races…it’s never an easy decision but some days it is the right decision!

DNF – Did Not Finish – If you started the race but did not make it to the finish line, for whatever reason, you’ve DNF’ed the race.

DFL – Dead Freaking Last – Personally being the DFL finisher is a bit of an honor, I mean, you did spend the most time on the course! Some races even have awards for their DFL finishers!

PR/PB – Personal Record/Personal Best - This is your best time at any given distance. PRs are usually more “official” and set during races while a PB is during a training run.

AS – Aid Station – An aid station is a place along the course for runners to refuel. In shorter distances the aid station may only have water, an electrolyte drink and gels. Longer distances usually offer more “real food” options with ultra marathons have some of the best aid stations I’ve ever seen! Grilled cheese and potato soup? Yes, please!

PL24-Israel6
Ultra marathon aid stations have the best food, trust me!

Bandit – This is someone who runs a race, uses port-a-potties on the race course, takes food/water from aid stations and accepts a medal at the end of the race…without paying for their own registration! Being a bandit is not cool! Some courses have very strict limits and aid station supplies are not bottomless!

Marathon - If you’re partaking in a marathon you’re settled in on the couch with healthy serving of chips and salsa nearby, pizza being delivered and your laptop logged into Netflix. Wait, sorry…wrong kind of marathon! My bad. An actual marathon distance is 26.2 miles — not to be confused with a half marathon (13.1 miles) or 10K (6.2 miles) or 5K (3.1 miles).

Chasing PRs  is a TON of work...but in the end, worth it!
Chasing PRs is a TON of work…but in the end, worth it!

The Wall/Bonking - When a runner starts to bonk their electrolytes and blood sugar levels start to crash, their legs get exceptionally tired and usually their attitude takes a turn for the worse. “The Wall” is known to show up somewhere between 20-22 miles of a marathon but really, a runner can bonk at any time, during any run. The real challenge is knowing how to come out of a bonk without sabotaging your race.

Pace Group - In some larger half and full marathons there are pace groups, lead by one or two main pacers. These pace groups are staggered throughout the race with the goal of crossing the finish line at X:XX time. Always check with the lead pacers to see what their strategy is because it is not always even splits.

Ultra Running Lingo

Ultra Marathon – Technically an ultra marathon is any distance over 26.2 miles. However, if your GPS watch spits out a total distance of 26.4 miles…that doesn’t quite count! A 50K [31.07 miles] is the shortest distance that is widely accepted to be considered an ultra marathon. Other popular distances include 50M, 100K, 100M and, lately, 200M!

Crew – A crew is an individual or group of individuals who show up at an ultra marathon to help out their runner at various aid stations. Crewing is one of the most rewarding and thankless ways to give back to your running friends/community! If you’re crewing a runner you’ve dedicated your entire day [or weekend, or week, depending upon the distance of the race!] to being at the beck and call of your runner. If they need fresh socks you touch their disgusting feet. If they’re cranky you deal with their attitude with a smile on your face. You’re there to make sure they have everything they need to finish the race to the best of their ability. Regardless of the race outcome an ultra runner is always extremely grateful for their crew!

10407154_10101941772629038_8869843447660193064_n
The best crew a girl could ask for! They were incredible!

Pacer – This is someone who runs with a ultra runner, usually at races longer than 50 miles. The pacers responsibility is very similar to that of a crew…but they don’t get to take a deep breath and decompress when the runner leaves an aid station, they’re along for the long haul! Pacers are there to keep their runner moving, to make sure their running is eating/drinking and to hold their runner’s hair when their stomach rebels! Pacing is also a bit thankless but when your runner hits their goal it is all worth it!

So, there you have it…a full list of random words you’ll hear while talking to runners! Did I miss anything? If so, call me out on it — maybe you’ll teach me at thing or two!

Running Jargon

The following two tabs change content below.
Heidi Kumm

Heidi Kumm

Voice of Sierra + Blogger at run.around.aroo
Heidi is known for jumping at every opportunity to try something new – which is how the Wisconsin farm girl ended up chasing after mountain adventures in Colorado. You will usually her find in the mountains trail running, snowboarding, mountain biking and hiking up peaks.
Heidi Kumm

Latest posts by Heidi Kumm (see all)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>