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

PB, what?

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 administering 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 (No, not for PB&J sandwich) – 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.

    “Eye of the Tiger,” Rocky Theme song – Heavy Hitting Training Terms

  •  Bonk – Also called “Hitting the Wall”. Exercise induced low blood sugar levels, feeling light-headed and weak in limbs.
  •  LSD – No, not that LSD – runners only “trip” over shoe laces! 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 – Literally means “relating to, involving, or requiring free oxygen”.(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. 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.
    •  Lap – Lap time is how long it takes you to get from one split to the next. The clock then starts over on the next lap.
  •  Ladder – Starting with a shorter distance, increasing in distance & then coming back down. Also called a pyramid. i.e., 200-400-600-800-600-400-200
  •  Strides – Short bursts of swift running for 80-150 meters at sub-max pace. It’s not an anaerobic workout & typically done before or after a workout.
  •  Fartlek – Swedish for “speed play”. Similar to interval training, but with less structure, it consists of fast & slow running & variables such as pace, distance, & time are not planned.
  •  Tempo – Fixed time or distance run at a prescribed steady-state.
  •  Hill Repeats – Run uphill then down, repeat for a set number of times or distance. Running hills builds muscle power & elasticity; improves stride length & frequency; develops natural speed; improves lactate tolerance. Hills can be short & steep for short, quick stride & arm swing with slower recovery. Medium length hills of 30-90 seconds can be run at race pace with a longer stride. Long hills develop endurance, boost muscle fatigue & run aerobically at a slower pace.
  •  Cadence/Stride Rate – Number of steps taken in one minute of running; ideal cadence is thought to be 180 steps/min.

    “Rockin’ Down the Highway” Navigating the Race Course

  •  Certified Course – Course that has been measured and certified for accuracy. A certified course allows a runner’s performance to be accepted as a national record or ranking. Note: Not all races are certified courses!
  •  Corral – Not exactly home on the range round-up of cattle. A sectioned area at the lineup of a race that separates athletes into different pace groups based upon an estimated finish time.
  •  Wave Start – Separates larger groups/corrals of runners by several minutes to allow for congestion on the race course to thin out before starting the next group.
  •  Ultra – A low-cal beer at the end of a race, no? Any distance longer than marathon (26.2miles/42.2Km).
  •  Gun Time/Clock Time – The time between when the starting gun fires – the actual start of the race – to when the participant crosses the finish line, regardless of how long it took the participant to reach the starting line. Typically used for awarding overall finisher awards and prize money.
  •  Chip/Net Time – Amount of time from when you first cross the starting mat to when you cross the finish mat. Records individual accuracy of timing for runners who are further back from the start line. This timing method is used for presenting age group and age graded awards.
  •  Tangents – Running tangents means running the shortest distance & in the straightest line possible This is how a course is measured & is the shortest distance. More often than not, races have many turns and curves. In order to run the tangents, you will need to run in a straight line from curve to curve rather than following the middle of the road & snaking around every curve. Running tangents simply means running the inside of a turn vs. the outside.
  •  Elevation Change – Difference in elevation from start of route to the end of route along with any ups & downs in between.
  •  Negative Split – Running the second half of distance faster than the first half.

    Racking Up Awards – “Rocking Thru the Ages”

  •  Double-Dip – Not to be confused with 2 scoops of ice cream or the chip & dip faux pas. Participant can place in multiple divisions at once. i.e., receives an Open Overall award & Master award.
  •  Open – Generally refers to elite and non-elite runners under the age of 40.
  •  Master – Elite and non-elite runners age 40 and over. (Note: European events often classify runners over 35 as a Master.)
  •  Grandmaster – Elite and non-elite runners age 50 and over.
  •  Senior Grandmaster – Elite and non-elite runners age 60 and over.
  •  Age Group – Refers to the USATF 5-year age groups: 14 & under, 15-19, 20-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70-74, 75-79, 80-84, 85-89, 90-over. Majority of races give awards to Top 1-3 Age Group winners.
  •  Age-Graded – Method that applies a formula to each runner’s actual time to account for slowing due to age factors. According to USATF “these tables allow a runner to have her/his raw time converted to an equivalent open time using what is known as age factors.” Basically, it evens the playing field for older male & female grading, thus allowing some to double or triple dip.

    Happy Running!

    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.