Running lingo demystified

“Let’s go running,” you suggest to a friend.

“Sure,” they reply. “I was carb-loading last night! But I may have slightly injured my Achilles tendon so I’m trying to take it easy. How about we do some fartleks and then some out-and-backs?”

You pause. What the heck are they talking about? What’s a fartlek?! That sounds disgusting.

I’ve definitely had my fair share of clueless “what are you even saying” moments, and my goal right now is to prevent you from having the same ones. So now thanks to this article right here, you’ll have a comprehensive guide to all of this fancy running lingo!

You’ll be happy and running around with others in no time. Running is a great way to get some exercise and form connections with other fellow runners! Kind of like these two:

Except, um, this is some extreme running and we don’t recommend doing this unless you really know what you’re doing.

Anyway, here are some popular phrases related to running that you’ll hear thrown around:


  • Achilles tendon: this is the tendon on the back of your heel which links your calf muscles to the heel bone. Runners can develop problems with their achilles tendons when they rapidly increase their distance or workout intensity.
  • Carb-loading: before a big race, runners will usually increase their carbohydrate intake, focusing on eating more carb-heavy foods like pasta and eating less fatty foods.
  • Chafing: a person could develop blisters and raw skin through friction caused by skin/shirt or skin/skin rubbing while running.
  • Endorphins: the cause of the infamous “runner’s high!” This chemical is released in your brain after working out.
  • Fartlek: a Swedish term for “speed play” – run as fast as you can for however long as you’d like.
  • Hill repeats: an exercise in which you sprint quickly uphill and jog your way down, repeating several times. Painful, but a great way to build up your leg strength and speed.
  • Interval training: usually heard during track workouts, where you run for a set length (100m, for example) at high speeds, taking a small break between each set.
  • Orthotics: special inserts for your shoes to treat some sort of weakness or imbalance (flat feet, for example).
  • Out-and-back: a running course where you run out to a set point and then run back to the starting point, forming a complete loop.
  • Side stitch: a sharp pain either in your side or below the rib cage, usually occurring during high-intensity running. How to fix it: take note of which side your stitch is on; as the foot on the side opposite your stitch hits the ground, sharply exhale. Repeat.
  • Strides: running for about 80 to 100 meters at about 80% effort
  • 5K: a 3.1 mile race
  • 10K: a 6.2 mile race

For more terms, check out this handy article from Runner’s World. You’ll be speaking like a seasoned runner in no time.



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