Running terminology defined

Our glossary of frequently used running terms

As you start out in running, the terminology used to describe this fit and healthy form of exercise may at first come across as if it's a foreign language. Whether it's a term used to refer to an injury or a description of a type of running training, the language used to describe running can be difficult to understand. Here is our glossary of the key terms used in running.

Achilles tendon
A large tendon behind the ankle that connects your calf muscle to your heel bone.

Anaerobic threshold (AT)
The intensity level of exercise at which your aerobic energy system can no longer support most of your body's needs.

The curved structures, arch-like in appearance, which span the length of each of your feet.

The study of movement via the application of physics and mechanics.

Slower running, jogging or walking, plus stretching activities, which you complete after a training session or race to loosen your muscles and get rid of the lactic acid that has built up in your body.

Even splits
Completing each half of a race in the same amount of time.

This means 'speed play' in Swedish, and describes variable pace running, which is a mix of jogging or slower running, running at a moderate pace, and short, fast bursts of running.

Gait, or Running gait
This refers to the cycle between when one of your feet hits the ground through to the next time the same foot hits the ground again as you run.

Hill training
Literally refers to running up and down hills. This is one of the best ways to increase the intensity of your training sessions. Running up and down a ten-degree incline can nearly double your body's energy demands.

Intervals, or Interval training
Running training in which you alternate short, fast 'reps' or 'repetitions' (usually runs of 200m to 800m in length) with slow jogging 'intervals' for recovery.


Jogger's nipple, or Runner's nipple
Nipple soreness caused by chafing, most often experienced by both male and female long-distance runners.

Lactic acid
Substance that forms in your muscles which is caused by the incomplete breakdown of glucose.

Part of your running gait. Loading occurs between when  the heel of one of your feet touches the running surface and the time the forefoot (of the same foot) touches the running surface.

Maximum heart rate (MaxHR)
The highest heart rate that you can achieve during training.

Part of your running gait. Mid-stance refers to when your heel begins to lift and your forefoot flexes.

Negative split
Completing the second half of a race in a faster time than the first half.

An excessive inward roll of a runner's foot before toe-off.

When a runner's foot remains on its outside edge after the heel strikes the running surface, rather than pronating.

This starts just after your heel makes contact with the ground. Pronation is a normal and necessary part of walking and running, and refers to the distinctive, inward roll of your foot as the arch collapses.

Stands for 'personal best', as in a personal best time for completing a race.

Repetitions, or Reps
Repetitions are the number of work intervals you complete in a single set. For example, a  training prescription of 3 x 200m constitutes one set of three repetitions of 200m runs.


Refers to a certain number of repetitions. For example, a training prescription of 2 x (3 x 200m) constitutes two sets of three repetitions of 200m runs.

Another part of your running gait. Your stance is when your foot first hits the running surface.

Strides are short, fast, yet controlled runs of 50m to 150m, which you can use both in training and as a way of warming up prior to a race.

This is the opposite of pronation.  Supination is an outward rolling of your forefoot which naturally occurs in your running cycle at toe-off.

Another part of your running gait. Swing is when your foot leaves the ground and then touches it again.

The process of gradually reducing your running load in the last week or two before a running event such as a half marathon race.

Toe off
Another part of your running gait. The toe off is when your foot leaves the surface you are running on.

VO2 Max
The maximum amount of oxygen that you can take in from the atmosphere and then transport to and use in your body's tissues. This can be referred to as your 'maximal oxygen consumption'.

Routine you can carry out before strenuous exercise, such as running, to achieve optimal body temperature, and to prepare physically and psychologically for the exercise to come.




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