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Runner Glossary

Runner Glossary

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Shortest sprint race outdoors

10,000 meters; 10 kilometers; 6.2 miles

3 3/4 laps of track; called the "metric mile"

15,000 meters; 15 kilometers; 9.3 miles

2 miles
Approximately 8 laps of track; 3218m

Half a lap of track

1.864 miles

Dietary regimen where a runner gets 40% of calories from carbohydrates, 30% from fats and 30% from protein

1 lap around track, also called a "quarter"

5,000 meters; 5 Kilometers; 3.1 miles

Approximately a half-mile; 2 laps around track

4.97 miles

With oxygen; usually used to describe exercise of low to moderate intensity

Aerobic Capacity
Also called VO2max; maximum amount of oxygen that can be utilized by the body; also describes a type of training that increases the amount of oxygen that can be utilized, i.e., Aerobic Capacity Intervals

Aerobic Conditioning
Training that improves endurance

The absence of menstrual periods

Without oxygen; usually used to describe exercise of high to very high intensity

Athletes Helping Athletes (AHA)
The world-class marathon training and fundraising program that benefits challenged athletes.

Anaerobic Capacity
Maximum amount of energy that can be produced without requiring oxygen; also describes a type of training that increases the amount of energy that can be produced, i.e., Anaerobic Capacity Intervals

Anaerobic Threshold
see "Lactate Threshold"

A runner who participates in a race without registering or paying the entry fee

Bannister, Roger
The first person to break 4 minutes for the mile

Benson, Roy, MPE
Running coach and director of running camps

Bioelectrical Impedance/Infrared
Method of determining percent body fat where an electrical impulse or infrared light are put through the body; easy to use but approximately 3-6% error possible

Study of the function of the body in relation to movement; especially important for repetitive movement sports like running; poor biomechanics can lead to injury

Body Composition
Usually relating to the percent of the body comprised of lean tissue (bone, muscle, water, etc.) or fat tissue; 17% or less body fat is recommended for men; 24% or less body fat is recommended for women

Another term like "hitting the wall"; a state of exhaustion when glycogen stores are depleted, blood glucose (sugar) levels are low and the only exercise that can be performed is slow running; typically occurs at around the 20 mile point in the marathon

The dietary practice of eating a high carbohydrate diet (approximately 60-70% of total calories) for the three days leading up to a race to maximally fill the glycogen stores

Essential nutrient of body found in pastas, breads, fruits, vegetables; should comprise the majority of calories in a runner's diet; stored in the body as glycogen in the muscles and liver; overconsumption is converted to fat

Chromium Picolinate
Supplement to help aid in the burning of fat; little scientific evidence to support its claims

Mirroring the warm-up, the cool-down is a period of light jogging and stretching designed to protect the body from the shock of a sudden stop. It gradually returns the body to its resting condition (slow heart rate and relaxed breathing). It's a great opportunity to work on your flexibility by spending a few minutes stretching those leg muscles.

A high-performance polyester fiber used in athletic apparel for its cotton-like feel, moisture wicking properties and quick dry time; brand name of DuPont®

Creatine Monohydrate
Supplement designed to maximally fill the creatine phosphate stores (fuel for explosive movements like sprinting); little scientific evidence of its beneficial effects for distance runners

Activities such as swimming and cycling that are used to increase conditioning and injury prevention for running or as a means of adding variety to workout schedule

Cruise Intervals
Type of workout to improve the lactate threshold; usually repetitions of 800 meters to 2-miles performed at the lactate threshold speed with short recoveries

The ability of a shoe to minimize the shock of running; while all running shoes have cushioning, highly cushioned shoes are usually designed for under-pronators (or supinators) who need additional shock absorption and maximum flexibility

Daniels, Jack PhD
Running coach and exercise physiologist

Decker-Slaney, Mary
Great American middle distance runner; has held many world and American records

Not having enough fluids in the body

Stands for "did not finish" and describes a runner who drops out of a race

See "Muscle Soreness"

Easy Run
A slow run done at a conversational pace

Minerals such as sodium, chloride and potassium that are used for normal bodily functions. These minerals are lost when the body sweats and are replaced through food and fluids.

