A Runner’s Guide to Races and Lingo

Unlike many other sports where a person starts by joining a team and is soon taught rules and jargon, given a position, uniform, direction, and feedback, running can start with a solo jaunt around one’s neighborhood.

Running may start that way, but for some, it becomes an obsession. With solo beginnings, it can be perplexing learning the lingo and working up the courage to sign up for races. However, it helps to seek out info before you dive in and sign up for races and experience the excitement of being around other runners.

Like visiting a foreign country, you want to at least know the basics of the language and in this case, lingo. Try not to be too nervous and take a peek at some of the lingo we have assembled to get you started. For the most part, runners are some of the nicest and most encouraging people you can meet, so if you ever hear lingo you don’t understand, just ask.

Races – What are they?

5K – This is a shorter race as 5k stands for 5 kilometers or 3.1 miles for those of us who aren’t as familiar with the metric system. A 5K is a great race for a beginner and a fun race for a seasoned runner. It also takes less time to train for one if you are somewhat fit already. There is a Couch to 5K plan for newbies that is a gradual five-week plan.

10K – The next milestone after the 5K is the 6.2 miles 10K. This is a decent distance to try to run hard. Most runners finish a 10K in 50 to 70 minutes with experienced runners often completing it in 30 or 40 minutes. Remember to pace yourself when running one.

Half Marathon – A long-distance race of 21km, half marathons draw more participants, volunteers, and spectators. Runners run the gamut from beginners to the elite. These races are often in larger cities and towns.

Full Marathon – Marathons are the pinnacle at 42.195km (26 miles) and require great endurance. Marathons should not be undertaken on a whim as training is needed to complete the long distance. Only about 1 percent of the world’s population completes the full marathon.

BQ – Boston Marathon Qualifying Time – The Boston Marathon is a prestigious race you can’t simply sign up for. Qualifying times are competitive and must be met to apply to run this race.

Trail Run – Offroad running in a natural setting. Gives you different scenery and works different muscles.

Ultra Run – A race longer than a marathon, so distances can vary from 50k or more.

Race Lingo

Bib – not for babies, these pieces of paper are attached to shirts and show the runner’s number. Bring safety pins to races in case they run out.

Bonk – This is what happens when you are running but find yourself running out of energy. Also known as, “hitting the wall.”

Cadence – The number of steps you take in one minute.

Corral – runners are divided into different groups for big races.

DNF – Acronym for did not finish when you fail to complete a race.

Fartlek – A special workout designed to help runners improve speed and endurance by alternating between fast running and slow jogging.

FKT – Acronym for the fastest known time and used to describe the fastest time anyone has run a trail or route.

Foot strike – the part of your foot that makes the first contact with the ground or pavement.

Gel – products to give you energy on long-distance runs.

IPOS – is another acronym but not a nice one. Stands for “injured piece of shit.” Pretty self-explanatory and many of us have been there.

OQ – an acronym for Olympic qualifying time. Like Boston but much harder.

PB or PR – not to be confused with PBR the beer. PB means personal best and PR means personal record.

Rest Day – at least one day each week to allow your muscles and the rest of your body to relax and recover. Prevents you from becoming IPOS.

Repeats – a workout that consists of repeating the same motion. The workout version of the movie “Groundhog Day.”

RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation – a set of steps to help your body when suffering from IPOS.

Side Stitch or Side Sticker – that familiar sharp pain in the side when running.

Speedwork – a workout designed to get you up to speed, up to a faster speed, that is.

Shin splints – devilish pain along the shin bone.

Strava – athletic social network.

Strength training – workouts to strengthen the body

Warmup – an activity to help loosen muscles and ready your body for running.

These are not the only words that might be used in the running community, but these are some of the most common ones. Once you get further into running life, you will learn all sorts of words for gear, races, workouts, and more.

If you are seeking a fun community of like-minded runners, feel free to check out the PRS Running Club.

However, if you need one-on-one attention with an experienced runner, contact us at Personal Running Solutions. We would be happy to have one of our amazing coaches assist you.

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