The Running Jargon Cheat Sheet

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We’ve all been there. New to the running world and embracing it with open arms… and ears. You try to socialize with a seasoned pro, but as soon as a “fartlek workout” comes up, or perhaps “bonking”, you just nod your head and secretly look up these terms on your carefully hidden iPhone. Runnerspeak can be flat out disconcerting when you’re not hip to the vocab.

Runners have a language of their own, and sometimes it just doesn’t cut it to Google (or Bing!) the word… a dictionary doesn’t often provide great context. Oh, and please don’t use Urban Dictionary. Trust me on this one.

Image via quickmeme

So, for those of you who may need a little “cheat sheet”, or maybe just a quick refresher course on running jargon, check out this short list of 10 words that we’ve compiled.

Bonking
I use this word to indicate that I’ve hit my head on something. Runners use this word to indicate when they have hit their proverbial wall. Bonking is a state of exhaustion in which your glycogen stores are depleted and blood glucose levels are low.
I was feeling totally fine until mile 20… I ran out of food and bonked, so I had to walk the final 6.2 miles.

Bandit
Most of the time, entrance fees for races go to a good cause, which makes most of us feel alright about coughing up the cash. So that makes it extra frustrating when a bandit shows up. Bandits run the race without registering or paying the entrance fee.
Did you see that group of bandits early on in the race? I hope they got caught.

Bandits a la Christmas StoryImage via pbandawesome

Kick
Soccer balls, bad habits, and bicycle stands… yes, these are all things you kick, but how does this word apply to running? Well, the moment at the end of a race when someone expends a burst of energy in a last effort to beat the competition or the clock, is called a kick. Also, the term can be used as a verb. Kicking is the act of using that burst of energy.
Erik kicked too early in his attempt to beat his wife Tera at the City to the Sea Half Marathon, but Tera held him off at the line.

Bell Lap
Saved by the bell? Maybe! The final lap of a middle or long distance race, where runners will typically start their kick (see above). It’s called a bell lap because the race official will ring the bell to indicate there is 400m left.
Connor started his kick when he heard the bell lap, but the lead pack was already too far ahead.

Chafing
Poor Andy. Another victim of chafing. Sweat and fabric irritate the skin while running and can cause painful abrasions and rashes.
“I’m petrified of nipple chafing. One it starts, it’s a vicious circle. You have sensitive nipples, they chafe, so they become more sensitive, so they chafe more. It’s a tough one. Gotta take precautions.” (The Office)

The OfficeImage via sowhatsyourexcuse

Muling
When a pacer assists a runner by carrying their gear (water bottles, apparel, food, etc.) during a race. Just picture a mule hauling all of your essentials for you. Pretty nice, am I right? Note: This is typically not allowed in most ultra marathons.
The runner was disqualified from the race after they were caught muling from their pacer.

Drafting
Don’t do anything rash like move to Canada. You don’t have to dodge this one. Drafting in the running world is when you run directly behind someone to avoid catching wind or use their energy to pull you forward.
Sean was really tired so he decided to draft behind Kaitlin for the final 2 miles.

DraftingImage via runnow

Fartlek
Hey, don’t giggle like that, it’s Swedish, okay!? A fartlek is a speedwork format in which you implement various levels of intensity for a certain period of time as a means to break up the routine of training or improve the runner’s anaerobic threshold. It’s a great way to train, even if it sounds totally silly and slightly obscene.
The cross country team trained for their next meet by implementing a fartlek workout on Monday.

PR or PB
Public Relations? Peanut Butter? Nope. PR stands for Personal Record, while PB stands for Personal Best. Runners use these acronyms frequently when talking about beating their own records.
Juli PR’d at the Boston Marathon in 2013 with an impressive time of 3:18.

Rabbit
Naw, we’re not talking about the cute little animal that hops around and hides eggs on Easter. This kind of rabbit is a runner who leads a middle or long distance running event for the first section to ensure a fast time and avoid excessive tactical racing. They set the pace for the rest of the field trying to chase them down.
Everyone thought Callie was the rabbit when she took the lead at the beginning of the 10k.

Image via the atlantic

Question for you:

Having only scratched the surface of running jargon, what word would you add to the list? Leave a comment below with your suggested addition to my cheat sheet.

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