Chemicals in the brain which create a feeling of euphoria; said to be the cause of the "runner's high"

Your ability to run for long periods of time

Swedish word for speedplay; workout includes faster running mixed with slower running; adds variety to training and can be performed in any setting

Fast Twitch
Type of muscle fiber (cells which compose the muscles) which contract rapidly and powerfully but fatigue quickly

Fat Essential nutrient of body found in oils and meats; should comprise approximately 30% of calories in a runner's diet; overconsumption leads to increases in body fat; can be of three types: saturated, poly-unsaturated, and mono-unsaturated

Used to describe an exercise intensity which burns the most fat; science is still debating the appropriate intensity for maximal fat-burning; note: burning fat at the highest rate does not necessarily correspond to burning calories at the highest rate

Fred's Team
Fundraising program to raise money for the Brain Cancer Research through marathon training and racing

Galloway, Jeff
1972 Olympic Marathoner; running coach, lecturer and director of running camps

Basic sugar; form of sugar into which all carbohydrates are first converted and appear in the blood

The form in which carbohydrates are stored in the body; there are two main stores of glycogen - the liver and the muscles; when glycogen stores are depleted athletes fatigue, "hit the wall", "bonk"; stores can be maximally filled by eating a high carbohydrate diet leading up to an event

13.1 miles; 21.1K

804.5 meters; approximately 2 laps around track

Hamstring Strain
Micro-tears of the large muscles of the back of the thigh; can be treated by ice and stretching and strengthening exercises

Hash House Harriers
A social club of runners that has been described as "a drinking club with a running problem"; members, called "hashers", are given colorful nicknames and club runs are modeled after the old English game of Hares and Hounds; the runs begin when one or two runners, called "hares", set a trail that the other runners, known as "hounds", try to follow

Heart Rate
Contraction of the heart usually measured as beats per minute

Heart Rate Monitor
A device that measures the electrical activity of the heart (heart rate); usually consists of a chest strap and watch-like wrist receiver

Hill workouts
Hill workouts are repeated strong, fast runs up a gradual hill. Your pace is the same as in stamina workouts, but the effort is more difficult due to the incline. Your effort level is hard to very hard. For starters, run up the hill for 45-60 seconds- once, twice...up to 8 times. Jogging back down the hill to the starting point serves as the recovery. Heart rate target zone is 90-95% of maximum.

International Amateur Athletic Federation; world-wide organization that governs running

The removable inner part of a running shoe that sits on top of the midsole and provides cushioning and arch support

Degree of effort or exertion

Type of workout where a set distance is run repeatedly with a recovery jog between; for example 6 times 400 meters with 100 meters recovery jog

International Olympic Committee; world-wide organization which governs the Olympic Games

Joints in Motion
Fundraising program to raise money for the Arthritis Foundation through marathon training and racing

Junk Miles
Runs used to reach a weekly or monthly mileage total rather than for a specific benefit

A finishing sprint at the end of a race

Supplement to help add in the burning of fat; little scientific evidence to support its claims

Lactate Threshold
The running intensity where lactic acid begins to rapidly accumulate in the blood. Also called anaerobic threshold; lactate threshold speed is your 10K race pace plus 5-20 seconds or a heart rate zone between 85-89% of maximum.

Lactic Acid
A by-product of the body's use of carbohydrates; usually associated with muscle stiffness and burn after a hard workout

Can refer to two different features of a shoe; the first is the construction of the shoe or the way the shoe's upper is attached to the midsole. There are three major types of construction: board lasting, where the upper is glued to a flexible, shoe-length "board"; slip lasting, where the upper is stitched directly to the midsole; and combination lasting, where the forefoot is attached directly to the midsole and the heel is attached to a board. Last can also refer to the shape of the shoe: straight, semi-curved or curved. A curved last turns inward from the heel to toe, a straight last has little or no curve and a semi-curved last is somewhere in between.

Referring to the outer side (or little toe side) of a shoe

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Team in Training
Runners who raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and in return receive training and travel to a marathon

A record of your training and running that helps you stay motivated, monitor your progress and spot trends in your running

Long Run
Long runs are easy runs that test your endurance boundaries. They are performed at a "conversational" pace, meaning that you can talk and run at the same time. They can be as short as 20 minutes or as long as 3 hours. It just depends on your ability level and time! While building your long runs, feel free to take short walking breaks. Time on your feet is what's important, not pace. Heart rate target zone is less than or equal to 75% of maximum.

Long, slow distance; slow running designed to improve endurance

26.2 miles; 42.2K

Martin, David PhD
Running coach and exercise physiologist

A runner 40 years of age or older

Maximum Heart Rate (HRmax)
The highest number of contractions your heart can make in one minute

The inner side (or arch side) of a shoe

Medial Post
Denser midsole material (often gray) added to the medial (or arch side) of the midsole to provide stability and control excessive pronation

Metric Mile
1500m, the international racing distance closest to the imperial mile; see "1500m"

A tightly woven fabric that's extremely lightweight and soft; notable for its wind and water resistance, ability to wick moisture and quick dry time

The part of the running shoe between the upper and outsole that provides cushioning and support. Most midsoles are made of either EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) or polyurethane foam. EVA is lighter and more flexible than polyurethane, but it is not as durable. It can come in various densities with gray-colored EVA being denser than white. The denser, gray EVA is usually placed along the medial side of the shoe to provide stability and motion control and is often referred to as a "medial post." Some midsoles have additional cushioning technology such as air, gel, grids, etc.

