Training Terms

Chances are you’ve heard a word or two at a race or training session whose meaning was a mystery. We’ve got you covered with a list of training terms and definitions that’ll help you talk the talk and walk the walk.


A few minutes of easy jogging before a race or workout to elevate the heart rate and loosen the muscles in preparation for a hard effort. 


Tempo Run

A training run (usually 20 to 45 minutes) at a pace slightly slower than 10K race pace. 



Used as both noun and verb: A taper (n.) is a reduction in training volume and intensity during the weeks leading up to a race. To taper (v.) is to back off one's training to allow muscles to rest so that they are prepared for peak performance. 



Short (usually 50 to 150 meters), fast runs used in training and to warm up before a race. Strides can build speed and efficiency.


Split, Negative Split

A split is an intermediate time for a given distance during a race, as in "Her one-mile split was 7:34, but she sped up after that." Running the second half of a race faster than the first half is known as running "negative splits."



Any workout intended to build speed, such as fartlek or interval training.



Short for "personal record"- the best time that an athlete has ever run at a given distance. The British equivalent in "PB," for "personal best."



The speed at which an athlete runs, usually expressed in minutes per mile. ("He ran the whole marathon at a seven-minute pace.")


Interval Training

Training that consists of relatively short, fast runs (usually between 200 meters and one mile) with jogging or walking rest intervals between them. Interval training builds speed and endurance. 


"Hitting the Wall"

Slowing down drastically and uncontrollably at the end of a long race or run, also known as "bonking." This happens when an athlete's muscles are depleted of glycogen (stored carbohydrate that can be used as fuel). The result is extreme fatigue, which has been likened to an invisible wall. Marathoners who don't ingest enough carbohydrates before and/or during a race often "hit the wall" around the 20-mile mark. Proper fueling techniques can significantly erode the wall. 


5K, 10K

Road-race distances, in kilometers. 5K is 3.1 miles; 10K is 6.2 miles. The 5K is the shortest common road-race distance and is a good choice for a beginner who wants to experiment with racing. When these distances are run on a track, they are typically referred to as "5000 meters" and "10,000 meters"; "5L" and "10K" refer to road events. 



Running out of fuel during exercise. See "Hitting the Wall."



An easy, slow run after a hard workout or race, used to flush lactic acid from muscles and speed recovery. 



Using one sport's training methods to train for another sport. Cross-training is often implemented to add variety, to allow an athlete to maintain fitness while injured, or to increase training volume without creating imbalances through overuse. For a runner, cross-training often includes alternative aerobic activities like cycling, swimming, and gym ergometers (elliptical trainers, spin-class cycles ect.) and/or strength/flexibility exercises such as yoga, Pilates, and weight training. 



Swedish for "speed play." Fartlek workouts involve running at various paces, sometimes for random or unpredictable amounts of time, in order to build speed and endurance and to prpare for unexpected pace-changes in races. 


Gun Time/Net Time

Gun time is measured from the official start of a race until a participant crosses the finish line. Net time is the time between when a runner crosses the start and finish lines, as recorded by a D-Tag, B-Tag, ChampionChip, or other device. In NYRR events, finishing place is determined by net time; gun time has no bearing on place, except for the race winner, who must be the first runner to cross the finish line. 




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