Your Running Lingo Cheat Sheet
All the little words you need to know to be cool—just kidding, just some words people say a lot in running.
Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
For newbies entering the running world, the jargon can be a bit confusing. From easy runs and a DNS, to strides and ghost runners, we have all the answers.
All The Initials
PR: personal record or best finish time at a specific distance
DNS: did not start a race you were registered for
DNF: started but did not finish a race
BQ: Boston Qualifying time. Used to describe a marathon finish time that is a qualifier to run the Boston Marathon
HR: Heart rate and the monitoring of it during running can be useful in training and avoiding overtraining
LSD: long slow distance
NS: negative splits or running the first part of a race slower than the second and thought to be the best way to run in order to PR (see above)
R.I.C.E.: the steps you should take for an acute injury: rest, ice, compression, elevation
Related: Why I’m Not Super Upset About The Term ‘Getting Chicked’
Chafing is when your skin or clothing rubs against itself (think: thighs, underarms, etc.) and creates a burn or blisters.
Bloody nipples are the result of usually a man who didn’t use anti-chafe cream on his nipples and had a shirt rubbing the skin on them for miles at a time in the heat.
Technical clothing is made from technical fabric and materials that helps move moisture and sweat away from your body to prevent chafing and improve cooling or heating, depending on needs.
Related: The Most Searched Running Terms
Easy runs are usually done after a hard training day or race. It’s relaxed mileage that is slower than your average pace so your mind and body can recover.
Pace is the rate of speed you are running over a given distance.
Repeats are segments of a workout that are repeated, usually with rest intervals in between. You can do speed repeats at a track or during a run and hill repeats to work on power and leg turnover. An example might be doing 400m repeats at the track.
Speedwork is running a specific workout where speed is the focus. Speed workouts usually involve repeats (see above) of faster paces followed by easy segments.
Strides, also called “pick-ups,” are usually done during a warm-up to get the blood flowing in your legs and increase turnover. You’re essentially getting your body ready to race!
Tempo runs are a sustained, faster-than-usual run over 3 to 6 miles with the purpose of training to race at a certain speed.
A bib is the paper with a number on it used to track runners in a race
The chip is usually fixed to a shoe or ankle and records each runner’s progress in a race. Your “chip time” is used to determine your pace, splits and overall finish in a race.
The corral is where you line up, according to pace, before the start of a race.
A ghost runner is either real or imagined, and it’s when you hear (or think you hear) footsteps coming from behind in a race and fear being passed.
Out and back is when the starting and end point are the same. Typically you start out and then loop around a designated point and then back to the finish, which is where you originally started from.
Splits are each specific measured distance you run and the time it takes to run it. You can anything from 400 meter to mile splits. Essentially it’s whatever you designate to be the differentiators of your run or race.
“Hitting the wall” is usually between miles 18-20 in the marathon and it means depleting your body of its energy stores to the point where running another mile seems impossible, your breathing is shallow and you start thinking the worst. It can happen in any race distance but most commonly in the marathon.
Ultra is a race distance greater than 26.2 or a marathon.