Glossary of Running Terms

This glossary is not meant to feature scientific definitions of running terms. Rather its purpose is to give functional, simple to understand definitions that will aid in understanding the meaning of terms used on this site.

Aerobic capacity--A measure of how long one can run while maintaining an aerobic heart rate.

Base phase--Period of training in which building aerobic capacity is the primary focus.

Cadence--Rate of one's steps while running. See also: Turnover

Cardiovascular--Pertaining to or having to do with the lungs, heart, and circulatory system. In running terms having to do with how oxygen is delivered to the body through the above organs and systems.

Fartlek--Swedish word meaning "speed play." Fartlek describes any number of variations on a workout where runners run continuously while interspersing varying periods of faster paced running with slower paced running.

Intervals--A method of training in which a runner runs at a specified pace for a specified time or distance, and then rests or jogs for a specified time or distance.

Kick (or Finishing Kick)--The sprint at the end of a race.

Neuromuscular--Term used to describe training that improves efficiency of nerves and muscles working together.

Running Economy--Term used to describe the efficiency of a runner's running motion. The greater one's running economy, the less energy it takes to run a given pace.

Stride--Short, fast runs that emphasize running with good form at a relatively fast pace. Distances and speeds for strides can vary.

Surge--Short burst of faster running during the course of a race, workout, or run.

Taper--The practice of decreasing one's mileage and/or intensity leading up to a target race so as to reduce fatigue heading into the race.

Tempo Run--A long, continuous run typically at or near threshold pace. Typical tempo runs may range for 3 to 8 or more miles depending on the race being trained for. Also called a threshold run.

Threshold--Pace above which the body is unable to produce energy aerobically, resulting in a build up of waste products in the muscles. Other terms used generally to mean the same thing include: anaerobic threshold and lactate threshold.

Turnover--The rate a runner moves from one step to the next.

Visualization--Imagining one's race, workout, or run in advance of it actually happening. Other terms with the same general meaning include: mental rehearsal, imagery, and mental imagery.

VO2 Max--Measure of the maximum volume of oxygen your heart and lungs are able to supply to the rest of the body.