“I totally owned that 5k! I ran negative splits and PR’d! I just went for it and wound up placing first overall masters for women! I didn’t think I had won, but once the race was over I realized the person I had been running behind was running as a bandit.”
When I first started running I would have had no clue what this person was talking about! I started running because it was supposed to be easy and economical. No gym membership to purchase…all I needed was a pair of sneakers and I could hit the road. (Note that I also discovered that I love running gear so my “inexpensive” new hobby hasn’t been quite so “inexpensive” but that’s a topic for another day!). But when I started encountering running jargon that I didn’t understand I looked to my trusty friend Google and this is some of what I found:
5k: A 3.1 mile run. 5k is one of the most popular race distances and usually the first distance a new runner will decide to race.
8k: 4.96 miles
10k: 6.2 miles
15K: 9.3 miles
Half Marathon: 13.1 miles
Full Marathon: 26.2 miles
Ultramarathon: Any race distance further than a marathon (26.2 miles)
PR: Personal record or personal best time for a specific distance or race. If you run several 5k’s the race with your fastest finishing time is you 5k PR.
Splits: Refers to your average pace for each mile or other pre-determined distance during a long run.
Negative split: When you are able to run the second half of a race faster that the first.
Masters: A race category for runners over 40.
Note: Many races have several categories in which runners can win awards. These include Overall Male, Overall Female (includes all runners under the age of 40), Overall Masters Male, Overall Masters Female (includes all runners over 40), and Male and Female Age Awards (are separated by sex and year age groups ie., females 20 – 24). Typically overall winners are awarded first, then age group awards are decided. If one of the overall female winners is 35 (wins either 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, overall), then the female runner with the next best time who is between the age o f 35 – 39 (if that is the age group) would place 1st in the 35 – 39 age group category.
Bandit: Someone who runs a race without officially signing up. Bandits or rogue runners are typically frowned up since they take away race benefits from runners who have paid, registered, and run with race bibs.
Gun time: The total time it took for you to complete a race from the actual race start (or gun) time).
Chip time: For races that provide runners with a timing device (or chip) the chip time is the time that registers when a runner’s chip is captured and their race time starts, typically at the start and finish line. Your chip time is the actual time it took for you to run the exact race distance.
Corral: The area you have been assigned to stand prior to race start. Corrals are typically used in larger, more commercial races to help organize runners. Corral assignments are based on your estimated finish time. Typically, most of the people in your corral will run around the same pace as you during the race. It is important to be honest when determining estimated finish time so that you will not have to weave in and out of runners to get ahead or hold up other runners in your corral.
Speed work: Often discussed in terms such as 4x400 or 4x800. Typically conducted on a track or pre-measured flat terrain, speed work (done consistently such as once a week) can help improve a runner’s overall pace. In the numbers above 4 refers to how many repeats (or times) you would run 400 (.25 miles) or 800 (.5 miles) meters at a faster pace than your typical easy run. Each repeat should be followed by a slow 400 meter recovery run.
5k or 10k pace: Often used for training runs where you run part of the run at the pace in which you would run a 5k or 10k race. Note that this pace if different for every runner.
Fartleks: Bursts of intense effort alternated with a slower paced recovery. Fartlek distances may vary based on the intent of the runner. Fartleks are a type of speed work.
Hill repeats: The act of running repetitions up a hill quickly with a planned recovery in between.
Taper: A cut back in weekly mileage so your body is rested for a race.
Hitting the wall: Can occur when muscle glycogen stores become depleted and you feel overcome with fatigue. This may occur during a race but can be held off with proper nutrition and hydration.
These are just a few of the more popular terms that you may hear…but hopefully they will help you to start to understand runner’s lingo!