A Running Dictionary: Topping up with Tees and More


By Cindy Lapeña

Tactical Running: Also referred to as Tactical Training and Running Tactics, Tactical Running is the difference between running fast and running smart. Just because you can run fast doesn’t mean you can win the race. Elite runners go through a lot of tactical training and use running tactics to help them win the race. You need to run smart to win the race!

Taper: Usually a week or more before a big race, tapering means running less and resting more to store energy. Warning: you can get really restless and hungry during this period because your body is looking for the activity it has grown accustomed to, and is still burning a lot of energy from all the training you’ve been through!

Tempo Run: About once a week, you might want to get into a tempo run, which is really just speed training, only tougher. This means running at your anaerobic threshold for about 20-40 minutes. You know you’re at this threshold when your legs feel like they’re burning. It’s also the pace you can maintain for about 60 minutes.

Threshold: There are actually 3 different thresholds runners need to know: anaerobic, lactate, and aerobic. Your anaerobic threshold is when your body produces lactic acid a little faster than it is cleared from your blood stream. Your lactate threshold is when lactic acid begins to accumulate, and comes from running about 10-15% slower than your anaerobic threshold. Your aerobic threshold is your current marathon race pace, which is the pace at which you don’t really accumulate lactic acid in your body. To improve speed and endurance, you need to train at different thresholds.

Trail Running: Is it obvious? When you run on a trail, it’s called trail running. Some runners prefer the scenery of running on trails, plus you’ve got different things to contend with (such as wildlife, tree roots and branches, grass and moss, hills, bumps, and slides, and many other wonders of nature—oh yes, and mud and dirt). This often challenges different sets of muscles, so it can be a good variation in your workout.

Triathlete: As if running isn’t enough, this class of athletes push the limits by swimming and biking as well. As far as these overachievers are concerned, if you don’t tri, you don’t succeed!

Ultramarathon: As if a 26.2 miles isn’t enough, ultramarathons can be anything over that. Typical ultramarathon distances are 50K, 100K, 50mi or 100mi. If 56 miles is your thing, you should sign up for the Comrades Marathon in South Africa, which is probably the most popular ultramarathon in the world.

Ultramarathoner: Clearly out of their minds, these runners don’t stop at 26.2. At the top of the list, Scott Jurek and Dean Karnazes.

VO2 Max: This is your body’s maximum oxygen intake, or your aerobic capacity. This affects your aerobic threshold and, therefore, your current marathon pace. The greater your VO2 Max, the higher your threshold and, therefore, the faster your current marathon pace. And yes, the only way to get there is harder training.

Warm-Up: A good warm-up is necessary to increase your heart rate and blood flow to muscles, reducing the risk of injury. This means loosening those stiff muscles! A good way to start is 5-10 minutes of walking or jogging and a bit of dynamic stretching.

And there you have it! Our comprehensive running dictionary from A to W. It’s a little shorter than the alphabet and a lot less than Oxford or Webster, but if you’re serious about running, you can start getting to know these terms intimately. People might actually believe you’re an expert if they see you know what you’re talking about!

Happy running!



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