Elite Feet

Glossary of Running Terms

Like any sport or hobby, running has a fair bit of lingo that may be foreign to outsiders. This page is intended to clarify some of those words and phrases that are common in running jargon. This is a work in progress. To suggestion an addition, leave a comment.

blocks
Short for starting blocks. The device sprinters use to push off of at the start of the race. Starting blocks are typically made of medal with rubber foot pedals. The foot pedals are adjustable in angle and position.
carbo-loading
Short for carbohydrate loading. The practice of trying to maximize the storage of glycogen (a form of glucose - energy) in one's muscles before an endurance race. There are various methods for this, all involving an increased consumption of carbohydrates before a race.
carrot
A fellow runner who is particularly attractive, thus motivating you to keep their pace, much like a horse follows a carrot on a string.

More: Running Behind a Carrot

chip
Short for timing chip. A small electronic device given to all of the participants in large street races. The chip normally attaches to one's shoelaces and keeps the exact time from crossing the start line to crossing the finish line.
chute
Short for finishing chute, and sometimes spelled "shoot". The area that corrals the finishers of large street races.
fartlek
Swedish for "speed play". A type of continuous training in which the intensity varies from high to low, with the intention of developing an athlete's aerobic as well as anaerobic capacities.
kicker
The final runner in a relay race, often the fastest member of the team.
legal wind
In sprinting events, wind conditions that are less than 2.0 meters per second in the favorable direction for the runners. Winds that are too favorable disqualify finishing times from becoming records.

More: How Wind Assistance Works in Track and Field

PR
Short for personal record. The fastest time in which an athlete has ever completed a particular race.
rabbit
Also known as a pace maker. In distance races, it is a runner who agrees to set the pace for the competitors during the initial laps. At some point this runner will exit the track without finishing. Having a rabbit gives the the competitors something to aim for and takes the pressure of leading off of them. For instance, in an 800 meter race, a 400 meter specialist may run the first 400 meters at a quick pace and then drop out. This tactic is not allowed in World Championships or the Olympics.
sandbagging
Used in many sports, this is the tactic of purposely placing oneself in a weaker position so as to give the deceptive impression that one is less skilled than one truly is.
ultra
Short for ultramarathon. Any race that is longer than a typical marathon ( > 26.2 miles or 42.2 kilometers). Ultras can be hundreds of miles long.