1609 meters; approximately 4 laps around track

Essential nutrient of body; must be ingested in the correct amounts in the body; aid in the processes which use the other nutrients and compose some of the structures of the body; may be obtained through diet or supplementation; overconsumption can be toxic

Motion Control
The ability of a shoe to limit overpronation and provide stability

Muscle Soreness
Pain, stiffness, and soreness in a muscle due to microscopic tears of the muscle usually due to doing more work than the muscle is used to (also called DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness)

Negative Splits
Running the second half of a race faster than the first half

Competition held once every 4 years; highest goal for most runners

Inserts placed inside shoes to correct biomechanical problems

The bottom-most layer of most running shoes; the layer that contacts the ground and provides traction

The excessive inward roll of the foot; overpronation can be controlled through the use of motion control shoes and/or orthotics

Condition when runner trains too much too soon and leads to fatigue, injury and/or burn-out

Oxygen Debt
A state where the energy demand is greater than what can be provided by oxygen thus inducing heavy breathing to consume more oxygen

Measure of the speed of running; usually quantified as minutes taken to run a mile; for example a runner may run a 7:00 per mile pace for a marathon

Piriformis Syndrome
Pain in the buttocks resulting from a tight piriformis muscle pressing against the sciatic nerve; can be treated by stretching exercises for the buttocks

Plantar Fasciitis
Foot injury where there are micro-tears of the arch; especially painful in the morning; can be treated by stretching the arch and calves; massage with hands or rubbing foot on golf ball or shaving cream can; if untreated can lead to heel spurs (spur of bone from the heel bone)

Scheduling your training so that your best performance is timed for a goal race or event

Personal Record or Personal Best; fastest time a runner has run for a given distance

Prefontaine, Steve
One the best American distance runners in history; known for his ferocious competitiveness; killed in car crash at the age of 24 in 1975; two movies have been made of his short career

The natural, inward roll of the foot; pronation begins when heel contacts the ground, the foot then rolls inward to absorb shock and transfer weight to the ball of the foot as it prepares to push off. It is a natural and necessary motion for running and walking.

Essential nutrient of body found in meats, eggs, dairy products, beans and nuts; should comprise approximately 15-25% of calories in a runner's diet; converted into the body's structures-bones, muscles, organs, etc.; overconsumption is converted to fat

Supplement to help add in the burning of fat; little scientific evidence to support its claims

Jargon for a quarter mile or 400 meters; often used when describing workouts where runners run 400-meter (or quarter) repeats

Recovery Jog
Recovery jogs are slow runs performed in between faster running efforts. For example, you might perform 1-minute recovery jogs between fast runs of 3 minutes. During this 1-minute run, you would slow down to a very slow jog, maybe even a walk. The goal is to let the body "catch its breath." Your breathing rate and heart rate will decrease, and your leg muscles will revive themselves a little in preparation for the next fast run.

See "Intervals"

Resting Heart Rate
The number of times your heart beats per minute when you are relaxed and still; usually measured first thing in the morning before getting out of bed

An acronym for rest, ice, compression and elevation; a procedure for treating certain injuries

A term used to describe a shoe's ability to smoothly transfer a runner's weight from heel-strike to toe-off

Road Races
Running contests over streets; all runners can participate

Rodgers, Bill
"Boston Billy"; has won the prestigious Boston and New York City marathons each 4 times

Road Runners Clubs of America; organization to which most running clubs in the US belong; provide information and resources for running clubs

Runner's High
Feeling of euphoria some runners feel after a long, hard run or race (see Endorphins)

Runner's Knee
Knee pain usually caused by the knee cap not sliding properly during movement; may be related to muscular imbalances within the thigh muscles; can be treated with strengthening exercises for weak muscles (usually the inner thigh muscle)

Running Economy
The amount of oxygen consumed at a given running speed; a runner who consumes less oxygen at this running speed as compared to another running is said to be more "economical"

Samuelson, Joan
1984 Olympic Gold Medalist in the marathon; American marathon record holder

Pain running from the low back to the toes related to pressure on the large nerve innervating this area¿the sciatic nerve; should be evaluated by physician

Second Wind
Feeling of more energy and less effort some runners feel after 15-20 minutes of running

Shin Splints
Lower leg injury where there is pain along the shin bone; usually caused by excessive pronation or weak shin muscles; treat with ice and stretching and strengthening exercises; can lead to stress fractures

Shorter, Frank
1972 Olympic Gold Medalist in the marathon; his victory spurred the running boom of the 1970's

A light weight tank top worn by runners

Skinfold Calipers
Process of determining body composition where several folds of skin are measured for thickness and then used to calculate percent body composition

