Busting Running Jargon, Lingo & Terms
Written By: SportsShoes
Feeling baffled by talk of intervals, pronation or wondering what on earth ‘jeffing’ is? Get to grips with common running jargon with our guide:
Trail Running – running off the road, usually on trails or grass.
Fell Running – running over more extreme, often mountainous terrain.
Barefoot Running – running either literally barefoot or more practically, in minimalist, stripped back shoes with the aim of strengthening the foot and improving running form by allowing a natural footstrike. Must be introduced gradually to avoid injury.
Easy Run – a relatively short run, running at a comfortable level of effort at a conversational pace.
Tempo Run – also known as a threshold run, the tempo run is at an effort level just outside of your comfort zone – at or just above your anaerobic threshold – the point at which the body starts to use glycogen for energy.
Intervals – high intensity training designed to build speed, endurance and power involving bursts of short intense effort alternated with slower recovery periods. A tough but effective, key weekly session for established runners.
Hill Repeats – a torturous, yet effective twist on intervals involving repeated uphill sprints alternated with walking or jogging back to the bottom. Boosts power, speed and endurance.
Fartlek – comes from a Swedish term, meaning “speedplay” entailing a continuous, looser form of interval running over various speeds and distances during your regular run.
LSR – Long, Slow Run. Usually run by most of us on a Sunday morning and probably the most important run of the week, especially for runners training for distance. The LSR is run at an easy, conversational pace and gradually builds mileage – and endurance.
Jeffing – a run/walk technique pioneered by Olympian Jeff Galloway, allowing runners to achieve their distance goals while minimising fatigue and the risk of injury. Use in the context of “Managed 18 miles, I jeffed it!”.
Recovery – the process by which the body repairs and adapts to the microtraumas caused by exercise - leading to fitness adaptations and ultimately, progress. The body also replenishes energy supplies and rehydrates during the recovery period.
Recovery Run – an easy session a day or two after a tough run, designed to loosen up stiff muscles, boost blood flow and aid recovery with minimum impact or stress on the body.
Recovery Snack – a post run snack designed to optimise recovery, ideally eaten within 30 minutes after your run. It should have a ratio of 3:1 carbohydrate to replenish fuel, and protein to help the body repair, such as chocolate milk, avocado or eggs on toast or a peanut butter sandwich.
The Wall – capable of breaking all of us, an overwhelming feeling characterised by heavy legs, pain and extreme fatigue. Your energy stores are in total depletion and you’re literally out of fuel, usually occurring after 18/19 miles of continuous running. Training and a good fuelling strategy can help ensure you don’t hit it.
Bonking – hitting the wall.
Carb loading – boosting fuel/glycogen stores in the days leading up to a race or long-distance run. Usually involves large and guilt-free amounts of pasta.
DOMS – Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. Pain and stiffness usually occurring 24 -72 hours after exercise caused by micro damage to the muscle fibres.
Playlist – your own compilation of tracks designed to motivate you and get the best out of your running. Keep them upbeat, and if you’re running long distance, make sure it’s a long one so you’re not stuck with the same tracks on endless repeat.
C25K – The NHS’s massively successful Couch to 5K programme, designed to get you from running zero to 5K in weeks.
Rest Day – just as important as your run days, a day off allows the body to replenish and recover and reduces the risk of injury through overtraining.
Overtraining – injury and/or fatigue caused by too much mileage, insufficient rest and/or failing to build up distance or intensity slowly.
Training Plan – sets out your long term goal e.g. running a marathon and your run schedule per week as you work towards it, denoting mileage, type of run and pace. A must-have to structure and discipline your training.
GPS – a wrist based GPS device such as a Garmin allows you to see how far you’ve run and your pace, often with additional features such as heart rate, calories burned and other performance indicators.
Heart Rate Zones – training to heart rate and within specific zones allows us to accurately gauge and run to effort and make adjustments accordingly, both as we run and in our training plans. Most GPS watches now include a wrist-based heart rate monitor as standard.
Dreadmill – Treadmill. A source of dread for its monotony, the controlled environment of the treadmill is nonetheless great in adverse weather, interval sessions or for injury rehab.
Foot Mechanics jargon
Gait Cycle – otherwise known as the footstrike. This is the sequence of movement throughout one stride, from the heel strike, to mid-stance and then toe-off.
Pronation – the natural inwards rolling of the foot to help absorb shock.
Overpronation – excessive inwards rolling of the foot and flattening of the arch during the gait cycle, leading to an increased risk of injury.
Underpronation – also known as supination – insufficient inwards rolling of the foot, leading to a lack of natural impact absorption and an increased risk of impact related injury.
Neutral – a biomechanically efficient gait, with the correct level of pronation.
Cushioned shoe – designed for neutral runners and also suitable for Underpronators. A cushioned shoe is designed to absorb shock while encouraging a biomechanically efficient gait.
Support Shoe – designed for overpronators and provides additional support and guidance on the inside of the shoe to help slow down the rate of excessive inwards rolling.
Outsole – the outside base of the shoe, designed for durability, protection and grip.
Midsole – the mid-section of the shoe, containing cushioning and support technologies.
Upper – the top part of the shoe, designed to secure and cradle the foot while allowing it to breathe.
Differential – also known as the “drop,” this is the difference in the midsole stack height between the rear and fore of the running shoe. A lower differential encourages a more natural midfoot footstrike.
Trail Shoe – designed with extra grip and protection for running on muddy and uneven trail surfaces. Trail Shoes will often have a waterproof or fast drying upper for running through water.
Natural Running Shoe – for barefoot runners - minimalist stripped back shoes with a low differential designed to allow the foot to move naturally.
Proprioception – the process by which the sensory receptors in the foot send information to the brain, helping us to be more aware of how the foot is reacting to the ground and its environment when we run, resulting in better running form and performance. This feedback is heightened in runners wearing minimalist shoes, but is also important to trail and particularly fell runners who need to adapt and react quickly to uneven terrain.
Maximalist Shoes – feature thick, high volume midsoles for optimum shock absorption, pioneered by Hoka One One. Popular with ultra-runners who need maximum protection over long distances but also with regular runners who prefer plusher cushioning.
5K – 3.1 miles. Your first milestone as a runner. By the end of most beginner training plans you’ll be able to run 5K non stop and ready to enter your first race.
10K – 6.2 miles.
Half Marathon – 13.1 miles or 21 kilometres.
Marathon – the ultimate endurance challenge. 26.2 miles or 42 kilometres.
Ultra Marathon – anything above marathon distance.
Taper – gradually reducing training workload in the run up to a race, allowing the body to recover and replenish fuel supplies ready for the big day.
Bib – your race number.
Timing Chip – either comes attached to your race bib or attaches to your laces and accurately records your race time. Take care not to lose it - no chip, no time!
Bag Drop/Bus – a secure area to leave your bag or rucksack while you race, transported to the finish if this is a different location to the start area.
Chip Time – your actual race time recorded from when you cross the start line, as opposed to your gun time which begins from the start of the race.
Pacer – a pacer runs at a set pace over a distance race such as marathon or half marathon. Following a pacer helps ensure you’re correctly pacing your race, so for example you would follow the 1:55 pacer in a half marathon if sub 2 hour is your goal.
PB – Personal Best – your best time over a given distance.
Race Bling – your finisher’s medal (and proof of your accomplishments).