A Running Dictionary

By Cindy Lapeña

If you’re really serious about becoming a runner, you need to learn the lingo to stay cool. We’ve put together a running dictionary for you, so you know what everyone is talking about when you get out there and join the pack.

Let’s start with the numbers, because they don’t alphabetize. When we run, we run distances, so we’ve got a few numbers you’ll hear over and over again.

10K: Also, 10 kilometers, or the metric equivalent of 6.2 miles. 10K is easier to say than 6.2 miles. It’s also easier to remember. It’s also what the whole world uses, except the US.

400 Meters: One lap around the track. No, not the kind of lap you grew up sitting on. This lap means a circuit or round. That definitely means a standard track is 400 meters long—or around.

5K: Also 5 kilometers, or the metric equivalent of 3.1 miles. Clearly, this is half of the 10K.

Which brings us to the Letter A. What words in a Running Dictionary begin with the letter A?

Aerobic Exercise: This is a great way to burn glucose (calories, to most) over time. It’s low intensity, which means you don’t strain yourself or tax yourself too much, and is supposed to include walking and jogging—that’s totally subjective, of course because jogging really strains me!—but long in duration. As I said, over time. You don’t get enough of it unless you do it for a fairly longer time, but compared to the next kind, five minutes is a long time!

Anaerobic Exercise: This kind of exercise burns glucose too, but it’s really high intensity. That means putting a great strain on your body, the way heavy lifting and sprinting do. Because it takes a greater deal of effort just to do, it doesn’t really require long durations. Imagine having to lift 150 kilos over 5 minutes! Even heavy lifters only hold the heavy weights up for seconds. And sprints are over in seconds! The Olympic qualifying time for the 100m sprint is 10.18 seconds for men and 11.29 seconds for women. The average fit person might do it in 13-14 seconds. That’s where the 4-minute mile applies, as opposed to a 4-minute kilometer for marathoners. As I said, really high intensity!

Anaerobic Threshold: This is something you have to watch out for. All it means is that your walk/run is getting so tough, lactic acid accumulates in your bloodstream, which is really a good thing. Lots of people think muscle fatigue is caused by that lactic acid, but it really is the fuel that keeps you going like that Energizer bunny. However, it doesn’t make your workout any easier!

Coming next time: The Letter B!

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