Friday, June 7, 2013

A Dictionary for Beginning Runners

When I first started running almost two years ago, I was constantly stumped by certain words or abbreviations in the running world. It was intimidating reading websites, articles, and message boards wondering what people were talking about. Could I get it? Would I understand?

Well, it's safe to say I'm starting to master the runner's dictionary. What about you? Are there words or abbreviations that make you go "hmm?" 

Here's a dictionary for beginning runners. Don't feel intimidated by all the new vocabulary. Empower yourself and learn the lingo as you go. These words will help you get off to a good start:

10% Rule: Follow this rule during your training and do not increase your mileage by 10% each week. 

Bling: The medals that you train so hard for. It's okay to be addicted to the's healthy.

Chip: The little thing that times your race. You can wear a timing chip around your ankle, tied to your shoe, or sometimes in your bib. 

Cross-Train/XT: An aerobic exercise such as swimming, cycling, elliptical, yoga, weight training, etc. These types of exercises are great for improving overall fitness. 

DNF: Did not finish. 

Elite: The super fast runners who win all the races. They always start and finish first. Did I mention they were fast?

Fartlek: The Swedish term for speed play. It's as informal as the word itself. Go ahead, you can giggle at the word. You run fast during your runs and recover on your own time. You can alternate between easy, moderate, and hard levels throughout your run. 

Full-Marathon: The full monty....a long distance running event covering 26.2 miles. 

Half-Marathon: A long distance running event covering 13.1 miles (half the distance of a full marathon). 

Intervals: A burst of activity followed by a rest period. You can determine how long each of these bursts last. 

Negative Splits: Running the last half of a race faster than the first half. 

Pace: The speed at which movement occurs. In running, it's the speed at which you cover a mile.

PR: Your personal record, or best time, in a race of a specific distance.

R.I.C.E: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevate. This combo is perfect when recovering from an inflammation-type injury. 

Splits: The time given to certain points during a run or race.

Taper: Reducing your running or exercise in the days before a race (or competition). During tapering, you are giving your mind and body time to rest and recover in preparation for your big day. 

Tempo Run: Perfect for speed work. You challenge yourself to run a comfortably, hard pace. Start with a warm up, push yourself, and finish with a cool down. 

Wicking: Material that pulls moisture away from your body. Cotton is your enemy and anything with wicking material is your friend. 

There are many other words out there in the running world that I could add, but this is what I have for now. Remember: this list is for beginning runners. Hopefully my dictionary will help someone along the way!


  1. Great post! I was forever confused by what PR meant when I first started running.

    1. Me too! It took me awhile to figure it out. And to think that's what I was worried about in the beginning...LOL

  2. Great post. I would like permission to reblog this on my blog.

  3. I giggle every time I see the word fartlek - and I know I'm not the only one :)

    1. It puts a smile on my face each time I see it, say it, and hear it. :o)

  4. Love this post. Great for beginning runners!

  5. Love this post! Where was this when I started running last year?! :)
    I find myself sometime speaking full "runner" lingo sentences...

  6. Great post! I love the terms you chose to include, and fartlek still makes me giggle! :0)

  7. I love this and am going to share with my readers too! So much to know, its overwhelming for a newbie.