A-Z Glossary of running terminology from Run Mummy Run

Runner’s Glossary: An A-Z Guide of common running terminology

Are you confused by tempo runs and baffled by fartleks?  Then here is our handy Run Mummy Run Runner’s Glossary an A-Z guide of common running terms, acronyms and abbreviations….

Arm sleeves
Arm sleeves (or arm warmers) are popular with runners to keep their arms warm when the weather is a bit chilly without over-heating in a long sleeved top!

Buggy Running
Buggy running has become a popular way for new parents to run with their baby. Specialist running buggies have been designed to keep your baby safe and to make running comfortable for you. For more information about buggy running see our blog 9 reasons you should give buggy running a go.

Carb loading
Carb loading is what runners traditionally do before races such as half marathons and marathons. It’s often seen as a good excuse to eat all the pasta but do we actually need to do it? Carbohydrates (carbs) are a great source of energy that the body converts to glucose. Surplus glucose gets converted to glycogen and is stored in the muscles and liver to be used when needed.

During long runs you will use up any glucose first and will then start dipping in to your glycogen stores. The theory of carb loading is that you are making sure these stores are full. However, most experts now agree that you only need to increase your carb intake slightly before a big race. Try eating a portion of carbs with each meal for a couple of days before. A normal portion of carbs the night before a race is better than a huge serving of pasta or pizza – you don’t want stomach issues or indigestion to keep you awake!

Chip Time

If you take part in a race that has chip timing your chip will record the time it takes YOU to complete the race (normally the time between running over timing mats at the start and finish). This differs from the Gun time which records the time from the moment the race starts until you cross the finish. Chips are sometimes attached to your race number, or a tag attached to your laces, or occasionally a tag that goes round your ankle.

Coach in Running Fitness course run by UK Athletics (UKA). Normally completed after the Leader in Running Fitness course. Successful completion of the course means you receive your UKA coaching licence. UKA coaches can write training plans and help you with your own personal training needs. If you are looking for a running coach it is worth checking that they have this qualification.

Compression Socks
Compression Socks can help with running and recovery as they improve venous return and aid in the removal of lactic acid. Read this blog for more information about compression socks and how they work.

You didn’t quite get that PB but you might have got a CR? CR is a course record. This is the best time you have run a particular course or race in. It might not be a personal best overall but it may be your course record for that route.

Cross Training
Cross training is exercise you do around your running to help you get fitter and stronger. Good forms of cross training that compliment running are cycling, swimming, yoga and pilates.

Couch to 5K is a brilliant, structured programme that allows non-runners to start to run. It uses a walk/run method and builds up week on week until eventually participants can run 5K (3.1 miles). You can find plans on the internet or download an app. Many running clubs, Councils and work places have started running group C25K sessions.

C*ck Womble. The RMR term for an unsupportive other half. Non-CW on the other hand is a supportive partner.

DNF stands for did not finish. If you start a race but do not finish it you will be recorded in the results as DNF. This may be because you retire injured or sick or are timed out.

DNS stands for did not start. This is when you enter a race but then do not take part and do not transfer your place to another runner. You will be recorded in the results as DNS.

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. These are the aches and pains you get 24-36 hours after exercise. While you may feel like you have been run over by a bus, they are generally nothing to worry about and will pass in a few day. Beware though that they can make a flight of stairs feel like Mount Everest.

Epsom Salts
Epsom Salts are the warmer alternative to the ice-bath. It is in fact magnesium sulfate and has been used traditionally to ease achey muscles. If the thought of an ice-bath leaves you cold (excuse the pun) then adding a cup full of these salts to a warm bath after a long run might be a better alternative for you.

Fartlek possibly wins the award for most amusing term in running, but it is actually Swedish for “speed play”. Fartlek is an informal and playful type of speed work that can be used by runners of all levels. Rather than reps of a specific distance, you increase your pace during a run between objects you can see. For example between lamp posts or “from here to that tree”. This is fun activity when running with friends as you can take it in turns to shout the landmark to increase your pace to. It is good to vary the distances between objects and all the running in between should be at an easy pace to allow recovery.

GNR is a common abbreviation for the Great North Run – the largest and most iconic half marathon in the UK that starts in Newcastle and finishes in South Shields. Read some of our RMR’s experiences of GNR here.

Often used in the baffling sentence, “I’ve got a GFA for VLM”. GFA is a Good for Age time. London marathon offers a small number of places for runners who achieve a specific time, in a qualifying marathon, that is good for their age. Details of these times can be found on the VLM website.

Gun Time
While a chip time will give you the time it took YOU to complete a race, the gun time records the time that has elapsed from the official start of the race until you cross the finish. These two types of timing can be quite different in big races where it may take you several minutes to cross the start line after the race officially starts.

Half Marathon (Half, HM)
Half marathons are, as the name suggests, a race that is exactly half the distance of a marathon. 13.1 miles or 21K.

Hitting the Wall
(See carb loading) During a long run once you have used up available glucose and then your glycogen stores, if you do not replace carbs using sweets or gels for example, you may “hit the wall”. Hitting the wall is an unpleasant feeling where you run out of energy. You will feel exhausted, your legs will feel heavy and you will have a feeling of brain fog. Getting your race nutrition strategy sorted before you run is very important.

