Running Terminology

What the heck did that person say at your last group run? Are you new to running and have no idea what the veterans are talking about? Are you a veteran and still having trouble with the runner's dictionary? Well, I will attempt to help. If you have heard of any running terms not listed here, please e-mail the term you heard to me and I will do my best to let you (and possibly the rest of the world) know what the heck it means. This list is and probably always will be a work in progress. I should also point out, these are not official definitions. They are in my words. If you feel I have defined anything inaccurately, please e-mail the term and what you feel the definition should be.

base: This is the most important term for beginning runners. This refers to how many miles you are running. If you are running 30 miles a week, you have a 30 mile base. For beginning runners, it is extremely important to build a base before doing speed workouts.

fartlek: This is a common term in running that has been somewhat butchered over time. The original meaning comes from the Swedish (someone please correct me if I have the wrong nationality) for "speed play". Basically, the original use of the word fartlek was to describe real loosely organized speed workouts, the type where you go out on the road and run hard from this mailbox to that tree down the road, then recover to the next intersection and so on. Now, it is used by some to described timed workouts, where you might do repeats of 2 minutes hard with 1 minute recovery, as well as other variations of workouts.

interval: This is a popular term to describe a speed workout. The term interval actually signifies the recovery period in a workout but is more commonly used to describe the general workout. As an example, the original definition would suggest a person would say "I'm doing 800 meter repeats with a 3:00 interval" but it is now more often said "I'm doing 800 meter intervals with 3:00 recovery".

long run: Aren't all runs long by the average person's standards? This is used to signify a run, usually done on the weekend, that is the longest of the week. In many cases, it is significantly longer than the typical run, often adding up to 20-25% of the runner's weekly miles.

recovery: This is a loaded term with a number of uses. First, there is the recovery day. This is a day where a person just does an easy run, usually to recover after a workout or race and/or to rest for the next workout and/or race. There is also the recovery period, which refers to recovery between repeats in a workout.

repeats: Another term for speed workouts. "I'm doing 800 meter repeats" means a person is doing 800 meters hard, then taking a recovery, then doing another 800 and continuing for a specified amount.

speed workout: This is used to signify a workout consisting of at least a portion of the run going faster than an easy running pace.

strides: This is a type of speed workout. Specifically, strides are short bursts of speed of a pace roughly equal to that one could run in a mile race and of duration ranging from around 10 seconds to 30 seconds, give or take. These are good for improving one's form and developing top end speed.

workout: This can mean any kind of run but is typically used by runners to signify a speed workout.

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