Slow Twitch
Type of muscle fiber (cells which compose the muscles) which contract slowly but can perform for a long time

Speed Work
Short, fast intervals with recovery jogs between; increases your leg turnover and maximizes your stamina and race confidence

Split Times
Denotes the time it takes to run a portion of a total run (often measured at mile markers or other distinctive points along the way); for example, a runner may run a 7:00 mile split between miles 4 and 5 of a 10K (6.2-mile run)

The ability of a shoe to resist excessive motion; usually used to describe shoes designed for neutral runners or mild over-pronators

Your ability to combine speed and endurance

Stamina workouts
Stamina workouts are steady runs that will help you feel strong as you go long. These runs are "moderately hard," and slightly faster than conversational pace. A good stamina workout might involve alternating periods of running strong for 4-8 minutes with periods of jogging for 1-3 minutes, for a total of up to 30 minutes. Heart rate target zone is 80-85% of maximum.

Strength Training
Movements against resistance to develop muscular strength; usually weight training/lifting weights

Movements designed to increase a muscle's flexibility; best method is still being debated but it appears that consistently stretching is the key to increasing flexibility

Stride workouts
Stride workouts help bring your fitness to a peak. They are short, faster runs that are performed once you've developed your endurance (long runs), stamina and power (hill workouts). They're fast and fun. Try alternating periods of fast running (not all-out, though) for 1-4 minutes with periods of jogging for 1-4 minutes, for a total of up to 15 minutes. Heart rate target zone is 90-95% of maximum. Stride workouts are not for beginners. Only attempt them once you've developed your endurance with long runs, your stamina with stamina workouts and power with hill workouts.

See "Underpronation"

A high-performance nylon fabric common in performance athletic wear and notable for its sturdy, cotton-like feel, moisture wicking abilities and quick dry time; brand name of DuPont®

Reducing your mileage several days to three weeks before an important race to ensure peak performance on race day

Tempo Runs
Type of workout to improve the lactate threshold; usually consists of 15-30 minutes of running at the lactate threshold speed

The front portion of a shoe. Also known as the forefoot

Measured oval where races of varying distances are contested; usually measure 400 meters around; 4 laps equals approximately 1 mile

Races longer than a marathon (26.2 miles)

Underpronation or supination
The lack of sufficient inward motion of the foot; highly cushioned, flexible shoes are recommended to absorb shock and allow the foot to pronate naturally

Underwater weighing
Process of determining body composition where a person's weight, while submerged in water, is used to calculate percent body composition; considered the best method for calculating percent body fat

The top portion of the shoe, usually made of leather, synthetic leather or mesh material

USA Track & Field
National governing body for running in the US

United States Olympic Committee; US organization that governs the Olympic Games

Essential nutrient of body; must be ingested in the correct amounts in the body; aid in the processes which use the other nutrients; may be obtained through diet or supplementation; overconsumption can be toxic

Also called maximal aerobic capacity; maximum amount of oxygen that can be utilized by the body; higher V02max generally equals better performance; can be improved with training but has a genetic limit

The Wall or Hitting the Wall
A state of exhaustion when your body runs out of glycogen or energy; usually around the 20 mile point in a marathon (also "Bonk")

Never go into a workout "cold." You'll shock your body (muscles in a resting state aren't very pliable) and increase the risk of injury. Instead, warm up with light jogging and stretching. This increases the blood flow to the working muscles. Begin your 10-minute warm-up with some light stretching followed by very slow jogging. Gradually increase the pace to your normal running speed. A thorough warm-up is required for all runs, especially before workouts like long runs, stamina, speed and hill workouts, as well as road race events.

Essential nutrient of body; runners should drink enough throughout the day to maintain clear urine and enough after a run to return to their pre-run body weights

The ability of a fiber to move moisture from your skin to the surface of the fabric so that it can evaporate and keep you more comfortable

World Championships
Running and track and field championships held once every 2 years; almost as prestigious as the Olympics

Workout formula
Workouts are sometimes described in what looks like some complicated physics equation. Here's the key to breaking the code.

Stamina Workout: 4 x 3 min w/1-min easy jog.

This means, after your warm-up of 5-10 minutes, you run for 3 minutes at your stamina effort (moderately hard). Then you slow to a jog for 1minute to let the body recover from the faster running. After the minute, you begin another 3 minutes at your stamina pace. You repeat this combination of faster running and slower running for the number of times listed, in this case 4. You then cool-down for 5-10 minutes. In total you have a 36-minute run: 10-minute warm-up, 12-minute workout (4 x 3), plus recovery jogs totaling 4 minutes, and a 10 minute cool-down. If you were supposed to run for 40 minutes, then just add 2 minutes to both your warm-up and cool-down.

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