18 Running Slang Terms and What They Mean

So, you’re new to running, you see a lot of acronyms, a lot of jargon, that’s slang if you’re not familiar with that term, and you’re wondering what the heck do all these things mean? Well, that’s what we’re going to cover today on this episode of Runner’s High.
18 Running Slang Terms and What They Mean


So, you’re new to running, you see a lot of acronyms, a lot of jargon, that’s slang if you’re not familiar with that term, and you’re wondering what the heck do all these things mean? Well, that’s what we’re going to cover today on this episode of Runner’s High.


If you want useful tidbits like what all these jargony slang, running terms mean, as well as how to be a better runner, stick with me here on this channel for more episodes of Runner’s High every Tuesday and Thursday. Hit that subscribe button, you’ll be able to get all of the videos I come out with every single week. Now, I’ve got my trusty laptop here, and we’re going to look through all of these terms. I’ll try to make this quick and succinct, but at the same time, cover a breadth of different terms. So, let’s get started.

Runner’s high, this show is named after. You maybe wondering what the heck is that. This is this chemical reaction that happens in your brain when you run for a certain period of time. Your brain is filled with endocannabinoids, and you get a literal high. So, it used to be thought to be caused by serotonin which just gives you happy feelings, but it’s actually endocannabinoids. Much like THC reacts with our brains and makes us high, our bodies can produce similar compounds, which is why THC reacts with our brains. In any case, runner’s high is an actual kind of high you can get from aerobic exercise. So, running is one of the most common forms of that to make that occur.

Fartlek. Fartlek is Swedish for speed play. And it is a run where you’re going to change the speeds. I often prescribe things like a 30-60-90, which is a long run where you’re going out. And for some period of the run, you’re going to go 30 seconds hard, 30 seconds easy, 60 seconds hard, 60 seconds easy, 90 seconds hard, and then three minutes easy and repeat that a number of times. So, you might be out for like a seven mile run, and then do that three times in the middle of that run. It’s not going to take up your entire run. But fartlek is Swedish for speed plays. So, it just means changing your speed, you can do that however you like.

Splits and repeats. These go together. So, repeat is just an interval that you’re doing over and over again. So, an interval, you’re going down a rabbit hole now. An interval is a set of a certain distance and speed you’re going to run. And so I liked 1,000 meter repeats. So, 1,000 meters is the interval, and then we would have a particular time, in my case, I started out running at 520 pace, which is 320, I think, for 1,000 meters.

That’s off the top of my head so if I’m wrong, I’m sorry. So, you have 1,000 meters, and you do repeat. So, you have 1,000 meters, you run that, you break for 90 seconds, and then you would repeat it for a certain number of times for -- Working on 5K in college, we would start with five, work up to eight to 10 over the season. That’s repeat.

And then splits are where you are at any given time. So, depending on where we were in the season, sometimes it’s good to take 200 splits. So, if you’re on the track that’s halfway around the track. 200 meters, or 400 splits is more normal because that’s one lap around the track. Depending on how granular you want to get, that’s where splits comes in. Often if you’re going to go longer distances you’re tracking mile splits, which is what was your time per mile.

So, in an upcoming video where I talk about the Fourth of July race that’s coming up, I’m going to do a review of it after it’s over. I’ll talk about the splits that I intend to run and then what I ended up actually running. I don’t know about what I’ll actually run yet because I haven’t run it yet. But those will be broken into miles because there should be mile markers.

This is a good one. This tripped me up when I first -- singlets. What the hell is a singlet? You may be thinking like Andre the Giant and wrestling singlets and this really tight thing that you’re going to wear. Runners don’t really wear that. Sprinters do and triathletes actually wear something like that. But a singlet is just the race jersey that you wear.

On to some acronyms. So, first one is BQ. This is not the love child of DQ and BK, Dairy Queen and Burger King making a new franchise called burger queen. BQ is Boston Qualifying because Boston is such an event. It is the Olympics for a lot of amateurs, the kind of pinnacle of running. It’s got its own acronym. BQ is Boston Qualifying time.

Bonking, also referred to as hitting the wall. Bonking is when you run out of carbohydrates in your muscles, and then you cannot go faster anymore. Your body physically slows yourself down. So, interesting to note that you actually have about two hours worth of glycogen or sugar in your muscles to use as fuel. In about 90 minutes, your body will begin to start throttling you. And then after you’ve depleted then you bonk, you hit a wall, you just don’t have the ability to go at that speed anymore.

That’s why it’s important if you’re going longer distances that you need to take in fuel, but also why for shorter distances, you don’t necessarily need to take in fuel. And there’s reasons for that we can talk about in a different video.

DNF, so did not finish. This is something that happens when you’re in the middle of a race and something goes wrong and you didn’t make it to the finish line. I had a habit of never DNFing. I don’t think I ever DNF’d a race in my entire life until I began triathlon. Even when I had a stress fracture I finished this 5K, not in a great time, but I finished it. I didn’t know I had a stress fracture at the time. It just hurt a lot, and I’m still getting across that finish line.

But DNFing happens for a number of reasons. Like when I had that stress fracture, I probably should have DNF’d. Or if you listen to the Smart Athlete Podcast, the other show I do here on this channel, you’ve heard me tell my story where I was trying to be a pro triathlete. There was a particular 70.3 Ironman race I was at, and I was forced into a crash and shattered my collarbone. I couldn’t continue so I had to DNF. I had no option. When the ambulance is taking you away to the emergency room, you can’t really make it to the finish line. So, there are lots of reasons from the small to the major that you might DNF.

