Every sport has its own special terms, slang, and acronyms that fans tend to throw around to confuse outsiders (or at least it seems that way if you don’t know the term), I have been doing crossfit training over the past 4 months and at first you would think everyone was speaking a different language.
Although runners tend to be a very welcoming group, the long distance crowd has several secret terms and mysterious acronyms of their own. To help you fit in while you work to earn your racing stripes, we’re sharing some long distance running lingo in the very first long distance running dictionary.
Terms we’ll cover:
- Carb Loading
- Runner’s Toe
- Hitting the Wall
- Negative Splits
Bib: Tempted to call your running partner a big baby when he or she brags about receiving their racing bib in the mail? Don’t! This “bib” is just a sweat-proof piece of paper that has a runner’s assigned racing number on it.
Carb Loading: Hang out with enough runners and you’re bound to come across the term “Carb Loading.” Diets like the Atkins Diet have given carbohydrates aka “Carbs” a bad name. However, runners know that this fuel source is not to be feared. Rather, carbs are the key to successful training sessions. The phrase “Carb Loading” refers to the practice of eating items high in carbohydrates leading up to a big race. This nutritional choice is based on sound science. If you eat extra carbohydrates, the body will store them as a molecule called glycogen. Glycogen is then broken down into glucose, a molecule that can quickly be converted into energy. Since carbohydrate-based fuel sources are the most efficient at powering an endurance workout, building up these stores in the days before a race is important. If you plan on running a race longer than 90 minutes, you will definitely want to do some carb loading of your own.
Runner’s Toe: A runner with a runner’s toe might sound like a good thing. Maybe something like a gardener with a “green thumb.” Unfortunately, having a “runner’s toe” is not something to brag about. Runner’s toe happens when your toes and toenails continually come in contact with your shoe causing pressure that results in bleeding under the toenail. This can cause your toenails to appear black and even to fall off. Keep your toenails clipped and purchase shoes that fit to avoid an unwanted black pedicure!
Chip: No, the race volunteers are not giving out salty snacks! This “chip” is an electronic device that you put on your shoe (although many races now have it on your race bib as a nondescript plastic strip) to track your official race time. Without chips your race time could be minutes longer than the actual time it took you to run between the start and finish lines. This is due to the large volume of racers at the starting line of popular events.
Corral: “Hey, Joe! What corral are you assigned to?” If you hear the term corral used at a race for the first time, you may choose to ignore your friend if you fear he is now comparing himself to a racehorse. While this confusion may not be out of the question, your friend is more likely referring to the section of the starting line he has been assigned to. Test him out by checking your pre-race paperwork and to find your corral section before dismissing him.
CR: C is for Course and R is for record. Find this acronym by your name in the race results and you’ll already be celebrating because you've definitely crossed the finish line first. These initials will give you the right to celebrate even more because they signify that no one else has beaten your time for this course-yet!
DNF: Did Not Finish. Sometimes you’ll start a race, but due to circumstances beyond your control you won’t finish it. We've all been there. Don’t despair! Instead, find one of the ever popular shirts made about the acronym: DNF>DNS. Don’t know what DNS means? Check the next definition.
DNS: Did Not Start. This designation is given to a runner who registered for but did not start the race. Avoid it at all costs unless you are injured.
Hitting the Wall: If someone talks about “Hitting the Wall” during a race you may start laughing uncontrollably. Sure many runners got into the sport because they lack basic hand-eye-coordination, but a wall should be one thing immune from a runner’s clumsiness, right? You are correct. Your runner friend didn't actually hit a wall or run into it. The term “hitting the wall” refers to running into a virtual wall. It describes a point in a race where the runner felt like he or she was almost stopped dead in their tracks. This happens when a runner depletes his or her glycogen (carbohydrate) stores too soon. Avoid hitting your own wall by increasing your carbohydrate load before a race and following a training plan.
LSD: This abbreviation is an all-time fan favourite. No, your friends who enjoyed cross-country and distance events back in middle and high school weren't also enjoying hallucinogens offered up by their coach. Rather, they were going on a Long Slow Distance run. This type of training run is typically done once a week and is a part of any good distance training schedule.
Negative Splits: This should be your goal when running a race! Running negative splits refers to the practice of running each successive mile or loop around the track faster than the previous one.
Pick-ups: Hear another member of your running club talking about “pick-ups” and you might assume they are trying to get a date. On the track this term is used to describe a training technique that requires a runner to gradually pick up his or her pace for a short distance. A pick-up can be done before a race to prepare for the start and warm up muscles or during a training run to increase fitness and decrease boredom. They usually aren't used to pick-up dates.
PR: This acronym stands for your Personal Record or best time. Get into racing and you’ll want to hit a PR for every distance you complete. It’s a great way to keep setting goals throughout your running career.
Taper: Before a big race runners will taper or cut back their running mileage. The length of a taper will be proportionate to the length of the race. A 5K race might have a 1-day taper while the taper for a marathon taper lasts several weeks. This technique is employed to help muscles rest before race day.
Have you heard of one of these terms before? Did this article help you feel more confident around your veteran running friends? If you found this selection of terms helpful, please share the knowledge. If you have another term you aren't sure about or a question about running, feel free to reach out with a comment below.