Glossary of running terms

A to Z of frequently used running terms

Need an A to Z or running terms? This glossary will tell you all you need to know and explain what each running term means.

A to Z of frequently used running terms

Glossary of running terms a to z


Achilles tendon

An important running term, the achilles tendon is al arge tendon at the back of the ankle which connects the calf muscle to the heel bone.

Anaerobic threshold (AT)

The level of activity at which the aerobic energy system can no longer supply most of the demands of the body.


Curved structures, arch like in profile that span the foot.


This running term sounds complex but simply refers to the application of physics and mechanics to the study of movement.


Slow running or jogging and stretching activities completed after a workout or competition to loosen muscles and rid the body of lactic acid.

Even splits

Running the whole length of a race at the same pace.


Swedish for 'speed play', variable pace running; a mixture of slow running, running at a moderate pace and short, fast bursts.


The running cycle between when your foot first hits the ground through to the next time the same foot hits the ground again.

Hill training

One of the best ways to increase exercise intensity for running, a 10 degree incline can almost double the energy demands of a run.


Training in which short, fast ‘repeats’ or ‘repetitions’, are alternated with slow 'intervals' of jogging for recovery.

Jogger’s nipple

You'll hear this running term a lot. Jogger's nipple is soreness of the nipple due to chafing, commonly experienced by male and female long-distance runners.

Lactic acid

A substance which forms in the muscles as a result of the incomplete breakdown of glucose.


Part of the running gait; when your heel touches the running surface to the time your forefoot touches the running surface.

Maximum heart rate (MaxHR)

The highest heart rate that can be achieved during exercise.


Part of the running gait; when the heel starts to lift and the forefoot flexes. 

Negative splits

Running the second half of a race faster than the first half.


A confusing running term this simply means the excessive inward roll of the foot before toe-off.


The foot remains on its outside edge after heel strike instead of pronating.


Pronation begins immediately after the heel contacts the ground. It is a normal and necessary motion for walking or running. Pronation is the distinctive, inward roll of the foot as the arch collapses.


Personal best/Personal record.


A useful running term, this indicates the number of work intervals in one set. For example, an interval training prescription of 5 x 200m would constitute one set of five repetitions of 200m runs.


A given number of repetitions. For example, a training prescription of 3 x (5 x 200m) would constitute three sets of five repetitions of 200m runs.


Part of the running gait; when the foot first strikes the running surface.


Short, fast but controlled runs of 50 to 150m, which are used both in training and to warm-up before a race.


The opposite of pronation. An outward rolling of the forefoot that naturally occurs during the running cycle at toe-off.


Learn this key running term! Swing is part of the running gait; the foot leaves the ground and touches again.


A gradual reduction in training load in the period leading up to a running competition such as a marathon race.

Toe Off

Part of the running gait; the foot leaves the running surface.


Maximal oxygen consumption, the maximal amount of oxygen that a person can extract from the atmosphere and then transport and use in the body's tissues.


A routine used before strenuous activity, such as running, to attain optimal body temperature, and to prepare physically and mentally for the activity ahead.

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