Jive talkin' runner Lingo Decoded

What do social media, most sports, and babies have in common? They each have a language of their own!

Last week while running with a friend she commented that newer runners may not be familiar with the lingo, terms, and acronyms we use when talking about our passion, and suggested it might be a good topic for a monthly article. I have to admit that initially I thought an article about running terms might be ... dull. Then I recalled there was a time when I didn’t know what PB (peanut-butter?) or PR stood for, the difference between a rep and an interval, or how long a marathon really is. If you already know these, it’ll be a great way to test your knowledge. If you don’t, here’s your cheat sheet to impress your running and non-running friends.

“Getting Down with ... Acronyms”

  • USATF –United States of America Track & Field organization is the US governing body for track and field, long distance road, & race walking. I’m not talking about the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms.
  • IAAF – International Association of Athletic Federations is an international/global athletic sports governing body.
  • IOC – International Olympic Committee is a Swiss private non-governmental organization & the authority responsible for the modern Olympic Games.
  • USADA – US Anti-Doping Agency is the national anti-doping organization in the US for Olympic, Paralympic & Pan American sports whose purpose is to protect clean athletes & the integrity of the sport.
  • WADA – World Anti-Doping Agency is a foundation initiated by the IOC to promote, coordinate & monitor the fight against drugs in sports.
  • TUE – Therapeutic Use Exemption. ?An exemption that allows an athlete to use, for ?therapeutic purposes only, an otherwise prohibited substance or method (of ?administrating a substance). 
  • WR – World Record. Fastest time in the world for an event.
  • OR – Olympic Record. Fastest time for an Olympic event.
  • AR – America Record. Fastest time by an American for an event.
  • CR – Course Record. Fastest time run on a particular course. 
  • BQ – Boston Qualify. The Boston marathon requires runners to meet certain time standards based on age & gender.
  • OQ – Olympic Qualify. Athletes must hit the Olympic qualifying standards in a particular sport, i.e., marathon, 1000m track, 5000m track, etc.
  • PR or PB – Personal Record or Personal Best. An individual’s best time run for a particular event. What’s your PR?
  • OA – Overall. Represents placement or position where an individual places amongst all runners, both men & women, in an event.
  • DNS – Did Not Start. Registered to participate in an event but does not cross the start line.
  • DNF – Did Not Finish. Athlete drops out after crossing the start line.
  • DQ – Dairy Queen is Fan Food, but not here. Disqualified. i.e., cutting course, use of performance-enhancing drugs, running under someone else’s bib, etc.
  • OOC – Out of Competition. Drug testing conducted on athletes in & out-of-competition setting with little or no advance notice of the test.
  • IC – In Competition. Drug testing generally conducted during or following an event.

Heavy Hitting Training Terms

  • Bonk - Also called “Hitting the Wall”. Exercise induced low blood sugar levels, feeling light-headed and weak in limbs.
  • LSD – Long slow distance is a method of aerobic endurance training founded by Ernst van Aaken, a German physician & coach. Joe Henderson, editor of Runner’s World, popularized it in the US in the 1960s.
  • Taper – Practice of reducing workload, while maintaining race-specific efforts, for several days to 3 weeks before a race to ensure peak performance.
  • Peaking – Key workouts designed for maximizing performance towards a specific race, usually from increased fitness building over the training period.
  • Pace – Number of minutes it takes to cover a mile or kilometer.
  • Aerobic – (In short, means “with” oxygen.) ? running at a comfortable pace, lower heart rate, lower intensity, low waste product build-up. Used for endurance, overall fitness, weight loss, conversational & fun. Duration can be up to several hours.
  • Anaerobic – Existing in the absence of free oxygen. (aka “without” oxygen.) Uncomfortable pace at a speed that is harder & harder to handle over longer distance, increasing heart rate, increasing waste product build-up & increasing need to slow down. Duration is 30 seconds to 10 minutes.
  • Anaerobic Threshold - Effort level where glycogen becomes the dominant fuel used crossing the threshold between aerobic and anaerobic exercise. Also referred to as “redlining”. I think of Prodigy’s song “Breathe” so I don’t redline.
  • Lactate Threshold – Refers to intensity of exercise in which levels of blood lactate rise abruptly. At steady-state exercise conditions, there is a balance of blood lactate production & removal. Duration is 10-60 minutes.
  • VO2 Max – Maximum volume of oxygen an athlete can use per minute relative to body weight to produce energy during an all-out, sustained effort of a few minutes that is well above the anaerobic threshold.
  • Rep/Repetitions – Speed work - Running fast or quickly over a set distance several times with emphasis on speed or race pace. It’s the fast running kept at a constant speed with full recovery before starting next rep.
  • Interval – Sessions run for a specific distance/time at a specific pace/effort with a “specific” recovery, usually shorter than Rep recovery. Time spent during recovery is kept constant & too short for full recovery. The goal is to accumulate running time spent at a very high level which teaches the body to adapt & eventually sustain higher anaerobic pace & greater stroke volume. Intervals & reps are often used interchangeably. I like to think of a rep as the fast running segment of an interval & an interval as a rep with short recovery together.
  • Set – Series of reps/intervals done repeatedly with sessions of rest between.Recovery – Time/distance of easy running or standing between sets, laps, or reps.
  • Split- Defined as a race's total time divided into smaller parts (usually miles) If a ?runner has an even split, it means they ran the same pace through the entire race.? If it’s a negative split, they ran the second half faster than the first. 

About the Author

Terri Rejimbal is a competitive Masters athlete, 3-time Gasparilla Distance Classic half-marathon winner, 6-time Disney Masters marathon winner, and a New Balance product tester. Terri is a RRCA run coach, CPR/AED certified, and is available for consulting or coaching services. For more information, contact Terri at tarejimbal@gmail.com