A Super Helpful Guide to Running Lingo

Your dictionary explaining the terms runners use.

We’re continuing the work on a massive fitness and health dictonary, and this week we’re taking a closer look at running.

We’re taking a look at all the different types of runs you can have in your program, like LSD or fartlek and the basic science terms used in connection with aerobic and aerobic exercise.

If you missed last weeks lifting dictionary, head over here to have a read.

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Running dictionary

LSD: Short for Long slow distance. Not the trippy kind.

Tempo run: a fast-paced run, typically with an intensity around your LT, lactate threshold (described later)

Fartlek: Or in danish, fartleg. It’s running based on intuition and your surroundings. Like sprinting to the stone that looks like a dead duck. The fact that the intervals are less rigid gives freedom and variation, and can make interval training more fun.

Cross Training (not to be confused with Crossfit): Low-impact exercise like swimming or cycling. It can help you train more without substantially increasing your risk of injury from the high-impact activity that running is.

OCR: Short for obstacle course racing. It’s race where runners need to overcome military-inspired obstacles, like. There’s often high walls and lots of mud.

PR/PB: Personal record/Personal best. Your fastest time for a given distance.

Rabbit: A pacesetter who leads the race, normally in the beginning to set a higher pace, then dropping out later.

Negative split: When the second half of your run is faster than the first.

Cool-down: Being the opposite of a warm-up, cooling down helps your body gradually transition out of ‘workout mode’

The 10% rule: Used in running, and is especially important for beginners. This is a rule of thumb that says you should not increase your mileage with more than 10% a week to avoid overtraning.

C25K: Short for Couch to 5K, a well-known programs for beginners that wants to start running.

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Recovery run: A easy, slow run to get your body moving after a tough workout – without being challenging.

Taper: A period, usually leading up to a race, where you reduce your training volume to reach peak performance levels at the race.

Conversational pace: Running at a pace that’s relaxing enough to let you speak in complete sentences without sounding like you’re dying.

Pace: A term that descipes how fast you’re running, usually expressed in minutes pr kilometer or mile.

Running form: this refers to your running technique, how your body moves while running – do you land with your heel or midfoot first?

Cadence: The stride rate, meaning the number of steps you take pr minute while running.

Foot strike: The matter in which your foot hits the ground while running – can be forefoot, mid-foot or heel.

Pronation: The way a runner’s foot roll inwards when running. Some people overpronate and others underpronate (called Supination). This is one of the reasons why it’s important to find a running shoe that fits you.

Running Tips - Don't Forget to Breathe

Aerobic: All types of physical activity (including running with low-moderate intensity) where you body has sufficient oxygen to use it to produce the necessary amount of energy.

Anaerobic: When your body doesn’t have enough oxygen to meet energy demands of the activity, like during high intensity activities like sprinting. This is where lactate is produced as a (bi)product of the anaerobic breakdown of glucose.

VO2_max: The maximum volume of oxygen you can take in pr. minute. Can be used as an indicator of your fitness level.

LT, Lactate Threshold: also called OBLA, Onset of Blood Lactate Accumulation. The highest intensity level at which the rate of lactate production equals that of lactate clearance. An important factor when it comes to endurance. For untrained, it’s at roughly 65-75% of VO2max, for athletes it’s about 80-90% of VO2max.

AT, Anaerobic threshold: In practice, it’s pretty much the same as LT. I know a teacher from my first year at uni insisted there was a small, but significant difference. However, all the websites I’m looking at uses the terms interchangably, and I can’t find any info in my -useless- notes. My guess is the difference has more to do with how it’s measured and how it’s defined on a molecular level, and in practice it’s at almost the same intensity. I’ll have to ask him if I ever bump into him!

Endurance: is the ability to run for extended periods of time. For long distance runners it’s not as important to have a high VO2max as it is to be able to run at a high percentage of it for long periods of time.

EPOC, Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption: You know when you’re super out of breath after sprinting. This is it. It refers to the ‘oxygen-debt’ you have after doing anaerobic work as the body afterwards needs oxygen to remove waste products.

RE, Running economy: Refers to the aerobic cost of a given distance in relation – it’s all about efficiency, and an important measure for medium to long distance runners. If you’re ready to get nerdy with me, here’s the formula: mL(O2)/(kg*km)

Overtraining: In short: running too much or too fast too soon.


What surprised you the most? Did I miss a word? Let me know in the comments!


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Explaning all the weird terms runners use, like LSD, fartlek and some basic running science!
Explaning all the weird terms runners use, like LSD, fartlek and some basic running science!
Explaning all the weird terms runners use, like LSD, fartlek and some basic running science!

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