The East by West Distance Running Dictionary

The East by West Distance Running Dictionary

Part of running is learning the terminology. At ExW, we put together a running dictionary for new runners !


  • Using oxygen to produce energy. Running paces such as easy runs and tempos are predominantly aerobic efforts.

Altitude Training

  • Running in higher altitude environments which teaches your body to run more efficiently with less oxygen, making running at sea level feel much much easier.


  • Producing energy without the use of oxygen. Sprinting and high-intensity interval work are predominantly anaerobic efforts.

Aqua Jogging

  • A form of cross training in which you use the running motion in a deep pool to avoid impact. This is typically done when recovering from an impact injury such as a stress fracture.

Back Stretch

  • Also known as back straightaway (the straight 100m section of a track further away from the start line).


  • Participating in a race without registering for it.


  • Those awkward paper squares that you have to pin onto your chest in a road race.


  • Running out of fuel/energy in a longer race, which causes you to slow wayyyy down over a short period of time…not an enjoyable experience.


  • Boston (Marathon) Qualifier – the race time it takes to qualify to run the Boston Marathon for your age group.


  • The number of steps you take per minute while running. 

Chip Time

  • The time in a race between when you cross the start line and cross the finish line. This is often faster than “clock time” if you do not start the race at the front of the pack. 

Cool Down

  • Easy running after a workout or race


  • Where cows live. ALSO starting groups in a road race that participants are broken into based on predicted finish time.


  • Course Record


  • Did Not Finish


  • Did Not Start


  • Running twice in a day.


  • Form drills. Exercises to do before a workout or a race to loosen up your body and improve your running economy.


  • Means “speed play.” Typically a run which alternates between fast and slow pace broken up over short time intervals.

Final Stretch

  • The last part of a race. This is where you give your final kick!


  • “Fastest Known Time”


  • Lightweight running shoes used for races and workouts. These shoes are without spikes.


  • Ducks. Ducks float. This term is also sometimes used for the rest intervals of workouts which are kept at a faster pace.


  • Facility Record


  • Marathon, 26.2 miles or 42 kilometers

Gun Time

  • Also known as clock time. The time in a race from when the race begins to when you cross the finish line. Typically, this is slower than chip time which is your true race time.


  • Or HM / Half Marathon, 13.1 miles or 21 kilometers

Heart Rate Training

  • Training based on your heart rate which measures your perceived effort.


  • A workout on hills.

Hit the Wall

*see “Bonk”.


  • International Association of Athletics Federations


  • Faster-paced workouts broken up over shorter chunks of time or distance. (For example: A workout of 10 x 200m means intervals of 200 meters, ten times)


  • International Olympic Committee 


  • Kilometers


  • The final push to the finish in a race, usually at what feels like a sprint pace.

Lactic Acid

  • One of the byproducts of muscular exertion. This substance accumulates in the muscles during hard efforts and is somewhat to blame for your legs feeling like bricks at the end of a hard effort.


  • Typically used referring to a run – starting and stopping in the same spot but not crossing over the same path twice.


  • Long Run


  • Meters


  • Finishing in one of the top 3 spots in a race


  • Miles


  • Minutes, can also be seen as ‘


  • A running pace between easy effort and hard effort.


  • Marathon Goal Pace


  • Marathon Pace


  • Miles Per Week

Negative Split

  • Finishing the second half of a race or workout faster than you ran the first half


  • Fuel during a longer race. Examples are GU or  Honey Stinger energy chews.


  • National Record

Out and Back

  • A running route that’s not a loop, on which you retrace your steps on the way back.

Out Kick

  • Beating someone in the final stretch of a race – “I out kicked David in our mile”.


  • The speed at which you are running. Typically measured in minutes per mile or minutes per kilometers.


  • Someone in a race whose job is to run at a certain predefined pace.


  • Personal Best


  • Typically the pinnacle week, race, or mileage of a specific training cycle.


  • Faster-paced segments of a run.

Point to Point

  • See “out and back”, but don’t come back.

Positive Split

  • Finishing the second half of a race or workout slower than you ran the first half.


  • Personal Record


  • The time leading up to a race. Typically talked about in terms of a “pre-race routine,” such as what you eat, warm ups, bathroom visits, etc.


  • Getting continuously faster over the course of a run.


  • Someone who intentionally leads a race at a predetermined pace with the intention of dropping out before the race is over.


  • Synonym of “intervals”.

Resting Heart Rate

  • Your measured heart rate when you are not exerting yourself.

Running Economy

  • The overall effort or lack thereof expended while running. Typically expressed in the context of running efficiency. Specifically tied to running form and mechanics.

Running Log

  • A place to write down information about your run each day – distance, overall time, pace, workout splits, nutrition, feeling, etc.


  • Season Best


  • Seconds, also can be seen as “

Second Wind

  • An unexpected burst of energy in a race or workout after feeling bad, slowing down, etc.


  • Racing shoes with metal pokies on the bottom to improve grip typically used in track and field.


  1. The time it took you to run an interval or repeat. 
  2. Short “split” (running) shorts

Steady State

  • A running pace that’s somewhere in between tempo pace and easy pace.


  • A social media app that can be used as a running log. You can also see your friends run each day and give kudos to them.


  • Faster pickups/sprints, typically done at the end of an easy run or before a race/workout.


  • Track and Field


  • Decreasing your weekly mileage or workout load leading up to a race.


  • A type of threshold run that is usually sustained for 20-40 minutes.


  • The pace at which running any faster would result in accruing lactic acid in your muscles at a faster rate than you can burn it.


  • Slang for “get out of lane 1!” (when running on a track with other runners).


  • The shoes you run your easy mileage in.


  • Ultramarathon, any footrace longer than a marathon (26.2mi / 42k)


  • United States Track and Field – the US national governing body for track and field, cross country, road running, and racewalking.


  • Also known as Elevation Gain. The measure of elevation gain throughout a run.

VO2 Max

  • The amount of oxygen that can be carried by your red blood cells. Often used as an indicator of aerobic fitness level. The higher the number, the more oxygen can be transmitted by a single blood cell.

Warm Up

  • Easy running to get loose before a workout or race.

Waterfall Start

  • In track and field, when there is an overflow of runners in a race they are put on the extended start line. This line is usually between lanes 4 and 6. These runners must stay in these lanes until the break line – where they are able to cut into lane 1.

Wave Start

  • Starting a race with one group of runners at a time. Usually grouped based on expected finish time.


  • World Lead


  • A run assigned with specific paces usually more taxing than a normal easy run.


  • World Record


  • Cross Country, a sport in which teams and individuals run a race on open-air courses over natural terrain such as dirt or grass.


  • Cross Training, an alternative form of exercise from running.

Leave a Reply