But along with that is DNS, and that’s did not start. So, you never made it to the starting line. And then DQ’d which is like a DNF except race officials pulled you out of the race. It wasn’t a personal decision to leave, like being injured or bonking and not being able to continue. It is a you’ve violated the rules and you’re being forcibly pulled out of the race is DQ’d. So, you’re probably more familiar with disqualified.

FKT, fastest known time. So, this is something that is useful for specific courses, when they are non-standard distances, they’re particularly challenging. This is going to be more popular in trail running, ultra running, things where elevation, whether course difficulty, all that kind of stuff comes into play. And it’s not so standard like a track 5K, a track 10k, those kind of things are easily measurable. So, this came into play, like when I went out and ran the Manitou Incline. I flew out, did the Manitou Incline just to see what could I do. I finished it a little over a half-hour.

And it was unfortunately snowy and snapped cold the day that I went out, which I wasn’t used to along with the elevation. But the FKT for the Manitou Incline is debated, but somewhere around 17 minutes. So, much, much faster than I’ve ever done. And the reason it has an FKT is because it’s about a mile, it’s not quite a mile, and there’s 2,000 feet of climbing in that time. It is very, very aggressive with how fast it goes up. So, for something like that, it’s completely non standard. It’s just the incline is what the incline is. And this is the FKT, the fastest known time for that particular course.

Out and back. You hear me talk about that sometimes. It is what it sounds like, your run is an out and back. You’re running to a particular place, and you’re running the same course back to where you started. I do these a lot. They’re actually pretty good, especially when you are not sure if you can run a particular distance. Because there is plenty of points before the point of no return when you can turn back.

So, say you’re trying a new distance out, you’ve run five miles and now you want to run eight. You’re probably going to be fine, but you do have the ability to chicken out before you hit that four mile mark, turn back early, still get extra miles in and not be stranded. Whereas sometimes with a looped course, you may not have the ability to come back. So, that’s something to keep in mind.

LSD and speed. A combination of drugs that are very, very powerful for running. But in our case, LSD is long slow distance. Most of your long runs end up being LSD. That doesn’t mean that all long runs are LSD. And then speed is it’s converse, which is going fast. Often that means doing intervals and doing repeats. That’s speed, going faster.

Our last few have to do with particular runners and their habits. So, a bandit. This isn’t something that happens often. I don’t do this, although sometimes it’s tempting, I guess. A bandit is somebody who enters a race but didn’t pay for the opportunity to do it. They just hop in. There are plenty of reasons why you might be tempted to do it. Maybe a race costs too much or you just want to run or your friends are doing it.

But out of respect for the race directors that put it on, much like I interviewed Ian Fraser, who is in charge of Run Ottawa, their biggest run maybe 40,000 people, it would be very easy to be a bandit in a race like that, because there’s not that many people around. Or not because there’s not that many people around. There’s so many people around that you’re not going to be noticed.

It is, in my opinion, disrespectful to the race directors because they put in a lot of time and effort. As he says in my interview with him on the Smart Athlete Podcast, it takes a year of planning to put together a race. So, most races, 20-30 bucks, sometimes they’re getting to be more now. But that’s pretty reasonable considering you get a shirt, you often get a medal, the race course is shut down, there’s going to be police aid. Like, there’s a lot that goes on to put together a race, so please don’t be a bandit. But let’s keep going.

Sandbagging. This is something you also don’t want to do. You don’t want to be a sandbagger. And that’s somebody who holds back, but ends up crushing it. They underplay their ability, and then push forward at the last second. It’s just bad form. The ultimate example of somebody who is the complete opposite of a sandbagger is Prefontaine because he believed in this pure amount of running, where you’re going to run, and if you want to when you run in the front wire to wire the whole way.

Now, that’s not necessarily the smartest way to run, and he had to learn or be forced to learn a little bit more about tactics, and you can learn about that in any number of movies about him. But if you’re going to go one way or the other, Pre’s way, at least in my opinion, is the way to go. It’s a more honest way to go, try to win wire and wire and some sandbagging, and then beating people because you’re ending up being a big fish in a small pond instead of competing at your level.

The last for today, and maybe the most interesting, or maybe not, we’ll see what you think, is a rabbit. There are rabbits that live in my yard, and I’m not talking about one of those. But much like dog racing, a rabbit is somebody that goes up fast in front that you can chase. Sometimes they’re also referred to as pacers. You won’t see them very often. There are a lot of sanctioned races that don’t allow them. But in certain cases they do. And so the whole objective is that it is harder mentally to set a particular pace for a period of time. So, if you have somebody that’s trying to set a new personal best, and say, let’s just go 1,500 of the mile. It’s for laps around the track. You may have rabbits, they’re on the track, they’re all going to start the race, but then they’re going to drop out at certain periods.

So, you’ve got a rabbit for the first 400, and then they’ll drop out after the first lap. And then the next rabbit continues on for the 800, then they dropped out. And then on to the third one, takes a third lap, and then the person trying to set their PR goes off for that last lap to push it all in. It’s kind of like cycling. If you’ve ever watched the Tour de France or any major cycling event, you have guys often referred to as domestiques that are upfront during the pacing for the guys that are trying to win the overall tour. And that’s because it takes a lot of work to do that pacing. It’s a little more tactical in cycling than it is in running. But the same kind of ideas apply.

So, what jargon, what slang did I miss that you want to know? Leave them down in the comments below. Hopefully I can help you out. And I’ll see you next time on the next episode of Runner’s High.


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