Ice Bath
In theory getting into an icy cold bath can help you recover from a long or strenuous run. Exposing the body to cold helps to constrict blood vessels, remove waste products, and reduce swelling. Some runners like to get into the ice bath in their full kit. Others strip off but keep a woolly hat on and have a cup of tea to make the experience more bearable. It is worth noting that the jury is out on the benefit of ice baths for non-elite athletes although many runners swear by them.

Illiotibial Band – You probably don’t know what or where this is in your body unless you’ve had a problem with it. It is actually a band of fascia that is attached at one end to your hip muscles and near to the outside of your knee at the other. It is a common cause of knee pain in runners. There are lots of tips out there for treating ITB issues but the best plan is always to consult your GP or Physio as they will be able to identify the exact cause and give you the best advice for rehabilitation.

“Jeffing” is a phrase coined by the Run Mummy Run facebook group to describe the Jeff Galloway method of Run/Walk training. It is a well-recognised method that claims to help runners to extend the distance they cover with a reduced risk of injury and fatigue. You can read more about Jeffing and how it works here.

John o Groats to Lands End. You will often see this abbreviation if someone is attempting to run from the top of Scotland to the bottom of England. You may sometimes see LE JOG if they are going the other way.

Leadership in Running Fitness. This is a qualification from UK Athletics allowing you to lead a group of runners on a run. Running clubs will generally have a number of these enthusiastic individuals. If you like helping others with their running the LiRF qualification is great.

Long slow run. Most running training plans will contain one of these runs. The length of your LSR will depend on the distance you are training for. The distance covered in an LSR should gradually increase over the course of your training plan and should drop back slightly every 3-4 weeks. You should be able to talk in full sentences to your running buddies during an LSR, so if you can’t you are running at too quick a pace.

A long distance race measuring 26.2 miles or 42kms. Most people will train for a marathon for between 12-16 weeks prior to the event. Marathon training is a huge commitment, and the distance should be respected, but if you train properly finishing a marathon is one of the most amazing achievements.

Negative Splits
This is a race strategy where you complete the second half of the race in a faster time than the first. So for example in a 10k race you would run the second 5k in a quicker time than the first 5k.

parkrun takes place across the UK (& the World) in a park at 9am on a Saturday morning. It is a free, weekly, timed, 5K run that anyone can take part in. Participants are encouraged to run, jog or walk the course all you need to do is register on the parkrun website and get a barcode which gets scanned each time you finish a parkrun. If you are nervous about your first parkrun read our guest blog from Nell McAndrew.

Personal Best. This is the fastest time you have run a specific distance in. Always well celebrated by runners. Getting a new PB is something to be very proud of. That said though PBs are not the be all and end all. It is great to just get out there and run for the sake or running. Don’t ever beat yourself up if you don’t improve on your fastest time in a race.

Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation. These are the things we should do when we are first injured. It is important to stop training and put ice on the area if there is swelling. A bag of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel is good for icing. Don’t put the frozen item directly on your skin as you may burn. 15 minutes, a couple of times a day should help. A compression bandage or compression socks can be helpful. If after a day or two there is no improvement it is important to seek proper diagnosis and treatment from a GP or Physiotherapist/Sports Therapist.

RMR is the common abbreviation of Run Mummy Run. Members of the group are often referred to as RMRs (but beware that outside of the Run Mummy Run community it also refers to the Royal Marine Reserves). Find out how Run Mummy Run came to be in Leanne’s Road to 10,000 blog post.

Run Streak
A run streak thankfully has nothing to do with nudity! A run streak is where someone chooses to run every day for a period of time (this can vary) for a minimum distance (this can also vary). For further information about Run Streaks read our What is a Run Streak? article.

Not just something you can do if you’re flexible!  Splits in this context are the times you took to run a certain intervals of distance during a run. These might be broken down into each mile or each kilometre depending on how you measure your runs.

Towards the end of most training plans for half marathons, marathons and ultra marathons there is a period called taper. After you have run the longest distance in your plan, the training will start to ease off and taper will normally only involve a few short, easy runs. Taper is built in to training plans to allow you to race on fresh legs. It is normally the time when “maranoia” sets in and runners start to panic.

Tempo Runs
You will often see Tempo Runs pop up in your training plan. A Tempo Run is also sometimes known as a Threshold Run or a Lactic-Threshold Run. You should be running at a comfortably hard pace. You shouldn’t be able to speak in sentences but you should be able to say the odd word or two. These runs are hard but you will reap the benefits.

Trail Running
Trail running is basically off-road running. A trail run will normally (mostly) follow trails or tracks in a scenic or rural setting but there are urban trail runs too. You can buy special trainers for trail running that give you more grip on uneven surfaces and in mud. Trail shoes are not gait dependant. You do not need special ones if you over-pronate for example. Read our 5 tips to get started with trail running in this Run Mummy Run guide.

An Ultra is an Ultra Marathon – a race that is longer than a marathon in distance (so more than 26.2 miles). There are a variety of Ultra distances from 30 miles up to 100 miles or more. Some are run in a single day. Some are run over a number of days and are called multi-day events.

Virgin London Marathon (Sometimes also VMLM -Virgin Money London Marathon) often gets abbreviated to VLM. It is the big one… THE London marathon that takes place in April each year and is televised on the BBC. Run Mummy Run has an annual cheer squad for our community members that are taking part. We give them a much needed boost at mile 19!

5 thoughts on this post

  1. Thank you!!! I have been wondering what CW was after seeing it in many posts, it gave me a good old laugh

  2. Ha! This will make Mekong up with RMR posts did much easier! Espevially the cw. Fortunately mine is a non cw üòÇ

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