If you are new to running then let me first say, "Welcome". As you get into running you are going to start to hear a whole list of vocabulary that you may never have heard of before. The first thing to do is to ask questions. Usually the running community is a friendly bunch who enjoys lending a hand to newbies. There is a wealth of information in the people around you. But if you are feeling a little shy, this article is written to get you through a bit of the runner's jargon. If you don't see the term you are looking for here please ask in the comment section or if you feel I left out a vital piece of confusing running terminology you can add that as well.


This stands for "Personal Record" or "Personal Best". This is the best time you have ever recorded for a particular distance. It could be 1 mile, 5k, 10k, half marathon or marathon distance. There is a small debate in the running community whether or not your "PR" or "PB" counts if it didn't happen on race day. You might run your fastest 5k on a Tuesday morning run. Some would say that it counts as your Personal Record/Best and others would say it would not. The best thing is to decide for yourself. 


Intervals or Interval Training

Interval training is used to help increase your speed and stamina while running. It includes short distances of high intensity running followed by a rest period and then repeated. For example you run 800 meters at a high intensity followed by 1 to 3 minutes of rest or decreased intensity and then repeated. Be sure to look at training programs and talk to experienced runners before setting off on your own for intervals. You don't want to injure yourself.


Running splits are not as complicated as it sounds. Basically it means breaking up your run or race into measurable and even sections. If it is a short run you can set your splits by the mile. So you measure time per mile. If you are running a long distance, a split might be every 5k or even 10k. If someone runs a negative split it means they ran faster for that distance than the last time. So if you run your 1st 5k split time at 30:25 and the run your 2nd 5k split at 30:08 that means you ran a negative split. A positive split is just the opposite. You ran the second split slower than the first. It can be a little confusing but you will get the hang of it.

Tempo Run

A tempo run is a training run that is set at a higher intensity above what you are comfortable doing on a normal run. It is debated somewhat on how to define it exactly but the goal is to push yourself to sustain a higher level of intensity over a longer period of time and distance that is predetermined. You start with a 5 to 10 minute warm up and finish with a 5 to 10 minute cool down. Do not skip these. There is a lot of benefits from including tempo runs into your schedule once a week. This is not a "how to" article so be sure to consult more experienced runners and solid resources before you begin.

Race Distances

You hear words like Half Marathon, Marathon, Ultra Marathon and if you are American 5k and 10k and you might not know exactly how far that is. We will clear that up here. For my American friends new to running distances and/or kilometers we will begin with 5k.

5k - 5 kilometers or 3.1 miles

10k - 10 kilometers or 6.2 miles

Half Marathon - 21 kilometers or 13.1 miles

Marathon - 42 kilometers or 26.2 miles

Ultra Marathon - any distance greater than a marathon but most say an entry-level Ultra distance is  50 kilometres (31.069 mi).


Besides an absolutely perfect word to finish almost every lame running joke, fartlek is another style of training 

run. In Swedish it means "speed play". It is much more free and unstructured than the intervals or tempo run. It is a mix of moderate and high intensity running with no real fixed distances or times unless you decide so. After warming up you begin with some moderate running and then instead of picking up the pace for a specific distance, you might sprint to a specific object like a mailbox, park bench or whatever catches your eye followed by a light jog until you feel recovered and then pick another object and run hard to it. It is another way of

FartlekCredit: tribesports.comcreating variety in your runs, mixing it up and even including others to be more social. It keeps the body guessing and give you a solid workout.

These are a few definitions of terms that you may stumble across as you begin your new venture into running. As you research all the great information online, in books or within your running community you will find that definitions and practice vary from person to person so find what works for you from sources you can trust and go for it. Happy Running!