Since 1982 I've written a newsletter, Running Commentary. A new issue appears here each week, and material is archived.

Sat, 9 Sep 2006 06:34:01 -0400

Words We Run By


(rerun from August 2000 RW)

Every special interest develops its own jargon, its insider language. Runnerspeak is so much my natural language that I forget everyone doesn't speak it fluently. A new reader of a running magazine complained recently, "I marked 26 words in my first issue that are foreign to me."

I need to realize too that language evolves. Wording that served one running generation don't necessarily carry over to the next.

When I started running, some descriptions already sounded quaint -- if not silly. Runners weren't just runners but "harriers," "thinclads" or "spikesters." I gagged when a headline writer called us "cinderfellas."

Long retired are most of those words, along with others from my growing-up years in the sport. Gone the way of cinder tracks and the broad jump are "warmups" for flat-soled training shoes and "sweats" for long-sleeved, long-legged training suits.

Runnerspeak keeps changing. Here's a dual-purpose lesson -- to show newer runners how we used to talk and to update us oldies on the common usages of today.

Old: I put in 100 miles for a good week. New: I train 100 miles a month.

Old: Our long, slow runs are at seven minutes per mile. New: Our short, fast runs are at seven-minute pace.

Old: My hard runs are at race pace. New: My hard runs push the anaerobic threshold.

Old: I'm running a time trial. New: I've scheduled a tempo run.

Old: The stopwatch tells me how fast to run. New: The heart-rate monitor sets my tempo.

Old: I'm running 10 interval quarters for speedwork. New: Five-K races are my speedwork.

Old: This is an easy day. New: It's my recovery day.

Old: I'm resting today. New: This is a cross-training day.

Old: It's a small race with fewer than 100 runners. New: It's small with just 1000 entrants.

Old: The entry fee is high at $5. New: It's a bargain at $50.

Old: The distance is 10,000 meters. New: It's a 10K.

Old: Was that the five-mile mark we just passed? New: That was mile five.

Old: Where do you pin your race number? New: Your bib goes on the front.

Old: Stand at the starting line. New: Stand behind the right pace sign behind the start banner.

Old: I plan to go out fast. New: I'll walk until the traffic clears.

Old: Pick up the pace. New: Throw in a surge.

Old: I finished strong. New: I ran negative splits.

Old: I ran about 40 minutes. New: My time was 40 and change.

Old: The officials gave me 30:01, but my watch read 29:59. New: My watch said 30:01, but the Chip time was 29:59.

Old: My marathon time goal is three hours. New: My goal time is four hours.

Old: Drink plenty of water. New: Hydrate.

Old: He's dropping out. New: She's taking a walk break.

Old: Real runners never do LSD (long slow distance). New: Real runners don't walk.

Old: I'm making a pitstop in the woods. New: I'll wait in line at the portapotty.

Old: It's nice to see a few girls coming to races. New: Look at all those women.

Old: I love to beat the young guys, those under 20. New: I get a kick out of beating all the youngsters under 40.

Old: Who won? New: Which Kenyan won this time?

Old: He hit the wall. New: She bonked.

Old: Don't eat during a run or you'll get cramps. New: Eat energy bars or gels to keep from bonking.

Old: It's my favorite training course. New: It's my regular five-mile loop.

Old: Train in your race T-shirts to show everyone what you've done. New: Cotton is rotten.

Old: Where does someone find a good shoes? New: How do I find the shoe that's best for me from all these choices?

Old: That's the number-one-rated shoe. New: It's a good stability shoe if you need motion control but bad if you require more cushioning.

Old: Are your feet flat? New: Do you pronate?

Old: My knee hurts. New: You might have an IT band injury.

Old: Arthur Lydiard is my training guru. New: I follow Jeff Galloway's advice.

Old: My heroes are the oldtimers like Billy (Mills) and Buddy (Edelen). New: I admire the oldtimers like Billy (Rodgers) and Joanie (Benoit Samuelson).

Old: I read last month's news in this month's magazine. New: Why aren't this morning's results posted on the website by noon today
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