Want to walk the walk—or in this case, run the run? Then it’s time to learn how to talk the talk! Everyone knows runners are all a liiittle bit crazy, so it’s no surprise they have a language all their own. Think of this guide to runner’s slang as the helpful subtitles to “Sh!t Runners Say.” C’mon, it was only a matter of time before runners got in on the fun too.
Form: No one wants to be “that awkward runner,” which is why nailing proper form or running technique is key when lacing up. Try to keep the upper body tall yet relaxed and swing the arms forward and back at low 90-degree angles.
Foot Strike: There’s a right way and a wrong way to make every step count. A runner should strike the ground with their mid-foot, not the tippy-toes or heels. Try using light steps that land right under the hip for lower impact—aka fewer injuries!
Pace: When runners talk about running “an 8-minute pace,” they are referring to the amount of time it takes to clock one mile. They also tend to express pace based on the type of run: “long run pace,” “marathon pace,” “5K pace,” etc. Calculate these adjustments with this nifty training tool!
Warm-Up: To increase heart rate and blood flow to the muscles and reduce the risk of injury, runners know to start each workout with a good warm-up. Getting loose for an everyday run can include five to 10 minutes of walking or jogging or some dynamic stretching (which we’ll explain below).
Cool-Down: Just as a warm-up preps the body, a cool-down transitions it back to a resting state. So before heading straight for the showers, slow down with a series of lighter activity and exercise post-workout.
Static Stretching: Everyone ready to count? Static stretching, or holding major muscle groups in their most lengthened positions for at least 30 seconds, might bring it back to the middle school soccer days. While many still believe static stretches prior to running help prevent injuries, research now suggests stretching it out is more beneficial after breaking a sweat.
Dynamic Stretching: Add a little more boom, boom, pow to a warm-up with dynamic stretching, or controlled movements that increase flexibility, power, and range of motion. The best dynamic stretches for runners include lunges, squats, leg lifts, and butt-kicks.
Strides: These are simply the forward steps taken while running. Some “real runners” also use strides (or striders) to refer to a series of short sprints, usually between 50 and 200 meters.
Cadence: Also known as stride turnover, a runner’s cadence is the number of steps taken per minute while running. The fastest and most efficient runners have a cadence of around 180 steps per minute, so find a fast-paced jam on the iPod and keep to the beat!
Dreadmill: Treadmills get this pet name since they’re an often-loathed piece of gym equipment for runners forced indoors due to weather or time constraints. There’s at least one perk though: Studies show it’s actually easier to go faster on a treadmill than out on the road!
Trail Running: On a trail (duh!) as opposed to a road or track, trail running offers a more natural setting, breaks up monotony, and can even work a whole different set of running muscles.
Barefoot Running: Many modern runners are ditching their sneaks and discovering proper running form thanks to the barefoot movement. Made especially trendy by the book Born to Run, it emphasizes running like our cavemen ancestors may also help prevent injuries and improve performance.
Newbie: A newbie, or beginner, often learns the basics of the sport by training for a short race, like a 5K. The C25K training app is a great place to start!
Streaker: Keeping their clothes on (usually!), a streaker is a runner who runs consecutively every day for an extended period of time. Streaking events are fun ways to stay motivated while clocking those miles.
Ultramarathoner: These totally badass runners, like Dean Karnazes, take on any distance longer than 26.2 miles. Ultramarathons are typically 50K, 100K, 50 miles, or 100 miles, but the most well-known ultra is the 56-mile Comrades Marathon in South Africa.
Elite: Yup, we’re talking about the pros. No matter the distance, elite runners are fast. Really, really fast.
Triathlete: These overachievers not only run, they swim and bike, too. (But seriously, we’ve got nothing but love for those who tri!)
Want to learn the lingo for running workouts, gear, racing, and more? Head over to Greatist to read The Ultimate Guide to Running Lingo in its entirety.
Are you new to running? Did these terms help you understand what’s going on out there? Share your thoughts in the comments!