The Language of Racing: A Glossary of Running Terms

running race terms

Running is a popular way to stay physically fit and healthy, but it can be confusing to those who are unfamiliar with the language of racing. From pacing to splits, runners have their own terminology that can be intimidating to the uninitiated. Luckily, there is a compiled glossary of running terms that will help you make sense of the lingo and understand how to talk about your running.

  • Interval Workout: Interval workouts involve alternating fast running with slower running or even walking. This type of training helps runners increase their speed and endurance, as well as improve their overall performance.
  • Pace: Pace is the speed at which you’re running. It’s usually expressed in minutes per mile (e.g., a 10-minute mile).
  • Split: A split is the time it takes to run a particular distance, usually between two points on a course. For example, if you’re running a 5K, you might measure your split time at each mile marker.
  • Negative Split: A negative split occurs when a runner runs the second half of a race faster than the first half. It’s a common goal among runners who are trying to improve their performance.
  • Fartlek: Fartlek is a type of interval training that combines both fast and slow running. It’s often used as a way to mix up your training routine and increase your speed and endurance.
  • VO2 Max: VO2 max is the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use during exercise. It’s typically used to measure aerobic fitness.
  • Tempo Run: A tempo run is an extended period of steady running at a slightly faster pace than normal. It’s often used to build endurance and muscle strength.
  • PR (Personal Record): A PR is the fastest time you’ve ever run a particular race or distance. It’s a great way to track your progress over time.
  • Taper: Taper is the period of time leading up to a race when you reduce your mileage in order to maximize your performance on race day. It’s an important part of any runner’s training program.
  • Cross-training – Cross-training refers to activities that supplement running and help strengthen other muscles. Examples include swimming, cycling, and strength training.
  • Stride Length – Stride length is the distance between steps while running. Increasing your stride length can help improve your running speed.
  • Bib Number: The number assigned to a runner before a race, typically worn on the chest or back of the runner's racing gear.
  • Chip Time: The time it takes a runner to complete a race from the moment they cross the start line until they cross the finish line.
  • Goal Race: A race that a runner has set out to complete with specific goals in mind. Goal races are usually used to measure progress and performance over time.
  • Yasso 800s: A type of workout popularized by Runner's World, Yasso 800s involve running 800-meter intervals at a pace equal to your goal marathon time.