Running Terminology

Want to understand some of the terminology used by runners?

Fartlek: derived from the Swedish language meaning speed play. It is a training method of continuous running but a different intensities (pace). The runner will determine the intensity and decide on the duration to maintain the intensity (it can be time or distance related) before changing to another intensity.

Repeats/Repetitions/Reps: a training method whereby an agreed distance or time is run typically at higher intensity and followed by a period of recovery before repeating. This type of training is often used to build speed endurance.

Intervals: a similar training method to Reps but the training effect takes place in the recovery interval between the faster sections. The recovery in the intervals is active (still moving but at a reduced intensity) and can be referred to as roll-on running.

Threshold: an important and the most beneficial training method for distance runners. Technically  threshold pace is  established running at an intensity that produces an increased but stable level of blood lactate accumulation in the muscles (lactate threshold is achieved when the production of lactate begins to exceed the rate at which the body can clear it). Practically this is fast pace running that could be maintained for approx. 1 hour (typically between 10km and half marathon race pace). A conversation of more than 3-4 words  is not possible during a threshold run. For those using rate heart monitors it is about 90% of maximum heart rate.

Paarlauf: simply this means running in pairs. Typically this is a relay style of repetition/interval training where one person is running at high intensity whilst their partner is recovering and they change over at agreed intervals. For repetitions a static recovery can be used whilst there is an active recovery for intervals. This can be a fun and produce a competitive element into any training session.

Plyometric: a training method to enhance elastic strength aimed at improving speed and power through a series of specific jumping techniques. This develops rapid movement of muscle extension to contraction. The muscle action is technically  referred to as eccentric contraction to concentric contraction.

VO2 max: is the maximum volume of oxygen the body can utilise during “all out” exercise. It is often expressed in millilitres per kilogram of body weight per minute e.g. # ml/kg/min. VO2 max can be introduced into a training plan with selective intervals.

Strides: a controlled sprint performed with good/correct running form. Ideal as the last sector of a warm up prior to a race or hard training session. Running strides enables “race pace” to be simulated to prepare the mind and body to run fast. Distance is unimportant but typically 30m to 100m+.

DOMS: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness is the pain and stiffness felt in muscles often within 24 to 72 hours after very strenuous exercise. This is caused by micro-trauma and micro-tearing of the muscle fibres. To aid recovery rest, followed by very low impact exercise (e.g. aqua-jogging), easy stretching and gentle massage is recommended.

Warm Up: prepares the body and mind for exercise. It may start with jogging moving into running, to increase the blood flow, muscle and body temperature as well as the heart rate. Muscles become more flexible as the temperature increases reducing the risk of strain or injury. The most effective warm ups are progressive and may include dynamic stretching if required by the athlete.

Dynamic Stretching: is gradually increasing the range and speed of movement of muscle groups to increase flexibility in preparation for exercise. The movements must be controlled to keep stretches within the normal range of movement limits of the muscles. Dynamic stretching can include: arm/leg swings, high knees, butt kicks, walking lunges etc.

Cool down: sometimes referred to as a warm down, prepares the body and mind for a period of rest and recovery after exercise. It should start with a slow 10 minute run/jog to gradually reduce the heart rate and body temperature. This will also help accelerate the removal of any built up lactic acid (the process of lactic acid removal takes approximately 1 hour). The main muscle groups used during the exercise should be stretched with an appropriate static stretch. Hydration is an essential part of the recovery process, drink sufficient water to replace the lost fluid.

Static Stretching: is an exercise performed to stretch the appropriate muscles whilst the body is at rest. Holding each stretch for 10-15 seconds will regain any range of movement lost during the session, increasing the time to 30 seconds is required to extend the range of movement.

Aerobic: means with oxygen; when running aerobically the cardio vascular system controls the oxygen levels getting to the muscles’ energy generating system. Aerobic activity can be maintained at moderately high levels of intensity over a long period of time. The waste products formed during aerobic activity are carbon dioxide and water; these are removed from the body by exhaling and sweating.

Anaerobic: means without oxygen; running anaerobically is typically at maximum intensity and can be maintained for very short periods. The muscles use their stored fuel reserves, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which are small and require continual regeneration. Typically ATP levels can be replenished in about 3 minutes providing the body is resting.